Post-Summer 1934 French Sanity Options

One point, the Saar Offensive. The French learned about the German conception of mine warfare. They had expected some mines, and experimented with mine clearance teams and vehicles. The sheer number of mines laid in the french Army's path was astonishing.
 
That it's 800 pounds more for being dual purpose.

The 47mm is an less effective 6 pdr, that was found from it's introduction that the lack of decent HE was a higher penalty than the slightly higher AP performace it had over the 75mm, provided.

For the weight, it did not take much development to make a lighter weight tube for aircraft use that quickly was used for ground use in the M24 Tank.
The 75mm350R cartridge was at a sweet spot for its Muzzle Energy, more powerful guns got heavier, fast, like the Pak 40 was 500 pounds more than the Pak97/38 to the US 3" M5, near criminal 4900 pounds or actually criminal 17pdr QF at 6700 pounds.

McNair (in)famous for US TD policy, also really loved the idea of towed guns. After the M6 37mm armed GMCs got spanked in North Africa ,he saw the problem of them not being concealable, so wrote them off for towed M1 57mm and M5 3".
So AT gunners in rhe Army went from frying pan to the fire, since doctrine was still to advance the guns for a mobile counterattack. Did not work well in Italy or especially during the Bulge.
Anyhoo, the French did not have that nonsense in mind, their AT were defensive in nature.
A 25mm or 47mm gives you a big sniper rifle against incoming Infantry that went along with the Panzer Divisions.
Thinking the Germans would also be attacking with lighter tanks was also a mistake. Don't forget the propaganda use the Germans got from their prewar Heavies in Norway.
The French and British swallowed whole all the other propaganda the Nazis put out, why not be ready for Tanks with more armor to attack in 1940?
It was inferior in tanks, because tanks are designed to engage a wide range of targets. The QF 6 pounder and its ilk were manifestly better as dedicated AT guns. Tell me how many infantry AT guns and towed AT guns were converted from QF 6 pounders to 75mm guns? The answer is 0.

Your point about the heavier armored tanks is nonsense: they didn't exist and the French chose correctly with their 25mm and 47mm guns. Heavier German tanks would have been countered by the new generation 75mm guns such as the 75mm mle. 1939 TAZ. Are you really faulting the French for NOT falling for enemy propaganda now?
 
It was inferior in tanks, because tanks are designed to engage a wide range of targets. The QF 6 pounder and its ilk were manifestly better as dedicated AT guns. Tell me how many infantry AT guns and towed AT guns were converted from QF 6 pounders to 75mm guns? The answer is 0.

Your point about the heavier armored tanks is nonsense: they didn't exist and the French chose correctly with their 25mm and 47mm guns. Heavier German tanks would have been countered by the new generation 75mm guns such as the 75mm mle. 1939 TAZ. Are you really faulting the French for NOT falling for enemy propaganda now?
to befair germany was developing quite a few breakthrough tanks like the VK36.01 H even before ww2 started. The French spies must have caught wind of these.
 
to befair germany was developing quite a few breakthrough tanks like the VK36.01 H even before ww2 started. The French spies must have caught wind of these.
And? There was a reason why the French were developing a new heavy AT gun with the 75mm mle. 1939 TAZ instead of digging 40 year old field guns out of depots. As I've established the 75mm field gun in the AT role is if anything slightly inferior in AT performance compared to the 47mm.
 
And? There was a reason why the French were developing a new heavy AT gun with the 75mm mle. 1939 TAZ instead of digging 40 year old field guns out of depots. As I've established the 75mm field gun in the AT role is if anything slightly inferior in AT performance compared to the 47mm.
But just a handful of the better TAZ were made, and none deployed that I'm aware of, and that was in that near criminally heavy class of AT guns, 4600 pounds, but unlike the the US M5, had a 360 degree platform, as did some of the mle1897/38

For all that extra weight, you got 130mm armor penetration with the APDS rather then 90mm from the mle.1897

don't let perfect be the enemy of 'good enough'

And the 90mm penetration from the French 75 is plenty 'good enough'
 
Forget Poland, a France that rearms earlier must fight over Czechoslovakia. If they do, the Soviets would join. A surviving Czechoslovakia is 10 times more valuable than Poland.
 
But just a handful of the better TAZ were made, and none deployed that I'm aware of, and that was in that near criminally heavy class of AT guns, 4600 pounds, but unlike the the US M5, had a 360 degree platform, as did some of the mle1897/38

For all that extra weight, you got 130mm armor penetration with the APDS rather then 90mm from the mle.1897

don't let perfect be the enemy of 'good enough'

And the 90mm penetration from the French 75 is plenty 'good enough'
And how many German heavy tanks were deployed in 1940 which you keep on saying are what the French need to build to respond to?

Exactly 0.

And why isn't the similar penetration from the 47mm "good enough?" The 47mm can deal with any German tank up until the Tiger/Panther, at which point the 75 mle. 1897 is definitely not good enough. But in any case this is all irrelevant since the war isn't lasting long enough for the Germans to deploy those vehicles anyway, which once again means the 47mm is the better gun,.
 
All good points, and it seems to fit the standard French problem of not having sufficient focus: diverting resources to secondary fronts like Scandinavia, Finland, Turkey, Syria, while at home the French desperately needed to shore up their own defenses. Some of this may have made sense, but the French should have been more disciplined and not frittered away resources when the decisive action was happening elsewhere.
How much resources did the French actually divert to Finland and Scandinavia, instead of just planning that?

As for the rest of the above, the idea about "desperately needing to shore up their own defenses" is necessarily based on hindsight. On paper, the French(-British) resources against Germany would have seemed adequate in late 1939 or early 1940.
 
How much resources did the French actually divert to Finland and Scandinavia, instead of just planning that?

As for the rest of the above, the idea about "desperately needing to shore up their own defenses" is necessarily based on hindsight. On paper, the French(-British) resources against Germany would have seemed adequate in late 1939 or early 1940.
1.5 brigades, 3 infantry divisions, 4 aa batteries, armored car squadron, and several independent tank companies. Certainly, not a huge increase in France itself - but a few extra infantry divisions deployed on the center might have been quite useful.

Personally I would say that it is the exact opposite concerning French military intelligence as it massively overestimated the German threat. This runs up to the level of predicting 150 German divisions involved in the German assault, and 7,000-10,000 German tanks including 3,000-4,000 heavy tanks - as compared to 268 Panzer IVs which were used during the invasion itself. 14,000 aircraft once both front lines and reserves are taken into account only complete the picture. It seems that the French were so overawed in their predictions of German military strength that they decided to take any chance they could to nibble away at the edges and try to shift attention there, to divert attention from France. Instead the French command should have decided that given what they thought about the German forces, they needed to get every unit they could on the front. Although the real solution would be to shift some of their divisions from the Maginot Line to the rest of the front - there were about 40 French divisions perched behind the Maginot Line! Its entire point was to take time to blast through and to economize forces, and even leaving aside the proposed German invasion of Switzerland, there were some huge economies that could have been made there.
 
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1.5 brigades, 3 infantry divisions, 4 aa batteries, armored car squadron, and several independent tank companies. Certainly, not a huge increase in France itself - but a few extra infantry divisions deployed on the center might have been quite useful.
As I understand, a significant part of the French force in Norway was made up of Chasseurs Alpins and Foreign Legionnaires. Most likely, these were the kind of troops that in the summer of 1940 would not have been deployed where extra troops would have been most sorely needed against the Germans.
 
As for the rest of the above, the idea about "desperately needing to shore up their own defenses" is necessarily based on hindsight.
I am not so sure. The overestimation of the german forces by the french intelligence is a well established fact. If you combine it with the lack of a second front, that should do the trick. It was a 50 year old policy to have allies in the east, be it the Russian Empire, its weaker substitute Little Entente and one Poland in the end. Theoreticaly, destroying the cornerstone of a half a century defence policy, should have sent Paris in a frenzy.

I would go so far to argue that the loss of the Russian Empire should have been a shock to french policy makers. 1919 and the early 20s should have been the years of major concessions to the Belgians. The newly established states in central Europe could not have been integrated with the french economy in the degree that Belgium could.

French policy makers had the right idea: even since 1916 they envisioned a customs union with post-war Belgium. To quote from "French Defence Policy 1918-1940":
The reconstruction of the devastated
regions and the rebuilding of factories destroyed by the Germans, along with the
elimination of German financial interests, which were very substantial in certain
sectors of the Belgian economy, were expected to furnish the opportunity for
France and Belgium to work together to promote the inter-penetration of
commercial capital and develop complementary industrial specialisation. The main
sectors of industry would be organised, at least during the reconstruction phase, in
consortiums, in fact cartels, along the model developed by France during the war.
Notwithstanding the fears of certain French industrialists, Clémentel hoped this
would create conditions favourable to the negotiation of the customs union.
The French steelmakers who had their factories in the belgian border departments, such as Schneider, supported the above policy. The industrialists who had factories in Lorraine fought it. In Belgium, the Walloon industrialists supported the policy while the Antwerp business leaders (logistics firms that supported german trade) were against it. Last but not least, France and Belgium clashed regarding economic influence in Luxemburg.

Now, if you were a french policy maker, you just saw the Russian Empire getting replaced by smaller, new states with diverging interests. Said states may or may not succeed in becoming a credible bulwark against Germany. That means that Belgium's value has increased dramatically, So, it should have been a time for concessions: give the majority of luxemburgish railroad and steel to Belgians, make such an advantageous industrial framework for the Walloon industrialists so that they would go rabid and crush the Antwerp business opposition. The end result could have been a customs union with Belgium, integrated ecojomies and an alliance so strong that would have been very difficult to break. In other words, the french defence would start at Liege.
 
I am not so sure. The overestimation of the german forces by the french intelligence is a well established fact. If you combine it with the lack of a second front, that should do the trick. It was a 50 year old policy to have allies in the east, be it the Russian Empire, its weaker substitute Little Entente and one Poland in the end. Theoreticaly, destroying the cornerstone of a half a century defence policy, should have sent Paris in a frenzy.

I would go so far to argue that the loss of the Russian Empire should have been a shock to french policy makers. 1919 and the early 20s should have been the years of major concessions to the Belgians. The newly established states in central Europe could not have been integrated with the french economy in the degree that Belgium could.

French policy makers had the right idea: even since 1916 they envisioned a customs union with post-war Belgium. To quote from "French Defence Policy 1918-1940":


The French steelmakers who had their factories in the belgian border departments, such as Schneider, supported the above policy. The industrialists who had factories in Lorraine fought it. In Belgium, the Walloon industrialists supported the policy while the Antwerp business leaders (logistics firms that supported german trade) were against it. Last but not least, France and Belgium clashed regarding economic influence in Luxemburg.

Now, if you were a french policy maker, you just saw the Russian Empire getting replaced by smaller, new states with diverging interests. Said states may or may not succeed in becoming a credible bulwark against Germany. That means that Belgium's value has increased dramatically, So, it should have been a time for concessions: give the majority of luxemburgish railroad and steel to Belgians, make such an advantageous industrial framework for the Walloon industrialists so that they would go rabid and crush the Antwerp business opposition. The end result could have been a customs union with Belgium, integrated ecojomies and an alliance so strong that would have been very difficult to break. In other words, the french defence would start at Liege.
This is all well and good, if you are looking at things from a longer perspective and in terms of wider politico-military strategy. In case of already living in late 1939 or early 1940, though, there would not be a lot you could do in the short term. So my point was that at that time, the French thought that their defenses were adequate, and that sending a handful of units to secondary fronts would not be a significant danger for their ability to defend metropolitan France itself from Germany. Especially as those units were mostly troops that were arguably slated for secondary fronts anyway, like the Foreign Legion, or would be in the event used against the Italians, like the Alpine troops were. Also Polish troops were sent to Norway, which can be considered as "extra resources" in terms of French plans prior to the fall of Poland.
 
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And how many German heavy tanks were deployed in 1940 which you keep on saying are what the French need to build to respond to?

Exactly 0.
Neubaufahrzeug with Panzer-Abteilung 40 at Norway, as I referred to above

Sure, it was all of the runners the Germans possessed, but why would the French suddenly stop believing the German propaganda claims?
They swallowed them whole for for everything else, aircraft production on down

It was 'proof' that the data that Lieutenant Baillie-Stewart had been jailed for passing Vickers Heavy tank plans over to the Germans in 1933, had been used.
Also they were working on the Grosstraktor, they where photographed in Germany for propaganda, while the Durchbruchswagen series was more hidden, production of those prototypes started in 1938, and French Intelligence would have known of them
 
As I understand, a significant part of the French force in Norway was made up of Chasseurs Alpins and Foreign Legionnaires. Most likely, these were the kind of troops that in the summer of 1940 would not have been deployed where extra troops would have been most sorely needed against the Germans.
Perhaps, but certainly General Georges thought that his center needed additional troops and was concerned about lack of reserves: I don't think it impossible that the troops not deployed in Norway could either have been used to free up forces to be deployed in the French center, or been deployed there directly themselves. It is also of course, possible that they won't' be - but they certainly have a higher chance of being more useful in the defense of France than in Norway.

Of course, it was also a small deployment, so perhaps it was still worth it - but it is an excellent example of the French tendency to fritter away resources in secondary theaters when the decisive battle that they KNEW was coming was going to happen soon.

This is all well and good, if you are looking at things from a longer perspective and in terms of wider politico-military strategy. In case of already living in late 1939 or early 1940, though, there would not be a lot you could do in the short term. So my point was that at that time, the French thought that their defenses were adequate, and that sending a handful of units to secondary fronts would not be a significant danger for their ability to defend metropolitan France itself from Germany. Especially as those units were mostly troops that were arguably slated for secondary fronts anyway, like the Foreign Legion, or would be in the event used against the Italians, like the Alpine troops were. Also Polish troops were sent to Norway, which can be considered as "extra resources" in terms of French plans prior to the fall of Poland.
But the point is that the French didn't think their defenses were adequate: conversely they were terrified that the Germans had extremely powerful tactical air and armored units capable of obsoleting French reserves through the speed of deployment and attacks on the rear area, and giving the Germans unparalleled firepower and breakthrough ability. The French pinned everything they had on the hope that the Germans would attack in the northern Belgian plains and denuded their center of almost everything in order to gain forces to try to save the Dutch, because they were desperate to get any additional forces that they could through saving the Dutch. The French were definitively not at all certain about their defenses in 1940.

Neubaufahrzeug with Panzer-Abteilung 40 at Norway, as I referred to above

Sure, it was all of the runners the Germans possessed, but why would the French suddenly stop believing the German propaganda claims?
They swallowed them whole for for everything else, aircraft production on down

It was 'proof' that the data that Lieutenant Baillie-Stewart had been jailed for passing Vickers Heavy tank plans over to the Germans in 1933, had been used.
Also they were working on the Grosstraktor, they where photographed in Germany for propaganda, while the Durchbruchswagen series was more hidden, production of those prototypes started in 1938, and French Intelligence would have known of them
If you've arrived at the point of critiquing the French for not making plans on the basis of German propaganda and castigate them for not putting an inferior anti-tank gun in service to fight a single digit number of heavy tanks deployed in Norway with a grand total of... 20 millimetres of armor, I think you've exhausted all your arguments about the French and their AT guns.
 
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So my point was that at that time, the French thought that their defenses were adequate,
That is what I cannot fathom: How could they think like that with the strategic situation as it was and with the intelligence reports they had? It doesn't need any hindsight to realize there is mighty blow on its way by an enemy your freaking intelligence considers far superior.

were sent to Norway
Any deployment in Norway was a wise decision. If anything it could have been slightly bigger with another Alpine brigade. The problem was the sale and donation of weapons to Turkey(mostly), Yugoslavia and Romania, when the Poles in France were left without training and equipment . The 3 newlly raised and green North African divisions sent to Syria could have been sent to the metropole, building field fortifications in the place of 3 Series B divisions, that could instead spent the winter training. Syria didn't need 155mm mle. 1917 guns, nor modern 105mm. Just these resources could have provided another field army.
 
Perhaps, but certainly General Georges thought that his center needed additional troops and was concerned about lack of reserves: I don't think it impossible that the troops not deployed in Norway could either have been used to free up forces to be deployed in the French center, or been deployed there directly themselves. It is also of course, possible that they won't' be - but they certainly have a higher chance of being more useful in the defense of France than in Norway.

But the point is that the French didn't think their defenses were adequate: conversely they were terrified that the Germans had extremely powerful tactical air and armored units capable of obsoleting French reserves through the speed of deployment and attacks on the rear area, and giving the Germans unparalleled firepower and breakthrough ability. The French pinned everything they had on the hope that the Germans would attack in the northern Belgian plains and denuded their center of almost everything in order to gain forces to try to save the Dutch, because they were desperate to get any additional forces that they could through saving the Dutch. The French were definitively not at all certain about their defenses in 1940.
Do you know if there were French military leaders during the Norway campaign that actually commented that sending troops Norway put the defense of metropolitan France in danger? With what limited information I have, it seems that the forces sent north were not very sizable in comparison to France's total defense needs against Germany. As they were also apparently mostly troops that by prewar plans or in the event would not have been sent against the Germans anyway, I can't see keeping them in France making a significant addition into the French ability to fight the German attack in 1940.


That is what I cannot fathom: How could they think like that with the strategic situation as it was and with the intelligence reports they had? It doesn't need any hindsight to realize there is mighty blow on its way by an enemy your freaking intelligence considers far superior.

Any deployment in Norway was a wise decision. If anything it could have been slightly bigger with another Alpine brigade. The problem was the sale and donation of weapons to Turkey(mostly), Yugoslavia and Romania, when the Poles in France were left without training and equipment . The 3 newlly raised and green North African divisions sent to Syria could have been sent to the metropole, building field fortifications in the place of 3 Series B divisions, that could instead spent the winter training. Syria didn't need 155mm mle. 1917 guns, nor modern 105mm. Just these resources could have provided another field army.
I was specifically asking about the resources sent to Scandinavia, you may well be right about the rest.
 
I was specifically asking about the resources sent to Scandinavia,
Regarding Norway, I already said my opinion...

Frankly, I dont know much about resources sent to Finland. I only remember about the 30 MS 406. From a strictly military perspective, sending resources to Finland was a mistake. However, from a political perspective, it was a sound policy, due to the nature of threat Finland faced: the Red Menace. If the Entente didn't send not even material help to those who fight the Soviets, what message would have been to both conservative voters and most importantly Romania? Romania needed to be assured she would receive help if Stalin attacked and the Anglo-French depended on a friendly Romania that would sell its oil to them and not to the Germans.
 
If you've arrived at the point of critiquing the French for not making plans on the basis of German propaganda and castigate them for not putting an inferior anti-tank gun in service to fight a single digit number of heavy tanks deployed in Norway with a grand total of... 20 millimetres of armor, I think you've exhausted all your arguments about the French and their AT guns.
On the subject of the 47mm AT gun (I'm assuming it's the APX you're talking about). Could it have been developed earlier, or more resources allocated to building more of them? It seemed that by the time of the Fall of France, only 1200 were made, and the 75mm was...what were French quartermasters thinking of, when they tried making a field gun into an AT Gun anyway? That kinda seems dumb.
 
Regarding Norway, I already said my opinion...

Frankly, I dont know much about resources sent to Finland. I only remember about the 30 MS 406. From a strictly military perspective, sending resources to Finland was a mistake. However, from a political perspective, it was a sound policy, due to the nature of threat Finland faced: the Red Menace. If the Entente didn't send not even material help to those who fight the Soviets, what message would have been to both conservative voters and most importantly Romania? Romania needed to be assured she would receive help if Stalin attacked and the Anglo-French depended on a friendly Romania that would sell its oil to them and not to the Germans.
I see that the French help to Finland during the Winter War is estimated to have been worth 600 million 1940 marks (or 192 million 2020 euros), roughly 10% of all materiel bought or received from abroad during the war.

This help included, among other things

2855 LMGs (7.5 mm and 8 mm) and ammunition
50 mortars (81 mm, Brandt) and ammunition
60 AT guns (25 mm and 40 mm) and shells
24 field guns (75 mm, m/97 and 105 mm, m/13) and shells
24 howitzers (155 mm, St. Chamond) and shells
184 cannons (80 mm/90 mm/120 mm/155 mm, De Bange) and shells
30 Morane Saulnier MS 406 fighters

100 tons TNT
25 field radios
102 field telephones

It has been pointed out that the weapons the French sent to Finland were mostly old-fashioned and obsolete, and thus keeping them in France instead would not have been a major help to the French war effort in 1940.

In political and diplomatic terms, though, one could argue the French side of the planned Allied intervention into Finland quite possibly was the crucial thing that helped Finland in the end survive the war as an independent nation. The discussion and official views about the intervention had in Paris in February and early March 1940 made Stalin believe that the intervention was truly happening, and soon at that, and as his connections with his spies in London were temporarily severed at the time, he did not receive word of the British views that were more sceptical and lukewarm. Based on the French information, he then accepted going for a negotiated peace in March, before the Allies get "boots on the ground", instead of pushing for a total victory.
 
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