French weapons

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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THE_BEAR
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French weapons

Post by THE_BEAR » 09 Dec 2004 18:09

Hi my dads dads was in the french special army during ww2 they wore WHITE UNIFORMS (bit strange) i was wonding what the standard french wepons where during ww2. :)

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 09 Dec 2004 23:50

Hello,

Would you have a photo to share ?
What do you mean by "special army" exactly ?

Was he in the French army during the 1939/1940 period or during the 1941-1945 wartime ?

If you have seen heem with "white" uniform it can indeed be a white camo for a SES (elite ski scout platoon) or a Groupe Franc ... or perhaps a camo in the desert that seems white on your photo ?

Concerning the 1939/1940 period I will detail you the small arms. During 1941-1943 mainly a mix of British and French weapons. During 1943-1945 a mix of US/British/French and even German weapons.

SMALL ARMS IN 1940

Pistolet signaleur Mle1918
Type : flare pistol
Caliber : 25mm or 35mm
Weight (empty) : 1100 g (25mm) or 1370 g (35mm)
The 25mm or 35mm flare pistol fires illuminating/signal flares with or without parachute.

Revolver Lebel Mle1892 - German : Revolver 637(f) -
Type : Revolver (double action)
Total length : 239 mm
Weight (empty) : 840 g
Barrel Length : 117 mm
Caliber : 8 mm Lebel
Magazine : 6 rounds
V° : 225 m/s

Pistolet automatique SACM 1935A and 1935S - German : Pistole 625(f) -
Type : Semi-automatic pistol (single action)
Total length : 195 mm (A) and 190 mm (S)
Weight (empty) : 743 g (A) and 768 g (S)
Barrel Length : 110 mm (A) and 106 mm (S)
Caliber : 7.65x22 mm Longue
Magazine : 8 rounds magazines
V° : 345 m/s

Pistolet automatique Ruby - German : Pistole 624(f) - (Spanish)
Type : Semi-automatic pistol (single action)
Total length : 185 mm
Weight (empty) : 810 g
Barrel Length : 85 mm
Caliber : 7.65x17 mm (.32 ACP)
Magazine : 9 rounds magazines
V° : 260 m/s

Pistolet automatique Star Mle troupe and Mle officier - German : Pistole 623(f) - (Spanish)
Type : Semi-automatic pistol (single action)
Total length : 205 mm (troupe) 190 mm (officier)
Weight (empty) : 910 g (troupe) 880 g (officier)
Barrel Length : 138 mm (troupe) 126 mm (officier)
Caliber : 7.65x17 mm (.32 ACP)
Magazine : 9 rounds magazines
V° : 260 m/s

Pistolet Mitrailleur MAS38 - German : Maschinenpistole 722(f) -
Type : Sub-machinegun
Total length : 630 mm
Weight (empty) : 2.90 kg
Barrel Length : 220 mm
Caliber : 7.65x22 mm Longue
Magazine : 32 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 640 rpm
V° : 380 m/s

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1939 PETTER
Type : Sub-machinegun
Total length : 645 mm (388 mm with folded stock)
Weight (empty) : 2.90 kg
Barrel Length : 200 mm
Caliber : 7.65x22 mm Longue
Magazine : 36 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 600 rpm
V° : 380 m/s

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1924 STA
Type : Sub-machinegun
Total length : 855 mm
Weight (empty) : 3.50 kg
Barrel Length : 240 mm
Caliber : 9x19 mm
Magazine : 32 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 380 rpm
V° : 360 m/s

Pistolet Mitrailleur Type ETVS - German : Maschinenpistole 721(f) -
Type : Sub-machinegun
Total length : 670 mm (420 mm with folded stock)
Weight (empty) : 2.70 kg
Barrel Length : 210 mm
Caliber : 7.65x22 mm Longue
Magazine : 32 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 500 rpm
V° : 380 m/s
Only 50 delivered.

Pistolet Mitrailleur Erma Vollmer (Erma MP) - German : Maschinenpistole 740(f) - (ex Spanish)
Type : Sub-machinegun
Total length : 890 mm
Weight (empty) : 4.30 kg
Barrel Length : 250 mm
Caliber : 9x19 mm
Magazine : 32 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 500 rpm
V° : 390 m/s

Carabine Lebel Mle1886/93 R35 - German : Gewehr 303(f) -
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 959 mm (1359 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.750 kg
Barrel Length : 450 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 6 rounds in a tubular magazine
V° : 637 m/s

Mousqueton Berthier Mle1892 M16 - German : Karabiner 553(f) -
Type : Bolt action carbine
Total length : 950 mm (1350 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.25 kg
Barrel Length : 453 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 637 m/s

Fusil Lebel Mle1886/93 - German : Gewehr 301(f) -
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1307 mm (1820 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 4.18 kg
Weight (with 8 cartridges) : 4.415 kg
Barrel length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 8 rounds in a tubular magazine + 1 loaded
V° : 701 m/s (Mle1886D cartridge) or 840 m/s (AP cartridge, penetration of 6mm at 400m)
Rate of fire : 13-14 rpm (trials at the Mont Valérien)
Sights : iron sights dialing from 250m to 2400m.

Fusil Berthier Mle1907/1915 - German : Gewehr 302(f) -
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1306 mm (1826 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.81 kg
Barrel Length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 3 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s

Fusil Berthier Mle1916 - German : Gewehr 304(f) -
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1305 mm (1825 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 4.195 kg
Barrel Length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s

Fusil Berthier Mle1907/15 M34 - German : Gewehr 241(f) -
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1080 mm (1600 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.70 kg
Barrel Length : 580 mm
Caliber : 7.5x54 mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 820 m/s
The Berthier Mle1907/15 M34 had iron sights up to 900m.

Fusil "automatique" R.S.C. Mle1917 / Mle1918 - German : Selbstlade-Gewehr 310(f) -
Type : Semi-automatic rifle
Total length : 1330 mm (1850 mm with bayonet) for the 1917 and 1110 mm for the 1918
Weight (empty) : 5.27 kg (1917) or 4.77 kg (1918)
Barrel Length : 800 mm (1917) or 580 mm (1918)
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 701 m/s
Principally used during the end of WW1 and the Rif war in Morocco (1921-1926) but also a few in France in 1940 and issued to sharpshooters. RSC means "Ribeyrolle Sutter Chauchat". The RSC Mle1917 was produced in a rush, without lengthy trials and quality improved as defaults were reported from the front line. The main default of the RSC Mle17 was its chambering for the 8x50R Lebel cartridge, being too easily jammed by dirt. About 80000 were made from various subcontractors, the assembly being carried out at Saint Etienne (5000/month). The RSC Mle1918 was introduced later into the war, mainly a shorter barrel version with all the improvements implemented in the Mle1917 and with the standard Berthier 5 rounds clip system contrary to the Mle1917 dedicated clip.
About 10000 RSC Mle1918 were built with end of production early 1919. The RSC Mle18 was well spoken of by its users. During WW1 the French semi-automatic rifles were distributed to infantry units, 16 per company, to be used by sharpshooters and platoon leaders.
Considering French semi-automatic rifles, 6000 Meunier Mle1910 rifles in 7x59mm were built and delivered to the French army in 1916 (A6 model), giving satisfaction to the end user but ammunition supply was a nightmare, they were used during WW1.

Fusil MAS Mle1936 - German : Gewehr 242(f) -
Type : Bolt action rifle
Total length : 1020 mm (1320 mm with bayonet)
Weight (empty) : 3.72 kg
Barrel Length : 580 mm
Caliber : 7.5x54 mm
Magazine : 5 rounds clips
V° : 820 m/s
Rate of fire : 12 rpm
The MAS36 had iron sight graduated from 200m to 1200m.

Sniper rifle
The rifles issued to the snipers had the special mount for the scope and specially selected rifles with higher level of engineering in order to increase the accuracy. Each rifle was adjusted and fitted with a dedicated scope which had the number of the rifle marked on it. The scoped rifles were issued at the platoon level (1 for about 40 men) in 1939/1940 and several served also in the Corps Francs. The most common sniper rifle during both WW1 and 1939/1940 battles is the famous Lebel Mle1886/93 rifle but the Berthier Mle1916 is also used. They were equipped with the APX21 scope in 1940.

APX21 scope
length : 280mm
magnification : 3x
real field of view : 165mm
range dial : up to 1200m
reticule : V reticule (V)
marking : "A.PX21" followed by the number of the rifle to which the scope is assigned

The cartridge usually used is the Mle1886D (created by the captain - later squadron commander - Désaleux) and the Mle1886D a.m. (amorçage modifié = modified primer) with a V° of 701 m/s. The armor piercing cartridge "cartouche de 8mm à belle perforante (P)" can also be used (V° = 840 m/s) and was able to penetrate 6mm at 400m. The semi-automatic R.S.C. Mle1917/1918 rifle was used during WW1 and during the Rif war and several were still used in France in 1939/1940 and issued to the best sharpshooters but probably never to snipers (with a scope). This rifle like the MAS Mle1936 were probably never equipped with a scope but it is very likely that various trials has been led with the MAS36 rifle. In May-June 1940 there were also trials with the experimental MAS40 rifle (semi-automatic, 7.5x54 mm, 5 rounds clips, 10 rounds magazine or an other version with a 25 rounds magazine) and a new prismatic APX M686 scope but this scope proved to be inferior to the older APX21.


Fusil Mitrailleur Mle1915 Chauchat - German : leMG 156(f) -
Type : Light machinegun
Total length : 1170 mm
Weight (empty) : 9.32 kg
Barrel Length : 450 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 20 rounds half-moon magazines
Rate of fire : 250 rpm
V° : 637 m/s

Fusil Mitrailleur Châtellerault Mle1924/29 - German : leMG 116(f) -
Type : Light machinegun
Total length : 1007 mm
Weight (empty) : 8.93 kg
Barrel Length : 500 mm
Caliber : 7.5x54 mm
Magazine : 25 rounds magazines
Rate of fire : 600 rpm or single shot selection (practical rate of fire = 200-400 rpm)
V° : 820 m/s
Practical range : 1200m (maximum range 3200m)
Very accurate at short and medium range (up to 1200m), able to engage targets up to 2000m (max range is about 3000m).

Mitrailleuse Saint-Etienne Mle1907 - German : sMG 256(f) -
Type : Medium / heavy machinegun (air cooled)
Total length : 1180 mm
Weight (empty) : 23.8 kg with tripod
Barrel Length : 800 mm
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 24 rounds metal trays or 251 rounds flexible belts
Rate of fire : 500 rpm
V° : 690 m/s
Practical range : 2400m

Mitrailleuse Hotchkiss Mle1914 - German : sMG 257(f) -
Type : Medium / heavy machinegun (air cooled)
Total length : 1310 mm
Weight (empty) : 25 kg + 24 kg with tripod (Mle1916)
Barrel Length : 785 mm (4 grooves from right to left)
Caliber : 8x50R mm
Magazine : 24 rounds metal trays or 251 rounds flexible belts
Rate of fire : 500 rpm (practical rate of fire = 200-400 rpm)
V° : 690 m/s (Mle1932 N cartridges) or 701 m/s (Mle1886 D (am) cartridges)
Practical range : 2400m (iron sights) to 3500m (spirit level) (maximum range 5500m)
Very accurate even at long range, able to engage targets up to 2500m in direct fire with the Mle1932 N bullet. Also used in indirect fire mode at a range of 1500-3500m (one MG company covers an area of 200m long and 400m wide in indirect fire). The MG can be used in anti-aircraft role up to 1000m.
The metal trays could also be assembled to have 48, 96 etc. rounds. The 251 rounds belt is a series of 3 rounds strips connected together. The belt is 4.2m long and with the cartridges it weights about 8.5 kg. The Hotchkiss MG had an advantage over the Vickers and the Maxim HMGs in that they emitted no tell-tale plume of steam from the water cooling systems they didn't have. If the "steam cans" for the steam-water condensation were not connected to the above water-cooled MGs, there was a steam geyser after 150-200 rounds of fire.

Several of the accessories that can be used with the Hotchkiss Mle1914 MGs :
- Tripod (Omnibus Mle1915, Hotchkiss Mle1916) (standard)
- Iron sight Mle1918 (standard) (used up to 2400m)
- Spirit level Mle1918 (used from ranges > to 2400m and up to 3500m)
- Replacement barrels
- Case extractor Mle1907
- Flash hider
- Telemeter (S.O.M. Mle1925 or older Barr and Stroud Mle1909M, Mle1909-1912 and Mle1912)
- Periscope (Carvallo, S.O.M., Valette-Colmont)
- Compass-goniometer Mle1917 (for indirect fire) on a separate tripod
- MG goniometer Mle1936 (for indirect fire) mounted directly on the MG
- Tripod extension (for AA fire) (Rallonge Mle1928)
- Specific sight for AA fire (correteur Cazaux-Labat modifié)
- Specific stock for AA fire

For each MG the typical "north east" infantry regiment had about 6150 cartridges (2 flexible belts of 251 rounds and metal trays for each MG) :
- 5394 standard and heavy cartridges (D and N types cartridges)
- 540 armor piercing cartridges
- 216 tracer cartridges
In a motorized infantry regiment there were more than 9000 cartridges for each MG.

Fusil anti-char Boys (British)
Type : AT bolt action rifle
Total length : 1620 mm
Weight (empty) : 16.3 kg
Barrel Length : 915 mm
Caliber : 13.97x99B mm (.55in Boys)
Magazine : 5 rounds magazine
Penetration : 21 mm at 100 m
V° : 884 m/s
A modest number (several dozens) was provided by the British army which received 220 French 25mm AT guns which became the weapon of the BEF's brigade AT companies. The Boys AT rifles equipped some reconnaissance battalions (GRDI and GRCA) as well as the two airborne units in existence.

Mitrailleuse 7.5mm "Reibel" MAC Mle1931 - German : KpfwMG 311(f) -
Type : Medium / heavy machinegun used in fortifications (twin mounts) and vehicles, sometimes dismounted and used by the infantry.
Total length : 1030 mm
Weight (empty) : 11.8 kg
Barrel Length : 600 mm
Caliber : 7.5x54 mm
Magazine : 150 rounds drum magazine
Rate of fire : 750 rpm(practical rate of fire = 400 rpm)
V° : 840 m/s
Practical range : 1200m (maximum range 3200m)
Sight : iron sight up to 2400m (for the heavy ball) or telescopic sight (in tanks and in the fortifications)

Mitrailleuse de 13.2mm Hotchkiss Mle1930 - German : sMG 271(f) -
The 13.2mm Hotchkiss Mle1930 HMG was used by the army in several bunkers (96 HMGs in the Maginot Line on the Rhine River and in the Vosges fortifications), by the anti-aircraft forces (twin AAMG) and by the cavalry units (Laffly AM80 and AMR-35 ZT1). The French navy adopted it largely unlike the French army and installed them on double and quadruple AA mounts. It was exported to Japan, Italy, Japan and Romania. The Polish navy used the 13.2 mm AAMG Hotchkiss. It could be used in "anti-tank" role and heavy support by the vehicles.
Caliber : 13.2x99 mm
Telescopic sight : 2.3x (e.g. L.660 sight)
Rate of fire : 450 rpm
Capacity : 30 rounds magazine
V° : 800 m/s
Practical range : 1200m - 2500m (maximum range 6500m against ground targets)


NOTES :

1) RIFLES AND CARBINES AVAILABILITY :

• Fusil Lebel Mle 1886/93 (8mm, 8 rounds) was replaced by the different Berthier rifles but it is still present in 1940. It was the rifle used by French snipers (specially selected and engineered rifles) already during WW1 and still used in 1940, equipped with APX21 (or older APX17) scope.

• Fusil Berthier Mle 07/15 (8mm, 3 rounds), replacing the Lebel rifle in 1915, still present in 1940 but few

• Fusil Berthier Mle 1916 (8mm, 5 rounds), replaced the Lebel and 07/15 rifle in 1916, the MOST COMMON in 1940 (most of the infantry divisions, fortress infantry etc.)

• Fusil "Automatique" R.S.C. Mle1917 and 1918 (8mm, 5 rounds, semi-automatic) : 90000 produced. Mostly used during the Rif war but also by several sharpshooters in France in 1940.

• The Berthier rifle 1907/15 M34 (7.5mm, 5 rounds), 45000 delivered in 1938 issued to the professional units

• MAS Mle 36 (7.5mm, 5 rounds), 250000 delivered in 1939/1940 (60000 before the beginning of the phoney war, and the rest during the following months but 250000 were used in the units) also issued primarily to all active units (about 250000 men) (the professionnal ones : chasseurs portés, dragons portés, corps francs, chasseurs alpins, infanterie de l'air, légionnaires, some cavalry and infantry divisions).

• Mousqueton Berthier Mle 1892 M16 (8mm, 5 rounds) was used in the cavalry and several other units like artillery units I guess ... But it was also present in the Chasseurs Alpins, in the Corps Francs beside the rifles

• Mousqueton Lebel Mle1886/93 R35 (8 mm, 6 rounds) present in 1940 and mostly used by military police, cavalry and artillery units.

Therefore on the French side you had :
• 2,383,000 rifles in 8mm (among them 90000 semi-auto to the best shooters among the divisions)
• 295,000 rifles in 7.5 mm issued to the best divisions

The carbines, rifles as well as MGs used standard (normal or heavy ball cartridges) as well as AP, tracer and incendiary cartridges.


2) SMGs AVAILABILITY :

ALL the SMGs used by the French Army in 1940 :

French origin
PM MAS 38 : 1958
PM STA mle 1924 : 1200
PM Petter mle 1939 : 50
PM ETVS : 50

Foreign origin
MP 28 : 1000
MP 34 : 200
EMP : 3250
Steyr : about 50
Suomi M/31 : 150
Thompson 1921/1928 : 3000

The MAS38 had been developed but not really put into production in time for the 1940 campaign. It was thus rare, with only individual weapons seeing service rather than systematic issue to particular unit types. Used by Germans under the name MP 722(f).

The EMP is the most common SMG used by the French Army in 1939-40. They actually were seized from Spanish Republican troops at the end of the Spanish Civil War. 3250 MPE were counted but due to lack of magazines only about 1000-1500 were issued. The most common place to find this weapon was with the Corps Francs.

Most of the 3,000 delivered Thompson Mle1921 SMGs remained surprisingly in armories or were only tested in Morocco during 1940. They were only issued occasional in May/June 1940 or delivered to military police units (Gendarmes that fought on the Loire River for example). The Thompson SMGs were for example also used by the Laffly W15T CC tank destroyer crews (126 SMGs issued to the 14 slef-propelled anti-tank batteries) and apparently by several AA units. They were more largely distributed the Vichy French troops in 1941.

3) LMGs AVAILABILITY :

In 1916, the standard LMG of the squad is the FM 1915 "Chauchat", 225000 delivered (+ 35000 given to the USA)
Before 1918 about 10000 Browning FM BAR were also bought.
In 1922, 500 FM Madsen were tested.

The Army wanted the Browning FM BAR but it was too expensive.

In 1925, Adoption of the MAC FM 1924 : 50000 delivered (ammo = 7.5mm model 1924)

In 1934, Adoption of the MAC FM 24/29 (ammo = 7.5mm model 1929) and all the FM 24 transformed in FM 24/29. About 150000 delivered before 1940.

LMG from 1916 to 1934 : Chauchat, BAR, FM 1924
Since 1934 : FM 24/29 is officially THE LMG

Note : FM 24/29, St Etienne Mle1907 and Hotchkiss HMG are also used as AAMGs.


Regards,

David
Last edited by David Lehmann on 31 Aug 2005 19:46, edited 4 times in total.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 09 Dec 2004 23:56

GRENADES AND EXPLOSIVES

1) Offensive (dangerous in a 8-10m range) - In German service : Eihandgranate 302(f)
• Grenade OF (Mle1915, 1918, 1930, 1937 – various fuzes)
weight : 275g
explosive : 150g (cheddites)

2) Defensive (dangerous in a 100m range)
• Grenade F1 (Mle1916, 1918, 1930, 1937 – various fuzes)
weight : 660g
explosive : 60g

3) Incendiary (efficient in a 20m range)
• Grenade incendiaire Mle1937


4) Incendiary and smoke
• Grenade incendiaire et fumigène Mle1916 (efficient in a 20m range)
weight : 560g
active content : 300g

• Grenade incendiaire et fumigène Mle1916 and Mle1916 AB (incendiary charge)
weight : 750g
active content : 575g (calorite – which in fusion is piercing or welding all steel parts)

5) Rifle grenade

The 'Tromblon VB' (Tromblon Vivien-Bessière) grenade dischargers are fitted on Lebel Mle1886/93 rifles, Lebel Mle1886 R35 and sometimes MAS Mle1936 rifles. Every French infantry platoon has a group of VB grenade launchers. Feared for its efficiency among German troops since WW1 and very valuable because of their ability to engage and destroy entrenched troops and MGs. The VB grenade was used during WW1 by the USA and UK and copied by the Germans.
The discharger is attached to the muzzle of the rifle and either 1 or 2 grenades, as desired, are inserted. The rifle is loaded with an ordinary cartridge. The bullet is fired and passes through the barrel of the rifle and the central tube of the grenade(s), forcing the striker against the primer and igniting the fuze, the VB rifle grenade will explode 8 seconds later. The gases generated by firing the cartridge collect in the lower chamber of the discharger and exert a pressure on the base of the grenade great enough to propel the later at a distance of 170m with a rifle (800mm barrel) when only 1 grenade is fired.
These grenades were shipped in wooden boxes that held a total of 48 each. Each box was marked with a painted yellow circle that had black lettering which contained the following information in it; Top line: the type of grenade it carried ( V.B. EXP. ) and number contained, Second line: type of explosive, who manufactured the explosive, the Lot number along with the month and year it was manufactured in, Third line: the manufacturer who filled the grenade, the Lot number along with the month and year it was done.
There is a minimum range because the grenade would have to be fired close to the vertical and would explode in the air, before reaching the ground. That can nevertheless be used to create dangerous air bursts. The range is 80m with an angle of 85° and 175m with an angle of 50° when usind a rifle with a 800mm barrel.
The Tromblon was carried in a special shaped leather holster called an Etui which was normally worn on the waist belt of the grenadier. A special sight called the "appareil de pointage et de repérage Mle1917" and Mle1917M (modified) was developed for use with the tromblon that could used to help verify the angle at which the weapon was fired and aided in determining the approximate range the grenade was to go. The differences between the two different sights was in the range calibrations. These sights were affixed to the rear sight of the weapon by means of a hand-tightened screw.

• Grenade explosive Mle1915 (VB de guerre) (explosive and fragmentation, dangerous in a 100m range)
caliber : 50 mm
weight : 490g
explosive : 60g
range : 80-170 m (800mm barrel rifle) or 145-215m (450mm barrel carbine)
The sighting device Mle1917 M is graduated from 10m to 10m until 170m
rate of fire : 4-9 rpm (therefore usually a group of 3-4 VB launchers are firing together)

There were about 16 tromblons VB issued per company which could cover a 200m wide front and fire together at up to 150 rpm.
Ranges of VB grenades : the grenades range was determined by the angle of fire that the trombon was pointed when the grenade fired.

Angle of Fire and Range (with the Balle "D" service bullet loaded with BN3F powder and 800mm barrel ) :
45° : 190 meters
50° : 175 meters
55° : 170 meters
60° : 160 meters
65° : 140 to 150 meters
75° : 110 to 120 meters
80° : 85 to 100 meters
85° : 80 meters


• VB illuminating/flare grenade (had to be fired with a cartridge without bullet which is also shown on the photo)

• VB message grenade
The message grenade, called grenade "lance-messages" or "grenade porte-messages", was used to send messages from one trench section to another over heavily engaged areas. These grenades contained a fuze which at the end of the fuses cycle would detonate a small smoke packet so that it could be found. Range of 350m.

Note : 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. It entered in production during May 1940 and was successfully tested at the Satory test range on 10th June 1940 but they could not be issued to the combat units before the armistice.
The patents were sent to the USA in June 1940 and were used as basis to develop the M9 AT rifle grenade and the HEAT rocket of the Bazookas.


6) Anti-tank
Grenade anti-char Mle1918 (probably not in use anymore in 1940)


7) Bouteilles incendiaires (Molotov cocktails) were also used by the French troops


8 ) Explosive charges – generally with melenite

There are various explosive charges in brass boxes / tubes.

• Pétard de 20kg Mle1929
explosive : 20kg
size : 475mm x 170mm x 170mm

• Pétard de 10kg Mle1929
explosive : 10kg
size : 270mm x 170mm x 170mm

• Pétard de 1kg Mle1929
explosive : 1kg
size : 38mm x 73mm x 273mm

• Pétard de 135g Mle1928
total weight : 200g
explosive : 135g
size : 148.5mm x 33.5mm x 21.2mm

Used alone or in multiple charges : concentrated (2 to 20 charges) or juxtaposed (7 charges for 1 meter) for various destruction tasks (walls, barbed wire networks, trees, railroads, equipments etc.).

In a typical infantry regiment there are 108 of these 135g explosive charges and 46 detonators.

In the cavalry units all armoured cars had 4 such explosive charges and most horse mounted men, motorcyclists or dragons portés (motorized infantry : on side-cars, trucks or halftracks) carry one explosive charge. One dragons portés regiment in a DLM had for example a total of 1200 explosive charges and 800 detonators.

• Cartouche de 100g Mle1929
total weight : 125g
explosive : 100g
size : dimater of 29mm and length of 129mm

• Pétard de 60g Mle1929
explosive : 60g
size : 73mm x 33.5mm x 21mm
This charge is used as relaying / joining / igniting charge

The standard dotation of an engineer platoon / company is following :

● Engineer platoon
10kg charge : 1
1kg charge : 12
135g charge : 475
100g charge : 192
60g charge : 50
--> total : about 108 kg explosives

● Engineer company
10kg charge : 4
1kg charge : 48
135g charge : 1900
100g charge : 768
60g charge : 200
--> total : about 434 kg explosives


MINES

1) Piquet Ollivier

This was an improvised AT mine using a 3.5kg explosive charge or an old 120mm artillery shell (4.2kg explosive) dug verticaly in the ground, with a 1m stake attached to the explosive charge or fuze. A tank hitting it would detonate the charge or shell. The Piquet Ollivier was directed against the wheels, tracks and bottom armor of the tanks when they rolled over it. This device was mainly used in the Maginot line, it was often hidden in bushes and hedges but mainly deployed around the fortifications :
• among the rails of anti-tank obsctacle
• among the stacks of barbed wire networks

2) Anti-tank mines

• Mine anti-char légère - German : lePzMi 407(f) -
Length : 240mm
Width : 140mm
Height : 114mm
Weight : 6.6kg
Type of filling : picric acid
Firing pressure : 190-225kg

• Mine anti-char lourde - German : lePzMi 420(f) -
Length : 406mm
Width : 254mm
Height : 120mm
Weight : 12kg
Type of filling : picric acid
Firing pressure : 363kg

French had AT mines, despite the popular misconception, and these were quite commonly issued and used during the campaign and not only by engineer units but for example all cavalry, reconnaissance, mechanized or motorized infantry battalions were theoretical equipped with AT-mines. At least two types of AT mines were available. The divisional AT company (or CDAC) of a type 'north east' motorized infantry division had for example 10 light trucks transporting AT mines (perhaps about 1200 AT mines).
They were used extensively at Gembloux where they formed an integrated part of the overwhelmingly successful AT defense and at this defensive area the German never break through the French lines. The engineers layed a large number before the battle. One account by a 25mm AT gunner also mentions a tankette coming up to resupply them during a pause in the battle. As well as ammunition it brought a quantity of AT mines, which the gunners laid in front of their position. At Sedan thousands of AT mines had been laid months before the campaign. Unfortunately they were reported to have been adversely affected by damp and so were dug up to be fixed. Sadly time did not permit them to be laid again, which was kind of unfortunate. French captured AT mines were also later extensively used by the Germans, especially during the battles in North Africa.

The French doctrine planned the deployment of 1370 mines/km on 1 row or 2740 mines/km on 2 staggered rows. The mines were placed in linear groups of 5 on a length of 2.50m, the groups being separated by 1.40m gaps. Such a minefield was usually prepared in 8 hours.


3) Anti-personnel mine, bounding, Mle1939

This French anti-personnel bounding mine must have preceded the notorious German S-Mine by at least two years. The later US M2A4 anti-personnel mine (standard issue for the US Army during the early 50's) is also almost an exact twin of the French one.
This version is designed to throw a 60mm mortar bomb into the air so that it will explode at a height of between 0.5m and 2.0m. The flash from the cap in the igniter fires the propelling charge. The gases produced from this charge expand into the space in the base of the projector tube and throw up the pressed steel cap together with the mortar bomb screwed to it. At the same time the delay pellet is ignited and after a delay of about 1/5th second the detonator and bomb are exploded.
The mine consists of a steel 60.3 mm bore tube closed at its upper end by a cap, with a rubber sealing washer, which is held in position by clips. At its lower end it is closed by a machined base plate, driven in position and fixed by dowels, into which is screwed a flash tube. An igniter adapter is screwed on to the open end of the flash tube. Located in the flash tube is a propelling charge, consisting of 0.8g of black powder. Inside the projector tube, the pressed steel cap, to which is welded the fuze holder is a push fit over the base plate. The fuze holder is threaded externally to fit into the mortar bomb and internally to take the holder containing a detonator. The bush containing a delay pellet is screwed into the fuse holder. There is a small distance piece to prevent the detonator from being screwed down on to the delay pellet. The projector tube and flash tube are fixed to a rectangular plate. This plate is designed to fit over the hole, in which the lower part of the mine is placed, to ensure that the mine remains vertical and also to prevent it from sinking if it is used with a pressure igniter. A winged plug is provided to screw into the tail of the bomb to assist screwing it on to the fuze assembly.

Regards,

David

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Post by David Lehmann » 10 Dec 2004 00:06

MORTARS

Mortier de 50mm Mle1937
The 50mm Mle1937 mortar was issued in 1939 to replace the French rifle grenade (VB launcher) in use at the platoon level. Few saw action in 1940 but they were really distributed to the Vichy army. This exceedingly light weapon was used by the Germans as the 5cm Granatenwerfer 203(f).
Type : Light mortar
Caliber : 50 mm
Barrel length : 415mm
Weight in action : 3.65 kg
Elevation : 45° (fixed)
Traverse : 8°
Rate of fire : 20-25 rpm
Ammunitions :
HE shell
Shell weight : 0.435 kg
Maximum range : 695 m
V° : 70 m/s

Mortier de 60 mm Mle1935
The 60mm Mle1935 was one of the many products of the Edgar Brandt design bureau and it entered in French service in 1937. It became in the USA the 60mm M1 mortar (and from that the M2 and M19). The French had 4940 60mm Mle1935 mortars in service in 1940. Usually there were 96 shells immediately at disposal in the mortar trailer (the crew could carry 42 shells), 54 more in the accompanying trailer/truck at the company level and 50 more shells at the regimental level for a total of 200 HE shells per mortar in a French 1940 infantry regiment. The Chinese copied it as the Type 31 with a slightly shorter barrel. The Germans used it under the name 6cm Granatenwerfer 225(f).
Type : Light mortar
Crew : 1 NCO + 4 men (+ 1 driver)
Caliber : 60.7mm
Barrel length : 724mm
Weight in action : 19.7kg
Elevation : 45° - 83°
Traverse : depending from the elevation (11° at 45° elevation, 13.5° at 60° elevation and 20.5° at 75° elevation)
Rate of fire : 20-25 rpm
Ammunitions :
FA Mle1935 HE light shell
Shell weight : 1.33 kg (160g explosive)
Maximum range : 1700 m
V° : 158 m/s

FA Mle1935 HE heavy shell
Shell weight : 2.20 kg
Maximum range : 950 m
V° : 158 m/s

Mortier Brandt de 81mm Mle1927/1931
The 81mm mortar produced by the French Brandt firm became a 'classic' design of its era and was copied or licence-built by almost every army in Europe and elsewhere (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Germany - 8.14cm GrW 278(f) and 278/1(f) -, Italy - 81/14 modello 35 -, Japan - 81mm Type 3 -, Yugoslavia - 8.1cm MWM 31/38 Kragvjewac -, Netherlands, Poland - wz.31 -, USA - 81mm mortar M1 -, USSR - 82mm model 1936 -). It remains to this day the epitome of conventional mortar design. In 1940, the French had over 8000 in service in two main versions (L/15.6 and L/13.7). Usually there were 48 HE shells immediately at disposal in the mortar trailer, 68 HE + 12 smoke shells in the accompanying ammunition trailer and 12 HE + 10 smoke at the company level and each regiment had also 30 'GC' shell (high explosive content). Therefore each 81mm mortar in a French 1940 infantry regiment had a total of 134 HE, 3-4 'GC' HE, 36 smoke shells and a number of illuminating shells.
Type : Medium mortar
Crew : 1 NCO + 5 men (+ 1 driver)
Caliber : 81.4 mm
Barrel length : 1267.5mm
Weight in action : 58.5kg (18.5kg barrel, 18kg bipod, 1.5kg sight, 20.5kg base plate)
Elevation : 45° - 85°
Traverse : depending from the elevation (8° - 12°)
Rate of fire : 20 rpm (up to 30 rpm in intense fire with a trained crew)
Ammunitions :
FA Mle1924/27 HE shell
Shell weight : 3.310 kg (400g explosive)
Maximum range : 2850m
V° : 174 m/s

FA Mle1932 HE shell
Shell weight : 3.345 kg (530g explosive)
Maximum range : 2850m
V° : 174 m/s

FA Mle1935 'GC' (GC = grande capacité = high capacity) heavy HE shell
Shell weight : 6.845 kg (2.400kg explosive)
Maximum range : 1200 m
V° : 158 m/s

FA Mle1924/27 or Mle1932 smoke shell
Shell weight : 3.310-3.345 kg (225g smoke component)
Maximum range : 2850m
V° : 174 m/s

FA Mle1924/27 or Mle1932 illuminating shell
Shell weight : 0.850-1.000 kg (with or without parachute)

Accuracy of the 81mm Mle1937/31 mortar :
• 8m x 17m square at 460m range
• 9m x 32m square at 995m range
• 17m x 35m square at 1730m range
• 32m x 42m square at 2060m range

Mortier Brandt de 120mm Mle1935
This heavy mortar had been adopted by the French Army and a squad of 2 mortars should have been issued in each regiment in 1940 but very few had been delivered before the armistice and the weapon was not really issued.
Type : Heavy mortar
Crew : 1 NCO + 6 men (+ 1 driver)
Caliber : 120mm
ROF : 10-12 rpm
Ammunitions :
HE shell
Shell weight : 16.4 kg
Maximum range : 7000 m



INFANTRY GUNS

Canon de 37mm L/21 Mle1916 TR
This infantry gun was first used during WW1, TR means "Tir Rapide" or "rapid fire". The USA adopted it and it was designated 37mm M1916. However, by 1941 most of them had been put into storage but it was used against the Japanese. The Japanese Type 11 gun was based on this French design. For transport this weapon could be broken down into 3 sections. In addition, wheels could be attached for towing. These guns were sometimes equipped with an armored shield. In German service it was known as the 3.7cm IG 152(f).
1036 of these guns are still in service in 1940 in the French army (mostly in second line infantry divisions) to fulfill the infantry gun and AT gun tasks since there are not enough of the new 25mm AT guns in service in the infantry units. It was very accurate and had a high rate of fire. Each 37mm infantry gun had 120 Mle1916 HE and 80 Mle1892M AP shells available in a French 1940 infantry regiment.
Caliber : 37mm
Crew : 1 NCO + 6 men
Length : 3.50m
Width : 1.05m
Barrel length : 0.79m
Weight in action : 108 kg
Weight in travel : 160 kg
Rate of fire : 15-30 rpm
Traverse : 35°
Elevation : -8° to +17°
Telescopic sight : 2x (L.698 sight, field of view 7.88°, + reticle, adjustable drum up to 1800m)
Muzzle velocity : 367-600 m/s (HE and AP shell)
Max Range : 2400m
Practical range : 400m against light armored vehicles and 1500m against soft targets
Penetration : 18mm /35° at 400m with the AP shell


ANTI-TANK GUNS

In a classical French infantry division there are theoretically up to 61-64x AT guns :

• 12x 25mm SA34/SA37 AT guns in each of the 3 infantry regiments :
--o 2 in each of the 3 infantry battalions
--o 6 in the regimental heavy company

• 12x 25mm SA34/SA37 AT guns in the divisional AT company (CDAC)

• 2x 25mm SA34/SA37 AT guns in the divisional training centre (CID)

• 3-6x 25mm SA34/SA37 AT guns in the reconnaissance battalion (GRDI)

• 8x 47mm Mle1937 or 75mm Mle1897/33 AT guns in the BDAC (AT divisional battery for the protection of the light artillery regiment)

But many numerous divisions had no CDAC or CID and many had not the theoretical numbers of AT guns, some had only a dozen. Several divisions had also no 25mm AT guns but used instead the 37mm TR16 infantry gun in AT role.


Canon de 25mm SA Mle1934 (Hotchkiss) and SA-L Mle1937 (Puteaux) L/72
Caliber : 25x194R mm
Crew : 1 NCO + 5 men (+ 1 driver)
Weight : 480kg (SA34 carriage) or 300kg (SA37 carriage, L = light)
Length : 3.71m
Width : 1.05m
Height : 1.10m (at the shield)
Barrel length : 1.80m
Rate of fire : 25 rpm against fixed target and 15 rpm against moving target
Traverse : 60°
Elevation : -5° to +15°
Telescopic sight : 4x (L.711 telescopic sight, with a 3450m range drum, field of view 10.13°, V reticle)
V° : 920 m/s
Practical range : 800m (heavy armored vehicles), 1000m (medium armored vehicles) and 1500m (light armoured vehicles and softskins)
Penetration : 40mm/0° at 500m; 32mm/35° at 200m
Accuracy : at 800m : H+L = 80+80 = 160cm

The French 25mm AT guns were very modern in 1934. About 4500 of these guns were in service in May 1940. They were especially known as being very discreet, the flash hider used on them made them difficult to spot according to both French and German AARs. They proved to be very accurate guns, and able to destroy all the German tanks up to 800m if the impacit angle was good enough. Only the PzIV Ausf.D at long range was tricly to be engaged by the 25mm AT gun in May/June 1940 if not at close range. In the first 500m the penetration efficiency was equal to the penetration of the 3.7cm L/45 Pak36 and at longer range the KE felt slightly more rapidly due to the lightweight projectile. The Germans captured such guns in large numbers in 1940 and used them in secondary roles as coastal defence and in some garrisons. Finland used also about 240 of these AT guns.
There were theoretically 12 of these AT guns in each French infantry regiment in 1940 but several regiments had only 4 or no AT gun at all. For example the 55th infantry division at Sedan had no AT guns in its infantry regiments, 12 AT guns in divisional AT company and 4 AT guns in the 4th GRDI, a total of 16 AT guns for the whole division on a large front (26% of the number of the paper). The 37mm TR infantry gun was often still in service even in AT role. The 25mm AT gun was lacking HE shells to neutralize human/soft targets and therefore the 37mm TR infantry gun was still liked since it could fire HE shells. About 220 25mm AT guns were also given to the British Expeditionnary Force (BEF) to increase its firepower, in exchange the British gave the French some Boys AT rifles which were not efficient and had a weaker penetrating power than the Hotchkiss 13.2mm HMG. Some of these AT rifles were used in several reconnaissance groups and by the two infanterie de l'air companies. Each 25mm AT gun crew had 72 AP/APT shells immediately available and a total of 156 AP/APT shells per AT gun in a French 1940 infantry regiment.

Canon de 47mm Mle1937 L/50 (SA37 APX)
Caliber : 47x380R mm
Weight : 1070kg
Length : 4.10m
Width : 1.62m
Height : 1.10m
Barrel length : 2.497m (overall length = L/53) – 2.350m (bore length = L/50)
Rate of fire : 15-20 rpm
Traverse : 68°
Elevation : -13° to +16.50°
Telescopic sight : 4x (field of view 10.13°, + reticle, adjustable drum up to 3500m)
V° : 855 m/s
Practical AT range : 1000m
Penetration : 110mm/0° at 0m, 106mm/0° at 100m, 89mm /0° at 500m, 72mm /0° at 1000m with 1936 APCBC shell

The French AT gun was the best AT gun on the French battlefield in 1940 battlefield after the 8.8cm Flak18 used in AT role and perhaps the best one before the arrival of the 5.0cm Pak38. It exceeded widely the German 3.7cm Pak36 in terms of penetration. The French army had about 1200 of them in service in May 1940, they were depending from the artillery regiments.
About 823 4.7cm Pak181/182(f) (captured on the front or in factories / repaired / newly built) were used after the campaign of France by the Germans. The Germans produced also a dedicated 4.7cm APCR shell for this gun. But already in May/June 1940 some of the captured guns were immediately used against French tanks, especially the dreaded Renault B1bis. General Heinz Guderian himself in his memories ("Achtung Panzer !") indicates that he led the fire of a captured French 47mm AT gun against a Renault B1bis.

Canon de 75mm L/36.3 Mle1897/33
Crew : 6 men + 1 NCO
Caliber : 75x350R mm
Length : 4.98m
Width : 1.51m
Weight in action : 1500 kg
Weight in travel : 1550 kg
Elevation : -6° to +50°
Traverse : 58°
Practical AT range : 800m
Rate of fire : up to 28 rpm (10-12 rpm in sustained fire)
Penetration : 50mm /30° at 400m with obus de rupture Mle1910M (APHE) (V° = 580 m/s)

The 75mm Mle1897/33 had a new split-trail carriage and entered in service around 1935. It was present in the BDAC (= Batterie Divisionaire anti-char = AT divisional battery) for the protection of the light artillery regiment. Initially there should have been 12 guns in the BDAC but only batteries with 8 guns were constituted. All the 75mm Mle1897/33 guns were intended to be replaced by the better 47mm Mle1937 gun but not enough were available and in May / June 1940 several BDAC were still equipped with 75mm Mle1897/33 AT guns. Standard 75mm Mle1897 field guns were also used in AT tank role, either when integrared in defensive positions or simply to defend the artillery battery being overrun. Large numbers were sold from Army stocks to Brazil but enough remained for the Germans to take over in 1940.


MOUNTAIN ARTILLERY

Canon de 65 M (L/20) Mle1906
65mm L/20 Mle1906 Mountain Gun also used by Greeks and Poles. In German service it was known as the 6.5cm GebK 221f and issued to mountain troops.
Weight in action : 400kg
Elevation : -10° to +35°
Traverse : 6°
Rate of fire : 18 rpm
Max Range : 6500 m (4.5kg schrapnel / cannister shell and 3.8kg HE shell)
V° : 330 m/s

Canon de 75 M (L/20) Mle1928 Schneider
Also used by Greeks, Poles and in German hands it became the 7.5cm GebK 237(f).
Crew : 6 men + 1 NCO
Weight in action : 660kg
Elevation : -11° to +40°
Traverse : 10°
Rate of fire : 28 rpm
Max Range : 9000 m

Canon de 105 M (L/12) Mle1928 Schneider
Crew : 6 men + 1 NCO
Weight in action : 745kg
Elevation : 0° to +40°
Traverse : 10°
Rate of fire : 8 rpm
Max Range : 8000 m

Regards,

David

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Post by Mark V » 04 Aug 2005 17:42

David Lehmann wrote:

3) Anti-personnel mine, bounding, Mle1939

This French anti-personnel bounding mine must have preceded the notorious German S-Mine by at least two years. The later US M2A4 anti-personnel mine (standard issue for the US Army during the early 50's) is also almost an exact twin of the French one.
This version is designed to throw a 60mm mortar bomb into the air so that it will explode at a height of between 0.5m and 2.0m. The flash from the cap in the igniter fires the propelling charge. The gases produced from this charge expand into the space in the base of the projector tube and throw up the pressed steel cap together with the mortar bomb screwed to it. At the same time the delay pellet is ignited and after a delay of about 1/5th second the detonator and bomb are exploded.
The mine consists of a steel 60.3 mm bore tube closed at its upper end by a cap, with a rubber sealing washer, which is held in position by clips. At its lower end it is closed by a machined base plate, driven in position and fixed by dowels, into which is screwed a flash tube. An igniter adapter is screwed on to the open end of the flash tube. Located in the flash tube is a propelling charge, consisting of 0.8g of black powder. Inside the projector tube, the pressed steel cap, to which is welded the fuze holder is a push fit over the base plate. The fuze holder is threadet externally to fit into the mortar bomb and internally to take the holder containing a detonator. The bush containing a delay pellet is screwed into the fuse holder. There is a small distance piece to prevent the detonator from being screwed down on to the delay pellet. The projector tube and flash tube are fixed to a rectangular plate. This plate is designed to fit over the hole, in which the lower part of the mine is placed, to ensure that the mine remains vertical and also to prevent it from sinking if it is used with a pressure igniter. A winged plug is provided to screw into the tail of the bomb to assist screwing it on to the fuze assembly.

Regards,

David


Hi,

Interesting information,

But wasn't it other way around ??

German mine preceded French one several years (and the very idea for Mle1939 came after studying German S-Mine 35s...)

Do you have more info about this French mine, i mean its deployment. Was French Army able to field it before Armistace ??

The fact that US adopted it is not an surprise - just an continuation of trend of French weapons adopted by US Army, which started during WW1. Anyway, the mine seems a bit complicated and light on payload, compared to German S-Mine 35 or 44 "two tin cans, smaller inside larger, full of steel-balls and lots of TNT/Amatol" - and it seems that also French Army agreed, and adopted in 50s an mine that more closely followed the German bounding mine type.


Regards, Mark V

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Post by David Lehmann » 04 Aug 2005 21:12

Hello Mark,

Yes you are right of course, I was wrong about the French mine coming before the German AP bouncing mine. However, the S.Mine 35 entered only service in August 1938 AFAIK. It caused many losses among the French troops entering in the Saar area in September 1939.

I think the French copied this German mine indeed, but I don't think that the Mle1939 described here is the fruit of that. This one is not like the German S.Mine, it is more a 60mm mortar shell projector.
I don't know how much explosive was in the S.Mine 35 (do you ?) but the explosion liberated about 300 beads. Concerning the French 60mm mortar shell used here : it contains 160g melenite as explosive component and there were also the splinters of the mortar shell of course. For example the French defensive (fragmentation) F1 grenade contained 60g explosive. Such a thing exploding at the level of someone's breast or head was of course deadly.

Like the light and heavy AT mines, this mine was used before the armistice AFAIK.
I could not find any production number for these mines and unlike for the AT mines I couldn't find a document describing how to use them. Nonetheless, concerning the Mle1939 AP mines, during all my readings, I came to the conclusion that it was indeed used. I remember I was skeptical at the beginning but I have found 3 mentions of it in various books, including one groupe franc patrol using it in front of the Maginot line in 1939. In one case the description was clearly this AP mine. I would have to go accross many books to give you more detailed references since I did not take notes about it.
I have also seen a British document dated from 1944, with photos of this mine (I cannot post them on the forum - see PM). They were found in a forest during the liberation.

I have also a whole German study from 1941 about the French fortifications and if I remember well there is a mention and a drawing of this mine. Will look later about it (I am not on my usual computer).

Here is the drawing found on jed's website.

Regards,

David
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Post by Mark V » 04 Aug 2005 22:07

Thanks David for additional info.

Some thoughts:

- the French bounding AP mine was indeed very different technically from German S-Mine, principle of action was thought exactly the same. Would you think still it was inspired by German mine ?? - all the information i have gathered says that it was Germans who invented the bounding mine principle (an weapon capable of knocking out half squad of infantry)

- some production conveniency may have been present on French design (payload was modified from 60mm mortar bomb), compared to German one - doubt still was it significant and worth the effort, or only the fastest solution for deployable weapon (old rule, pick two of three: good, fast, cheap)

- according to US Army handbook of foreign weapons (TM-E 30-451) S-Mine 35s filling varied between 8 (flaked) to 14 (poured) ounch of TNT, so between about 230-400 grams. The shrapnell payload was heavy - total weight of mine around 4 kg - but admittedly way too large fragments (steel balls) and too few of them, some sources say that model 44 was improved on that matter, in addition to fixed detonation height and improved suitability for mass production

- track record of S-Mine showed excellent reliability and persistence even in hars climates

- the notoriety of weapon among Allied troops speaks much of its field performance


Regards, Mark V


PS. And to kill the legends: This weapon is known to names describing the mutiliation of man genitalia - but unlike the "toe-poppers" the name does not describe the true action - it could cut an man standing metre or two from it to half - it was just that the cutting happened at bollocks height. If someone lived through initiating S-Mine and loosing only ball or two, he could consider himself very, very lucky person.
Last edited by Mark V on 04 Aug 2005 22:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Lehmann » 04 Aug 2005 22:10

Hi Mark,

In "Denkschrift über die französiche Landesbefestigung" (OKH, 1.10.1941, Berlin) there is a very long study of all the components of the Maginot line. Concerning the mines the Germans mention :
- the 2 AT mines
- the "piquet Ollivier" (but they write Oliver)
- the AP bouncing mine [see Bild 380 below)
- fragmentation mines = egg defensive grenades in the barbed wire networks as booby traps
- derivating naval mines in the Rhine

I guess this should be a good evidence of the use of this mine.

In there books (3 volumes, the 4th is in preparation) about the Maginot Line, Jean-Yves Mary and Alain Hohnadel don't seem to specifically talk about this AP mine. Nonetheless I remember having read the exact armament of e.g. the foreposts/fortified houses in front of the main line. It included AT and AP mines.

Regards,

David
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Post by David Lehmann » 04 Aug 2005 22:36

Mark V wrote:Would you think still it was inspired by German mine ??


Hi,

I have red once that the S.Mine may have been copied by the French. If it was the case I don't think that this Mle1939 bouncing AP mine is the result of this work but rather a different work. But of course, that's just my feeling, I have no real evidence for that. I think the copy work is an other mine that was probably not produced in time before the Armistice. But that's only an assumtpion, I would have to make researches in the armament archives specifically on this issue to give you more elements. For the moment I lack information about the French mines.
All what is in common betwwen the S.Mine and the French Mle1939 seems to be the bouncing effect. The S.Mine 35 was indeed AFAIK the first widely used bouncing mine, but I would not say that the idea of making a mine "bounce" has been invented by the Germans. Such idea was certainly in many brains in many countries as it is the case for many inventions, and already in a US manual from 1859 according to this webpage :

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land ... chneck.htm

Bounding AP Mines. An 1859 U.S. military engineering manual by General Halleck includes the design for an improvised command-detonated bounding AP mine called a shell fougasse * . However, modern manufactured examples of this type did not make their combat debut until early in World War II, when French patrols on the Siegfried Line began to take unexplained casualties. These casualties were attributed to a device the French dubbed "the silent soldier," the famous German "S" mine introduced during the 1930s. These mines were commonly called "Bouncing Bettys."


* Elements of Military Art and Science; or, Course of Instruction in Strategy, Fortification, Tactics of Battle &c, by H. Wager Halleck, D. Appleton & Company, New York, New York, 1859, page 363. Note however, that this type probably predates this work and in fact, it may be shell fougasses that were emplaced by the Mexicans at Chapultepec, but the available descriptions are not clear.


I think that the "modern" AT and AP mines and all the mine and anti-mine warfare were something rather new at the beginning of WW2.

Here is a photo showing 60mm Mle1935 mortar shells. It is the core of this shell that is used in the Mle1939 AP bouncing mine :

Image

Regards,

David

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Post by bluered12 » 05 Aug 2005 15:47

Great list, thanks a lot


Can anyone please post drawings or pictures of these submachineguns?

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1939 PETTER

Pistolet Mitrailleur Type ETVS

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1939 PETTER

Thanks in advance!

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Post by Mark V » 06 Aug 2005 00:14

David Lehmann wrote:The S.Mine 35 was indeed AFAIK the first widely used bouncing mine, but I would not say that the idea of making a mine "bounce" has been invented by the Germans. Such idea was certainly in many brains in many countries as it is the case for many inventions, and already in a US manual from 1859 according to this webpage :



Yep, but if we reserve the word "mine" here to modern interpretation, meaning an self-contained weapon (fougasse was just hole dig to ground on the front wall of emplacent, filled with payload: rocks, steel bits, or even black-powder shells, and ejected with charge bottom of the pit), the German S-Mine was the first mine to use airburst principle, and an significant invention in my books.

French Mle1939 does not resemble German mine much from outside, but bounding mine is that type of weapon were outside looks is insignificant - the working principle is what makes all the difference compared to other mine types - the use of highly effective airburst to widen the kill-zone of mine to what ??, 10 or 15 times larger than buried mine of same weight ** - which is pretty huge improvement - (ofcourse stake mine was available also - and in some terrain characteristics could be very effective, but not in open terrain like desert, or more importantly, in roads and their immediate surroundings - bounding mines are mostly used with tripwires, but they could also be emplaced solely with pressure activation, with just few centimetres of fuze prongs sticking out of road or path).

Since bounding mines came to widespred use, every infantry squad moving in area abandoned by enemy really needed take the distances between men seriously when on move, every single occasion, even on those times when enemy artillery wasn't in range or was weak for some other reason. An squad moving in congested formation, could be wiped out by one mine. During my military service proper distances between men were nailed to our head in such a way that we surely understood it.


Regards, Mark V


** Wonder how much buried TNT would be needed to replicate the kill-zone of German S-Mine 35 or French Mle1939 ?? Hundeds of kilograms atleast, maybe over an ton ?? Anyway, kill or danger-zones are ofcourse relative matters - bounding mine could be dangerous out to 100 metres if you are unlucky. Calculating from fragment size and number and assuming somewhat even fragmentation - the S-Mine killed out to 10 metres, period. At 15-20 metres you could survive, but the guy next to you would be killed or severely wounded...

Mark V
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Post by Mark V » 06 Aug 2005 00:47

David Lehmann wrote:
I think that the "modern" AT and AP mines and all the mine and anti-mine warfare were something rather new at the beginning of WW2.


David


Yes, but things evolved quickly.

Especially in North-Africa mine warfare played an very important role in "area denial" and protecting the open flanks of own defence positions. There mines had even strategic importance, not just hindering movement - what is generally viewed as their role. Also in NW Europe and East mines proved their worth as extremely cost-effective weapon for defender.

I don't want turn this thread out of focus, but still today and for coming decade Finnish Armed Forces are paying dearly in $$$$$ to replace the millions of mines in warehouses, stockpiled in case of Swedish invasion :wink: , with other weapon systems by 2016.... Manufacturing cost of small block of TNT, fuze and plastic prongs are few dimes and it never will become obsolete as long as humans sapiens will be there doing the fighting setting foot to ground (our basic AP blast mine is model 1965, and pretty much the end of road of development for ease of manufacturing and effectiveness) - now they are to be replaced by complicated microprocessor infested weapons which are thousands/tens-of-thousands times more expensive per unit, propably inferior in their effectiveness compared to current weaponry, and become obsolete in few years after deployment...


Regards, Mark V

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Post by David Lehmann » 06 Aug 2005 07:51

Hi,

Still off topic : is Finland still using AP mines today, didn't you sign an agreement for banning them or something like that ? Just asking, I am really not aware of such things. AFAIK France should not use AP mines anymore. The single bouncing mine that I know are illuminating mines deployed around ammunition dumps.
When I discussed with a sergeant who was in Ivory Coast if I remember well he told me they could not use them (except some booby traps with hand grenades), nonetheless we still have stockpiles of various AP mines including directional ones.

Regards,

David

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Post by Mark V » 06 Aug 2005 08:58

David Lehmann wrote:'didn't you sign an agreement for banning them or something like that ?


Not yet. Government has announced an plan to join the Ottawa Convention in 2012, which means that all AP mines will be destroyed by 2016. The timescale is long because mines could not be abandoned without seriously endangering defensive capability, untill replacing weapon systems are funded and procured (Finland is not going to explode its militaty costs for several fiscal years to join mine ban, instead the cost of change-over must be included to current military budget frames).

Mark V

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Post by David Lehmann » 07 Aug 2005 11:10

bluered12 wrote:Great list, thanks a lot


Can anyone please post drawings or pictures of these submachineguns?

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1939 PETTER

Pistolet Mitrailleur Type ETVS

Pistolet Mitrailleur Mle1939 PETTER

Thanks in advance!


Hello,

I will come later with a more detailed article in English about the development and adoption of the French SMGs from 1919 to 1940 (based on Stéphane Ferrard's books), for the moment here are photos of various SMGs (all from Ferrard except the color one) in combat and sometimes in transport condition.

Regards,

David
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