French weapons

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 13 Aug 2005 20:16

CurVar wrote:Need help! Can anybody post any images of French soldiers with RSC semi-auto rifle.


Hello CurVar,

Sorry, I think I only have photos of the rifle but not of troops equipped with this rifle.

Regards,

David

Mark V
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Post by Mark V » 13 Aug 2005 20:23

David Lehmann wrote:Hello Mark,

According to the 1938 manual for the 60mm Mle1935 mortar that I own, I would say that the fragmentation grooves are standard in this mortar shell. The manual indicates that the fragmentation is prepared internally, in the core of the shell.



Thanks.

Kinda surprise, as most of mortar bombs during WW2 were the simplest possible iron castings.

Regards, Mark V

Pzgr40
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prefragmentated mortar bomb

Post by Pzgr40 » 14 Aug 2005 02:12

The 60 mm mortar bomb was prefragmentated, the 50 mm and 81 were usualy not.
Regards PzGr40
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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 15 Aug 2005 12:57

Hello PzGr40,

I would be interested if you had more such cutaways for French ammunition : tank gun shells, anti-tank gun shells etc.

Regards,

David

Pzgr40
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French stuff

Post by Pzgr40 » 21 Aug 2005 09:36

Hi David, it's all the French stuff I have. If I get any more, I will update the link.
Regards DJH

WSchneck
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Origins of the Bounding AP Mine

Post by WSchneck » 10 Nov 2005 00:07

The earliest forerunner to the modern bounding antipersonnel mine appears in Baron Minno van Coehorn’s “Nouvelle Fortification,” dated 1706, which includes an illustration of a “Boitte a Grenade” (an early form of a command detonated shell fougasse). This type was discussed in a US military engineering manual dated 1859 by General Halleck.” In fact, Colonel Marzocchi, an Italian military engineer, first proposed a design similar to the modern bounding antipersonnel mine in May 1891. His design called for a coupled (pressure-activated Jacobi) fuze linked by detonating cord to a device that launched a 22cm shell (filled with 100 to 150 grams of black powder) to a height of about four meters where it detonated. However, there is no indication that anyone ever fabricated this device.
In the accounts of the siege of Port Arthur in 1904, there was a reference to a bounding anti-personnel mine. “These “shrapnel” mines had a small charge which propelled a “shell” ten to twenty feet into the air. Upon reaching the end of a tethering wire, the mines exploded as an air burst.”
On the Eastern Front during the First World War, “Bounding mines, either automatic or wire-controlled, appeared in the Russian Army in 1916… The bottom part of the metal housing of the mine contained a powder ejection charge with an electric primer, and the upper part was a shrapnel (fragmentation) shell armed with a large number of fragmentation elements. A so-called friction fuse was inserted in the shell. The mine was placed in the ground, and the fuse of the shell was connected by a chain to its case. When the powder was ignited, the shell projected upward, and the chain pulled out the fuse scratcher. The shell detonated above the ground, scattering fragments over a large area.”
Just before the beginning of WWI, Niels Waltersen Aasen of Copenhagen patented a bounding mine as did American John Steel in 1917.
However, modern manufactured examples this type would not make their combat debut until the early days of WWII. The introduction of the German S-Mine was supposed to take place at the beginning of 1936. However, the first 1000 S-Mine 35s were not distributed until August 1938. In the following months their production experienced significant fluctuations (December 1938: 70,660 pieces, January 1939: 26.465 pieces). The total quantity of S-Mines delivered through February 1939 was 388,070 (according to plant letter No. 715/39 K (arms statistics)). The 171st Pioneer Battalion reported using S-mines during the Polish campaign. Nevertheless, the western powers only began to learn of this development when French patrols of the German West Wall (Siegfried Line) began to take unexplained casualties. These casualties were attributed to a new “secret weapon,” the famous German “S” mine. This mine was introduced in 1935 [inventor?], with an inventory of 706,000 by the beginning of the war. Indeed, the S-Mine 35 with a lethal radius of 25 meters was reported to have played a critical role in defeating the French attack into the Saarland in 1939. This attack had failed because of the inability of the French Army to advance through extensive, densely laid antipersonnel minefields which contained thousands of S-mine 35s, many of which had been emplaced by the 252nd Pioneer Battalion of the 252nd Infantry Division. The French soldiers were stunned by this new device and promptly dubbed it “the Silent Soldier.” The S-mine 35 apparently made quite an impression on the French and British who rapidly developed their own versions, the M-1939 and the Shrapnel Mine No. 2 respectively. This type is still widely used and is more commonly referred to as a “Bouncing Betty.”
The US Army began their belated development of modern antipersonnel mines like the “Bouncing Betty” only as a direct result of the dismal failure of the French offensive into Germany’s Saar region (mentioned above). US antipersonnel mine development finally began in the summer of 1940, almost a year after WWII had begun in Europe. At this point, Major Pierre Delalande (a former member of the French Corps of Engineers who had escaped from France following the German conquests in 1940) had reached the US with the designs for the French M-1939 bounding antipersonnel mine (which was based on the German S-mine). This eventually led to the fielding of the US M-2 series of antipersonnel mines beginning in April 1942, which used a 60mm mortar round. However, the M2 proved deficient in combat, consequently, the US developed their M16 directly fire the German S-mine after the war. The French also appear to have based their new M51/55 bounding mine on the German S-mine.

Sources:
Nouvelle Fortification, Tant Pour un Terrain bas et Humide, Que Secc et E’Leve, by Minno Baron de Coehorn, 1706. See also 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.

“Torpilles Terrestres Automatique,” by L. B., Revue du Génie Militaire, Volume XXX 1905, pages 49-51.

“Evolution of Mine Warfare,” page 16.

“The Occupation of Sapper,” page 12.

For Aasen, see German patent number 288151 (dated 20 June 1913), Swiss patent number 68354 (dated 14 April 1914), British patent number 12,797 (dated 10 December 1914). For John Steel, see US patent number 1,239,134. Patents available online through:
http://ep.espacenet.com/search97cgi/s97 ... vanced.hts

Deutsche Landminen, 1935-1945, by Wolfgang Fleischer, page 5.

Engineers in Battle, by Paul W. Thompson, Military Service Publishing Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1942, pages 64-71, translation of an article in Vierteljahreshefte fur Pioniere, 3rd Quarter, 1940.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 10 Nov 2005 00:22

Hello,

Thanks a lot for all these details and explanation.

Regards,

David

WSchneck
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Post by WSchneck » 11 Nov 2005 16:58

Illustrations of early bounding mine designs

If anyone finds a copy of patent on Marzocchi's design, please let me know. Did it ever enter production or service?
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Post by WSchneck » 11 Nov 2005 17:01

A few more...
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nuyt
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47mm L50 Puteaux at gun

Post by nuyt » 07 Jul 2006 14:36

Hi David, do you know anything about the development of this weapon? Like where and when it was designed, on what specifications/demands (or pivately?)? Was there any foreign influence in the design?
Kind regards and tks,
Nuyt

WSchneck
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French Mine Warfare at the Battle of Sedan, May 1940

Post by WSchneck » 28 Jul 2006 18:04

David,

FYI, I came across these passages on the French use of mines in “The Breaking Point, Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940,” by Robert Allan Doughty, Archon Books, 1990.


Page 3: “The only area of the army in which France had a distinct deficiency was in her woefully small number of antitank mines.”

Pages 119-120 (in reference to the 55th Division): “The division also suffered from a lack of mines. Apparently the Second Army had no more than 16,000 mines for its entire area. It directed that 7,000 of these be given to the cavalry for use in Belgium and another 7,000 be placed on the right bank of the Meuse. This left only 2,000 mines for use in the position of resistance.
“According to an inventory dated 23 April 1940, the Xth Corps headquarters had only 1,972 antitank mines. Of these mines, 472 were given to its cavalry squadron and 1,500 to the fortified houses for use on the Belgian side of the Meuse. Out of a theoretical allocation of 6,722 mines, the 55th Division received only 422 antitank mines. By the time the meager numbers were allocated to battalions, they received virtually no mines. For example, the 2/331st Infantry, which was in the Bellevue, put in a minefield in its sector near Frénois, but it had only 19 mines. Since most of the tanks of the 1st Panzer Division crossed through this area on 13-14 May, even the smallest increase in numbers may have made an important difference.
“Though French military leaders planned on issuing mines to the cavalry forces entering Belgium, they did not pay significant attention to the question of antitank mines, particularly to the employment of antitank mines in the main battle area. Despite numerous analyses of antitank operations, they placed the greatest emphasis on antitank weapons and on the use of natural obstacles (such as rivers) to the front of French units, rather than on the use of antitank mines. Little or no thought was apparently given to using mines in the main battle area or to laying mines in fron of an enemy penetration. This myopia caused the French to overlook an inexpensive weapon that could have yielded important results in May 1940.”

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Sep 2006 18:48

David Lehman

Sorry if I have directed this question to you before. hace been spreading the question far & wide. I am collecting data on artillery, specificly on fire control procedures & doctrine. If you have any information on this or can direct me to some sources for French/Belgian artillery I'd appreciate it.

Carl S

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Paul kyre
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Post by Paul kyre » 20 Sep 2006 11:49

WSchneck wrote:Illustrations of early bounding mine designs

If anyone finds a copy of patent on Marzocchi's design, please let me know. Did it ever enter production or service?


the 1st one was more like a booby trap

WSchneck
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Boobytrap versus Landmine

Post by WSchneck » 03 Nov 2006 00:09

Paul,
Thanks for the response. Marzocchi's design is complex would have have had to be manufactured. Certainly Cöhorn's command-detonated design was intended to be made by a soldier in the field and in this sense is akin to the improvised mines that the coalition is encountering in Iraq today. However, I would not consider Cöhorn's device to be a "boobytrap." The functional difference between a booby-trap and a mine is that a booby-trap is activated by doing some presumably safe act (other than moving from one point to another). These acts would include things like turning on a switch, opening a door or picking up an object. A mine is activated by moving across the ground, on/through the sea, or through the air (walking, crawling, running, driving, etc.). I include command-detonated devices with mines when these are fired by a soldier (the most complex and smartest "fuze" in inventory) in response to enemy movement.

Sincerely,
Bill

Mark V
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Post by Mark V » 30 Dec 2006 03:35

I noticed that this old thread is still alive.

WSchneck, thank you for very detailed information.


Regards, Mark V

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