If France had not fallen...

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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If France had not fallen...

Post by Zachary » 07 Aug 2004 02:18

Hello folks,

I was browsing about the internet across this site which had some plans of French prototypes for the future:


The Renault G1R caught my eye. It looks very streamlined and has a good 75mm gun, a definate improvement over the Char B's 40mm (I think it was 40 at least)


Anyway, I was wondering what other sort of projects the French had up their sleeves. I'd imagine that if the French were around in '44 as they were in '40 their army would look very different and I was just wondering what it'd look like.


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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 07 Aug 2004 09:14


France expected not to have to fight the decisive battles before 1941. At this time you would have had many improvements in the French equipments, including all the developments detailed previously.

Anti-tank guns:
Much more 47mm SA39 TAZ L/53 AT guns (360° traverse) would have been in service in the infantry units and at the divisional level the 75mm L/53 Mle1939 AT/AA gun would have replaced all the 75mm AT guns and part of the older 47mm Mle1937 AT guns. New HEAT and subcalibrated would have been introduced for many guns.

• Dewoitine D.520. It was already operational in 1940. This aircraft was slower than the Messerschmitt Bf.109E but clearly superior in maneuverability. A comparison was made on April 21, 1940, with an intact captured Bf.109E-3 that had been brought down in French territory. This comparison highlighted the fine qualities of the best French fighter of WW2. Had France not surrendered in June 1940, the Dewoitine D.520's career might have been comparable to that of British and German fighters.

• The Dewoitine D.550 was a racing aircraft version of the D.520 designed in 1939, with an upgraded engine and shorter wings. The D.551 and D.552 were military derivatives, powered by the 12Y51 (1,100 hp) or 12Z engines, respectively. About 18 aircrafts were at different stages of completion on 25th June 1940 but none of them could fly. The D.553 and D.554 were projects with supercharged 12Z engines. The D.551 prototype could reach 662 km/h at 6000m. The weight of the armed and ready aircraft was 2,200 kg but during its development the prototype was apparently only armed with two MGs. Once delivered to the fighter units, the Dewoitine 551 would have been a kind of French "Mustang". The Dewoitine D.551 was expected to reach 650 km/h with full armamant and fuel supply. Armament would have been 1x 20mm cannon in the nose and 6x 7.5mm MGs in the wings or 1x 20mm cannon in the nose and 2x 20mm cannons + 4x 7.5mm MGs in the wings.

• Arsenal VG30 series. The original specification that led to the VG series was offered in 1936 in order to quickly raise the number of modern aircraft in French service, by supplying a "light fighter" of wooden construction that could be built rapidly in large numbers.
Named for engineer Vernisse (V) and designer Jean Gaultier (G), the VG30 was all wooden in construction, using plywood (the first type of engineered wood to be invented. It is made from thin sheets of wood veneer, called plies, which are stacked together with the direction of each ply's grain differing from its neighbors by 90° (cross-banding). The plies are bonded under heat and pressure with strong adhesives, usually phenol formaldehyde resin, making plywood a type of composite material) over stringers in a semi-monocoque (French for "single shell" or unibody). The layout was conventional, a low-wing monoplane that bore a striking resemblance to the later Italian Macchi C.202. The armament consisted of a 20mm Hispano-Suiza 404 cannon (60 rounds) firing through the propeller hub, and four 7.5mm MAC 1934 M39 drum-fed machine guns (500 rounds each), two in each wing. The prototype was equipped with a Hispano-Suiza engine and flew in October 1938. The VG31 was to use the 860 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Y-31 and the VG32 the Allison V-1710C-15. The VG31 flew in 1939 and proved to have excellent performance. The prototype VG32 was completed in 1940 and awaiting its test flight when it was captured by the advancing German forces at Villacoublay.
The VG33 was a modified version of the VG31 using the same 12Y-31, and first flew on 25th April 1939. It had surprisingly good performance of 560 km/h, and was ordered into production with a contract for 220 aircrafts in September, later raised to 1,000. Production didn't take long to start, but most of the airframes never received engines and sat at the factory when it was overrun. It was faster than the Dewoitine D.520 but with an older engine, it could therefore have achieved much more.
Further developments continued while the VG33 production started. The VG34 mounted the newer 935 hp 12Y-45, the VG36 used the 1,000 hp 12Y-51 originally intended for the VG35, and introduced a new streamlined radiator bath that looked very similar to the one on the P-51 Mustang. The VG36 reached 590 km/h. Single prototypes of all three were built and flown in early 1940. The VG37 was an extended range version of the VG36, while the VG38 was to have used the 12Y-77, but neither were built.
The last in the series was the VG39, originally powered by the new 1,200 hp 12Y-89 using an extension shaft on the propeller to streamline the nose profile, giving the plane an excellent speed of 625 km/h even when loaded down with two more machine guns. The actual production version was to have been the VG39bis, powered by the new 1,600 hp Hispano-Suiza 12Z-17, using the streamlined radiator intake design from the VG36.
Two more designs were projected, both based on the VG39bis airframe. The VG40 mounted the Rolls-Royce Merlin III and the VG50 the newer Allison V-1710-39. Neither was built.
The VG33 matched the Bf.109E in speed and maneuverability (but was slightly underarmed compared to the latest Bf.109E versions) and was somewhat faster than the Dewoitine D.520. In larger quantities, this plane could have shown the Luftwaffe a rough time, but as was the case for most French planes, production problems plagued the VG33 such that only 160 aircraft were close to completion before the Armistice, with probably just 19 (?) of the produced aircrafts were actually taken on by the Armée de l'Air. Probably only 2 machines ever flew in an active fighter group, which was formed on 18th June 1940 and conducted missions for just a week. After the fall of France 12 VG33s were confiscated by the Luftwaffe, perhaps for fighter training.

• Bloch MB.157 (close to a Fw190). The MB.157 was the last development of the MB.150 series (Bloch 152 and 155 issued to the French 1940 air force). The MB.157 had a speed of 710 km/h at 7850m with its Gnôme & Rhône 14R of 1700 hp !

Note : in 1940 the Bf-109E reached 556 km/h and the Spitfire MkI 580 km/h AFAIK.

Armored fighting vehicles:
• B1ter heavy tank
• Somua S40 medium tank
• AMX38 light tank (close to the R40)
• AMX39 and AMX40 medium tanks (big wheels a bit like on the Pz38(t) but a turret very similar in shape to the modern Soviet T55 tank, here with a 47mm gun)
• SAu40 self propelled gun (for heavy support and also as self-propelled AT gun)
• ARL40 self propelled gun
• Renault G1 tank
• Lots of tank destroyers like the Laffly W15TCC (already used in 1940) in its armored version and the Lorraine 37L and 39L tractors armed with the 47mm L/53 AT gun.

Aircraft carriers:
In 1939/1940 there were already the "Bearn" aircraft carrier and the "Commandant Teste" seaplane carrier but they were obsolete. Concerning the carrier capable aircrafts, the Loire Nieuport LN.411 and the Vought V.156F (dive bombers and torpedo aircrafts) from the French fleet air arm were available.
Two new aircraft carriers for the navy should have been available in 1941-1942 ("Joffre" and "Painlevé") :
• 18,000t
• 236m long
• 34m wide
• Speed 33 knots
• Embarking 40 aircrafts (15 fighters and 25 attack aircrafts)
• Armament : 8x 130mm AA guns, 8x 37mm AA guns, 28x 13.2mm AAMGs
• Crew : 70 officers, 1180 NCOs and men

The "Joffre" construction started in March 1940 but reached only 20% before the armistice. The "Painlevé" was never started.
The aircrafts intended for these new aircraft carriers were :
• Fighters :
--o Dewoitine D.790 (navalized version of the Dewoitine D.520)
• Several twin-engined attack aircrafts (which is new on an aircraft carrier at the moment) :
--o CAO 600 (Constructions Aéronautiques de l’Ouest) (380 km/h)
--o Dewoitine D.750 (360 km/h)
--o Bréguet 810 (derived from the Bréguet 693 attack aircraft)
• Other single engined attack aircrafts :
--o Latécoère 299 (350 km/h) (derived from the Latécoère 298 seaplane)

The Brandt 120mm mortars would have been widely diffused in the troops in 1941

New generation shells:
The studies led by Brandt in the 30's aimed to increase the initial velocity of the shells (without increasing of the chamber pressure) and also more generally to increase the penetration power of the shells. The French company Brandt developed series of sub-calibrated HVAP/APCR/APHC shells : 37/25mm, 75/57mm and also sub-calibrated projectiles for the 155mm and 203mm guns of the French navy. The other nations did not develop similar or equivalent systems before 1941/1942.
The 37/25mm subcalibrated shell with a 20mm core was tested but could not enter in service before the armistice. The V° was 850 m/s and it had the same penetration capacity than the 25mm SA34/37 AT gun. The same 37/25mm subcalibrated shell was also planned to be used in the 25mm SA34/37 AT gun, reaching in that case a V° of 1150 m/s, but the barrels had to be modified.
The most outstanding realization is probably the 75/57mm shell with a muzzle velocity of 960 m/s (570 m/s for the standard APHE projectile) and a penetration of 90mm at 100m and 0° (71.5mm for the standard APHE shell). The 75mm Mle1897 and Mle1897/33 guns could have engaged and destroyed the German Panzer IVs at 2,500m if such shells had been available in numbers. The subcalibrated projectile could still penetrate 60mm armor at a range of 1,740 meters (555 meters for the APHE projectile) and 80mm at 580 meters (impossible for the APHE projectile).
Beside the sub-calibrated shells, Brandt also developed a 75mm HEAT shell at this time, using the patent of the Swiss Mohaupt. The tests took place in Bourges in 1940 and the results were that impressive that they were put in the secret immediately in order to avoid German capture.
On June 14, 1940, the French war ministry authorized Brandt to give all these info to the USA and the United Kingdom, including the exploitation licence for the Mohaupt patent. The inventor, Henry Mohaupt, by the intermediary of the Brandt company filed for US patent on February 10, 1941 and it is kept secret on March 7, 1941. The sub-calibrated shells were used in the UK as basis to develop the APDS shells (armored piercing discarded sabot) issued from 1942/1943. The first AT guns using them were the 6 Pdr and 17 Pdr AT guns.

- Brandt HEAT AT rifle grenade developpments:
At the end of 1939 Brandt developed also a 50mm HEAT rifle grenade. It had a range of about 100m and an armor penetration of 40mm. A 22mm "manchon" was added on the rifle to fire the grenade. This "manchon" could also be used to fire the 50mm mortar shell used in the Brandt 50mm Mle1937 mortar.
The HEAT rifle grenade entered in production during May 1940 and was successfully tested at the Satory test range on June 10, 1940 but they could not be issued to the combat units before the armistice. The documents related to these works were apparently sent to the USA in June 1940 and were in some extend used as basis to develop the M9 AT rifle grenade and the HEAT rocket of the Bazookas. The Brandt HEAT rifle grenade was also secretly produced in France at 300,000 pieces (under the name grenade M-41) in the free zone and issued to Vichy forces. Several partisans groups may have used them in 1944.

- Larsen 29/20mm taper-bore AT gun:
The 25x194R shell used in the 25mm Puteaux Mle1937 and 25mm Hotchkiss Mle1934 AT guns was taken as the basis for the taper-bore experiments conducted in 1939/1940 by the Danish Larsen company for the French Army, utilizing also the first German trials of Gerlich. Larsen developed a 29/20 mm AT gun that should have replaced the French 25mm AT guns at first in the mountain infantry units and give a could AT capacity to the French airborne companies. The French army had tested different prototypes and the French company Manhurin manufactured the 29/20mm shell. In May 1940, about 50 Larsen 29/20mm AT guns on Puteaux Mle1937 carriage were delivered and tested. The 90g tungsten projectile (V° = 1400 m/s) was able to penetrate 56mm/30° at 400m. Perhaps very few of them even saw combat in May/June 1940.
These studies were then followed up by the Germans to create different taper-bore AT guns: the Gerlich 28/20mm is a copy of the French gun based on the Larsen patent, the 2.8cm sPzB 41 (which used a projectile based on the French 25mm AT round), the 4.2cm lePak 41 and the 7,5cm Pak 41. They worked very well, but suffered from a shortage of tungsten needed in the projectile.

- Remote-controlled breaching vehicles:
The French army developed radio-guided or wire-guided vehicles transporting a destruction charge before the Germans had their Goliath, Springer or Borgward B.IV dedicated to that function.
In 1937-1940 the French army developed :
• The "véhicule P" (P for Pommellet, the captain who invented it) : constructed by Lorraine, 2,000 ordered but only 11 constructed before the armistice
• The "engin K" (K for Alphonse Kégresse, the constructor) : 12,000 vehicles ordered (6,000 in April 1940, 6,000 in May 1940), precursor of the Goliath which was built later based on this French vehicle.
• In April 1940, 300 FT-17 tanks are also destined to be transformed in guided demolition tanks (guided from a ground post or from a R-35 command tank, like later the Borgward and the StuG(Fkl) for example)
The very first prototypes, remote-controlled breaching vehicles for cutting wire obstacles were developed in Germany and France during World War I. The Germans were the first to produce and deploy remote-controlled minefield breaching vehicles by using both an expendable charge-carrying vehicle (the "Goliath") and a nonexpendable vehicle (the B-IV) that was intended to drop its charge and withdraw before the charge detonated. Although these vehicles were used with some success at Sevastopol in 1942 and Kursk in 1943, they were generally considered failures.

- The MAS40 semi-automatic rifle:
Type : semi-automatic rifle
Total length : 1065 mm
Weight (empty) : 3.94kg
Barrel Length : 580 mm
Caliber : 7.5x54 mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips, 10 rounds magazine or an other version with a 25 rounds magazine
V° : 840 m/s
The prototype of this semi-automatic rifle was accepted in 1933. In 1938 the new rifle had been finalized, after having faced several development issues. It is adopted by the French Army on March 28, 1940 but the mass production batches were planned to be delivered beginning 1941 only. It was a modern semi-automatic rifle, roughly equivalent to the M1 Garand. There were the MAS38-39 with 5, 10 and/or 25 rounds magazines (the 25 round magazine was the same than for the FM 1924/1929 LMG) or the MAS40 with 5 rounds clips. In May 1940, several dozens of MAS38-39 had been delivered to the 10e Régiment de Cuirassiers.
The MAS36 had a rate of fire of 11-12 rpm but when reloading the soldier always lost the line of sight. With the MAS40 the rate of fire was not that much higher with 14-15 rpm but the soldier could keep the target in the line of sight and it was more easy to follow a mobile target. During tests (the conditions of these tests are unknown), the MAS36 scored 74% hits and the MAS40 scored 94% hits.

- Mine Plows, Rakes, and Detectors:
In 1918, the French developed the first plow-equipped tank, which was based on a Renault FT-17 tank. In 1939 and February/March 1940, the French army tested also various plows and other advanced mine-clearing system on the Renault R35 but they were only few at the testing level and they saw no operational use. The Germans and the British armies later used these prototypes. After WW2, the former mine-clearing systems were tested again on a B1bis tank. However, plow tanks were not really used in combat until D-Day in 1944, when the British 79th Armored Division employed a "Bullshorn" plow on a Churchill tank at Sword Beach.
The Germans, French, Russians, and Italians entered WWII with metallic mine detectors, but information on the details of their origin is lacking. During the interwar years, the French seem to have developed the first vehicle-mounted electronic mine detector on an Renault R35 tank.

- Bridge layers:
Already in 1917 and in the 20's, crossing systems and engineer vehicles based on the FT17 were tested. In 1938 a bridge layer vehicle is studied and the manufacturer FCM produced 4 'tracteur de franchissement M1' (M1 crossing tractors) but they were too heavy (25.5t) and intricate to use. In 1937 Somua and Coder began to work together to produce a bridge layer vehicle. The first prototype is based on the Somua MCL5 halftracked vehicle with additional armor. The equipement was tested in September and October 1939: a 100km road stage and a 50km cross country stage are realized followed by 15 bridge laying tests with 20 crossings of Renault D2 tanks. The tests are rather satisfying and after slight modifications, the prototype is again tested in February/March 1940 with the successful crossing of Somua S-35 and Renault B1bis tanks (32 t). The experiments are cancelled by the defeat of 1940.

- Instantaneous radio-goniometry:
Before WW2 one of the leader in the field of the telecommunications was ITT (International Telegraph & Telephone), a US company whose leader was colonel Sosthène Bell. The man was very francophile and ITT had built one of the first automated telephone central in Paris.
From 1937 to 1945, ITT developed the numeric transmission mode for the telephone communications (the system that is still used today). ITT had founded in Paris a big R&D laboratory, directed by Maurice Deloraine. Henri Busignies worked at this lab and was specialized in radio-goniometry (it consists in 2 radio listening stations (at 2 different locations), which determine the bearing of an emission. The crossing of the 2 lines determines the position of the enemy emitter). He has created the automatic radio-goniometer mounted in the aircrafts.
Before WW2, the French Navy stated that the German submarines communicated by messages whose length did not exceed 1 second (the encoded morse code message was recorded and emitted at high speed). The classical radio-goniometry required about 30 seconds to locate the bearing of the emission. The message of course could be intercepted and eventually deciphered but the position of the sub remained unknown. This was confirmed in 1939 during the Italian landing in Albania where German subs were also deployed.
The engineer in chief Champsaur, commander of the signals service of the French Navy, asked then Maurice Deloraine to develop an instantaneous radio-goniometer. The lab managed to produce such equipment; the bearing could be red immediately.
One prototype was produced and tested with success in France in 1940, before the armistice. After the armistice, these results were hidden to the Germans. Maurice Deloraine, Émile Labin, Georges Chevigny, Henri Busignies and their families went to New York with the plans. The possibility of localizing the German submarines was indicated to the US Navy which was not convinced at first. The US Navy asked then ITT to build and test the device conceived by the French engineers and it was done in less than 3 months. It allowed the localization of the German submarines in the Atlantic thanks to their radio emissions. 4,000 of the radio-goniometers where then produced. They were deployed on the US and British coasts and a large part of these devices were mounted on ships escorting the convoys.


Last edited by David Lehmann on 27 Nov 2006 00:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Zachary » 07 Aug 2004 22:39

Wow, David, thanks! That is certainly a lot of information and I thank you for that. I have a few questions though:

What is an Arsenal VG33 and VG36? Would they be more of a bomber/attack craft?

What sort of craft would the carriers hold? Don't think the Dewoitines were carrier capable...

Lastly, what sort of performence would the Renault G1 or other tanks match up against a Panzer IV or V or VI?

Thanks :)

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Post by David Lehmann » 07 Aug 2004 23:42


As indicated I gave just example of fighters. The Arsenal VG33 was already produced at the prototype level in 1940. It had a speed of about 558 km/h and was armed with a 20mm gun and 4 MGs. At the armistice, 10 Arsenal VG33 had been completed and 200 were in construction at various stages. It was 30 km/h faster than the Dewoitine D520 but with an older engine, it could have achieved more. No operationnal fighter squadron was really issued with it, it arrived too late.



The VG36 was just an other evolution, with a speed of 590 km/h


The VG39 which flew in May 1940 could reach 625 km/h.


(note the Bf109E reached 556 km/h and the Spitfire MkI 580 km/h if I remember well.


http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.c ... %20VG%2033


About the Dewoitine D520 which was issued in 1940 :
The Dewoitine D.520 was slower than the Messerschmitt Bf.109E but clearly superior in maneuverability. A comparison was made on April 21, 1940, with an intact captured Bf.109E-3 that had been brought down in French territory. This comparison highlighted the fine qualities of the best French fighter of WW2. Had France not surrendered in June 1940, the Dewoitine D.520's career might have been comparable to that of British and German fighters.

http://www.wwiitechpubs.info/hangar/ac- ... 20-br.html

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.c ... ne%20D.520

Here a Bloch 157 captured by the Germans :


The MB.157 was the last development of the MB.150 series (Bloch 152 and 155 issued to the French 1940 air force). The MB.157 had a speed of 710 km/h ! at 7850m with its Gnôme & Rhône 14R of 1700 hp.



In 1939/1940 there were already the 'Bearn' aircraft carrier and the 'Commandant Teste' seaplane carrier.
Concerning the carrier capable aircrafts, the Loire Nieuport LN.411 and the Vought V156F (dive bombers and torpedo aircrafts) from the French fleet air arm could have been issued immediately to the new aircraft carriers. I think it would not have been so intricate to modify one of the new (or even older ?) fighter to equip the aircraft carrier with it.


The G1 tank studied since 1936 was in fact rather a tank intended to replace the Renault D1 and D2 tanks. In 1936 the prototype had 20 tons and in 1939 it had 32 tons. There were several prototypes from several manufacturers but in 1939 only the G1R (Renault) was retained.
It was equipped with a high velocity 75mm gun (an an other version with a 105mm gun) but I have very little info about it. Difficult to talk about performances, the prototype was not enough advanced or at least I never saw info about it. But as already pointed out it would probably have exploited the last developments in the ammunition field and its 75mm or 105mm gun would probably have been very efficient against German tanks in 1941/1942.
I can sadly not tell you much more without inventing things :)

Look here : the last three photos are the G1R prototype.

In 1940 the Germans captured some chassis prototypes as you can see on the photos grossly on the top right corner of the page.



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Post by Tim Smith » 21 Aug 2004 01:29

Great info.

Hard to make an estimate with little information, but based purely on equipment, the French outlook for 1941 looks promising.

Perhaps if Hitler had waited two years after Munich, and invaded Poland in September 1940 instead of September 1939, and then invaded France in May 1941, France might not have fallen.

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France Fights On - FFO

Post by vpsoccer » 26 Nov 2006 17:06

I hate to bump this up from 2 years, but someone just gave me the old link.

For those who have not yet found it, there is a large research project about what WWII might have looked like if France had fought on from the overseas territories even after metropolitan France fell.

People involved include academic researchers and current and former military personnel of many ranks, services, and countries.

It is posted on the "warships1.com" fiction board, and the English archive is at http://www.francefightson.org/index.htm (French archive is linked from there).

The Archiove is a bit behind right now, and the earliest parts are being re-organized (the project has turned out much larger than originally envisioned).

VPSoccer / GaryJ
FFO Archivist

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Post by The Edge » 26 Nov 2006 23:15

Often neglected issue, but France AAA would be also much stronger in 1941, making so feared Stuka attacks less profitable.

(Btw, I know about 25, 37 and 75mm guns - plus ordered Bofors guns 40mm - but did French also prepared new 90mm model (comparable to Flak-88) for 1941? :roll: )

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Post by David Lehmann » 27 Nov 2006 00:20


Additional notes about the G1 tank mentioned in the first post:

In 1935-1936 a new military program is launched to develop a "G" tank for the infantry in replacement of the D1 and D2 tanks.

Different companies proposed their projects for this program:
• RENAULT (G1 R) - Renault designation = ACK 1
• FOUGA (G1 F)
• SEAM (G1 P)

The initial requirement are a weight of about 20 tons (later modified to 30 tons), an armor of 50mm, a top speed of 50 km/h, a range of about 200 km and an armament consisting in a 47mm (75mm) gun mounted in a turret and 2 MGs. In fact the infantry wanted a kind of Somua S35 like the cavalry. The G1 tank would be lighter than the B1bis, easier and cheaper to produce. At the same time, Germany started to study the Panzer III and the Panzer IV, armed respectively with a 37mm and a 75mm gun mounted in a turret.

• For Somua the chassis is the one of the future Somua S40 with a dual armament, an APX4 turret with a 47mm SA35 gun and a 75mm hull gun. It is a kind of B1bis but weighting about 25 tons instead of 32 tons. The armor would reach 60mm, there is a 300hp engine (12 cylinders) allowing to reach 40 km/h and the hull gun as a traverse of 12°. This project is not continued but will lead to the development of the Somua SAu40.

• The SEAM developped the G1P. P is designing prince Poniatowsky, leader of the engineering/study department. This project is also a dual tank. It is a tank weighting 30 tons with 4 crew members (commander, driver, hull gunner and radio operator).
This tank came through different development levels. There are at least 2 fore-projects levels and 1 prototype level (there are photos of the single prototype built). According to the size fo the APX4, the estimated dimensions of the tank are length = ?; width = 2920-2940mm; height = 2730-2760mm; height of the hull = 1740-1830mm.
Only one prototype has been buit but never completely achieved (engine was not corresponding to the requirements, turret and armement were never mounted). The Germans will capture this single prototype in 1940 according to photographic evidences.
The hull is made of cast armor. The shape is very modern according to the last drawings and less square than on the first drawings. The tracks are protected by armor and the transmission is electric.
The armament consists in a 75mm SA35 in the hull but with a traverse like in the B1ter (unlike in the B1bis) and a 47mm SA35 in the turret. There were also one co-axial MG and a hull MG.

• Renault develops a different tank, with a modern chassis and all the armament in a new kind of turret. The turret will be equipped with a 47mm L/53 high velocity gun (V° = 840 m/s) and/or a 75mm gun (shortened 75mm Mle1897 barrel with a semi-automatic breech Mle1935 - V° = 555 m/s). The studies from Renault are more similar to the Panzer IV in Germany, the T34 in Russia or the future M4 Sherman in 1942, which will be partly inspired by French engineers detached in Washington in July 1940. The G1R would have been produced in September 1940 (the effective war against Germany was not expected before 1941) but the development was stopped in June 1940. The French in 1937/1939 also preferred a dual armament at this time, like the British for the first developments of the Churchill and the USA with the later M3 Grant for the USA. In May 1940, the combats proved that Renault was right with its 75mm gun mounted in the turret and such a tank would have been really useful. The USA will nonetheless develop the M3 Grant, arguing that it was too intricate to handle 75mm shells in a small turret. The British will cancel the planned mounting of a 3 inches (76.2mm) gun in the Chassis of the Churchill after Saint-Nazaire in 1941 and the first combats in North-Africa. The Renault G1R is armed with a 47mm SA37 L/53 gun or a 75mm gun based on the barrel of the 75mm Mle1897 field gun, both can be seen on the wooden models made by Renault. The anti-tank capacity is far better with the 47mm gun but the HE shells are more powerful for the 75mm guns. It is therefore planned to arm platoons of 3-5 tanks with 47mm and 75mm armed tanks. The 75mm gun would also have been able to fire the new Brandt 75/57mm sub-calibrated shells and Brandt HEAT shells.

After visiting Germany in late 1929/early 1930, members of the Soviet Mission invited the German engineer Edward Grote to the USSR. After his arrival, Grote began work at the AVO-5 Design Office, within the Aviation Engine Department of the 'Bolshevik' Factory. He led a team that was engaged on designing on a heavily armored, medium-weight tank as an alternative to the maneuverable T-24 . In 1930, prototypes of the experimental, TG Tank (Tank Grote) were subjected to trials and found to have some faults. Despite rectifying the faults that were found during testing, it was decided that the TG Tank would not be placed in production. Further work on the TG Tank was suspended and the services of Edward Grote were no longer required and in August 1933, Grote was requested to leave the USSR. He was then thought to have gone to France and worked for Renault on the development of the experimental G1R tank. On the declaration of war he may have moved to the USA and been involved in the design of the Sherman tank. He is barely mentioned anywhere except for the US immigration records for that period that recorded an Edward Grote as taking up employment with the US Government in mid 1940.


Concerning the AA defenses:

1) First a word about radar systems:

Information on French radar development, taken from Louis Brown's "A radar history of World War Two : technical and military imperatives", Institute of Physics Pub., 1999. His account draws heavily on papers presented at a IEE Conference and expanded for publication in Robert Burns' "Radar development to 1945", London, Peter Peregrinus, 1988 as well as some articles in French Magazines.

The pioneers were :
• Pierre David, at the Laboratoire National de Radioelectricité, who, by 1934, had created a radio "barrier" ("barrage" in French), consisting of a transmitter and a widely separated receiver, which sensed a disturbance when a plane passed between them. These barriers were soon installed at the ports of Cherbourg, Brest, Toulon and Bizerte, on a ship- and aircraft-detection role, but observations were difficult to interpret
• Camille Gutton, at the Societé Française Radio-Electrique (SFR), who created a very low-powered continous-wave 16-cm set (less than 1W), tried unsuccessfully on aircraft in 1934 and installed aboard a French liner in 1935, also not very successfully.

As a second step, David devised a method of using multiple stations to determine direction and speed, by using observed Doppler shift on each station. The system could easily be confused by multiple aircraft or formations in the observed area. Nevertheless, both the Army and the Navy ordered sets (12 stations (fixed) along two lines around Reims and in the Argonne and 20 mobile for the Army, at least two stations built and 4 more planned for the Navy). In October 1938, he proposed, without much of a favourable reception, a pulse-echo system, which would in theory allow for direct ranging. Gutton, on his turn, developed a 16-cm pulsed set, installed at Brest, but the lack of a suitably-powered transmitter at such small wavelengths did not enable aircraft detection, only short range ship detection and ranging.

Finally, on April 1939, the British disclosed their work on radar, which led to orders for pulse radars with a 6 meters, 12 kW transmitter produced by SADIR in October 1939, with a detection range of 60 km. The British air-defence radar grew out of a public debate in the British Parliament in 1935 about protection from bombers in case of a war. The RAF believed that the air war would be a strategic bombing duel. As a result, its performance was poor when it was fighting in France, and of course as a strategic bombing force it was hopeless, but when as a result of entirely unplanned circumstances (i.e. utter defeat resulting in the fall of France) it found itself in the situation that it had planned for, i.e. fighting a strategic bombing offensive, then it performed well.

As an aside regarding Gutton's work, virtually every country started research using cm-wave, but gave up after a while, because of low power. Only the discovery of the magnetron enabled functional cm-vave sets to be created. As can be seen, initial interest was naval, a pattern repeated in Germany and, IIRC, in the USA, perfectly reasonable considering the huge advantages accruing to the possession of radar. The Air Force, apparently, never got involved with radar at the beginning. This is probably an important clue as to why the British had a better system : they developed radar from the outset to be part of an air defence command structure, and not as a technological tool that had to be integrated afterwards in the existing system. Having discovered early the advantages of integration [considering weapons as a system, to put it another way] they remained in the lead throughout the war, even when their equipment was technically inferior (something true as regards Germany until the introduction of cm-wave radar, in 1942-1943).

If the French have had fully operational radar systems in June 1940. German losses could have been higher, true, but the range were shorter than at the English Channel (less warning time). Nevertheless the British planned to deploy radars on French ground during 1940 which could have played a key role during a German attack launched in 1941 rather than in May 1940.

2) The AA guns:

Number of French AA guns available for the army in 1939/1940 in metropolitan France
(According to Stéphane Ferrard)
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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 27 Nov 2006 00:32

In 1940, the French army France had 20x 94mm Vickers AA guns beside about 40x Schneider 90mm AA guns (Mle1926/1930 and 1939) and about 135x 105mm Mle1915/1934 AA guns.
From the 1695x 75mm AA guns listed, 876x are based on the 75mm Mle1897 gun and fire the 75x350R shell (75mm Mle1913/34, Mle1915/34 and Mle1915). The other 819x 75mm AA guns are based on the 75mm Mle1928 Schneider gun and fire the 75x837R shell (75mm Mle1917/34, Mle1930, Mle1932, Mle1933 and Mle1928/39). That makes a total of 1890 potentially available heavy AA guns. In comparison at the same time, the Germans had more than 2500 8.8cm and 10.5cm AA guns. The French army had only about 270 light AA guns (13.2mm) and 1331 medium AA guns (20-40mm) available in May 1940. Further deliveries led to about 1900 medium AA guns available. In comparison, the Wehrmacht on May 10, 1940 had about 6500 2.0cm and 3.7cm AA guns covering the troops advancing in France. These AA guns caused the main losses in the French air force while the Luftwaffe encountered much less AA fire.

Beside the number of AA guns, the main issue was really the quantity of ammunition ... in 1941 the French Army would have larger stockpiles.

The important gun in 1941 would probably have been the mm Mle1939 AA gun (Schneider) – 9.0 cm Flak M39(f) -
Caliber: 90x673R mm
Barrel length: 4500 mm (3780 mm rifling)
Battle-station weight: 5760 kg
Rate of fire: 15 rpm
Muzzle velocity: 810 m/s (projectile of 9.5kg)
Traverse: 360°
Elevation: -4° to 80°
Maximum range: 11000 m

In May 1940, the French had very few 90mm Mle1939 AA guns and several older 90mm Mle1926/1930 and Mle1928/1931 AA guns used on the ground but mainly by the French navy.
Five mobile batteries were deployed on the ground around Paris and had shells enabling them to be used in direct AT fire. Some were used in direct AT fire in North Africa initially against the landing US troops in November 1942.

The 90mm Mle1939 AA gun was planned to replace all the obsolete 105mm AA guns and progressively the old 75mm AA guns. The Germans captured them and achieved the production of several more. They still used 36 of these guns in January 1944.

The 130 mm Mle1935 AA gun was only used on the ships of the French navy in 1940. It was intended to be developed for ground units too but it could not be done before the armistice.



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Post by David Lehmann » 27 Nov 2006 00:48


I largely updated post n°2 in this thread.

Note also that in 1941 the French would have a higher number of AT mines.

In May 1940 we had:
- Anti-tank stakes or "piquet Ollivier"
- Improvised anti-tank shell mines
- Mine à charge allongée Mle1935 (steel) / Mle1936 (aluminium) - German : sPzMi 420(f) -
- Mine légère Mle1936 - German : lePzMi 407(f) -
- Heavier AT mine developed in 1940 ... that would have been in service in 1941
- Foreign AT mines
End 1939 France ordered 1,200,000 3-4kg AT mines to Italy. They were to be delivered in 6 months and were bough for 75 millions francs. There are no information about the delivery but in October 1939 the Engineer corps was asked to "prepare the stockpilling of the AT mines ordered in Italy, likely to be delivered quickly".

The French had also AP mines:
- based on a F1 defensive grenade, more a trap
- Mle1939 bounding mine



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Re: If France had not fallen...

Post by jocuri » 18 May 2009 13:33

The plies are bonded under heat and pressure with strong adhesives, usually phenol formaldehyde resin, making plywood a type of composite material) over stringers in a semi-monocoque (French for "single shell" or unibody). The layout was conventional, a low-wing monoplane that bore a striking resemblance to the later Italian Macchi C.202.

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Re: If France had not fallen...

Post by bf109 emil » 21 Jul 2009 17:20

This thread should be moved to the what if thread...even had France not fallen, being at war and having her factories bombed continuously by LW planes and such, the figures shown are just this, a what if, and the numbers impossed are also a what if, as supplies of materials, workers now called to active duty, transportation of materials, shipping of goods would have all been seriously restricted and if we are to assume these numbers we must also assume they are greatly exaggerated and wishful thinking...perhaps this thread should be labeled the Potential capacity of French Industrial armaments...not "If France had not fallen" or better yet had been "France economy in ruins rearming...just in case"

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Re: If France had not fallen...

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 23 Sep 2009 12:34

To May 1940 the Doctrine of 'The Methodical Battle' dominated French army tactics. Were there any differing views, other than the old mongraph by DeGualle about armor use. Did the doctrine of the Cavalry match closely the primary army doctrine of was it 'less methodical'? To put this a different way, were there any alternative doctrines ready to emerge, or were alternatives to poorly developed in 1940?

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Re: If France had not fallen...

Post by Bronsky » 23 Sep 2009 18:01

Some quick replies:

1. The cavalry held generally different views, its problem was that after the experience of WWI and the expectation that WWII would be even more firepower-intensive, its institutional position was that of a solution looking for a problem. It did fine for colonial warfare, otherwise it was confined to a general screening and reconnaissance role.

2. Gamelin was not a cavalryman, when the Cavalry approached him to get a new armored car design he wanted it armored, even if that meant sacrificing speed, thus turning it into a light tank. This example is to illustrate who held the upper hand.

3. There were differing views. De Gaulle wasn't the only one - and he was an infantryman, not a cavalryman! - the situation was a bit like that of the British Army. French performance in 1943-45 shows the leaders were able to adapt to mobile warfare, which means there was a mobile warfare corpus of doctrine (consider it a sort of "shadow doctrine" on the British model if it helps) to draw upon and a pool of leaders willing to implement it.

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Re: If France had not fallen...

Post by phylo_roadking » 24 Sep 2009 17:57

In terms of French armour doctrine - possibly one of the major turning points in the event of a "France Fights On" scenario would have been the death - or not! - of Rene Prieux...whos tanks had fought the Germans to a standstill in the Gembloux Gap...despite all their unrelability, inbuilt problems, and unsuitable doctrines :wink: If HE had lived to guide the development of French armour doctrine by experience.... 8O

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