[This article has been sent to me by David Lehmann who requested me to translate it from Russian. I requested my friends from a Polish WW II forum to translate it into Polish and I translated the Polish version into English.]
R-35, the most widely produced French light tank of WW II was developed to order of army for cooperation with infantry. Since 1935 to 1940 1070 tanks for the French Army and 560 for export were produced by the firm Renault.
In April 1939 Poland agreed a contract for delivery of 100 R-35. In July that year first 49 tanks arrived to Warsaw. 21st light tank battalion has been built of them and it has been located near Romanian border. A few tanks of that battalion took part in fights against German and Soviet troops in September 1939. However due to lack of spare parts and poor crews’ training (all the documentation of tanks was in French and instructions have not come yet) the tanks were quickly lost. Most of R-35s evading capitulation crossed the Romanian border at the end of September, where they were interned.
Two or three R-35s have been captured by the Red Army. One of them was delivered to the Kubinka range at the beginning of 1940 aiming at examining it. The tank had following damages:
a ruined petrol pump and petrol installation, lack of: sparker, accumulator, diodes and driver’s gauges of the dash-board, seats of crew, combat equipment, part of the armament, specialistic equipment, tools and spare parts.
The tank has been completely pulled to pieces and then assembled. To make it possible some spare parts of the second tank have been used (the one blown up by Poles) and home-made parts: accumulator, headlight, horn and some metal parts. Due to lack of spare parts necessary to full repairing of the tank the movement trials were performed at the distance of 25km only.
Besides, there were performed trials of the resistance of the tank to firing. The trials of the resistance of the armour of the Renault tank were performed using 7,62mm common mk. 1908 bullets as well as armour-piercing B-30 and 12,7mm DK bullets. There were also trials using a 45mm tank gun mk. 1938, the standard armament of T-26. The front of the turret has been shelled by AP shells of 764 m/s muzzle velocity. The results are presented in the table.
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Thick. of arm. Slope of armour Dist. of shoot Diam. of entry D. o. exit Result of shot 40mm 28deg 200m 50x60mm 52x60mm Through 40mm 28deg 200m 52x57mm 53x58mm Through 40mm 28deg 200m 54x56mm 54x57mm Through 40mm 28deg 200m 52x50mm 57x52mm Through 40mm 28deg 300m 56x55mm 58x57mm Through 40mm 28deg 300m 57x56mm 60x56mm Through 40mm 28deg 300m 60x55mm 60x60mm Through 40mm 28deg 300m 52x53mm 54x55mm Through 40mm 28deg 500m 60x50x24mm None Cavity
The French Renault tank produced in 1939 turned out to be a new construction, differing from all the tanks, which had been produced by this firm in the past. From the construction features one should conclude, that this tank is destined to the strict cooperation with infantry.
The armoured hull of the Renault tank has the following advantages:
The armour of the tank consists of the separate moulded parts of thickness up to 40mm.
1. Shelling the turret using a 45mm gun with AP ammo showed, that the shell is able to partially pierce the armour at the distance of 500m and closer causing a cavity.
a) moulding most of the armoured parts allows to start the mass production of the armoured hulls in a very short time.
b) a small number of the armoured parts and the simplicity of their fusion decreases time needed for dismantling and assembling the armour and makes repairing of the tank easier.
c) small dimensions and applying of the technology of moulding of the hull assured its small mass (9,6 T) in spite of significant thickness of the armour, which reached 40mm.
2. A propulsion unit was a mass produced car engine of Renault. Its construction is not too modern.
3. Transmission of mechanic type is not interesting, besides a differential gear. Usage of the differential gear in the character of the mechanism allowing to turn is very sensible.
4. The moving part of the tank is made inelegantly, the suspension is hard and dissatisfactory.
5. Dense location of aggregates in the hull allowed to hold everything what is necessary in a small tank.
6. Location of the fuel tanks in the propulsion section together with the propulsion unit caused a huge danger of fire and was utterly inadequate.
7. The Renault tank produced in 1939 is interesting for the mother industry only thinking about production of the moulded armour.