french surrender a strategy?

Nov 2010
1,328
Bordeaux
Ehh. This retro-fitting of French history to pretend that the Vichy Regime was an illegitimate government doesn't impress me. It's just a way for the French to save face.
It's not retro-fitting, it's fact.
Pétain grabbing power the way he did was a coup.
This has been well documented now, so it's not about "saving face" or any other kind of emotional reaction.
 
Nov 2019
338
United States
I also would not say all the French tanks are rubbish, in fact the Germans didn't feel that way at all:
The Char B1 was in service with the prewar and wartime French Army from 1936 to 1940 and later fell into service with the Free French Forces from 1944 to the end of the war in 1945. By the time of the German invasion of May 1940, the Char B1 was the best tank on the modern battlefield for both sides and this title was also endorsed by German General Heinz Guderian himself - the brains behind the "Blitzkrieg". The Char B1, with its stout armor protection scheme, self-sealing fuel tanks, crew protection measures, and impressive firepower made for a scenario-changing foe - German anti-tank gun crews (utilizing 20mm, 37mm, and 47mm weapons) were horrified to see their armor-piercing shells simply bouncing off the armor of the Char B1 and even the famous Panzer III and Panzer IV series of medium tanks had trouble contending with the French design - a May 16th, 1940 engagement saw a sole Char B1, waiting in ambush, successfully take out a collection of thirteen PzKpfW III and PzKpfW IV tanks.

The problem was that the French built too many light tanks and not enough Heavy tanks.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,667
Sydney
the defects of the B1 were many , not the least the concept being copied by the US for the Grant ,
the crews were badly trained for this most operator unfriendly machine
a better tank was the Hotchkiss 35 /38 , deployed by the Germans from Finland to Yugoslavia due to its good agility
the basic chassis was extensively used for a variety of vehicles
an interesting tank was the Somua S35 , probably the best of the lot and easily the equal of the Pzkw 3 but suffering from the usual French defect ,
pathetic ergonomics and no radio
Faithful to the old Renault FT which had done so well in 1918 , an improved version of a two man tank the Renault R35 was available
small enough to be transported by truck , it was to be used for close infantry support
when well used , like during the Syrian campaign against Australian troops it proved to be to be quite a handful
the concept of a mini tank is still current with the German Weasel


there were a good number of tanks around , all of them were able but misused
one can only blame the army hierarchy for crass stupidity
 
Nov 2010
1,328
Bordeaux
I also would not say all the French tanks are rubbish, in fact the Germans didn't feel that way at all:
The Char B1 was in service with the prewar and wartime French Army from 1936 to 1940 and later fell into service with the Free French Forces from 1944 to the end of the war in 1945. By the time of the German invasion of May 1940, the Char B1 was the best tank on the modern battlefield for both sides and this title was also endorsed by German General Heinz Guderian himself - the brains behind the "Blitzkrieg". The Char B1, with its stout armor protection scheme, self-sealing fuel tanks, crew protection measures, and impressive firepower made for a scenario-changing foe - German anti-tank gun crews (utilizing 20mm, 37mm, and 47mm weapons) were horrified to see their armor-piercing shells simply bouncing off the armor of the Char B1 and even the famous Panzer III and Panzer IV series of medium tanks had trouble contending with the French design - a May 16th, 1940 engagement saw a sole Char B1, waiting in ambush, successfully take out a collection of thirteen PzKpfW III and PzKpfW IV tanks.

The problem was that the French built too many light tanks and not enough Heavy tanks.
The French tanks' problem was beyond a question of figures.

Yes the B1 and S35 gun was superior and their armour much better, and that is what Gurderian is referring to.
BUT
Their design made them hard to use in combat, mainly their appalling one-man turret.
Tank crews also enjoyed extremely bad visibility, making it very hard for the tank commander/gunner to locate both friends and foes.
Engine reliability and maintenance was also an issue, which made that at any given time, most tank units engaged in combat could never use all their tanks at once.

The B1 was particularly bad.
Plus the fact that no doctrine had been devised for it, and its design process absolute shambles and lasted years during which it was scrapped, unscrapped, scrapped again, etc.
In the end nobody really knew what to do with it, but the army wanted a big battletank, so work resumed on the B1 design eventhough it was outdated and flawed, and they just said "just build something big and we'll figure out what to do with later"... great planning there...
 
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Nov 2010
1,328
Bordeaux
there were a good number of tanks around , all of them were able but misused
one can only blame the army hierarchy for crass stupidity
Yes but no... but yes! :)
Their design was flawed and horrendous, which made them pitifully efficient in combat.
Terrible one-man turrent, no radio, crap visibility, reliability etc
Having good armour and firepower did little to compensate for those.
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,415
Welsh Marches
Absolutely not.
Vichy was totally illegal and illegitimate.

Pétain was supposed to propose a project for a new constitution, to be discussed and voted on by Parliament, nothing more.
There's a myth about him being given full powers by Parliament in July 1940.

He wasn't given anything, he just grabbed power and disposed of Parliament permanently.

His act was utterly unconstitutional, thus illegal and illegitimate.
It might be interesting to many people to have a separate thread on this issue.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
6,107
Ok, I'll open a new thread on this particular issue.
Shall I do it in the European History section or Military section ?
If you're taking suggestions, yes, why not European history. It's more about French politics, even if at wartime, and constitutionalism. :)
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,415
Welsh Marches
Ok, I'll open a new thread on this particular issue.
Shall I do it in the European History section or Military section ?
Thank you, I would have thought European history. I had always belived that Petain was invited to become head of state, but it would seem that I was mistaken! And the question affects the legitimacy of the Vichy government of course.