French Military Sanity Options

We have had quite a few threads dealing with what various nations should/could have done to increase their Military potential in WW2, yet it seems that French are a somewhat forgotten, and really could do with a helping hand. So, what could be done to better prepare French Military, to ensure that France does not fall in 1940, and that it drives on to Berlin, once it withstands the initial German attack?

I will start. One area in which French certainly could do with some improvement is communications, they relied on fixed telephone lines and dispatch riders to a too great degree, and had rather limited amount of radios present.

So, thoughts?
 
One thing that I have seen mentioned in the book "Case Red" would have to deal with fixing the manufacturing of weapons.
IIRC many effective weapons such as the 25mm (?) antitank gun were not produced in large enough numbers and there was consequently a major shortage of them. Increasing the production rate and capacity before the war and lighting a fire under those manufacturers could do wonders for the French.

I apologize for the lack of better examples but I'm going off of my memory instead of finding the book and looking at specifics.
 
Interwar
  • Somehow convince the military budget to be raised enough so that recruits are trained for more than just a year - not sure how plausible this is.
  • Increase the budget for the air force so more aircraft can be procured - not particularly likely given the political situation
  • Move to radio as the primary means of communications and get radios in their tanks - probably possible
Start of war
  • Press on with the Saar offensive - not sure what the results would be
  • Try to get the Belgians to start cooperating - not sure how plausible this is
  • Scrap the Dyle Plan in favor of Plan E - probably possible
  • Somehow have the insane foresight to specifically reinforce the Ardennes area - unrealistic
 
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Stay allies with Belgium so that your armed forces have better cohesion-this could slow down the Ardennes Offensive
 
We have had quite a few threads dealing with what various nations should/could have done to increase their Military potential in WW2, yet it seems that French are a somewhat forgotten, and really could do with a helping hand. So, what could be done to better prepare French Military, to ensure that France does not fall in 1940, and that it drives on to Berlin, once it withstands the initial German attack?
Not possible with any post-Rhineland re-militarization PoD. France was completely unprepared for actually launching an offensive, hence why the Saar offensive was cancelled so quickly. On a macro level, French leadership didn't display the slightest hint of proactiveness, France's entire foreign and geostrategic policy focused on hiding behind the Maginot Line. If France doesn't fall in 1940 then the fighting just rages on as a war of attrition that either ends with a negotiated settlement or the German economy collapsing and the Soviets attacking from the east - reaching Berlin long before France.
 
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Start rearmament at least 18 months earlier

Difficult for a democracy to do in peacetime but it is the only answer that's going to work

But even as it was in April 1940 France was building more tanks than everyone except the Russians

Can you imagine what the case would have been had they advanced that process by 18+ months
 
Can you imagine what the case would have been had they advanced that process by 18+ months
More tanks blundering around belgium busy being useless.

The French defeat was not caused by materiel, and not by the myth of "planned to fight the last war". It was caused by having the quite possibly worst senior officers in command of all the major powers in WW II, political disunity to a ruinous degree ( on the 9th of may the french premier and the defense minister mutually threatened to resign over the issue of gamelin being the high commander, with even his supporter, the defence minister, being unably to justify this with anything beyond his loyality. They literary nearly went into a brawl. The cabinet seprated to cool of for the night. The very next day the Wehrmacht startet its Westfeldzug.), senior officers that were disloyal on top of incompetent (gamelins replacement, weygand, would have been seized and shot for treason within days of assuming command in any sane world) and just a general inability of many of the formations to perform even basic military tasks.Oh, and the air force may well habe been the most defeatist force the french ever threw into battle.


The interwar years had left the armed forces gutted and what remained was rotten to the core. There are no answers to this which aren't sweeping economic, political and societal changes from the early 30s on at the latest.
 
We have had quite a few threads dealing with what various nations should/could have done to increase their Military potential in WW2, yet it seems that French are a somewhat forgotten, and really could do with a helping hand. So, what could be done to better prepare French Military, to ensure that France does not fall in 1940, and that it drives on to Berlin, once it withstands the initial German attack?

I will start. One area in which French certainly could do with some improvement is communications, they relied on fixed telephone lines and dispatch riders to a too great degree, and had rather limited amount of radios present.

So, thoughts?
Goes off the gold standard earlier and starts liquidating stocks to finance rearmament in 1934 and do it with greater vigor, with more spending on the air force.
 
French needed the major overhaul top-down, including politicians.

What can be done? Put it bluntly to the Belgians - are you with us or not? If not, don't plan for moving any meanigful force in Belgium, just the demolition tems to wreck bridges, rail roads etc. If yes, they are to alow continuation of Maginot line up to Netherlands and to the North Sea, and allow French forces to be deployed by the moment French are in major mobilization.
French tanks are wrong in many ways. 1st thing is to realize that radio ona tank is as important as it's gun or engine. Having a radio on-board means that radio operator is 'separate entity' in a tank, so plan for a radio-operator in a tank. Tank commander has to communicate with other tank crews and infantry attached, so someone else needs to operate weapons. All in all - tank needs at least 4 crew members to operate well; at least two men of those in a turret.
Tanks and other ground units have problems opearting under enemy air attacks, so the AA need to be also much better. Increase production of 20-25-37mm automatic cannons, part of them self-propelled on the Lorraine tractor.
Every gun of 20mm and beyond = also an AT gun. Issue AP ammo, direct sights. Anything workable and still on 1-piece carriage to receive split carriage. Make AT rifles around 13mm and 20mm cartridges.
Airforce needs upgrade in tactics, startegy and technicalities.
 
Going from the most minimal to the most sweeping changes:

1. Don't send 7th Army into Holland but keep it as a reserve.
2. Eschaut Plan instead of the Dyle Plan.
3. Radios in tanks.
4. Prewar, more money for the Air Force. Ideally this is taken from the Navy's budget.
5. Managed battle was a bad doctrine, but the problem here is that everyone does this. Few armies trust their junior officers enough to really do mission command.

Really, to stop the fall of France, #1 by itself might have been enough.

There was a thread on this board exploring this, but just the politicians deciding to relocate to Algeria and keep fighting instead of asking for an Armistice would have made a big difference. However, this wasn't really the generals' call.
 
There was a thread on this board exploring this, but just the politicians deciding to relocate to Algeria and keep fighting instead of asking for an Armistice would have made a big difference. However, this wasn't really the generals' call.
I mean, they tried, but the army supreme commander specificially blocked this and preferred wasting a lot of his soldiers life for a couple "face saving" battles and then surrendering, so France can defend itself against the real threat, French leftists, and let perfidious albion deal with germany. With France unraveling,the traitors in-waiting gained the upper hand, and soon after that the Republic was couped and dismantled.
 
We have had quite a few threads dealing with what various nations should/could have done to increase their Military potential in WW2, yet it seems that French are a somewhat forgotten, and really could do with a helping hand. So, what could be done to better prepare French Military, to ensure that France does not fall in 1940, and that it drives on to Berlin, once it withstands the initial German attack?

I will start. One area in which French certainly could do with some improvement is communications, they relied on fixed telephone lines and dispatch riders to a too great degree, and had rather limited amount of radios present.

So, thoughts?
My instant thought on seeing the title of the thread without knowing what you were going to say: "Use. Their. Fucking. Radios."
 
Two large generic questions:
1. How do you smooth out the worst of the interwar political upheaval for France? Democracy is often very messy, but the last years of the Third Republic got too chaotic for a coherent and modern military development
2. If question #1 is resolved satisfactorily, who are the top chiefs in the lead up to the war? If not Gamelin or Weygand, then who?
 
There are no answers to this which aren't sweeping economic, political and societal changes from the early 30s on at the latest.
So what could IIIeme International France do?
What could Fascist (modernist revanchevist Nationalist) France do?
 
So what could IIIeme International France do?
What could Fascist (modernist revanchevist Nationalist) France do?
They won WW1 and achieved most of their goals. The supreme commander of the Allied forces was a French General and the Conference was chaired by a Frenchman in France. The only way that I can see a scenario where France becomes quasi-fascist is if they lose the Great War.
 
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More tanks blundering around belgium busy being useless.

The French defeat was not caused by materiel, and not by the myth of "planned to fight the last war". It was caused by having the quite possibly worst senior officers in command of all the major powers in WW II, political disunity to a ruinous degree ( on the 9th of may the french premier and the defense minister mutually threatened to resign over the issue of gamelin being the high commander, with even his supporter, the defence minister, being unably to justify this with anything beyond his loyality. They literary nearly went into a brawl. The cabinet seprated to cool of for the night. The very next day the Wehrmacht startet its Westfeldzug.), senior officers that were disloyal on top of incompetent (gamelins replacement, weygand, would have been seized and shot for treason within days of assuming command in any sane world) and just a general inability of many of the formations to perform even basic military tasks.Oh, and the air force may well habe been the most defeatist force the french ever threw into battle.


The interwar years had left the armed forces gutted and what remained was rotten to the core. There are no answers to this which aren't sweeping economic, political and societal changes from the early 30s on at the latest.
No it was not ready by not rearming and preparing its armed forces for WW2 early enough.

End of.

Germany started the process before everyone else and was the only nation ready for war in 1939

And Germany was hardly an economic powerhouse in the same period ie post depression.

Had France began the process of rearming properly 18 months earlier WW2 would have been very different

For a start France stronger earlier would have a better position to challenge Germany during the period of Hitler's brinkmanship!
 
No it was not ready by not rearming and preparing its armed forces for WW2 early enough.
End of.
I love how you comprehensibly rebuttet all the points I brought up. Especially your analysis how more tanks will enable french tank formations to actually operate in a moving battle instead of loosing their fuel tankers and blundering into the german advances in nothing resembling combat formation. How a geared up industry will prevent the high command to send literary the creme de la creme of your army on a hairbrained suicide mission into holland. How more planes will fix the issue the French were practially unable to generate any sorties with those they already had. How an earlier rearming is going to solve the many issues of the continious front doctrine. How more radios will help when officers literary refuse to command for days at a time,and outright ignore anything comming through it even when they do something.

Except when you subsume massive doctrinal,personell and political changes under "preparing" your position is unteneable. I know this is a hot take for many gearheads, but once you have a certain minimum standard of equipment (which the French certainly had), that stuff doesn't decide wars. The men that fight it do, from the privates to the political leaders. Which is obvious once you see how absurdly quickly the French fell to an enemy that was hardly massivly superior in gear,neither quality nor quantity.
 
I love how you comprehensibly rebuttet all the points I brought up. Especially your analysis how more tanks will enable french tank formations to actually operate in a moving battle instead of loosing their fuel tankers and blundering into the german advances in nothing resembling combat formation. How a geared up industry will prevent the high command to send literary the creme de la creme of your army on a hairbrained suicide mission into holland. How more planes will fix the issue the French were practially unable to generate any sorties with those they already had. How an earlier rearming is going to solve the many issues of the continious front doctrine. How more radios will help when officers literary refuse to command for days at a time,and outright ignore anything comming through it even when they do something.

Except when you subsume massive doctrinal,personell and political changes under "preparing" your position is unteneable. I know this is a hot take for many gearheads, but once you have a certain minimum standard of equipment (which the French certainly had), that stuff doesn't decide wars. The men that fight it do, from the privates to the political leaders. Which is obvious once you see how absurdly quickly the French fell to an enemy that was hardly massivly superior in gear,neither quality nor quantity.
You do you
 
French tanks are wrong in many ways. 1st thing is to realize that radio ona tank is as important as it's gun or engine. Having a radio on-board means that radio operator is 'separate entity' in a tank, so plan for a radio-operator in a tank. Tank commander has to communicate with other tank crews and infantry attached, so someone else needs to operate weapons.
French High Command seemed to have a real aversion to use Radio for anything, since it could be intercepted. so went with motorcycle couriers and land line
So not much different from 1918

So the HQ was just as out of touch as the Tanks
Didn't have to be that way.
 
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