May 1940 - balance of armoured cars

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schjertzer
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May 1940 - balance of armoured cars

Post by schjertzer » 30 Mar 2006 12:57

In the western campaing in May 1940, several sources deal with the balance of tanks, artillery, aircraft and men between the Allies and Germany. However, I am looking for the balance (number) of armoured cars between Germany and the Allies, specified on country (France, Britain, Holland and Belgium) and main types.

Any help appreciated.

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 30 Mar 2006 13:57

Hello,

I have already work on the number of AFVs for 1940. Concerning the armored cars, here is roughly what I have. I will indicate the situation on May 10, 1940.

1) FRANCE

• 1e DLM :
--o 6e RC : 40 Panhard 178 (+ 4 radio armored cars + 4 reserve armored cars)
--o 4e RDP : 67 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1 (+ 2 reserve armored cars)

• 2e DLM :
--o 8e RC : 40 Panhard 178 (+ 4 radio armored cars + 4 reserve armored cars)
--o 1e RDP : 67 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1 (+ 2 reserve armored cars)

• 3e DLM :
--o 12e RC : 40 Panhard 178 (+ 4 armored cars + 4 reserve armored cars)

• 1e DLC
--o 1e RAM : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars)
--o 5e RDP : 23 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1

• 2e DLC
--o 2e RAM : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars)
--o 3e RDP : 23 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1

• 3e DLC
--o 3e RAM : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars)
--o 2e RDP : 23 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1

• 4e DLC
--o 4e RAM : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars)
--o 14e RDP: 23 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1

• 5e DLC
--o 5e RAM : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars)
--o 15e RDP : 23 AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1

GRDIs (Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division d'Infanterie) :
• 1e GRDI (5e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars) and 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16
• 2e GRDI (9e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars) and 13 Hotchkiss H39
• 3e GRDI (12e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars) and 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16
• 4e GRDI (15e DIM) : 13 Laffly 50 AM and 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16
• 5e GRDI (25e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars) and 13 Hotchkiss H35
• 6e GRDI (3e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars) and 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16 and 4 AMR35 ZT3
• 7e GRDI (1e DIM) : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars), 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16 and 4 AMR35 ZT3
• (32e GRDI (43e DI) : 5 Panhard 178)

In these GRDIs were also assigned some other armored cars including :
AMR35 ZT2 : 10 (25mm turret gun)
AMR35 ZT3 : 2 (25mm hull gun)
AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1 : 10 (approximate number)

--> NUMBER OF FRENCH ARMORED CARS ON 10th MAY 1940 : 609 (330)
• Panhard 178 : 257 (wheeled)
• AMR33 / AMR35 ZT1 : 259 (including about 150 AMR35 ZT1) (tracked)
• AMR35 ZT2 : 10 (tracked)
• AMR35 ZT3 : 10 (tracked)
• Laffly 50AM : 13 (wheeled)
• Citroën-Kégresse P16 Mle1929 : 60 (halftracked)

But even if the AMR light tanks are listed as "armored cars" in the French terminology they are in fact "light tanks" (tracked vehicles) comparable to the Panzer I e.g.
If you count only what is covered by the English term of armored cars you have to count only in metropolitan France the 257 Panhard 178s, the 13 Laffly 50AMs and eventually, as half-tracked armored cars, the 60 AMC P16. You then have the figure of roughly 330 French armored cars.

2) BELGIUM

Only light tanks (T15, Renault ACG-1) and tank destroyers (T13) but no armored cars AFAIK.

3) NETHERLANDS

The Dutch had 5 Vickers-Carden-Lloyd Mk. VI tankettes armed with a single Schwarlose MG in a casemate (same basic layout and size as the Italian L3/33) and probably 3 armored cars known as "Buffel". The Buffels were in fact a lightly armoured box built on a 6-wheel Morris chassis. The crew had 3-4 Lewis MGs, which were fired through a number of loopholes or pistol ports. The 5 Carden-Lloyds and 3 Buffels were originally issued to each of the four corps-level recon units at a rate of two vehicles per corps.

The Dutch army acquired 12 Swedish Landsverk L181 armored cars (known to the Dutch as M36), 12 Landsverk L180 armored cars (known as M38) and 2 M38 command armoured cars. All these armored cars were in the 1st armored car squadron of the light division (Lichte Divisie).
Pantserwagen (Paw.) M36 (Landswerk L181) : 12
Pantserwagen (Paw.) (Landswerk L180) : 14 (including 2 command cars not counted here)

In 1938, DAF began building 12 armored cars known as the M39, which were issued to the 3rd cavalry squadron in September 1939. The 3rd Squadron was considered a temporary "depot" squadron in which the crews were supposed to receive training in the new vehicles. At the end of the training cycle, the squadron was supposed to be broken up into 4 platoons of 3 vehicles each as replacements for the Carden-Lloyd's and Buffels in the 4 army corps of the Dutch army. It seems the 12 vehicles were delivered by May 1940, but the crew had not completed their training and several vehicles still had an incomplete equipment : no armament, most of them were still lacking their bullet-proof tires etc. Perhaps 7 DAF M39 armored cars were operational on 10th May 1940.

--> 39 operational armored cars on May 10, 1940


4) UNITED KINGDOM

• 12th Royal Lancers
Morris armoured reconnaissance car : 38

• 4th Northumbrian fusiliers
Daimler Dingo scout car : 12

• N°3 Air Mission Phantom (RAF)
Guy armoured car : 6

--> 56 British armored cars IN FRANCE on the 10th of May 1940


5) GERMANY

There is an Aufklärung Abteilung in each Panzerdivision : 56x10 = 560 armored cars
• AA 4 (1.PzD)
• AA 5 (2.PzD)
• AA 3 (3.PzD)
• AA 7 (4.PzD)
• AA 8 (5.PzD)
• AA 57 (6.PzD)
• AA 37 (7.PzD)
• AA 59 (8.PzD)
• AA 9 (9.PzD)
• AA 90 (10.PzD)

In each of these Aufklärung Abteilung (AA) there is :
• Battalion HQ with 1 SdKfz.247
• Signal platoon
--o 1 SdKfz.263 (Fu)
--o 1 SdKfz.261 (Fu)
--o 1 SdKfz.260 (Fu)
• 2 companies of armored cars each with :
--o Company HQ with 1 SdKfz.247
--o Signal detachment with 4 SdKfz.223 (Fu) and 1 SdKfz.263 (Fu)
--o Heavy platoon with 3 6-Rad SdKfz.231 and 3 8-Rad SdKfz.232 (Fu)
--o Light platoon with 6 SdKfz.221
--o Light platoon with 4 SdKfz.221 and 4 SdKfz.222
--> TOTAL : 56 armored cars (including 20 armored cars with a 2.0cm L/55 gun)

In the 5 of the 6 motorized divisions the AA has a single company : 26x5 = 130 armored cars
• AA 2 (2. ID mot.)
• AA 13 (13. ID mot.)
• AA 20 (20. ID mot.)
• AA 29 (29. ID mot.)
• AA Verfügungstruppen (SS VT mot.)
The SS-Totenkopf (mot.) division in May 1940 has a different AA with 2 motorcycle companies and a heavy company with no armored cars but 2 platoons of Panzer 35(t).

In the 1. Kavallerie Division : there is no separate AA but each of the four Reiter-Regiment (cavalry regiment) have a heavy squadron including 3 armored cars and the "Radfahr-Abteilung" (Bicycle) has an armored car platoon in its battalion HQ (a total of about 15 armored cars).

There were also two corps-level AA organized like an AA from a Panzerdivision (IX. Army Korps and XIX Pz Korps - in the Lehr regiment - : 56x2 = 112 armored cars

For Fall Gelb, there were also 3 mountain divisions, 126 infantry divisions, the 11th motorized brigade and 7 Landesschützen divisions. Among the 126 infantry divisions there were 9. Wellen (9 waves). The "1., 2. and 3. Wellen Infanterie Divisionen" (1st, 2nd and 3rd waves) included 77 divisions. They were supposed to have an armored car platoon. These platoons were to have three armored vehicles, of which one was an SdKfz 14 Funk-Kraftwagen (unarmed, open-topped radio vehicle, not counted here). The other two were SdKfz 13 MG-Kraftwagen (thinly-armoured, open-topped, with minimal off-road capacity but armed with a single MG34 behind a little armoured shield).
There were 35 first wave divisions (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th, 44th, 45th and 46th) but 9 divisions had no complete AA : no armored cars and generally just cyclist companies (3rd, 7th, 8th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 21st, 28th, and 30th). There were 20 second wave divisions (50th, 52nd, 56th, 57th, 58th, 60th, 61st, 62nd, 68th, 69th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd, 75th, 76th, 78th, 79th, 86th, 87th and the Polizei division) but 7 divisions had no AA or only an incomplete one, without armored cars (50th, 56th, 60th, 62nd, 72nd, 73rd, and the Polizei division). Three second wave divisions (50th, 60th and 72nd) were organized and equipped as first wave divisions for 1940. There were 22 third wave divisions (205th, 206th, 207th, 208th, 209th, 211th, 212th, 213th, 214th, 215th, 216th, 217th, 218th, 221st, 223rd, 225th, 227th, 228th, 231st, 239th, 246th and 311th) but 11 divisions had no AA or only an incomplete one, without armored cars (205th, 207th, 208th, 211th, 212th, 214th, 215th, 217th, 223rd, 225th and 246th).
There were also some extra SdKfz.223 (Fu) armored cars in the HQ of the 11th motorized brigade, which are not listed here. Therefore at least 50x2 = 100 extra armored cars have to be taken into account.

--> TOTAL : 917 armored cars

This listing does not include all the SdKfz 251/1 APCs and the SdKfz 251/10 armed with the same 3.7cm gun than the Panzer III which would be worth to be listed among the half-tracked armored cars.
The number of produced SdKfz 251s is 232 in 1939 and 337 in 1940. This includes all the versions (APC, command vehicle, ambulance etc.). In spring 1939 only one rifle company of the 1.PzD is equipped.
The SdKfz 251/10 is introduced only in 1940 for the platoon commanders (but 1940 holds many months after May/June 1940). It was therefore not used in Poland but was apparently produced in time for the French campaign. Nonetheless probably only few were really on the battlefield. At this time there weren't even enough 3.7cm PaK to go round for the Panzerjäger Abteilung of infantry divisions, many of which took the field with only two companies instead of the prescribed three, even in the first wave divisions.
Theoretically all the Panzerdivisionen should have a rifle company in SdKfz 251 halftracks. But it seems hard to know for definite how many of the Panzerdivisionen actually had one rifle company in halftracks. The Schützen Regiment of the 1.PzD had 7 out of 9 rifle companies in halftracks in 1940, the other two being motorcycle companies. Whether any or all of the 3 support companies had them doesn't seem to be known. In other divisions like the 7.PzD and the 4.PzD for example, there was a reasonable number of SdKfz 251 halftracks but rather used to tow artillery - nothing to do with the 1.PzD where the SdKfz 251s could be a key combat multiplier. The 3.PzD seems devoid of these halftracks.

___________________

On May 10, 1940 we can therefore say that there were :
- Allies : 425 armored cars
- Germany : 917 armored cars

Regards,

David

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Post by schjertzer » 31 Mar 2006 13:53

Thanks a lot David!!

I all the time had the feeling that Germany would have an advantage in armoured cars - which are of paramount importance when it comes to armoured thrusts/Blitzkrieg!! And this is necessary to fulfill the usual picture where the Allies actually outnumber the Germans in the number of tanks as of 10 May!!

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 31 Mar 2006 15:08

Hello,

The number of other AFVs engaged by both sides (tanks / self-propelled guns / tank destroyers / assault guns) is nonethelss comparable. I tried to make the same work for all the AFVs, including the armored cars.

On May 10, 1940 for the campaign of Belgium / Netherlands / France :

ALLIES :

1) Number of tanks, tank destroyers and self-propelled guns
• France : 2352 (2822 (2))
• United Kingdom : 308
• Belgium : 278
• Netherlands : -
--> TOTAL 1 : 2938 (3408(2))

2) Number of armored cars
• France : 609
• United Kingdom : 56
• Belgium : -
• Netherlands : 39
--> TOTAL 2 : 704

--> TOTAL 1+2 : 3642 (4112(2))

If the AMR33/35s are counted as light tanks instead of armored cars, there are 330 French armored cars and 3101 French tanks. This leads to a total of 3687 allied tanks (3217 without the obsolete WW1 tanks) and 425 allied armored cars.

(2) counting the French FT17 and FCM-2C obsolete tanks in combat units.

NUMBER OF FRENCH TANKS IN FRANCE ON MAY 10, 1940 : 2352 (2822)
• Hotchkiss H35 : 328
• Hotchkiss H39 : 474
• Renault R35/39 : 945
• FCM36 : 90
• Somua S35 : 264
• Renault D2 : 45
• Renault B1bis : 206
--> Modern tanks : 2352
• Renault FT17 : 462 (obsolete)
• FCM-2C : 8 (obsolete)
--> Obsolete tanks : 470

You can note that several sources list higher number of French tanks but this is completely artificial. Beside few tanks that are in schools, there are in fact roughly 1297 FT17 tanks were still in service : 1062 tanks in France and 235 in the colonies. From the 1062 FT17 tanks in France only 462 were in combat units on 10th May 1940.
These "extra" 600 Renault FT17s that I have not counted here were only used by 3rd line protection platoons scattered all over the territory (regional platoons, anti-paratroops platoons, airfield protection platoons, platoons providing protection for military and civilian installations in the military district etc.).
Many of these tanks had in fact not their armament anymore, the 37mm SA18 guns having been used to arm the Renault R35 tanks e.g. They had then sometimes a simple hole in the turret to fire with a LMG and sometimes a self-made shield that was added to cover the hole. Rather useless underarmed WW1 tanks that several people just add in their numbers, without knowing what is in fact behind crude numbers ...
What should be noted also is that the Germans seized large numbers of FT17 tanks which were stored and disarmed in tank parks - e.g. in Gien there was a big park with about 1000 "wrecks" of FT17 tanks : generally out of use, generally without turret and without armament ... simply abandoned.


GERMANY :

Number of tanks and SP guns : 2803
Number of armored cars : 917
--> TOTAL : 3720



• There are comparable numbers of allied and German tanks with about 2900-3000 tanks. If all the AFVs are counted there are 4112 allied vs 3720 German AFVs, with the obsolete French FT17 and FCM-2C tanks being counted. Without the obsolete AFVs there are 3642 allied vs 3720 German AFVs. This apparent equality in the number of tanks is purely mathematical but in the facts it is completely false. All the about 3000 German tanks are concentrated in the 10 Panzerdivisionen unlike only about 960 French tanks in the DCR/DLM. Each DCR/DLM has less tanks than a Panzerdivision : there are roughly 10x300 German tanks against 6x160 French tanks and many dispersed battalions. That was the reality on the battlefield. The allied armored divisions were used as a delaying or shock element, working for the infantry units, never as a decisive and independent arm. The British 1st AD concentrated the cruiser tanks but did not really change the balance and was quickly neutralized. All the Belgian tanks were dispersed in small numbers in their infantry divisions, the highest number of Belgian tanks could be found in the 1e division de chasseurs ardennais with about 50 AFVs.

• All the French tanks have a power/weight ratio of 7-10 hp/ton ; the German tanks have a power/weight ratio of 11-17 hp/ton, they have a better mobility. French tanks were generally more adapted to heavy and brutal charges against slow or immobile targets but were not really conceived for a war in which speed and mobility rules. And this speed and mobility was created by the revolutionary Panzerdivisionen. Only the Somua S35 cavalry tank could really compete with the German tanks in terms of speed, mobility and autonomy.

• All the French tanks have a better armor then the German tanks (13-30mm for the German tanks and 40-60mm for the French tanks). The 23 British Matillda II tanks are also far better armored than the German ones. French tanks are able to sustain many German hits.

• The Germans tanks have often a better AT capacity, except the French 47mm SA35 gun and 75mm SA35 gun. The 47mm SA35 L/32 gun is able to destroy all the German tanks up to 800-1000m but generally the French rate of fire is slower because of the 1-man turret where the commander is also spotter, loader and gunner.The 2636 German tanks include 965 ones (37%) armed with a 3.7cm or 7.5cm gun. Not counting here the additional 99 Panzerjäger I and 24 StuG III. Which leads to 2759 AFVs and 1088 ones (39%) armed with a 3.7cm, 4.7cm or 7.5cm gun. From the 3101 French tanks (if the AMR33/35s are counted as tanks), there are only about 480 French tanks armed with a 47mm SA35 (including the B1bis tanks with their 75mm hull gun) and about 350 which have a 37mm SA38 gun. From the 279 AMR33/35s, 259 are only armed with a single 7.5mm or 13.2mm MG and 20 AMR35 have a 25mm SA35 gun, which is also better than the German 3.7cm gun. That makes 850 tanks (27%) with an excellent to good anti-tank capacity. The huge majority (2251 tanks) of the French tanks are armed only with MGs or with the 37mm SA18 gun which can be used at 300m against the Panzer I and Panzer II but to knock out a Panzer III Ausf.E/F (the previous models are less armored and easier to destroy) or a Panzer IV Ausf.C/D, they have to get as close as < 25-100m, whereas the enemy can destroy them at about 300m (3.7cm KwK) to 500m (7.5cm KwK). On 10th May, there are also 23 British + 236 Belgian tanks with a rather good AT capacity for a total of 1039-1089 allied tanks with a good AT capacity.

The crude comparison of tank numbers gives not a good representation of the reality on the battlefield. The allied used their tanks often spread among the infantry to provide support while the Germans concentrated all their tanks.

The so-called German "superiority" was mainly due to :
• better high command and strategy, all the structural evolutions between Fall Weiss and Fall Gelb
• the organization of the Panzerwaffe concentrating all the tanks in the 10 Panzerdivisionen
• better inter-arms cooperation
• better tactical regulation, much more concentrated armor (usually 4 vs 1, sometimes 8-10 vs 1 odds)
• generally higher speed and mobility of the German tanks
• tracer and smoke shells available in the German tanks (not in the French ones)
• more radio sets allowing to better organize and control the maneuvers
• mostly always presence of observation planes (Hs126 and Fi156) to provide information about the allied position and direct artillery and aerial support
• mostly omnipresent close air support
• German tanks were spreading into the allied rears … leading to issues to preserve a HQ or a fuel supply dump … leading to tanks being abandoned and scuttled due to lack of fuel
• better and faster logistics in the armored units (and far less hindered by aerial attacks)
• 1-man turret in most of the French tanks and several very recently constituted units lacking training
• usually German tanks avoided combat with the heavy allied tanks like the Renault B1bis which constituted a big threat, they were rather engaged by 8.8cm FlaK, 10.5cm LeFH or aircrafts … again inter-arms cooperation

The Germans took an enormous risk in May 1940. They got through it with a few tactical innovations, several technical innovations, recklessness and a lot of luck. Germany's victory occurred as a result of a combination of factors, including air superiority, strategic and tactical innovation (including concentration of their armor), and the failure of the allies to anticipate or respond effectively to German tactics (The French had the luck to have well armored tanks compared to the British lightly armored ones which constituted the majority of their tanks, only the Matilda II tanks were really well protected but there were only 23 of them in France). However, it occurred in spite rather than because of German tanks.

The German ground forces suffered a lot in 1940 on the Western front. Their ground forces lost about 45,000 KIA and 111,000 WIA as well as 30% of the engaged tanks. 839 German tanks and a high number of armored cars remained definitively destroyed - not repairable after the battles. That gives of course not the total number of AFVs that were knocked out and needed to be repaired after each battles of the campaign.

Regards,

David

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 31 Mar 2006 17:23

David Lehmann wrote:[...]That makes 850 tanks (27%) with an excellent to good anti-tank capacity. The huge majority (2251 tanks) of the French tanks are armed only with MGs or with the 37mm SA18 gun which can be used at 300m against the Panzer I and Panzer II but to knock out a Panzer III Ausf.E/F (the previous models are less armored and easier to destroy) or a Panzer IV Ausf.C/D, they have to get as close as < 25-100m, whereas the enemy can destroy them at about 300m (3.7cm KwK) to 500m (7.5cm KwK).[...]
There is something missing in the last sentence ;) Add the PzKpfw. I (2x 7.92 MG) and PzKpfw. II (2 cm KwK) and their capability of destroying French tanks ;)

BTW,
I have an e-book about Fall Weiss similar to the e-book about Fall Gelb, that I sent you a few days ago. If you are interested I can send you it till the end of this week.
We discuss about the French campaign on a Polish military forum and I used your materials (PDFs). It helped me much :)

Regards,
Krzysiek

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Post by schjertzer » 03 Apr 2006 08:08

Thanks a lot again, Davis. One remark, though: You can hardly exclude the obsolete French tanks from the counting if you include the PzI's in the German counting!!

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Post by David Lehmann » 03 Apr 2006 12:31

Hello,

You can hardly compare the Panzer I with an old WW1 tank moving at 5 km/h :)
I have indicated the actual number of all these FT17s though.
I would include for sure the FT17 tanks (462) of the combat battalion (BCC) in a comparative listing, but all the other ones are generally spread in platoon sized units only and only for rear security tasks. Counting them in a figure opposing the German armored frontline troops and the French ones would include a bias. Of course you can count them but when only crude numbers are given they don't mean much, you have to know what is behind these numbers if you use them.
A large number of FT17 tanks were also just stored and even those which were used for security tasks were not always armed. The Panzer I on it's side has efficient MG34 MGs and AFAIK always AP bullets (which was probably not the case for the rear guard FT17 platoons).
If you want to compare the Panzer I with a French tank you could rather do it with the AMR33 and AMR35 equiped with the Avis n°1 turret (7.5mm MAC31 MG).
General Franz Halder considered on February 18, 1940 that the Panzer I was mostly useful only against a weak and demoralized enemy. Nonetheless the German tactics always avoided the French strong points and heavy tanks to let other elements deal with them (artillery, FlaK or artillery in direct fire, infantry, planes etc.) and when you have Panzer Is pouring on your rears and attacking dumps, HQs and supply column they are for sure more useful than old FT17 tanks.
Of course if you are a simple soldier in a basic infantry platoon, without AT armament, and you have to face a Panzer I or a Renault FT17 it remains tricky ... But the Panzer I is for sure not alone whereas the FT17 might be. The French AP bullets of a LMG or a MMG would eventually be able to pierce the armor of the Panzer I but you need guts :)

Regards,

David

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Post by schjertzer » 05 Apr 2006 08:41

OK David - point taken! :)

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Post by phylo_roadking » 07 Jul 2007 02:27

However, back into this factor how each nation intended to utilise its armoured cars. The British viewed them as armoured recce vehicles as did the French, though some heavier French types provided infantry support. The Germans however used them by different classes as either light armour OR armoured recce depending on what units they were attached to...

The DUTCH on the other hand with their Fortress Holland scheme intended using their armoured cars ONLY as light armour; Their idea was that fast-moving light wheeled armour could crisscross the inside of the Fortress enclave providing support wherever it was needed. This worked excellently for the first two days of the invasion allowing them to suppress the German airborne assaults, partly successful on the third, but by the fourth day was of limited success as the Germans had taken a number of strategic locations inside the enclave and disrupted road communications.

So you could say, car for car as a percentage of a nations' armoured capability - the DUTCH were the most successful users of armoured cars!

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Post by cavszabo » 22 Sep 2007 14:47

What should be noted also is that the Germans seized large numbers of FT17 tanks which were stored and disarmed in tank parks - e.g. in Gien there was a big park with about 1000 "wrecks" of FT17 tanks : generally out of use, generally without turret and without armament ... simply abandoned.

:)
Hi David,

Hope I've got this attachment thing worked out! Anyway, I was very interesting in the Gien tank park. I'm looking for info on captured French tanks sold to Hungary by Germany, and I have info that some 15 Hotchkiss and 2 Somua were collected by the Hungarians at Gien. Also that they were trained at Versailles in the use of the French equipment.
Any info on this?

Thanks,
Chris

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 22 Sep 2007 15:31

Hello,

The French tanks given by the Germans to Hungary had IMHO nothing to do with the tank park of Gien, at least nothing related to the 1940 story.
Indeed I know that the Germans gave 15 Hotchkiss tanks to Hungary in 1943, 19 Hotchkiss tanks to Bulgaria in 1944 and a small number to Croatia.
Hungary received also as you said 2 Somua S35 tanks (Bulgaria 6 and Italy 32).
Source: trackstory booklets by Pascal Danjou.

Regards,

David

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Post by David Lehmann » 22 Sep 2007 16:04

About how the French used their armored cars, it can be simple reconnaissance, liaison, fighting enemy tanks as light armor in covering ot delaying action, infantry support etc.

For infantry support during an attack, one could mention the counter-attack of Haut-le-Wastia near the Meuse River on May 14. IIRC 2 Citroen-Kégresse (also called or Panhard-Schneider) P16 Mle1929 from 1e GRDIm supported a squadron from II/14e RDP in the town. They took the town back as well as German POWs and equipment (46 men and 1 officer from the 7.PzD).

The AMD 35 (Panhard 178 armored car) was e.g. opposed to German tanks in the Netherlands and in Belgium while covering the deployment of the 2e DLM and 3e DLM.
For example on May 11, the 12e Régiment de Cuirassiers (Panhard 178 armored cars) has been split in 3 reconnaissance detachments: 2 commanded by capitaine Renoult and 1 led by capitaine de Montardy. Capitaine de Montardy sends a patrol (Vasselot platoon) on the road of Maastricht to the Albert Canal. They meet the first German elements and are the first of the 3e DLM to engage the battle. During all the day, the Panhard 178 armored cars from 12e RC will fight the Panzers to delay their advance. The Vasselot platoon is deployed on the Ramkin crossing and destroys or immobilizes 5 German tanks, including 1 Panzer IV from Pz.Rgt 35.

In Landrecies, on May 17 at 10h00, a Panhard 178 armored car (Lieutenant Astoul) from 6e Cuirassiers meets a Panzer 38(t). At 100 meters, the French armored car fires the first with its 25mm gun. At the first shot the German tank is immobilized without having been able to react: the driver has been killed and the other crew members are bailing immediately out.

According to the testimony by Chef d’Escadrons Joseph d’Astorg (1892-1944), commander of the Groupe de Découverte from 1e RAM in May 1940. the Panhard 178 had many qualities:
• it was rather silent, enabling surprise, except the brakes, which were noisy. The Germans soon learned to respect this characteristic noise and often avoided contact. Probably because the 25mm SA35 gun was able to knock out German tanks.
• good speed (about 80 km/h maximum speed on road) but it could still have been improved
• good range [300 km]
• mechanically extremely sturdy despite often no maintenance at all
• very good in all-terrain if the ground is hard enough
• very mobile (note : due to the vehicle itself and to the dual drive)
Nonetheless, he noted also that the armor could have been increased, that the 25mm SA35 gun was limited against the heavier German tanks (note: in June 1940, several Panhard 178 armored cars received a 47mm SA35 gun - at least 1 saw combat and destroy many German tanks) but the MAC31 MG was judged excellent. The tracer shells/bullets generally lacked and he judged the APX3 (2-man turret) as revolving too slowly [apparently it could not be unlocked from the training crank and moved with the rotation of the gunner's body for quick snap-turns like e.g. the APX1 turret]. Generally speaking d'Astorg indicates that the Panhard 178 behaved splendidely in front of the enemy and inflicted him significant losses.

Regards,

David

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cavszabo
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Post by cavszabo » 23 Sep 2007 06:33

I have a memoir written by a member of the 101 Independent Tank Coy that used them, who said they were sent to Gien to pick them up. He might well have misremembered, but he got details like it was on the Loir River right.
Incidentally, the Germans never "gave" their allies, at least not Hungary, anything! It was all on a hard cash basis!

Thanks greatly for the source,

Chris

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cavszabo
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Post by cavszabo » 23 Sep 2007 06:36

[quote="David Lehmann"]Hello,

Germans gave 15 Hotchkiss tanks to Hungary in 1943,Source: trackstory booklets by Pascal Danjou.

Hi again,

I'm still battling with the forum format - apologies!

The info I've got says this was in 1941. Incidentally, my father was the last commander of the 2 Somuas.

Best,
Chris

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 23 Sep 2007 08:43

Hello,

About Gien I just wanted to point out that it had nothing to do with the tanks captured there in 1940. But after that it is 100% possible that they used this tank park how they wanted. And yes Gien is close to the Loire River. If you have sources indicating that the Hungarian tanks were received at Gien I have no reason to doubt about that.
If you have more details (date, how were these tanks employed etc.) I am always happy to learn more. About the 2 Somuas that were bought (sorry indeed it was not free), did they still have 100% their French equipment or were they already transformed to fit to German requirements?

Regards,

David

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