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French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks (New Vanguard) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Steven Zaloga , Ian Palmer

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18. Februar 2014 New Vanguard (Buch 209)
All the French medium and heavy tanks of 1940 are in this title: Renault FT, Renault R-35, FCM-36, Hotchkiss H.38, Char B1bis, Renault D-1, and Renault D-2.

The first volume of this two part series will cover the infantry tanks and battle tanks that served in 1940. Starting with the Renault FT of World War I fame, it will cover the modernization of the FT in the inter-war years. The focus of the infantry tank section will be on the attempts to replace the FT with designs such as the Renault R-35, FCM-36, and the Hotchkiss H.38. Derivatives of these types will also be covered such as the R-40. France also had a separate family of battle tanks starting with the Renault D-1, Renault D-2, and finally the best known tank of the campaign, the Char B1 bis. This book will provide a brief development account these tanks types, covering the tactical rationales for their design and their basic technical features. It will also briefly address their performance in the 1940 campaign, pointing out the salient features of the combat record.

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Steven J. Zaloga received his BA in History from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He has worked as an analyst in the aerospace industry for over two decades, covering missile systems and the international arms trade, and has served with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federal think tank. He is the author of numerous books on military technology and military history, with an accent on the US Army in World War II as well as Russia and the former Soviet Union. The author lives in Abingdon, MD.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.6 von 5 Sternen  8 Rezensionen
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An excellent volume on the subject despite its short length 7. April 2014
Von Yoda - Veröffentlicht auf
Any review of this product would have to start by stating that it is part of Osprey Publishing’s “New Vanguard” series. This implies that the book is quite short, at only 48 pages in length (roughly a third of which consist of illustration of one type or another). Hence if one is looking for an academic tome on the subject, this is not the book. However, given the paucity of material on French tanks during WWII, this is one of the few books, in English, available on the subject. The relevant question should be, how well of a job does the book do given its short length. The answer is very, very good.

The author, Steven Zaloga, one of Osprey’s best and most prolific writers, uses his command of the French language to examine and analyze French sources (both primary and secondary) and distills his research into this short book. He does so very well. The book covers primarily the physical characteristics of the French tanks in use during WWII, how French design developed between the wars, what influenced (and more importantly, what limited it) and what the outcomes were in actual tanks that resulted.

Mr. Zaloga points out that there was little French advance in tank development during the 1920s. The main reasons were that France was stuck with what it developed and used during WWI and that there were serious financial constraints after the war. He discusses how French design started to develop at a quicker pace with the Nazi party coming to party but that this development and the resulting tank production was glacial in terms of both quantity and quality. Tank development was slowed down by financial constraints, labor problems, design problems, technical difficulties and French military dithering with respect to coming down to decisions regarding what to produce. It seems that French design and production was slowed down by every possible factor.

By the German attack of 1940, however, the Franch managed to field more tanks than the Germans and the quality, in general (at least in terms of armor and fire power) was better than German tanks. This is despite the fact that French tanks were really, in Mr. Zaloga’s words “more designed for the 1920s than the 1940s”. They were slow, did not have much range and usually only had one man turrets and, in many cases, did not even have radios. In addition, most of the tanks were delivered only near the beginning of the German assault. This prevented French crews from obtaining much needed experience and prevented the French from developing operational experience with the vehicles. Hence they not only had poorly trained crews but there was not enough experience, by the high command, in how to service and maintain the vehicles as well as to how to use them. Contrary to popular opinion, the French used these in some force concentration (they were used in company level strength) but, unfortunately, the Germans concentrated their fewer and less capable tanks into far greater and decisive concentrations.

All and all an excellent book that covers not only the physical characteristics of French tanks but also their development, doctrine of use and why they actually proved to be of so little practical use. This despite the book’s very short length. Five stars.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Why I love French tanks of WWII 13. März 2014
Von Stephen C. Pew - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I read this book after having read Jean Paul Mary's works in French on WWII French armor. This current book covers much the same ground but explains the technical workings and histories of the tanks more clearly. I think any armor historian should have this in his collection.The photos are familiar but there are some factory photos that are very intersting. One drawback is the brevity of the work.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Intro to Subject, Full of Useful Info and Photos 22. Mai 2014
Von R. A Forczyk - Veröffentlicht auf
This is the first of a two-part look at French tanks in the Second World War by armor expert Steven J Zaloga. Volume 1 covers French infantry and battle tanks built between 1920-1940. The photos, artwork, research and analysis that went into this volume are superb. As the author notes, the French were armored pioneers in the First World War but lost their way during the Interwar period due to limited budgets and a defensive mindset, which resulting in a sluggish and uninspired approach to designing new tanks.

The author begins with efforts to modernize the Renault FT tanks and the introduction of the first real post-war tank, the Char D1, in 1931. He then discusses the shift toward rearmament in 1936, which energized an almost dormant French tank industry. The author then shifts gears a bit to cover French infantry tank organization and the organization of the DCR. He spends a good amount of time discussing the adoption of the Renault R35 infantry tank and the FCM 36, as well as the Hotchkiss H35/H39. It’s often confusing why the French army simultaneously committed itself to these similar tank programs, but the author does a great job describing the inherent problems in the French defense industry that lead to these decisions. I also like the fact that he provides information on the cost of each tank as well as the various sub-contractors involved in manufacture.

Pride of place goes to the well known Char B1 Bis. It is interesting that 16 years elapsed from the first RFP for a new tank to the Char B1Bis’ entry into service, which accounts for the general obsolescene of its design. French designers had some good ideas, but the Government took too long to get new weapons into service. The author provides charts on each tank’s characteristics, another on French tank production and a quick look at French future tanks in design stage in 1940. As a bonus, he covers the Renault and Chenillette tracked vehicles. The volume has six color plates, plus a centerfold plate on the Char B1 Bis. Overall, excellent example of New Vanguard at its best.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen VIVE ZALOGA 29. Juni 2014
Von mullers1973 - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
a typically great intro to a little known misunderstood section of a misunderstood army.It is done by a master who as always marshals facts illustrations anecdote into a few pages brilliantly for historians armchair armor readers and modlers a must
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen French Tanks of World War II 15. April 2014
Von Mark Chernushin - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
A good introductory book for the student of the development of French Armored Vehicles or the evolution of the tank. .
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