Post-Summer 1934 French Sanity Options

Many of the canon de 75s were converted into anti-tank guns, although the French army was unhappy with them as they were heavy, large, and not nearly as stealthy as smaller AT guns.

test of the M3 75mm gun on the M8 Chassis for a mobile solution

German conversion of captured 75mm guns, place on Pak 38 carriages

Production history
DesignerAlbert Deport, Etienne Sainte-Claire Deville, and Emile Rimailho.
Designed1897
Produced1942–1943
No. built3,712
Masscombat: 1,190 kg (2,623 lbs)
travel: 1,270 kg (2,800 lbs)
Length4.65 m (15 ft 3 in)
Barrel length2.58 m (8 ft 6 in) L/34.5
2.72 m (8 ft 11 in) L/36.3 (without muzzle brake)
Width1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Height1.05 m (3 ft 5 in)

yeah, that's bigger than this

Production history
Designed1934
No. built6,000
VariantsSA-L mle 1935: a shortened variant used in tanks and armoured cars such as the Panhard 178.
SA-L mle 1937: a lengthened 77 caliber derivative designed by the APX with a much lighter 300 kg (660 lb) carriage
Mass480 kg (1,058 lbs)(modèle 1934)
Barrel length1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) 72 caliber
length
3.71m
Width
1.05m
Height
1.10m

so yeah, 25mm is smaller than a 75mm gun

Problem is, Penetration
German tests :
The test was carried out 1/8-1941 with a 2,5cm KwK 121(f) by HWA on a 120 kg/mm2 armor plate (source : "Kennblätter fremden geräts heft 8a, Munition bis 3,6 cm" Released in Berlin 1941).
100 meters = 47mm /0°
500 meters = 40mm /0°
1000 meters = 30mm /0°

100 meters = 35mm /30°
500 meters = 30mm /30°
1000 meters = 20mm /30°

100 meters = 18mm /45°
500 meters = 16mm /45°
1000 meters = 15mm /45°

Panzer IV Ausf.D
The side and rear armour of the Ausf.D was increased from 14.5 mm to 20 mm, somewhat improving its survivability.
The front hull and superstructure was built with 30 mm thick face-hardened armour. In February 1940, 30 mm thick applique armour plates were bolted or welded to the front superstructure and hull bringing the armour protection up to 60 mm thick in these areas. Also 20 mm applique armour plates were also bolted or welded to the sides increasing the side armour in the centre to 40 mm thick. The last 68 Panzer IV Ausf.D tanks had 50 mm thick front hull armour instead of the original 30 mm. The increased thickness of the armour increased the weight of the Panzer IV Ausf.D to 20 tonnes
.

The French 75mm AP, depending on the Model, mostly dated between 1900 and 1918, and at best could penetrate 68mm. And after 1940, the Germans found millions of rounds for the 75mm, and this could fire all types of ammunition, not just AP like the 25mm
 
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Well... I suggest that the British with their shadow factory programs and the Americans with their civil engineering projects of the 1930s, faced the same difficulties. I dare not say the French could not do it, because it seems post 1945 that they did?
And how do you know they didn't? Almost all of the things which you are proposing are things the French did, which is why I am responding to you - not just providing corrective details, but informing you that the proposals you are putting forth are things which the French tried and they are not revelations for the French. The French had important aircraft industrial clusters at Lyon, and there were factories at Nantes, Toulouse, Châteauroux, and Bourges, well utilized particularly in specialized production for the MS 406.. In any case it didn't lead to any problem: the reason for decentralization wasn't production worries, but rather strategic defense due to the danger of aircraft production being knocked out, and this never turned out to be an issue.

Again, I wonder how American politics endangers France, when Pratts roll off Gnome/Rhone assembly lines?
Because the Americans had neutrality laws which prevented the export of war material to warring countries: the absolute last thing the French could want is for their own production to be dependent on the politics of a foreign country which is shaky about whether they will even export to you in wartime.

think the French were handicapped (as were the Americans) by the system of Imperial Preference, which in part formed a lot of the economic problems in recovery in and among global markets. One can understand the reasons, but one must also understand the consequences of such policies. For example; one might understand why such policies of protectionism can lead to mistrust and handicap mutual aid in the midst of a global economic or political crisis. But putting this problem aside, the French government certainly had a chance to invest in western Africa and make that economic market integrative with airline investment for example.
Imperial preference had little to do with the problems of the French and their airlines in Europe, and a principal reason just involves looking at a map: the French are shut out of Central Europe by the Germans and the markets available to them are much less lucrative and important. As it stood the French had one of the largest air networks and air fleets in the world: their problems were not related to imperial preference, but rather to geography, their tendency to have fragmented orders and overly diverse air fleets which led to excessive costs and prevented economies of scale, insufficient investment in modern infrastructure, and the late formation of Air France which meant that until 1933 they lacked a single cohesive company capable of providing economies of scale on the size of Lufthansa. The French did provide air service to their empire of course, but this wasn't really a problem for their development, and some of it made good sense since lines were already being constructed there - such as the lines from France to South America, where the French did have a geographic advantage and where they put it to good use. The French did air service to Dakar through that, so again, most of the proposals you are putting forth are things which the French already did.

Source: EBAY.
A 1943 design, find something in the Interwar of mounting a long 75 on an assault gun, and you're going to spend a long time searching.

Gamelin was a fool on so many levels, that it is hard to find anything good to say about the man's military acumen. His staff had some good men, but his chief of intelligence was not one of them. As for the Breda modification of the Plan D? I never understood it. WHY lunge so far north and why place your maneuver reserve so out of position that it couldnot cover the hinge of the movement? Did Gamelin learn nothing from Schlieffen 1.0? Apparently not. I think he was Peter Pincipled well above his his WWI divisional command level of competency. The nearest American comparison to him is the criminally incompetent rat bastard; William Westmoreland.
There has been plenty which has been written about why Gamelin chose to adopt the Dyle plan, and there are principally heavily linked to intelligence matters. Based on the intelligence which Gamelin had available to him, the Dyle plan was extremely risky but made sense, even if it was a desperate sort of sense. Still probably not worth it even in light of that intelligence, but there were reasons for why the Dyle plan got chosen.

As for the "over-estimation" of the Luftwaffe by the AdA air staff? I don't see it. The realistic 4-1 odds the air staff produced as their dire prediction proved DEADLY precise. The subsequent bug-out for the North Africa settlements and bases, makes perfectly good sense in light of the situation the AdA found itself.
No, the French got their numbers far off.

On April 1st, 1940 Vuillemin presented Gamelin with the assumption that the Luftwaffe had already achieved a quantitative superiority which France alone could never hope to contest. His report counted 5700 first line planes with 8500 in reserve for a total of over 14000 planes. 44 This was to be pitted against France’s 3100 planes stationed at home both in rear areas and at the northeast front in May 1940. In truth, the actual number of German fighters and bombers was around 3400 with another 2000 reconnaissance/transport planes in support. 45

The sane solution is not to rely on others for your own needs. In foreign affairs, convergence of interests can be encouraged, but in the end, De Gaulle had the 'right' of it. France has to look out for France.
So your solution is for France, with 1/3 the industrial capacity and 2/3 of the population, both ratios significantly increased after the German annexations of 1938, to fight a war on its own against the Germans?
Good luck with that, French leadership was not nearly that suicidal.

The French 75mm AP, depending on the Model, mostly dated between 1900 and 1918, and at best could penetrate 68mm. And after 1940, the Germans found millions of rounds for the 75mm, and this could fire all types of ammunition, not just AP like the 25mm
Which is again, something the French did, see the 75mm Mle1897/33 but unsurprisingly they found that a 40 year old medium velocity field gun is not actually the world's best anti-tank gun, being extremely heavy and thus incapable of being easily moved around by soldiers, with a large profile, and kicking up substantial amounts of dust. They still used them, but the 25mm and 47mm guns were much superior solutions for the AT role.
 
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And how do you know they didn't? Almost all of the things which you are proposing are things the French did, which is why I am responding to you - not just providing corrective details, but informing you that the proposals you are putting forth are things which the French tried and they are not revelations for the French. The French had important aircraft industrial clusters at Lyon, and there were factories at Nantes, Toulouse, Châteauroux, and Bourges, well utilized particularly in specialized production for the MS 406.. In any case it didn't lead to any problem: the reason for decentralization wasn't production worries, but rather strategic defense due to the danger of aircraft production being knocked out, and this never turned out to be an issue.
I have referred to the chaos in French production 1939-1940, so despite the most concerted efforts the French logistics and supply system failed the AdA. That is a part of the problem that must be solved, too. Not that the French were alone in this kind of problem. The British shipped tanks to Egypt without repair manuals, and missing fire control gear and spares. (Not enough mechanics either.) The Russians shipped out Yaks without radios and KVs with main guns missing breach blocks. The Americans had constant trouble with Brewster aircraft missing key components like RIVETS, so it is not an unique French thing at all. The human thing is to lesson learn and fix it before it becomes a critical fail in war. But then I pointed out that the AdA did lesson learn and fix it, did I not?

Because the Americans had neutrality laws which prevented the export of war material to warring countries: the absolute last thing the French could want is for their own production to be dependent on the politics of a foreign country which is shaky about whether they will even export to you in wartime.
Again, I wonder how American politics endangers France, when Pratts roll off Gnome/Rhone assembly lines?
How do American neutrality laws prevent Pratt/Gnome-Rhone from making Pratts in France? It did not stop the Australians from making Pratts in their factories.

Imperial preference had little to do with the problems of the French and their airlines in Europe, and a principal reason just involves looking at a map: the French are shut out of Central Europe by the Germans and the markets available to them are much less lucrative and important. As it stood the French had one of the largest air networks and air fleets in the world: their problems were not related to imperial preference, but rather to geography, their tendency to have fragmented orders and overly diverse air fleets which led to excessive costs and prevented economies of scale, insufficient investment in modern infrastructure, and the late formation of Air France which meant that until 1933 they lacked a single cohesive company capable of providing economies of scale on the size of Lufthansa. The French did provide air service to their empire of course, but this wasn't really a problem for their development, and some of it made good sense since lines were already being constructed there - such as the lines from France to South America, where the French did have a geographic advantage and where they put it to good use. The French did air service to Dakar through that, so again, most of the proposals you are putting forth are things which the French already did.
How was that air service to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and CHINA? Americans had it, because they made sure the Pacific was their lake; but as far as I can tell, the French did not do much with those markets and it was largely the British who were in the way of it. South America actually ditto. The airline wars between the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1930s are a fascinating history of chicanery. Jimmy Doolittle is an American aviation hero as much for the airline wars as he is for his WWII exploits. Just saying that I think the French could have done more in this area.
A 1943 design, find something in the Interwar of mounting a long 75 on an assault gun, and you're going to spend a long time searching.
Searching for the St Chamond...



Bit of a nose plow there, but I "think" that is a 75mm Model 1897 sticking out the front?

Saint Chamond specifications
Dimensions8.9m x 2.70m x 2.40m
(29ft 2in × 8ft 10in × 7ft 10in)
Total weight, battle ready23 tons
Crew9
PropulsionPanhard Levassor 4 cylinder petrol, 80 hp
Speed12 km/h (8 mph)
Range on/off road60/30 km (37.3/18.6 mi)
Main ArmamentSt-Chamond 75mm TR long barrelled field gun
75mm M1897 long barrelled field Gun
Secondary Armament4x Hotchkiss M1914 8 mm air-cooled machine guns
Armor11-19 mm (0.43-0.75 in)
Total production400

There has been plenty which has been written about why Gamelin chose to adopt the Dyle plan, and there are principally heavily linked to intelligence matters. Based on the intelligence which Gamelin had available to him, the Dyle plan was extremely risky but made sense, even if it was a desperate sort of sense. Still probably not worth it even in light of that intelligence, but there were reasons for why the Dyle plan got chosen.
Sure the Dyle Plan made sense at the time in light of the estimates. It is the positioning of 7th Army and the Breda annex that I do not understand. Well... I do understand. Gamelin was worried about his sea flank when the man should have worried about the fortification gap north and east of Sedan. (The Hinge.) I think I shall remain pat about my estimate of his dispositions and HIM. I can show cause for it, if I must.
No, the French got their numbers far off.

On April 1st, 1940 Vuillemin presented Gamelin with the assumption that the Luftwaffe had already achieved a quantitative superiority which France alone could never hope to contest. His report counted 5700 first line planes with 8500 in reserve for a total of over 14000 planes. 44 This was to be pitted against France’s 3100 planes stationed at home both in rear areas and at the northeast front in May 1940. In truth, the actual number of German fighters and bombers was around 3400 with another 2000 reconnaissance/transport planes in support. 45


The paper numbers were off Bad@Logic but not the force ratios. The Germans achieved 4 to 1 effectors in sorties and missions PER DAY. So in effect it was as if they had 14,000 aircraft using the French aircraft mission turnaround cycle of 1 sortie per pilot per day which is why I used the force ratio and not the paper number estimate to show that the AdA had the proper estimate.

So your solution is for France, with 1/3 the industrial capacity and 2/3 of the population, both ratios significantly increased after the German annexations of 1938, to fight a war on its own against the Germans?

Good luck with that, French leadership was not nearly that suicidal.
The 1930s leadership of the 3rd Republic tried it the way you suggested was logical and they failed. De Gaulle? Well, read on my friend...

The sane solution is not to rely on others for your own needs. In foreign affairs, convergence of interests can be encouraged, but in the end, De Gaulle had the 'right' of it.
How did "Free French" France operate and achieve so much, when she was an orphan and literally should have had to beg to be counted as an ally? By standing up for herself and asserting her rights. This is not 'relying on others', but rather cultivating that convergence of interests I wrote about earlier. France had to look out for herself.

Which is again, something the French did, see the 75mm Mle1897/33 but unsurprisingly they found that a 40 year old medium velocity field gun is not actually the world's best anti-tank gun, being extremely heavy and thus incapable of being easily moved around by soldiers, with a large profile, and kicking up substantial amounts of dust. They still used them, but the 25mm and 47mm guns were much superior solutions for the AT role.
See above and below.



Source: Getty Images

See that thing on the left? Notice the thing on the right? Towed AT of 2.5 cm and 4.7 cm bore sized guns do not make a lot of sense when you need can openers to open up Panthers. Or PZKW IIIs and IVs. The Americans and the British were happy they could side shoot German tanks with the French 75 and it could reliably convert such things into paper weights.
 
I have referred to the chaos in French production 1939-1940, so despite the most concerted efforts the French logistics and supply system failed the AdA. That is a part of the problem that must be solved, too. Not that the French were alone in this kind of problem. The British shipped tanks to Egypt without repair manuals, and missing fire control gear and spares. (Not enough mechanics either.) The Russians shipped out Yaks without radios and KVs with main guns missing breach blocks. The Americans had constant trouble with Brewster aircraft missing key components like RIVETS, so it is not an unique French thing at all. The human thing is to lesson learn and fix it before it becomes a critical fail in war. But then I pointed out that the AdA did lesson learn and fix it, did I not?
Yes, the French system had to be improved - but the point is that the improvements you suggest were ones the French were already doing....

How do American neutrality laws prevent Pratt/Gnome-Rhone from making Pratts in France? It did not stop the Australians from making Pratts in their factories.
Because once again you are talking about something that the French did or which is irrelevant to them, because the French had plenty of foreign investment in the 1920s anyway and they could procure the rights to American engines as they wanted, such as Hispano-Suiza gaining the rights to manufacture American radial engines in 1928. The French experience with foreign cooperation on engines was a dreadful one: Ford Air in France saw American advisors pulled out of France and shipments of tools and supplies cancelled when the war begins. The Americans were simply put not a reliable source for war material for the French, and the French went to them in desperation, and for production it would be crazy to rely upon individual parts that could be cancelled or face political complications.

How was that air service to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and CHINA? Americans had it, because they made sure the Pacific was their lake; but as far as I can tell, the French did not do much with those markets and it was largely the British who were in the way of it. South America actually ditto. The airline wars between the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1930s are a fascinating history of chicanery. Jimmy Doolittle is an American aviation hero as much for the airline wars as he is for his WWII exploits. Just saying that I think the French could have done more in this area.
But the French did provide air lines out there, Air Orient, later merged into Air France, had lines to Indochina, starting from 1931 - only 2 years later than Imperial Airways to Delhi, and much further along. Similarly the French were the main direct airline link between Europe and South America although there was some German competition, and even if the Germans and Americans might have done more for internal investment in the continent, it was definitely the French who did the most for its links abroad. The French could have done better - but you are simply opening up Wikipedia pages and comparing to the Anglo-Saxon experience without looking at any of the details of WHY the French struggled and how their situation was different, or you're suggesting the French do things which they already did.






Bit of a nose plow there, but I "think" that is a 75mm Model 1897 sticking out the front?
That isn't an Interwar tank, that is a WW1 tank, and the French were not at all pleased with it - including the armament, which they trialed replacement weapons for, such as a 47mm gun. If you look through the entire record of Interwar military development, you will not find a single production version of a tank or self-propelled gun for direct fire with a 75mm gun. And this was not for lack of trying - the 75 Garnier-Renault after all, tried a long 75, but it was rejected. Do you think that the people from the era were stupid? Or maybe there were good reasons for why it took so long for them to get around to a long 75mm assault gun? It wasn't until 1940 that production even started to get close to a 75mm assault gun with the Somua SAu 40 and ARL V39: this is not a product of some bureaucratic ineptitude, but rather the natural technological limits of the time.

The paper numbers were off Bad@Logic but not the force ratios. The Germans achieved 4 to 1 effectors in sorties and missions PER DAY. So in effect it was as if they had 14,000 aircraft using the French aircraft mission turnaround cycle of 1 sortie per pilot per day which is why I used the force ratio and not the paper number estimate to show that the AdA had the proper estimate.
That's moving the goal posts and you know it, there is a difference between having 4 times as many aircraft and having 4 times as many aircraft due to faster sortie rates. since it was the fear of German massive numerical, not sortie superiority, which led to the dispersal of the French air force to prevent its eradication. If the French had an accurate understanding of the German air force, then them and the British air force would have been able to assemble joint forces of much more equal combat power.

How did "Free French" France operate and achieve so much, when she was an orphan and literally should have had to beg to be counted as an ally? By standing up for herself and asserting her rights. This is not 'relying on others', but rather cultivating that convergence of interests I wrote about earlier. France had to look out for herself.
The Free French did no such thing, they were a British puppet government to legitimize control over French colonies and were dependent on the Americans and British to an extent that no French Third Republic politician could ever have dreamed of. It is again moving the goal posts on your part: your proposition is that the French had to rely on themselves for defense in the Interwar which has now morphed into standing up for themselves with the Free French, a completely different proposition which has nothing to do with the original proposition.

See that thing on the left? Notice the thing on the right? Towed AT of 2.5 cm and 4.7 cm bore sized guns do not make a lot of sense when you need can openers to open up Panthers. Or PZKW IIIs and IVs. The Americans and the British were happy they could side shoot German tanks with the French 75 and it could reliably convert such things into paper weights.
And that's simply mindbogglingly irrelevant and off as far as comparisons go: the Panther was a 1943 tank, the Battle of France happened in 1940. Why the fuck are the French building up their anti-tank forces to respond to the Panther tank which doesn't even exist and isn't even a napkin drawing or a vague inkling in the German designers' heads when the French are building their new generation of AT guns in the early 1930s? If you want a gun to shoot Panthers and not plink off the front you get the 75mm TAZ mle. 1939, NOT a 40 year old converted infantry gun, which with its penetration statistics, size, smoke, and weight is outright WORSE at fighting a Panther than a 47mm mle. 1937. The 25mm and 47mm guns were simply put, much better AT guns for the 1940 battlefield, and the 47mm would always be a better anti-tank gun than the 1897 throughout the war. The 75mm mle. 1897 made a great deal of sense on a tank: as a dedicated AT gun, there were far better options.
 
RE Aircraft manufacturers centralization:
Many mergers were already occuring before the 1936 nationalizations even began: Marcel Bloch and Henry Potez combined their own factories and bought the Sociétté Aérienne de Bordeaux (SAB) and the majority of shares over at Lorraine (an engine manufacturer). Loire and Nieuport merged as Loire-Nieuport, and during the nationalizations got to use a modern Breguet factory (said factory dropped MS 406 man-hours to produce from 22 000 to 8500), so maybe have them deal with Breguet. Caudron associated with the aircraft branch of Renault.
Only Latécoère and Amiot didn't do any mergers while being large companies. IMO the government should only invest into machinery and give incentives for the smaller companies to merge with larger ones.

RE American equipment:

The French didn't need to outright license produce foreign equipment, but rather get technology transfers (Browning belt-feeding, Curtiss electric firing controls, P&W radial engine technology, Guérin process (invented by a French engineer over at Douglas), some of the modern petrol refinement processes to produce high octane fuels) to improve their own. As said by others above relying solely on the good will of foreign nations is not very safe and France had the means to get good on its own, just needed some rationalization.

RE 75mm GMCs:
France had a number of modern 75mm AA guns and casemate guns which would have proved better for tank use than the Mle.1897 (and indeed were used in the 1939/1940 prototypes and projects). There was the ARL V 39 assault gun in testing in 1939, and it was based on B1 components so could have been developped sooner. IMO the French obsession with warming over the B1 in replacement programs seriously limited what was possible, and they should have instead started a program in 1935 to develop a 75mm casemated assault gun which was far more doable.

On tanks themselves:
Obsessing over the B1 was a huge mistake as this tank proved very expensive (over 1.2 million Francs, three times that of a Renault R35 light tank) but most importantly very hard to mass produce. In about 4 years of production only a little over 450 were built by combining the manufacturing capacity of Renault, ARL and FCM (which limited the latter's ability to mass produce the best light tank of the 1934 program, the FCM 36). It was also quite unreliable and complex.
Per the POD it is too late to redesign the tank programs before 1934 so the FCM 36, the Renault and Hotchkiss 35s, the B1 and the D2 exist. They will be neceessary to build up a critical mass of tanks as any tank program started in 1935 will take until at least 1938 to produce something useful. However we can alter the orders to get a better distribution of those tanks.

Out of all the tanks of this list, the D2 was by far the most balanced: it offered the same overall package as the B1, minus the 75mm gun: APX-1 turret with 47mm SA 34 gun, radio operator in the hull as standard, 40mm of armor, 19.5 tons instead of 27 tons. However it was half as expensive as the B1 (610,000 Francs, and that was with very small production) and much easier to produce and maintain. Compared to the light tanks it was 1.5 times more expensive than the R35, while being more mobile (more capable suspension offroad in particular), having a radio, a somewhat better gun in a more spacious turret and is simply more comfortable overall.
Renault claimed that he could produce 200 a year on his own(debatable but nonetheless more realistic than mass producing B1s), and 750 were ordered before the Army reduced that to focus on the B1 instead. So you can get more than B1s, thus getting more tanks capable to have a good AT gun (the 47mm SA 35) and being less reliant on the light tanks.

So my take on it is:
- reduce the B1 order to a few tanks for further testing purposes, follow up with a comprehensive redesign program to simplify and modernize the B1, and include a larger turret ring diameter. Essentially B1 Ter/B40 a few years early.
- keep the order for 750 D2s, while focusing on improving the reliability of its transmission, adapting for a larger turret ring if possible within the existing layout. Engine bay could be enlarged to fit more fuel but a new engine might be necessary given the weight increase.
-Start a program for a 20-25 ton tank as a follow to the D2, with 50mm of armor, 25-30kph at least, 10HP/ton power-to-weight ratio, ability to take either the APX-2 2-man turret uparmored to 50mm, or a new 2-man turret with the high power 47mm SA 37 gun. Supposed to enter service in 1938-39. Essentially the G1 program without the stupid B1 requirements.
- Start a program for a 75mm assault gun, supposed to enter service in 1938-39. Preferably something simple based on B1 components to act as a stopgap.
- produce R35s, H35s (to reduce R35 price by 60,000 Francs through competition) and maybe FCM 36s (the latter in particular if naval production is reduced as it was to build DDs and B1s), while making sure that the FCM 36 would be simplified (less complex armor layout), the H35 improved into the H39 ASAP as the cheap light tank. R35 is really just a stopgap as it's horrible.
- Still nationalize Renault's factory at Issy-les-Moulineaux as AMX to get competent engineers in charge as Renault products tended to be very unreliable. Priority on development of components for future tanks: welded turrets, deal with ASTER to build an entire family of dedicated tank diesel engines, improved suspensions. Work could be used to modernize the FCM 36 (essentially get the equivalent to OTL AMX 38: a simpler diesel light tank with improved suspension. Should maybe scale up to immediately get the 47mm SA 35 on light tanks instead of the 37mm SA 38 to focus production on the former.).
-Adapt the Somua S35 to get the APX-2 uparmored to 40mm, this would reduce mobility however.
- buy a Christie tank to get the technology for the suspension sooner (OTL the technology transfer happened in 1938 with the purchase of a Cruiser Tank Mk.III). This way the Cavalry can now develop a new tank with a better suspension than the S35's, which was too heavy and complex.
 
On tanks themselves:
Obsessing over the B1 was a huge mistake as this tank proved very expensive (over 1.2 million Francs, three times that of a Renault R35 light tank) but most importantly very hard to mass produce. In about 4 years of production only a little over 450 were built by combining the manufacturing capacity of Renault, ARL and FCM (which limited the latter's ability to mass produce the best light tank of the 1934 program, the FCM 36). It was also quite unreliable and complex.
Per the POD it is too late to redesign the tank programs before 1934 so the FCM 36, the Renault and Hotchkiss 35s, the B1 and the D2 exist. They will be neceessary to build up a critical mass of tanks as any tank program started in 1935 will take until at least 1938 to produce something useful. However we can alter the orders to get a better distribution of those tanks.

Out of all the tanks of this list, the D2 was by far the most balanced: it offered the same overall package as the B1, minus the 75mm gun: APX-1 turret with 47mm SA 34 gun, radio operator in the hull as standard, 40mm of armor, 19.5 tons instead of 27 tons. However it was half as expensive as the B1 (610,000 Francs, and that was with very small production) and much easier to produce and maintain. Compared to the light tanks it was 1.5 times more expensive than the R35, while being more mobile (more capable suspension offroad in particular), having a radio, a somewhat better gun in a more spacious turret and is simply more comfortable overall.
Renault claimed that he could produce 200 a year on his own(debatable but nonetheless more realistic than mass producing B1s), and 750 were ordered before the Army reduced that to focus on the B1 instead. So you can get more than B1s, thus getting more tanks capable to have a good AT gun (the 47mm SA 35) and being less reliant on the light tanks.

So my take on it is:
- reduce the B1 order to a few tanks for further testing purposes, follow up with a comprehensive redesign program to simplify and modernize the B1, and include a larger turret ring diameter. Essentially B1 Ter/B40 a few years early.
- keep the order for 750 D2s, while focusing on improving the reliability of its transmission, adapting for a larger turret ring if possible within the existing layout. Engine bay could be enlarged to fit more fuel but a new engine might be necessary given the weight increase.
-Start a program for a 20-25 ton tank as a follow to the D2, with 50mm of armor, 25-30kph at least, 10HP/ton power-to-weight ratio, ability to take either the APX-2 2-man turret uparmored to 50mm, or a new 2-man turret with the high power 47mm SA 37 gun. Supposed to enter service in 1938-39. Essentially the G1 program without the stupid B1 requirements.
- Start a program for a 75mm assault gun, supposed to enter service in 1938-39. Preferably something simple based on B1 components to act as a stopgap.
- produce R35s, H35s (to reduce R35 price by 60,000 Francs through competition) and maybe FCM 36s (the latter in particular if naval production is reduced as it was to build DDs and B1s), while making sure that the FCM 36 would be simplified (less complex armor layout), the H35 improved into the H39 ASAP as the cheap light tank. R35 is really just a stopgap as it's horrible.
- Still nationalize Renault's factory at Issy-les-Moulineaux as AMX to get competent engineers in charge as Renault products tended to be very unreliable. Priority on development of components for future tanks: welded turrets, deal with ASTER to build an entire family of dedicated tank diesel engines, improved suspensions. Work could be used to modernize the FCM 36 (essentially get the equivalent to OTL AMX 38: a simpler diesel light tank with improved suspension. Should maybe scale up to immediately get the 47mm SA 35 on light tanks instead of the 37mm SA 38 to focus production on the former.).
-Adapt the Somua S35 to get the APX-2 uparmored to 40mm, this would reduce mobility however.
- buy a Christie tank to get the technology for the suspension sooner (OTL the technology transfer happened in 1938 with the purchase of a Cruiser Tank Mk.III). This way the Cavalry can now develop a new tank with a better suspension than the S35's, which was too heavy and complex.
You have a very comprehensive and good idea of what to do with the tanks!

Personally though I can't help but think that instead the focus should above all else go to reducing the number of tanks. In your plan there is the B1, its assault gun version, the D2, the G1, the R35, the H35, the FCM 36, the S35, and a proposal for an S35 which is probably a new tank once you take into account the need for the suspension to be changed. Is there still the AMR 35 too? Regardless you get from 7.5-8.5 (.5 being the B1 's assault gun version as it uses mostly the same parts) different tanks in the French tank park which are produced throughout the period, which is a big part of the French problem - the French need economies of scale and mass production. The Germans by contrast only had the Panzer 1, Panzer 2, Panzer 3, Panzer 4, and had just introduced the Stug III on the Panzer 3 chassis - 4.5 tanks that the Germans produced, so about half as many models. Of course, the Germans also had the Czech tanks, but that was something that they inherited from somebody else and so doesn't really count in their production priorities. Imo while improving the combat characteristics of the tanks is good, the French need to dramatically trim down the number of tanks they have. You could get away with individually more expensive and costly tanks - if these tanks are getting real economies of scale.

So what I'd propose is that the R35, H35, FCM 36, all get dropped, the D2 takes over their entire role, and pour everything into getting the D2 to real mass production scales to drop costs. Have it be improved in an evolutionary way as you suggest, with getting a real two man turret, working on the reliability, getting a fourth crewmember. The cavalry can still build the S35 and later on the model you propose with Christie suspension, but make them accept the D2 to replace the H35s that they used in their tank divisions originally. Sometimes I feel sacrilegious about the S35, because while we tend to think of it as the best French tank in 1940, whenever I think of ways to rationalize the tank park the S35 always seems superfluous!

Imo for the role which the Char B1 is designed for, providing high explosive firepower to smash through enemy fortified lines, the D2 simply cannot compensate, since a 47mm HE shell won't do the trick and it lacks the armor of the B1's main production variants. It is a shame that we can't go further back than 1934, since the original B1 specifications were entirely rational, other perhaps than the machine gun turret - a relatively light weight, decently armored vehicle equipped with a 75mm gun, with a small size, that you would mass produce in huge numbers is very much like the StuG concept, and that worked very well for the Germans. But if we're stuck with the program as it has arrived in 1934, I think that the French simply trimming back their ambitions with it would produce an entirely serviceable vehicle - get rid of the turret and put on a cupola with a pintle machine gun, get rid of the complicated Naeder transmission and just give the gun some traverse instead, and get the benefits of weight saving, some of which can go into the armor, and a crew which isn't so horribly over-stressed - 4 works perfectly fine for a self-propelled gun. Then in the equivalent of the Char B1 bis, you can do the SPG project utilizing that freed up space and weight to mount a canon de 75, and voila - excellent vehicle for attacking enemy bunkers and in the tank destroyer role too. Of course, doesn't have the turret like OTL - but just like OTL one can have the armored units consisting of mixed formations, with D2s and B1s this time instead of B1s and H35s, so the D2s can escort the B1s, and the Swedes showed with their S-tank that a non-turreted tank is still perfectly reasonable as an assault vehicle.

You'd get down to just 3 main vehicles in production, faster production that enables more training to be carried out (hopefully enabling the flaws of the DCRs to be corrected, they waited until way too late to form them OTL because they were hoping to fill them up completely with Char B1s and that wasn't practical), and cheaper production with economies of scale. Only thing I can think of that they lack compared to OTL is the machine gun armed tanks of the AMR 35 type to support mechanized infantry units, but I'm not really sure how useful that was anyway OTL.

I don't know if you read it but I made a thread a while ago about improving French tanks, and my proposals were essentially those of above, although I proposed having a sort of D2 analogue with a short 75mm gun in a casemate as a variant as the mainstay of infantry support tanks.
 
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Yes, the French system had to be improved - but the point is that the improvements you suggest were ones the French were already doing....
Intent and incapacity do not equal success. I may have to develop that observation.

Because once again you are talking about something that the French did or which is irrelevant to them, because the French had plenty of foreign investment in the 1920s anyway and they could procure the rights to American engines as they wanted, such as Hispano-Suiza gaining the rights to manufacture American radial engines in 1928. The French experience with foreign cooperation on engines was a dreadful one: Ford Air in France saw American advisors pulled out of France and shipments of tools and supplies cancelled when the war begins. The Americans were simply put not a reliable source for war material for the French, and the French went to them in desperation, and for production it would be crazy to rely upon individual parts that could be cancelled or face political complications.
You miss the point of it. The neutrality laws of the United States were not the problem as you suggested. The politics INSIDE FRANCE was. In the case of the Ford bug-out, Ford was not in a corporate partnership with a going concern like Bloch and thus invested. They were actually working directly with the French government. When the government folded up and proved it did not know what it was doing, Ford was not going to lose personnel and equipment to the Germans. Hence the American corporate, not political decision, to withdraw.

But the French did provide air lines out there, Air Orient, later merged into Air France, had lines to Indochina, starting from 1931 - only 2 years later than Imperial Airways to Delhi, and much further along. Similarly the French were the main direct airline link between Europe and South America although there was some German competition, and even if the Germans and Americans might have done more for internal investment in the continent, it was definitely the French who did the most for its links abroad. The French could have done better - but you are simply opening up Wikipedia pages and comparing to the Anglo-Saxon experience without looking at any of the details of WHY the French struggled and how their situation was different, or you're suggesting the French do things which they already did.
Ever hear of Pan American? Note intrusions into 'British' territory.





Nice maps and very informative and necessary to show French efforts.

How about this one.



The South American market was American, not French. Jimmy Doolittle pioneered about half of it.

That isn't an Interwar tank, that is a WW1 tank, and the French were not at all pleased with it - including the armament, which they trialed replacement weapons for, such as a 47mm gun. If you look through the entire record of Interwar military development, you will not find a single production version of a tank or self-propelled gun for direct fire with a 75mm gun. And this was not for lack of trying - the 75 Garnier-Renault after all, tried a long 75, but it was rejected. Do you think that the people from the era were stupid? Or maybe there were good reasons for why it took so long for them to get around to a long 75mm assault gun? It wasn't until 1940 that production even started to get close to a 75mm assault gun with the Somua SAu 40 and ARL V39: this is not a product of some bureaucratic ineptitude, but rather the natural technological limits of the time.


Design began around 1934.



Design began around 1940 in June.

That's moving the goal posts and you know it, there is a difference between having 4 times as many aircraft and having 4 times as many aircraft due to faster sortie rates. since it was the fear of German massive numerical, not sortie superiority, which led to the dispersal of the French air force to prevent its eradication. If the French had an accurate understanding of the German air force, then them and the British air force would have been able to assemble joint forces of much more equal combat power.
If the force ratio estimate results are accurate, then you argue that the force results are inaccurate because 4 times the numbers of sorties generated does not =4 times the number of planes on paper? Let me point out an error in your logic. The bean counting method you cited suggests the Germans have 14,000 aircraft to the allied total of 3,800 on paper. This is not what the AdA knew. They knew as of 10 May that they functionally had about 1,800 serviceable aircraft and overall only about 800 fighters of all types in the Allied order of battle. It could be argued, that IF they, the AdA, had the German turnaround cycles, they could have competed for the Germans had a fighter park of about 1000 machines of which about 800 were service available, but those 1,200 Luftwaffe bombers that were in service aloft of the 2,000 the Germans knew they had on paper, was the kicker that hurt. That is your 4x ratio. Not moved goal posts, what the AdA KNEW.

The Free French did no such thing, they were a British puppet government to legitimize control over French colonies and were dependent on the Americans and British to an extent that no French Third Republic politician could ever have dreamed of. It is again moving the goal posts on your part: your proposition is that the French had to rely on themselves for defense in the Interwar which has now morphed into standing up for themselves with the Free French, a completely different proposition which has nothing to do with the original proposition.
Not the point or what I wrote. De Gaulle had a bad hand after the politicians of the 3rd Republic caved and let that poltroon Laval and his partner in shame, Petain, stand up the Vichy regime. He, de Gaulle, played it the French way, butting heads with Churchill constantly looking out for France. He made an enemy of FDR, too, but he WON. (1st Army (France)). Puppet? I don't think so.

And that's simply mindbogglingly irrelevant and off as far as comparisons go: the Panther was a 1943 tank, the Battle of France happened in 1940. Why the fuck are the French building up their anti-tank forces to respond to the Panther tank which doesn't even exist and isn't even a napkin drawing or a vague inkling in the German designers' heads when the French are building their new generation of AT guns in the early 1930s? If you want a gun to shoot Panthers and not plink off the front you get the 75mm TAZ mle. 1939, NOT a 40 year old converted infantry gun, which with its penetration statistics, size, smoke, and weight is outright WORSE at fighting a Panther than a 47mm mle. 1937. The 25mm and 47mm guns were simply put, much better AT guns for the 1940 battlefield, and the 47mm would always be a better anti-tank gun than the 1897 throughout the war. The 75mm mle. 1897 made a great deal of sense on a tank: as a dedicated AT gun, there were far better options.
Refer to the Lee. Like the Char B1 which it resembles, it was a stopgap only with a chopped French 75. The Americans were actually going to plonk the French 75 into a chassis as soon as the NGF figured out the turret for that gun (Yay USN!) for the sand-heads of the US Army Ordnance who simply could not get it done. They, the Naval Gun Factory, started immediately on that one, (June 1940) when the lessons learned from France 1940 rolled in. The British for their part were desperate to put a can opener (6 pounder) into tanks as soon as they got back from France, but the exigencies of their own little crisis (Battle of Britain) kind of delayed it for 6 months.

And as noted above, the Sherman with the French type 75 proved to carry 70% of the load from 1942 for the Wallies in tank warfare onward. That gun had reach, terminal KE smash over range (mass of shell hitting object), and it punched through Krupp steel to the end of the war. Something which the 2.5 cm and 4.7 cm French guns could not and did not do.
 
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You have a very comprehensive and good idea of what to do with the tanks!

Personally though I can't help but think that instead the focus should above all else go to reducing the number of tanks. In your plan there is the B1, its assault gun version, the D2, the G1, the R35, the H35, the FCM 36, the S35, and a proposal for an S35 which is probably a new tank once you take into account the need for the suspension to be changed. Is there still the AMR 35 too? Regardless you get from 7.5-8.5 (.5 being the B1 's assault gun version as it uses mostly the same parts) different tanks in the French tank park which are produced throughout the period, which is a big part of the French problem - the French need economies of scale and mass production. The Germans by contrast only had the Panzer 1, Panzer 2, Panzer 3, Panzer 4, and had just introduced the Stug III on the Panzer 3 chassis - 4.5 tanks that the Germans produced, so about half as many models. Of course, the Germans also had the Czech tanks, but that was something that they inherited from somebody else and so doesn't really count in their production priorities. Imo while improving the combat characteristics of the tanks is good, the French need to dramatically trim down the number of tanks they have. You could get away with individually more expensive and costly tanks - if these tanks are getting real economies of scale.

So what I'd propose is that the R35, H35, FCM 36, all get dropped, the D2 takes over their entire role, and pour everything into getting the D2 to real mass production scales to drop costs. Have it be improved in an evolutionary way as you suggest, with getting a real two man turret, working on the reliability, getting a fourth crewmember. The cavalry can still build the S35 and later on the model you propose with Christie suspension, but make them accept the D2 to replace the H35s that they used in their tank divisions originally. Sometimes I feel sacrilegious about the S35, because while we tend to think of it as the best French tank in 1940, whenever I think of ways to rationalize the tank park the S35 always seems superfluous!

Imo for the role which the Char B1 is designed for, providing high explosive firepower to smash through enemy fortified lines, the D2 simply cannot compensate, since a 47mm HE shell won't do the trick and it lacks the armor of the B1's main production variants. It is a shame that we can't go further back than 1934, since the original B1 specifications were entirely rational, other perhaps than the machine gun turret - a relatively light weight, decently armored vehicle equipped with a 75mm gun, with a small size, that you would mass produce in huge numbers is very much like the StuG concept, and that worked very well for the Germans. But if we're stuck with the program as it has arrived in 1934, I think that the French simply trimming back their ambitions with it would produce an entirely serviceable vehicle - get rid of the turret and put on a cupola with a pintle machine gun, get rid of the complicated Naeder transmission and just give the gun some traverse instead, and get the benefits of weight saving, some of which can go into the armor, and a crew which isn't so horribly over-stressed - 4 works perfectly fine for a self-propelled gun. Then in the equivalent of the Char B1 bis, you can do the SPG project utilizing that freed up space and weight to mount a canon de 75, and voila - excellent vehicle for attacking enemy bunkers and in the tank destroyer role too. Of course, doesn't have the turret like OTL - but just like OTL one can have the armored units consisting of mixed formations, with D1s and B1s this time instead of B1s and H35s, so the D1s can escort the B1s, and the Swedes showed with their S-tank that a non-turreted tank is still perfectly reasonable as an assault vehicle.

You'd get down to just 3 main vehicles in production, faster production that enables more training to be carried out (hopefully enabling the flaws of the DCRs to be corrected, they waited until way too late to form them OTL because they were hoping to fill them up completely with Char B1s and that wasn't practical), and cheaper production with economies of scale. Only thing I can think of that they lack compared to OTL is the machine gun armed tanks of the AMR 35 type to support mechanized infantry units, but I'm not really sure how useful that was anyway OTL.

I don't know if you read it but I made a thread a while ago about improving French tanks, and my proposals were essentially those of above, although I proposed having a sort of D2 analogue with a short 75mm gun in a casemate as a variant as the mainstay of infantry support tanks.
Thank you for your reply!
I didn't cut many tanks because I am not certain that all of the factories available could quickly adapt to D2 production, but I would certainly drop as many lights as possible, if only because the skills of AMX, FCM and Hotchkiss would be far better used improving the D2 and designing a successor, to incorporate more welding in production (especially the turrets as the cast turrets were produced more slowly than the hulls, and D2's hull is partially rivetted), high power diesel engines and a more balanced bogie suspension (Hotchkiss's suspension was the inspiration for the Australian Sentinel's drivetrain. Reducing the number of roadwheels in favor of larger ones would make the tank more suited to higher speeds).

The "improved B1", "pseudo-G1" and "Christie cavalry tank" are longer term designs for 1938 and beyond, especially the Christie one which is closer to a French T-34/upscaled AMX-40.
 

Driftless

Donor
Were the Laffly AT portees useful, or was that idea more of an act of desperation? On the surface, it appears that you gain mobility, at the expense of visibilty
 
Were the Laffly AT portees useful, or was that idea more of an act of desperation? On the surface, it appears that you gain mobility, at the expense of visibilty
It appears that the idea came to General Army Inspector Louis Keller in 1939 and was tested as a prototype in early 1940 but Gamelin (him again) rejected production on the 6th of May. On the 17th production was started regardless by desperation. The production ones had less armor than the prototype which had a fully armored cabin.
I reckon that the idea could have come up earlier to get a very cheap SPAT gun.


They were found effective but due to the circumstances, rather immature.
 
The 25mm and 47mm guns were simply put, much better AT guns for the 1940 battlefield, and the 47mm would always be a better anti-tank gun than the 1897 throughout the war. The 75mm mle. 1897 made a great deal of sense on a tank: as a dedicated AT gun, there were far better options.
The difference being that there was no shortage of the 1897, and makes a fine Regimental Gun once it got the modernized carriage.
It tops out to where AT guns get too bulky to move or to conceal, unlike the 25mm it has HE, cannister and smoke so is more than just something that puts a hole in armor plate. Twice as heavy, but many times more useful.

Self propelled is even better, the first example being the US Holt Mk VI of 1920 https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tXEt2LSSI9k/WZIYBlKaitI/AAAAAAAAA_s/FXUEYCmGfR8IWotY6zdUYC2IoKOa9xfsgCLcBGAs/s280/Holt+Mk+VI+%282%29.jpg

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The difference being that there was no shortage of the 1897, and makes a fine Regimental Gun once it got the modernized carriage.
It tops out to where AT guns get too bulky to move or to conceal, unlike the 25mm it has HE, cannister and smoke so is more than just something that puts a hole in armor plate. Twice as heavy, but many times more useful.

Self propelled is even better, the first example being the US Holt Mk VI of 1920 https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tXEt2LSSI9k/WZIYBlKaitI/AAAAAAAAA_s/FXUEYCmGfR8IWotY6zdUYC2IoKOa9xfsgCLcBGAs/s280/Holt+Mk+VI+%282%29.jpg
..
Good point. The French 75 in a tank or spg or a field mount could do what a 4..7 cm ATG could not do.

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Cure that problem.
 
Intent and incapacity do not equal success. I may have to develop that observation.
Then you need to propose stuff that is actually original and useful for the French, not just taking things done years later and asking why the French didn't do them before, or copy pasting American programs that the French already did.

You miss the point of it. The neutrality laws of the United States were not the problem as you suggested. The politics INSIDE FRANCE was. In the case of the Ford bug-out, Ford was not in a corporate partnership with a going concern like Bloch and thus invested. They were actually working directly with the French government. When the government folded up and proved it did not know what it was doing, Ford was not going to lose personnel and equipment to the Germans. Hence the American corporate, no political decision, to withdraw.
The Americans pulling out their personnel and preventing delivery of crucial machine parts = French politics are to blame? Very interesting idea. This wasn't in 1940 by the way - France wasn't fallen. This is 1939, when war was declared. If there was a Franco-American merger then all it would do is make things worse, since the French would be dependent on Americans and American tools for even their own production, and when the Americans pull out their citizens and stop delivering war material to the French in 1939 like they did OTL, it smashes their production even more. And the final point is that the French don't NEED to become an American colony to build up their aircraft production, they had a technological base comparable to the Americans, what they NEEDED was expanding that base and building more planes.

Note intrusions into 'British' territory.
And then how exactly, do you propose getting to East Asia except by going through British territory? Maybe you'll suggest a trip through the Gulags of the USSR along the way?

The South American market was American, not French. Jimmy Doolittle pioneered about half of it.
The Americans have a massively larger size and better geography: no surprise they had a larger air route. It is again comparing a nation with 120 million people to one with 40 million and one operating on its own continental sphere to one operating on another one, and wondering why the French don't have as many air lines. As it stands, the French air linkage to South America was the most important European linkage and

In any case this map is much later than the French one and is from ww2, given it notes war time disruptions: you can see from a 1939 map that much of the Latin American network was extended.

Design began around 1934.
Not a long 75mm design, and you can look at all of the production problems they had to just get this short 75mm gun vehicle to work.

Design began around 1940 in June.
Not an Interwar tank: irrelevant again.



If the force ratio estimate results are accurate, then you argue that the force results are inaccurate because 4 times the numbers of sorties generated does not =4 times the number of planes on paper? Let me point out an error in your logic. The bean counting method you cited suggests the Germans have 14,000 aircraft to the allied total of 3,800 on paper. This is not what the AdA knew. They knew as of 10 May that they functionally had about 1,800 serviceable aircraft and overall only about 800 fighters of all types in the Allied order of battle. It could be argued, that IF they, the AdA, had the German turnaround cycles, they could have competed for the Germans had a fighter park of about 1000 machines of which about 800 were service available, but those 1,200 Luftwaffe bombers that were in service aloft of the 2,000 the Germans knew they had on paper, was the kicker that hurt. That is your 4x ratio. Not moved goal posts, what the AdA KNEW.
No, because the point is that the French thought the Germans had massive reserves and that so any effort they tried in the beginning would be completely worthless, and so the French and British air forces both were spread out and abandoned trying to gain air parity over the Germans. If the French had massed their fighters and not distributed them out in their localized air defense cells, and the British moved their fighters to the continent, then they could have assembled a mass of fighters enough to contest German air superiority. There is a serious difference between getting x4 the air strength based off of numbers and based off of sorties - because when you lose one of those aircraft on sorties, your strength is reduced by x4, and your ability to SUSTAIN an air campaign is far less. If the French knew about the lack of German ability to sustain their air campaign, then they could have been far better off in their planning.

Not the point or what I wrote. De Gaulle had a bad hand after the politicians of the 3rd Republic caved and let that poltroon Laval and his partner in shame, Petain, stand up the Vichy regime. He, de Gaulle, played it the French way, butting heads with Churchill constantly looking out for France. He made an enemy of FDR, too, but he WON. (1st Army (France)). Puppet? I don't think so.
No it is - I told you that you're delusional if you think that the French could go it your own, and your counter-point was the example Free French, who were so utterly dependent on the Americans and British that they constitute an effective Anglo-American puppet force, even if they did gain more independent authority later on. The French only became independent of Anglo-American security assistance when they developed nukes - and that's not happening in 1940. If you want to suggest a different French diplomatic strategy where France goes it alone, then show a way for the French to win on their own a 1v1 war with the Germans. You'll soon figure out that this was impossible, and that's why the French had the diplomatic strategy of their own.

Refer to the Lee. Like the Char B1 which it resembles, it was a stopgap only with a chopped French 75. The Americans were actually going to plonk the French 75 into a chassis as soon as the NGF figured out the turret for that gun (Yay USN!) for the sand-heads of the US Army Ordnance who simply could not get it done. They, the Naval Gun Factory, started immediately on that one, (June 1940) when the lessons learned from France 1940 rolled in. The British for their part were desperate to put a can opener (6 pounder) into tanks as soon as they got back from France, but the exigencies of their own little crisis (Battle of Britain) kind of delayed it for 6 months.
Yes, let us refer to a 1940 tank for French planning 5 years earlier: it is your standard problem in that you look at what the Americans built, then critique other people for not having done it 5 years before when it was less technically feasible and there wasn't the experience with tanks anyway.

And as noted above, the Sherman with the French type 75 proved to carry 70% of the load from 1942 for the Wallies in tank warfare onward. That gun had reach, terminal KE smash over range (mass of shell hitting object), and it punched through Krupp steel to the end of the war. Something which the 2.5 cm and 4.7 cm French guns could not and did not do.
Again, the 47mm was a BETTER anti tank gun than the 75mm. Its penetration (using conservative statistics, some more liberal French tests put it massively above the 75mm's penetration) was equivalent to the base 75mm gun, and only slightly inferior to the late 75mm - and you continue to see things through an American lens of fighting imaginary Panthers and heavily armored German tanks late war, when the 47mm was massive overkill in 1940 as it stands. If you wanted a tank gun, then the 75mm was better - but the 47mm was the better AT gun by far, since it was better in every single regards save for the ability to shoot a good HE round, which is NOT important for an AT gun.

[/QUOTE]
The difference being that there was no shortage of the 1897, and makes a fine Regimental Gun once it got the modernized carriage.
It tops out to where AT guns get too bulky to move or to conceal, unlike the 25mm it has HE, cannister and smoke so is more than just something that puts a hole in armor plate. Twice as heavy, but many times more useful.

Self propelled is even better, the first example being the US Holt Mk VI of 1920 https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tXEt2LSSI9k/WZIYBlKaitI/AAAAAAAAA_s/FXUEYCmGfR8IWotY6zdUYC2IoKOa9xfsgCLcBGAs/s280/Holt+Mk+VI+%282%29.jpg
And how do you know there was no shortage of the canon de 75? It was still the principal French divisional weapon in every infantry division and lots of other divisions, they did deploy it in the AT role, there had been significant exports during the Interwar with thousands of guns going to French allies with some ~1,500 to Poland alone: the 75mm probably wasn't in infinite supply. You talk about it not being too bulky to move or conceal - but these are reasons WHY the French rejected it, because it was too bulky and too large, and not stealthy enough. The canon de 75 mle 1897/33 was not twice as heavy - it was three times as heavy, compared to the light version of the 25mm, 5 times as heavy. It simply isn't possible to be pushed around the battlefield by infantry like the 25mm, and the 47mm does have HE, and in any case the point of the 47mm/75mm in French doctrine was to serve as a heavy AT gun in batteries for protecting divisional artillery and central deployment: their abilities to use HE and usefulness in that role are much less than AT g uns deployed direclty with frontal troops.
 
Medium bombers: General issues and the old generation
Alright so this time I will be addressing the French medium bomber force, there is quite a lot that can be improved here. Note that the timelines I'm talking about don't take into account the fact that there could be far less disruption of production , early modernisation of the factories and faster development thanks to the engine changes addressed earlier in this thread, so things could be moved by several months.

General problems with bomber procurement:
- the Air Force was obsessed with using 20mm cannons as defense weapons even though they were not suited at all for the job. They are heavy, bulky, used 60 or 30-round magazines that are very hard to reload in flight, they mess with aerodynamics. It would be far better to rely either on HMGs (13.2 or 11mm) or on dual or single 7.5 MMGs, preferably belt-fed.
- another obsession with 1934-193X programs was the use of twin-tails. These proved very hard to develop and make safe, with the LeO 451 for example being plagued with accidents involving the tail. Ironically when France ordered US bombers, many of those had a single tail. Had the Air Force not specified the type of tail, modern aircrafts would have been developped more quickly and taken less time to make reliable.
- the Air Force specified the engine, which caused delays if said engine was notready yet. Ask the engineers to choose the engine or design airframes that can accept either type and you would be able to test aircrafts sooner and refine them while still having time to swap for the more promising engine later on.

The old generation:

3 types of bombers were ordered in 1934 and delivered in 1935-36: the Amiot 143, the Bloch MB 210 and the Potez 540. They add to the critical mass of bombers necessary in 1940 and can still be useful with some improvements.

The Amiot and Bloch are rather similar in layout and overall job, carrying 800-1000kg of bombs internally and 1600kg in total. The MB 210 was a later aircraft which had better aerodynamics and engines so it was faster by ~30kph (325kph maximum, 240 economic cruise) and could operate at higher altitudes, but had similar cruising speed.
The Amiot in particular seems to have inspired the British as the Handley Page Hampden seems to have been a refined Amiot 144, so even those old French bombers could be useful in early WW2.
The Potez 540 appears to do the same job but has poorer aerodynamics than both, so IMO that should have been cut in favor of more Amiots or MB 210s.

The Amiot and Bloch seemed to have had somewhat complementary features and it's unliquely that France can standardize on either of those this early, so my take on it would be:
- replace the frontal 7.5-turret with 4 nose 7.5 MGs used by the pilot to deter frontal attackers. This turret caused serious drag and the gunner was standing up so couldn't effectively use the MG anyway due to G-forces.
-replace the worn-out engines (especially of the Amiots) in 1937-39 with more powerful ones so that performance and reliability go up. Will also allow supply to be better standardized with the more modern aircrafts. Add in more aerodynamic cowlings.
- do not cancel the order for the more aerodynamic (folding gear) Amiot 144. This would have entered service in 1936 OTL without production issues because it remained similar to its predecessor. It increased overall speed (maximum and cruise) by a whopping 60kph, offered an amazing range of 4000km which has a ton of strategic uses and had a redesigned bomb bay that was easy to reload and increased capacity to 2000kg of bombs. If possible rebuild the 143 to the same standard when the engines are replaced.
- change the sights to newer ones when possible.
-keep producing Amiot 144 and Bloch 210s until new bombers are available, which should be around 1937 ITTL.

These changes would allow:
- to increase reliability and performance (300kph cruise, ~350-370 maximum) of the old aircrafts while standardizing engines.
- to remove one aircraft from the orders (Potez 540)

The Bloch would be useful for high altitude night bombing thanks to its higher service ceiling, while the Amiots are your average medium bomber.

Next post will be about the 1937-38 stopgap and the post-1938 modern bombers.

Spoilers: Amiot 144, Hampden prototype for comparison, and a drawing of a refined MB 210 as proposed in this blog
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Then you need to propose stuff that is actually original and useful for the French, not just taking things done years later and asking why the French didn't do them before, or copy pasting American programs that the French already did.
1. I do not "copy-paste".
2. Do better does not necessarily mean "unoriginal" thinking on my part. So much of what France tried to do was fractioned by 3rd Republic politics and the Mandarin type intellectual professional political class managerial incompetence that flowed from it. Do you want to discuss that French POLITICS? If so, I will keep it short. Change the constitution so that it is weighted winner take all elections and create a 2 party federal state. Then ensure that the socialists and the center left form one party and the right are stuffed into the other party and go at it. This tends to create centrist governance. and a professional civil service that is fairly non-ideological or tends to be leftist, but still nationalist. For the good of France becomes the governance more than "ideologies" or theories.
The Americans pulling out their personnel and preventing delivery of crucial machine parts = French politics are to blame? Very interesting idea. This wasn't in 1940 by the way - France wasn't fallen. This is 1939, when war was declared. If there was a Franco-American merger then all it would do is make things worse, since the French would be dependent on Americans and American tools for even their own production, and when the Americans pull out their citizens and stop delivering war material to the French in 1939 like they did OTL, it smashes their production even more. And the final point is that the French don't NEED to become an American colony to build up their aircraft production, they had a technological base comparable to the Americans, what they NEEDED was expanding that base and building more planes.
3. Refer to 2.
And then how exactly, do you propose getting to East Asia except by going through British territory? Maybe you'll suggest a trip through the Gulags of the USSR along the way?
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Use Dutch and American access for where the British get in the way. All three nations have a long tradition of not liking the British empire at all.

The Americans have a massively larger size and better geography: no surprise they had a larger air route. It is again comparing a nation with 120 million people to one with 40 million and one operating on its own continental sphere to one operating on another one, and wondering why the French don't have as many air lines. As it stands, the French air linkage to South America was the most important European linkage and
It is 1938.

In any case this map is much later than the French one and is from ww2, given it notes war time disruptions: you can see from a 1939 map that much of the Latin American network was extended.
It had to be extended. PanAm was part of the USG operation to stop Axis penetration of South America.

Not a long 75mm design, and you can look at all of the production problems they had to just get this short 75mm gun vehicle to work.
Referent to problems Renault engineers had with common sense. IOW, the guys at Ansaldo with a much smaller technical base and with a Vickers design (6 tonner) from 1928 were able to do in 9 months what Renault NEVER could do in 6 YEARS?

Not an Interwar tank: irrelevant again.
Gazala and First Alamein would like to Introduce themselves.

No, because the point is that the French thought the Germans had massive reserves and that so any effort they tried in the beginning would be completely worthless, and so the French and British air forces both were spread out and abandoned trying to gain air parity over the Germans. If the French had massed their fighters and not distributed them out in their localized air defense cells, and the British moved their fighters to the continent, then they could have assembled a mass of fighters enough to contest German air superiority. There is a serious difference between getting x4 the air strength based off of numbers and based off of sorties - because when you lose one of those aircraft on sorties, your strength is reduced by x4, and your ability to SUSTAIN an air campaign is far less. If the French knew about the lack of German ability to sustain their air campaign, then they could have been far better off in their planning.
Remember... evidence is the metric. The AdA estimates and situation reports are the evidence of what they knew at the moment of battle. Not pre-battle, but during battle and I cited and dated those.

No it is - I told you that you're delusional if you think that the French could go it your own, and your counter-point was the example Free French, who were so utterly dependent on the Americans and British that they constitute an effective Anglo-American puppet force, even if they did gain more independent authority later on. The French only became independent of Anglo-American security assistance when they developed nukes - and that's not happening in 1940. If you want to suggest a different French diplomatic strategy where France goes it alone, then show a way for the French to win on their own a 1v1 war with the Germans. You'll soon figure out that this was impossible, and that's why the French had the diplomatic strategy of their own.
Again I gave you evidence of what the Free French did, and you claim they did not do. I never wrote that the 3rd Republic adopt a go-it alone strategy, but adopt the strategy of convergent interests. An example of this type approach would be to do serious diplomacy with Moscow, but the 3rd Republic mandarins refused to consider it on "ideological grounds". Where was France's FDR? Hint: de Gaulle.

Yes, let us refer to a 1940 tank for French planning 5 years earlier: it is your standard problem in that you look at what the Americans built, then critique other people for not having done it 5 years before when it was less technically feasible and there wasn't the experience with tanks anyway.
Here is something for you to consider. The French 3rd Republic was the second biggest tank producer after the Soviet Union. 1930-1940. Look it up, about 8,000+ new machines. The Russians made about 3x as many. The Germans (German maneuver warfare) defeated both nations in opening massive offensives. The French army started learning fast but they ran out of time and space in 1940. In 1944, they return and do much better, arguably making the fewest mistakes in France 1944-45 among all the Wallies.

The Americans (fortunately) were watching France 1940 and North Africa. Even the British were getting their aspidistras kicked (North Africa). So yes the Americans were doing the LESSONS LEARNED and they produced the Sherman. Then they go in. Ever hear of Kasserine Pass? Embarrassing. It is not just the tank. It is combined arms and knowing how to fight in that manner. (Louisiana Maneuvers.) I would note that Operation Cobra was the Louisiana Maneuvers applied to the Normandy Campaign. BTW, there was a Free French guy, named Leclerc, who did rather well in that evolution?

Again, the 47mm was a BETTER anti tank gun than the 75mm. Its penetration (using conservative statistics, some more liberal French tests put it massively above the 75mm's penetration) was equivalent to the base 75mm gun, and only slightly inferior to the late 75mm - and you continue to see things through an American lens of fighting imaginary Panthers and heavily armored German tanks late war, when the 47mm was massive overkill in 1940 as it stands. If you wanted a tank gun, then the 75mm was better - but the 47mm was the better AT gun by far, since it was better in every single regards save for the ability to shoot a good HE round, which is NOT important for an AT gun.
Tanks fight infantry 80% of the time. 10% of the time they have to fight antitank systems of various types. 10% they fight enemy tanks. BTW, the PAK 18/36/37 is reason enough to have a dual or triple purpose artillery piece of one's own. The Americans found, no surprise, that antitank guns were very limited UNLESS they had infantry killing grenades or canister rounds that they could throw. Hence; there was smoke, canister, grenade and HE for the American copy of the British 6 pounder (5.7cm/L60) antitank gun, as well as the APBC round used in can opening. That is doctrinal and practical and very American. They learned it from the FRENCH.
 

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IIRC the AdA was concerned that a cannon-equipped fighter could engage the bomber from beyond the latter's MG defensive range, so thought they would need to arm their bombers accordingly.
 
it was three times as heavy, compared to the light version of the 25mm,
And the percentage of the light carriage to the standard one? and even the light version needed a Prime Mover to move any real distance

over 20,000 mle 1897 and mle 1900 had been produced by the end of WWI
 
1. I do not "copy-paste".
2. Do better does not necessarily mean "unoriginal" thinking on my part. So much of what France tried to do was fractioned by 3rd Republic politics and the Mandarin type intellectual professional political class managerial incompetence that flowed from it. Do you want to discuss that French POLITICS? If so, I will keep it short. Change the constitution so that it is weighted winner take all elections and create a 2 party federal state. Then ensure that the socialists and the center left form one party and the right are stuffed into the other party and go at it. This tends to create centrist governance. and a professional civil service that is fairly non-ideological or tends to be leftist, but still nationalist. For the good of France becomes the governance more than "ideologies" or theories.
Your thinking IS unoriginal by definition since it is stuff that the French DID. You critique the French government but essentially every single thing you have proposed is either something that the French did, or something which they thought about and rejected due to good reasons.

3. Refer to 2.
And so your proposal to fix the problem of American neutrality laws is... to change the French constitution? That sounds like a rather schizophrenic suggestion.

Use Dutch and American access for where the British get in the way. All three nations have a long tradition of not liking the British empire at all.
I think this is probably the stupidest thing I have seen all day frankly. Have fun trying to explain to French airline companies why they need to change their routes to East Asia from around 10,000 kilometers to going 23,000 kilometers, this including a detour of 6,400 kilometers around Southern Africa where refueling isn't possible unless if you stop in British territory, and a 6,000 kilometer flight directly across the Indian Ocean where again the only possibility is refueling in British territory, all to... avoid stopping in British territory? Have you ever read any books or articles about 1930s aviation technology? Your plan is the height of impracticality and is motivated by nothing than arbitrarily declaring that you aren't going to cross British territory. The only thing this utterly impractical and insane plane is going to do is 1)Result in a lot of planes dropping into the ocean when they run out of fuel thousands of kilometers before their destination and B)Nobody flying French airlines.

It had to be extended. PanAm was part of the USG operation to stop Axis penetration of South America.
Which makes it irrelevant for comparison to PRE-WAR French lines.

Referent to problems Renault engineers had with common sense. IOW, the guys at Ansaldo with a much smaller technical base and with a Vickers design (6 tonner) from 1928 were able to do in 9 months what Renault NEVER could do in 6 YEARS?
Did Ansaldo mount a 75mm gun on a Vickers 6 tonner? No? Then whatever point you're making here is irrelevant. They only got a 75mm gun on a tank AFTER, long after actually, the Fall of France, so once again completely irrelevant to French defensive planning in the 1930s.

Gazala and First Alamein would like to Introduce themselves.
Not an interwar battle, completely irrelevant to French defense planning for 1940. Unless if your new original idea for fixing French defense also includes giving them a time machine?

Remember... evidence is the metric. The AdA estimates and situation reports are the evidence of what they knew at the moment of battle. Not pre-battle, but during battle and I cited and dated those.
Your evidence and citations are you moving the goal posts and inserting false and arbitrary metrics. The evidence is on my side - the French got their numbers on the German air force wrong. You are the one who is trying to play around with statistics to get the result you want.

Again I gave you evidence of what the Free French did, and you claim they did not do. I never wrote that the 3rd Republic adopt a go-it alone strategy, but adopt the strategy of convergent interests. An example of this type approach would be to do serious diplomacy with Moscow, but the 3rd Republic mandarins refused to consider it on "ideological grounds". Where was France's FDR? Hint: de Gaulle.
No. You said the French need to not rely on others for their defense. Your idea of the French carving an independent defense strategy and not relying on others for their defense is then backed up with examples that are the complete opposite of what you claim, and now proposals for Moscow - which the French TRIED and just like 99% of your proposals there were GOOD REASONS for why the alliance with Moscow didn't work out, based on geography, different interests, and opposition from the allies who the French were trying to save. Until you find a way for the Poles to ally with Moscow, an alliance with Moscow is useless because it cannot exert effort. The French leadership TRIED every strategy you suggest, and you just don't realize that their options were limited and instead of realizing that you just refer to a completely different era and political conditions that made different strategies possible.

Here is something for you to consider. The French 3rd Republic was the second biggest tank producer after the Soviet Union. 1930-1940. Look it up, about 8,000+ new machines. The Russians made about 3x as many. The Germans (German maneuver warfare) defeated both nations in opening massive offensives. The French army started learning fast but they ran out of time and space in 1940. In 1944, they return and do much better, arguably making the fewest mistakes in France 1944-45 among all the Wallies.
If your solution to "Fixing the French army in 1940" is "learn from mistakes in 1940-1945" then you either need a time machine or some really good mushrooms.

The Americans (fortunately) were watching France 1940 and North Africa. Even the British were getting their aspidistras kicked (North Africa). So yes the Americans were doing the LESSONS LEARNED and they produced the Sherman. Then they go in. Ever hear of Kasserine Pass? Embarrassing. It is not just the tank. It is combined arms and knowing how to fight in that manner. (Louisiana Maneuvers.) I would note that Operation Cobra was the Louisiana Maneuvers applied to the Normandy Campaign. BTW, there was a Free French guy, named Leclerc, who did rather well in that evolution?
This entire paragraph is completely irrelevant then since it is happening after 1940 so by definition it does not concern preparing the French for 1940.

Tanks fight infantry 80% of the time. 10% of the time they have to fight antitank systems of various types. 10% they fight enemy tanks. BTW, the PAK 18/36/37 is reason enough to have a dual or triple purpose artillery piece of one's own. The Americans found, no surprise, that antitank guns were very limited UNLESS they had infantry killing grenades or canister rounds that they could throw. Hence; there was smoke, canister, grenade and HE for the American copy of the British 6 pounder (5.7cm/L60) antitank gun, as well as the APBC round used in can opening. That is doctrinal and practical and very American. They learned it from the FRENCH.
This is about anti-tank guns, not tanks, once again you misquote and refer to things which are DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to the point of a post. And again, the 47mm gun that you are talking about fired HE, so your point is irrelevant.

And the percentage of the light carriage to the standard one? and even the light version needed a Prime Mover to move any real distance
No idea but the point is that the 75mm is a vastly heavier weapon, when the 25mm is a perfectly suitable weapon on a 1940 battlefield - and a 47mm overkill.

over 20,000 mle 1897 and mle 1900 had been produced by the end of WWI
1,500 had gone to the Poles, thousands were in the US, there were major exports to China, Brazil, and Romania, 18,000 were supposedly lost in WW1 (although I have my doubts about that but I have no doubt that there were huge losses), around a thousand were in anti-aircraft, and 4,500 were in use with the field artillery. Now, can you see why the idea of a limitless number of canons de 75 being available is nonsense?

IIRC the AdA was concerned that a cannon-equipped fighter could engage the bomber from beyond the latter's MG defensive range, so thought they would need to arm their bombers accordingly.
The idea was also that the new generation bombers would be fast enough that intercepting fighters would only be able to attack directly from the rear, which would result in them having to fly into the cannon. Unfortunately the LeO 45's bottom machine gun turret was a massive drag penalty when deployed which ruined the aerodynamic profile, and in general the French bombers, although certainly very fast, were just not quite fast enough to make this scenario work.
 
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And again, the 47mm gun that you are talking about fired HE, so your point is irrelevant
The mle.1931 has .313 pounds of HE for a burster, and the 47mm mle.1937 cannon weighed 2500 pounds.
The mle.1916 AL HE had 1.63 pounds for the burster. You need Five 47mm shells to have the effect of the 75mm explosive round.
The French mle1918 APHE had .2 pounds for the burster after penetrating 61mm of armor at 500m

They also had a variety of other semi-ap rounds with up to .72 pounds of HE with penetration up to 40mm for wrecking lightly armored targets.

Yes, the mle1897/33 weighed 800 pounds more than the 47mm, but had more capability than just drilling holes and tossing a high speed grenade, like smoke, cannister and shrapnel
 
No takers for the Marine Nationale? Given how popular naval sanity options are and the fact that France had a quite outdated navy for the most part in the 30s...
The Italian problem.

Naval problems (surprise) are geographical in that the shoreline defines the battlespace and the use of that chunk of ocean.

So let us begin with naval geography.

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Conclusions?
a. Battleships are expensive and frankly not worth the investment. Cruiser destroyer surface action groups are very indicated. High speed is a must. Maneuverability is must.
b. Airpower before 1935 is an unknown, nevertheless a good AAA outfit for the Mediterranean is not beyond common sense for 'visionary' naval thinkers post 1935 when torpedo bombers become a near certainty.
c. ASW and surface raider warfare is the normative. PLAN for it.

Invest in these weapon effectors and launch platforms;

Torpedoes and destroyer launch platforms.
Good medium caliber guns for heavily armored cruisers. Ditto DP guns for destroyers

ASW is a critical must because that convoy route system will be submarine attacked.
1. Seaplanes as MRPs.
2. ASW corvettes, lots of them.
3. Sonar or at least better hydrophones and a fire control system that can be used with ahead throwing depth charge mortars.

And invest in a strong medium bomber force and a set of Riviera bases to bomb the Italians out of La Spezia. There is no credible battleship threat from Taranto IF the French can force the Italians out of the Ligurian and Tyrhennian seas. Bombing them out of their ports is the right way to do it.

Short summary of errors.

The Force de Raid is an unnecessary diversion of scarce MN resources to the Atlantic. Someone on the MN general staff should be beached for that one. If the Germans start playing games in the North Atlantic, the BRITISH will be on them. This is so a given that it should be part of MN planning.
 
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