The Char B1.bis was an upgraded version of the earlier 27 t Char B1 main battle tank, avec a 47 mm high velocity gun et 46-60 mm of armour protection. In the late 1930’s the Char B1.bis was one of the most advanced chars in the world, but when war came en 1940 it showed some important deficiencies.
The one-man turret turned out to be a disadvantage in combat, requiring too much work et attention from the véhicule commander who would have been better employed directing the véhicule, observing the enemy et communicating avec fellow commanders. Instead, the man had to operate the radio, fire the co-axial machine gun, load the 47 mm gun et spot targets for his weapon as well as the 75 mm howitzer operated by the hull gunner. Not surprisingly, when their chars came under fire, les chefs de chars français would focus on their gunnery skills instead of giving tactical advice. Communications breakdowns were a common occurance, compounded by the fact that chars penetrating the enemy lines often had their radio antenna severed by shrapnel et feu antichar intensive. By contrast, the extra crew member in Pz.Kpfw. III et later models allowed le chef de char to concentrate on target acquisition et tactical communications avec the other Panzers in his platoon. Company commanders monitoring the chatter would be better able to evaluate the situation, deploy reserves et launch flanking attacks when an opportunity presented itself.
According to the 1938 model of the Division Cuirassée française developed by général Martin, le Char B1 lourd et char moyen Renault D2 should have been deployed in mixed demi-brigades of deux bataillons de chars et un bataillon d’infanterie motorisé. A training division of this type was established at Nancy en 1938 et it was used as a cadre upon which the 1st et 2nd DCR were built in Janvier of 1940. Unfortunately, the mixed demi-brigade concept was not maintained, the newly created divisions et the 3rd DCR which was raised en Mars 1940 had a reduced establishment avec une brigade de chars lourd et une de chars légers de deux bataillons chacune, operating 34 char B et 45 char H respectively. Only one bataillon of motorized infantry was attached at divisional level, not enough to exploit a breakthrough, dislodge infanterie et canons antichar enemy ou to hold ground against a determined counter-attack.
Les Char B1 français were well protected, their frontal armour could not be penetrated by canons antichar 37 mm PaK 35/36 enemy. Quite a shock for les Allemands, even their char Panzer III Ausf. F needed a lucky turret hit at under 500 m range to defeat a Char B1.bis. As a result, Char B1 attacked agressively et they routinely broke through the enemy lines, only to be left stranded there without adequate infantry support to exploit the penetration.
Unless they are accompanied by infantry, chars are virtually blind et they can be picked off by canons antichar firing against the weaker side armour. As a result, unsupported chars are usually compelled to break off the attack et return to their own lines. Such action proved very costly for l’armée française. In an attack, chars are often immobilized due to mechanical problems, difficult terrain ou minor battle damage. Unless the ground is held by infantry, it will be impossible to recover the immobilized véhicules during the night. As can be seen, without infantry support the initial battlefield success of the Char B1.bis actually accelerated its downfall. Many of the damaged véhicules were recovered et repaired by the Wehrmacht, some served in specialist armoured units fighting against the Allied Invasion Forces in Normandy.
Trois fantassins et un chef de char
Char Léger Renault FT-17
Char de Bataille Renault B1.bis
- Type: char de combat, 1939-1944
- Hull Armament: 75 mm L.18 Puteaux
- Turret Arm.: 47 mm L.35, MG 7,5 mm
- Poids: 32 t
- Vitesse: 28 km/h sur route
- Équipage: chef de char, conducteur, tireur
- Scale model avec much raised detail.
- Choix de sujet excellent, a very important et versatile véhicule.
- Intermediate level of difficulty. Track assembly is easier than on most other tank models.
- Choice of closed ou open turret hatch, avec the véhicule commander practically sitting outside of the véhicule!
- High quality kit. Parts fit very well et there is minimal flash.
- Compatible avec Airfix, Fujimi, Nitto, et VAC-U-CAST.
- Char Léger Renault FT-17 included in the set. Not a necessary ou very practical combination. The FT-17 is an important véhicule, but it did not serve in the same formation avec le Char B1.bis. Un char léger H35 ou H39 Hotchkiss would have been much better, allowing the joueur de guerre to raise the two armoured brigades of a Division Cuirassée.
- Approximately 5% smaller than the 1/72 scale figurine standard. Not a problem in this case, the véhicule is the only one of this type on the market.
- Heavy demi-brigade of the 1re - 3e Division Cuirassée, 1940
- 46e & 47e BCC of the 4e Division Cuirassée, Abbeville 1940
- Captured véhicules were re-designated Pz.Kpfw. Char B2 740(f);
used l’armée roumaine et quelques unités de la Wehrmacht allemande
- Invasion de la Russie, 1941
- Invasion of the Balkans, 1941
- Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung 100, Carentan 1944
(1 Pz.Kpfw. III, 1 Char B2 740(f), 1 Somua, 17 Renault R35 et 8 Hotchkiss).
- Panzer Abteilung 206, Cotentin Peninsula 1944
(4 Char B2 740(f), 2 Somua, 2 Renault R35 et 16 Hotchkiss).
- Panzer Abteilung 213, Guernsey et Jersey Channel Islands 1942-1945
Two companies avec 14 Pz.Kpfw. Char B2 740(f) et five Flammwagen auf Pz.Kpfw. Char B2 740(f) each:
- Company commander’s véhicule et reserve tank
- Three platoons of four véhicules each
- 4th (Heavy Weapons) Platoon of five Flammwagen
Possibilités de Conversions
- Flammwagen auf Pz.Kpfw. Char B2 740(f), 1941-1945
Le Char de Bataille B1.bis caused the enemy some concern, the véhicules were so thickly armoured that they could not be penetrated par le fusil antichar Panzerbüchse ou le canon antichar de 37 mm PaK 35/36 at ranges beyond 100 meters. With better infantry support la Division Cuirassée française might have been a tough opponent not unlike the Panzer Division, capable of taking ground behind enemy lines et holding on to it. As it was, the punch delivered by the Char B1.bis was not followed up, stalling the attack et giving the enemy time to implement counter-measures. Unités de la Luftwaffe used leurs canons antiaériens de 88 mm FlaK 18 to defeat the des Char B1 which managed to break through the line. As a last resort, even pièces d’artillerie were pressed into service comme arme antichar.
Matchbox deserves praise for this excellent model of an important véhicule. Chars et tracteurs d’artillerie français sported a variety of attractive schémas de camouflage which can be recreated in miniature. Even after they were captured, les schemas de camouflage français were maintained. It is to be hoped that automitrailleuses Panhard, chars Somua et Hotchkiss will become available in this scale as well.
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