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Renault R-35, R-39 and R-40

Discussion in 'The Tanks of World War 2' started by David Lehmann, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. David Lehmann

    David Lehmann New Member

    Aug 1, 2004
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    In 1933 the French High Command called for the design of a 6-ton tank as a replacement for the aging Renault FT-17. The vehicle was designed to have a crew of two and to be armed with one or two 7.5mm machine-guns or a 37mm gun. Manufactures that took part in design process were Renault, Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (FCM), Compagnie Générale de Construction des Locomotives and Delaunay Belleville.The first prototype was manufactured by Renault at the end of 1934 and was based upon the AMR 1935 type ZT. The vehicle was called the Renault ZM (prior to acceptance) and immediately sent into trials in the winter of 1935. By spring, an order for 300 was placed. The tank was now called "char léger modèle 1935-R" (R35). The Renault R35 was the most common tank in the French army with about 1500 tanks produced until the armistice. On 10th May 1940 there were about 900 R35 tanks in metropolitan France and 230 tanks in the French colonies. The tank was equipped with the APX-R turret (cast) and the hull consisted of three cast sections that were bolted together. The side plates carried bogies and front driving sprocket. The final drive and differentials were housed under nose plates. It was steered through a Cletrac geared differential and brakes. The driver was located to left side and had 2 splits and an episcope. The turret had 3 episcopes and a domed cupola with binoculars. There was a seat for the commander and the hatch in the rear of the turret that opened down could be used as a seat. The machine guns spent cases went down a chute through a hole in the floor. Initially the R35 had no radio, but later models had one installed. The engine was to the right in the rear with the self-sealing fuel tank on the left. Some R35 tanks were fitted with AMX crossing tails. The Renault R35 tank has also been exported in Romania (200 + 100 ordered, 41 delivered in September 1939 + 34 ex-Polish R35s. About 30 R35s were rearmed with Soviet 45mm tank gun), Turkey (100), Poland (50) and Yugoslavia (50).
    Weight : 10.6t
    Length : 4.02m
    Width : 1.87m
    Height : 2.13m
    Crew : 2 men
    Maximum armor : 43mm (APX-R turret is cast and hull is cast armor + RHA bolted elements)
    Maximum speed : 20-23 km/h (Renault engine, 4 cylinders, gasoline, 85 hp, 5880 cm3, 2200 rpm, water cooled)
    Diameter of turning circle at 6 km/h : 8.50m (Jentz)
    Transmission : 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Autonomy : 140 km
    Ground pressure : 0.86 kg/cm² (compared to 0.73 for PzIIc, 0.92 for a Pz III e/f and 0.83 for PzIVd)
    Armament : a 37mm SA18 L/21 gun and a 7.5mm MAC1931 CMG (42 AP, 58 HE and 2400 cartridges - elevation of -16 to +20° and traverse of 5° right and 5° left but could be blocked to aim only with the turret rotation). Some were rearmed with a 37mm SA38 L/33 and called Renault R39, only a few vehicles for some platoon and company leaders). During travel the MG was sometimes dismounted and put on the AA mount on the rear of the turret. The main gun is then facing the rear of the vehicle.

    The real detailed armor thickness (mm) (unlike most of the games and several books) :
    Turret Front : 40mm/5° and 28° + gun mantlet
    Turret Sides : 40mm/28°
    Turret Rear : 40mm/30° (rear hatch is 40mm thick)
    Turret Top : 25mm/90°
    Copula : 40mm/round
    Hull Front, Upper : 43mm/37° (driver’s hatch is 40mm/23°)
    Hull Front, Lower : 40mm/round
    Hull Sides, Upper : 40mm/10°
    Hull Sides, Lower : 40mm/0°
    Hull Rear : 32mm/24°
    Hull Top : 25mm/90°
    Hull Bottom : 10mm/90°

    The surface of the front (turret and hull) really exposed to the enemy fire : 2.00 m2 with only 0.65 m2 with a slope inferior to 30°

    1st gear – speed : 3.5 km/h
    2nd gear – speed : 5.5 km/h
    3rd gear – speed : 10 km/h
    4th gear – speed : 20 km/h (23 km/h according to Russian data measured on a captured Polish R35)
    Top Speed in medium difficult offroad terrain : 8.7 km/h
    Maximum slope to climb 23° on soft ground.

    Renault R35/39/40 and Hotchkiss H35/39 tanks vision means :

    Hull :
    1x E2B episcope (early models) (28° vertical field of view) OR 1x PPL RX 180 P episcope (30° vertical field of view)
    2x lateral slits

    APX-R or APX-R1 (37mm SA18 or 37mm SA38 gun) turret (1552 kg) :
    1x L.739 sight (37mm SA18 gun) OR 1x L.767 sight (37mm SA38 gun)
    3x diascopes (28° vertical field of view) (early) OR 3x PPL RX 160 episcopes (30° vertical field of view)
    1x rear slit

    Cupola :
    1x Estienne slit (114° field of view – 120mm x 10mm slit protected by a 24mm thick armored shutter) (early) OR 1x PPL RX 180 P episcope (APX-R1) (30° vertical field of view)

    37mm SA18 gun version :

    Crew loading 150-rounds MG magazines :

    R35 with MG on AA mount :

    R35 tank sight, gun and CMG :

    The Renault R40 is the final variation of the R35. It was developed by the Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (AMX) which introduced a brand new and better suspension that consisted of 12 pairs of small road-wheels on each side mounted in pairs, vertical coil springs, and protective skirting plates. This vehicle mounted the long barreled 37mm SA38 L/33 gun in the APX-R1 turret and had an AMX crossing tail. A little bit less than 120 tanks had been built from 10th May on only and put into service with the serial number 51541 to 51658. They equipped the 40e BCC (30 R40 and 15 R35), the 48e BCC (29 R40 and 16 R35), the reconstituted 28e BCC (24 R40 and 21 R35) in beginning June and two Polish companies in France (companies "Pagézy" and "Chabowski" with 15 R40 each).
    Weight : 12t
    Length : 4.02m
    Width : 1.87m
    Height : 2.13m
    Crew : 2 men
    Maximum armor : 43mm (APX-R turret is cast and hull is cast armor + RHA bolted elements)
    Maximum speed : 20-23 km/h (Renault engine, 4 cylinders, gasoline, 85 hp, 5880 cm3, water cooled)
    Transmission : 4 forward, 1 reverse
    Autonomy : 140 km
    Armament : a 37mm SA38 L/33 gun and a 7.5mm MAC1931 CMG (42 AP, 58 HE and 3000 cartridges - elevation of -16 to +20° and traverse of 5° right and 5° left but could be blocked to aim only with the turret rotation).



    Information about the armament :

    7.5mm 'Reibel' MAC Mle1931
    MMG/HMG used in fortifications (twin mounts) and as coaxial or turret MG (AMR-33, Panhard MG) in most of the vehicles. The armor piercing and incendiary rounds were mostly used in the fortifications and armoured cars.
    Caliber : 7,5X54 mm
    Barrel length : 600 mm
    Capacity : 150 rounds drum magazine
    Rate of fire : 750 rpm
    V° : 820 m/s
    Range : 1000-1500m

    Ammunitions :
    - Cartouche Mle1929 (heavy ball)
    - Cartouche Mle1929 T
    - Cartouche Mle1929 P and PT (AP and APT) (Penetration of 8mm /15° at 50m)
    - Cartouche Mle1935 I (Incendiary)

    37mm SA18 L/21 gun
    Used in the FT-18/18C, Renault R-35, Hotchkiss H-35/38/39, FCM-36, Laffly 50AM, Panhard 165/175 and AMC P16 Mle1929. This gun was in fact intended to support infantry, it was more designed to destroy MG nests than to fight against tanks. Efficient against armored cars and PzI tanks, at close range against PzII tanks.
    Rate of fire : 10-15 rpm
    Telescopic sight : 1.5x
    Practical AT range : 100-400m

    Ammunitions :
    Obus de rupture Mle1892/1924 (APHE)
    Caliber : 37x94R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.500 kg (15g explosive)
    V° = 388 m/s
    Penetration : 12mm at 0m

    Obus explosif Mle1916 (HE)
    Caliber : 37x94R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.555 kg (30g explosive)
    V° = 367 m/s

    Obus de rupture Mle1935 (APCR / API)
    Caliber : 37x94R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.390 kg
    V° = 600 m/s
    Penetration : 18mm /30° at 400m

    The Obus de rupture Mle1935, often referenced as an APCBC, was in fact what the British would have called an APCR. It consisted of a special steel core inside a magnesium sheath. The French actually referred to it as an API (Armor Piercing Incendiary) because the magnesium burst into flame on impact.

    Obus explosif Mle1937 (HE)
    Caliber : 37x94R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.555 kg (56g explosive)
    V° = 440 m/s

    Boîte à balles Mle1918 (cannister / schrapnel)
    Calibre : 37x94R mm

    37mm SA38 L/33 gun
    Used in the Renault R39, R-40, Hotchkiss H-35/39
    Rate of fire : 10-15 rpm
    Telescopic sight : 1.5x
    Practical AT range : 800m

    Ammunitions :
    Obus de rupture Mle1938 (APC) - in German service : Pzgr 146(f) -
    Caliber : 37x149R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.700 kg
    V° = 705 m/s
    Penetration : 30mm /30° at 400m

    Obus explosif Mle1938 (HE)
    Caliber : 37x149R mm
    Weight of projectile : 0.670 kg (60 g explosive)
    V° = 600 m/s


  2. Skua

    Skua New Member

    Aug 12, 2003
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    Thanks David, for yet another excellent post. :)

    I understand the R-35 saw service with both German and Italian forces. But to what extent was it used in combat with these nations ? According to my sources it eqipped only two reserve battalions with the Italians. The only regular German Panzer unit equipped with the R-35 was the 100th PzBrig ( 21st PzDiv ), but then only for a few months. A few R-35s were issued to Panzerjäger detachements as command vehicles and others were issued to German infantry divisions in France.

    You wrote that 230 R-35s were sent to the colonies. To what extent did these see combat with Free French or Vichy forces ?
  3. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

    Oct 5, 2003
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    When the british attacked Syria in june 1941, there were 2 french units equipped with tanks, these were 6e and 7e chasseurs d'Afrique, with a total of around 90 tanks(mainly R 35,+ a few FT 17).

    In this campaign, the R35 fought with great sucess,( as at Kouneitra, where they forced Royal fusilliers to surrender) as the british + free french had practically no tanks.

    R 35 were also used in North Africa by Vichy forces during operation Torch, but in more limited numbers I think.I'll have to read about that.
  4. David Lehmann

    David Lehmann New Member

    Aug 1, 2004
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    The 230 R35 present in the French colonies were not exactly sent, they were simply present in these colonies instead of the French metropolitan territory in 1939/1940.

    For example on 10th May 1940 :
    - Norway : 342e CACC (15 H39)
    - Algeria : 64e BCC (50 R35)
    - Morroco : 62e BCC (45 R35) and 66e BCC (45 R35)
    - Tunisia : 61e BCC (50 D1), 65e BCC (50 D1) and 67e BCC (50 D1). The 67e BCC was sent in France in middle June 1940 and was engaged in the battle of Souain for example.
    - Levant (Syria, Lebanon) : 63e BCC (45 R35) and 68e BCC (45 R35)
    - 9 FT17 tank companies (9x 21 = 189 tanks) were also deployed overseas, including Indochina

    In France you had grossly 3000 French tanks facing 3000 Germans tanks. Nevertheless the German were schematically organized in 10x 300 tanks in 10 Panzerdivisionen whereas in the 7 French mechanized/armored divisions you could find only 960 tanks, the remaining 2040 tanks were spread in all the territory and in all kind of units in small numbers, unable to face any German armored unit.

    The Renault R35 tanks of Vichy (which was a neutral country officialy, not an axis ally or puppet) saw for example action during operation 'Exporter', the allied invasion of the French Levant (8 June – 11 July 1941).

    In spite of the disarmament clauses of the armistice, the French force remained largely intact and moreover, had been thoroughly purged of British sympathizers in the wake of Mers el Kebir, Dakar, and England's various efforts to bring the French colonies over to the Free French cause. Those who remained regarded the Free French as traitors, had been embittered by the various British attacks on French forces and possessions, and were motivated to redeem the honor of France. What Britain had hoped would be a relatively bloodless demonstration of force turned into a small but hard-fought little campaign. Three Commonwealth battalions were virtually wiped out, and Commonwealth and Free French losses totalized about 5140 men, while for their part, the French suffered about 5000 casualties before deciding that their position was hopeless, that honor had been thoroughly satisfied, and that they could lay down their arms. To put these figures into perspective, British losses suffered in the concurrent Operation Battleaxe conducted against Rommel totalled only 969 officers and men. At a time in the war when Britain was deploying only very small forces overseas, Exporter was one of her bloodier fights.

    The R35 were present in
    - 6e RCA (Regiment de chasseurs d'Afrique)
    - 7e RCA (Regiment de chasseurs d'Afrique)
    These were ad hoc formations with a total between them of 90 Renault R-35 and FT-17 tanks and 'rather more' armored cars of unspecified type : each regiment seems to have been organized into two squadrons of tanks and two squadrons of armored cars.

    The R35 gave the allied troops a bad licking because the British underestimated the Vichy French troops, they had no tanks but only armored cars and their 2Pdr AT guns were unable to destroy the R35 at a reasonable range, it was too much armored.

    Concerning the losses during operation 'Exporter' :

    1) Allies :

    - About 5140 KIA + WIA : 1740 Australians, 1800 Indians, 800 British, 800 Free French
    - 41 aircrafts
    - 1 counter-torpedo boat and 1 merchant ship sunk
    - 3 destroyers and 2 tankers heavily damaged, out of use for a long time
    - After the cease-fire 1300 British POWs are liberated on 21st July 1941

    - The N°11 Special Service Battalion (Scottish Commando, 500 men + 30 officers). Its landing was totally defeated and the unit is completely destroyed or captured in a few hours.

    - The 1st Bn, Royal Fusiliers surrendered for the first time of its history (470 POWs). It was cut off by a Vichy counterattack and the entire battalion was lost.

    - The 5th Indian Brigade is totally destroyed in 4 days

    - In Palmyra, the Habforce and the mechanized regiment of the Transjordan Frontier Force are blocked during 15 days by the Commandant Ghérardi from the Foreign Legion with :
    * 1st desert light company (meharist)
    * 15th company of the Foreign Legion
    In total less than 500 men to defend Palmyra against the whole Habforce. When they finally surrendered only 165 were still alive.

    The Aussies lost about 1740 killed and wounded during the month of combat (as opposed to about 3000 killed and wounded during the much longer siege of Tobruk).

    2) Vichy forces :

    - 1036 KIA and about 4000 WIA
    - about 100 aircrafts (most of them destroyed on the ground)
    - 1 destroyer sunk
    - 1 merchant ship sunk
    - possibly 1 submarine sunk
    - 3 torpedo boats lightly damaged

    When the campaign ended, only some 4285 Vichy troops elected to join de Gaulle. The 32,000 remainder were evacuated by sea to French North Africa under Allied supervision. The Australians saluted them on the quay with honor because they fought bravely. In November 1942, these same Vichy French forces fought against the too much "green" US Army divisions during operation Torch. In 1943 the former Vichy colonial forces in North Africa were transformed into the bulk of the Free French forces that went on to campaign in Italy, France and Germany.


    Concerning the German use of the R35 it was not the much used tank (mostly Hotchkiss H39, Somua S35 and Renault B1bis). Don't forget also the Panhard P178 armored car (look in the thread about 'the best armored car' where I gave info about the German use).

    German use of the Renault R35 :
    • Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f)
    • Befehlspanzer 35R (f) (26 produced)
    • Munitionspanzer 35R 731(f)
    • Bergeschlepper 35R 731(f) (towing of vehicles)
    • Zugkraftwagen 35R 731(f)
    • 4.7cm Pak(t) auf PzKpfw 35R (f) (200 produced)
    • 5cm Pak38 auf PzKpfw 35R (f)
    • 10.5cm leFH18(Sf) auf 35R(f)
    • Flammenwerferpanzer 35R (f)
    • Mörserzugmittel 35R (f) (Artillerie-Schlepper)
    • some were used in armored trains

    In August 1940, Hitler already decided that in further enlargement of the Army, the possibility of a campaign against Soviet Russia had to be considered. By the time this campaign began in June 1941, 84 more divisions were created. Just before Barbarossa, 88 infantry divisions, 3 motorized infantry divisions and 1 Panzerdivision were largely equipped with French vehicles. Without the extensive booty from the western campaign of 1940, these units would have remained without weapons and vehicles. Motor vehicles in particular played an important role in the motorization the divisions. The 18.PzD was equipped with strictly stock French motor vehicles until the end of May 1941. Among the trucks, the 4.5-ton Citroën Type 45 attained a certain significance. The 1-ton Peugeot was also seen often. The same was true for the French halftrack (Somua MCL and MCG, Unic P107 etc.) towing vehicles, which were used as tractors in the Panzerjäger units, infantry gun companies and motorized artillery units.

    Most of the motor vehicles (German, French or other booty trucks) massively used for various transports were not to have long lives under the rough conditions of the eastern theatre of war. The progressive deterioration of the German army's motor vehicle situation already in the autumn of 1941 led to numerous use and new production of French trucks and also to the transformation of about 200 French tanks into towing vehicles/tractors (Renault and Hotchkiss Mörserzugmittel / Artillerie-Schlepper).

    About 5148 Renault UE (model 1931) and UE2 (model 1937) has been built for the French army (according to François Vauvillier's "L'automobile sous l'uniforme"). The German army captured some 3000 UE tractors (of those many were damaged and were only used to provide spare parts I guess) and had them overhauled in an assembly plant at Paris (Issy-les-Moulineaux) under the direction of the M.A.N. company.
    These tractors were used in different tasks :
    • towing light infantry guns (leIG18) and 3.7cm Paks
    • towing 5.0cm, 7.5cm and 7.62cm Paks as well as heavy infantry guns (sIG33)
    • transporting position material and seated wounded
    • self-propelled mount for installed 3.7cm Pak36 and 2.5cm Pak112/113(f)
    • scout car with installed machine gun
    • ammunition carrier +/- trailer to arm gun positions
    • 28/32cm rocket launcher
    • for training, simulating dummy tanks

    A significant rebuilding was the Renault UE reconnaissance tank. By the Becker building staff, 24 tractors were equipped with an armored rear body in which radio equipment and observation personnel were housed. Several of these vehicles were used by the 21. PzD. The Luftwaffe also rebuilt UE tractors into genuine small tanks used for securing its airfields and bases. By installing machine guns behind shields and in armored balconies, small series of securing vehicles were created.
    The French UE tractor is also used by the Luftwaffe for towing aircraft bombs. Large bombs were simply attached to chains and dragged over the ground. Sometimes transport sleds made of wood were also used to move the bombs.

    Concerning the tanks, about 500 FT-17, 800 R-35/40, 600 H-35/38/39, 50 FCM-36, 160 B1bis (18 B2(f) with 10.5 cm howitzers, 60 B2 flammpanzer and 82 B2(f) tanks + turretless B2(f) Fahrschulpanzer) and 300 Somua S-35 tanks have been used by the German army. Beginning 1942 the Waffen-SS security forces received 250 FT-17, 30 R-35 and 60 Hotchkiss tanks.
    The Luftwaffe used 100 FT-17 (25 for the Luftgaukommando Holland, 30 for the Luftgaukommando Belgien und Nordfrankreich and 45 for the Luftgaukommando Westfrankreich).
    For example, on December 31, 1944, 350 Hotchkiss tanks were still used by the German army, although mostly in police and school units.

    To these tanks you have to add all the other vehicles : motorcycles, sidecars, cars, trucks, armored cars and the numerous conversions based on French chassis and realized by the Germans. French captured tanks and armored cars were first use on the Eastern front. Several new units were first trained on French tanks like 24. Pz.D. and 25. Pz.D. formed respectively in France (November 1941) and Norway (February 1942) with French tanks before being converted to German ones when sent to the front. These tanks were nevertheless not only used for training or anti-partisans warfare, for example the Pz.Abt.211 in Finland destroyed 24 Russian tanks and 5 AT-guns between 4-8.7.41 in Salla, North Finland. This unit was equipped with H-39 and S-35 tanks (Source : Kari Kuusela – "Wehrmachtin Panssarit Suomessa/Panzers In Finland").

    The first units equipped with B2 flame tanks were the 7th companies of Pz.Rgt.201 and 202, which were regrouped in 1941 in Pz.Abt.102 and engaged on the eastern front. Char B2(f) and B2(f) flame tanks were used during Barbarossa to reduce and destroy Russian fortifications in the summer of 1941. Pz.Abt.213 was later equipped with B2 tanks and stationed in French islands in the Channel.
    Panzer-Abteilung 206 was formed in November 1941 at Satory (near Paris), this battalion was used as a reserve unit for the 7.Armee. Wedged in Cherbourg, this unit was destroyed there. Its composition in beginning 1944 included 2 companies of 10 Hotchkiss H-39 and 4 Somua S-35 (in each company) and one "Stab Kompanie" of 3 Renault B2, 3 Renault B2 flamethrower, 2 Somua S-35 and 2 Renault R-35. Many such small units were formed with French booty/converted tanks like the 100. Panzer Abteilung committed to 91. ID in Normandy in 1944 (1 Somua S-35, 8 Hotchkiss H-39, 14 Renault R-35, 1 Flammenwerferpanzer Renault B2 (f), 1 PzIII and 5 FT17c) and the 21. Pz.D. included many French tanks.
    Pz.Abt.223 was formed (attached to 22.PzD) with Char B2 flame tanks and was engaged in battles near Sevastopol in 1942. This unit was then expanded to include 2 panzer companies and command elements with a second company composed of 5 Pzkpfw.B2 and 12 Pzkpfw.B2 (Fl).
    Different other units were also equipped with B2(f) tanks : Pz.Abt.224 in the Netherlands (engaged in Arnhem and Oosterbeek in 1944), two companies of the Pz.Rgt.100 in France and one company of 17 Pzkpfw.B2 from SS Pz.Abt.7 (SS Prinz Eugen division) in the Balkans. In February 1945, 40 B2(f) tanks were still in service in the German army. Late war B2(f) had sometimes a kind of Zimmerit/concrete on their armor, at least on the turret. The B2(f) Flammpanzer could fire about 200x 2-3 seconds "napalm" shots.

    In Yugoslavia, the divisions SS Prinz Eugen, SS Handschar and SS Skanderbeg had each one or two H-35/38/39 and R35 squadrons, mostly in their Aufklärung Abteilung beside motorcycle and horse mounted men.
    The SS Kama division was later issued with the French tanks of the SS Handschar divisions in Fall 1944.
    There were also H-39s in the Heer 200. Panzer Abteilung during the Belgrad battle in October 1944.
    According to Otto Kumm ("Vorwärts Prinz Eugen !") and completed by German and Yugoslavian archives, the 105. SS-StuG Abt from captain Paletta attacked on 11th October 1944 a T34 battalion progressing with the 36th Tito partisans's division, in front of Obrenovac (south-west of Belgrad). The dozen StuGs from SS Prinz Eugen are supported by French H-39 and R-35 tanks from 200. Panzer Abteilung and SS Aufklärung Abt. 21 from Kampfgruppe Skanderbeg. They destroyed 13 T34/85 and about 100 other misc vehicles. This counter-attack was launched to cover the retreat of elements from Armee-Gruppen E and F across the Save. Then the Renault and Hotchkiss tanks protected the retreat of the StuGs. By the end of the day the H-39 and R-35 are hardly attacked by IL-2 Sturmoviks.
    The Hotchkiss, Somua and Renault French tanks were really liked in the Balkans because of their small size which allowed them to operate in the mountain areas, on the small trails and "roads" there and to provide close fire support to the engaged infantry units. There was also a huge stockpile of spare parts in the Renault and Hotchkiss factories in France. In the SS Aufklärung Abteilung 21 there were original R-35 and H-39, but in the 200. Panzer Abteilung it is possible that there were also 4.7cm and 5cm Pak38 auf PzKpfw 35R (f) as well as 7.5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw 39H (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)".

    In June 1943 the situation is schematically the following :

    • Eastern Front
    Heeresgruppe A : 6 Renault B2
    Heeresgruppe Süd : 12 Panhard P178
    Heeresgruppe Mitte : 15 Hotchkiss H-39, 2 Somua S-35, 18 Panhard P178
    Südosten (Balkans) : 96 Hotchkiss H-39, 43 Somua S-35, 17 Renault B2

    • Western Front
    149 Hotchkiss H-39
    67 Somua S-35
    81 Renault B2
    58 Renault R-35
    12 Renault FT-17/18
    33 Panhard P178

    • Norway
    68 Hotchkiss H-39
    17 Somua S-35

    • Finland (Panzer-Abteilung 211 + Panzerkampfwagen-Zug 217, 218 and 219)
    33 Hotchkiss H-39
    16 Somua S-35

    Germans had still about 800 French tanks in mid-1943 and still at the end of the war there were about 425 such tanks in the inventory. But many vehicles are not listed here : very numerous chenillettes UE(f), Lorraine tractors, Marder based on French chassis, softskins and halftracks are also missing like several tanks (H35, H39, R40, FCM36, D1 and D2). Panzerkampfwagen 39H 735(f) are for example still in use in 1944 in the 21.PzD.
    What people should also bear in mind is that in addition to the numbers of French tanks used as is, there were also a number of conversions from other French tanks and halftracks by beginning and mid war that have to be added :
    • 200x 4.7cm Pak(t) auf PzKpfw R-35 (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    • 26x Befehlspanzer auf PzKpfw R-35 (f)
    • 170x Lorraine 37L converted to 7.5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw 37L (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    • 24x 7.5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw 39H (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    • 10x 7.5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw FCM (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    • 72x 7.5cm Pak40 auf Somua halftrack chassis
    • 107x converted Lorraine tractors with 15cm (102), 10.5cm (24) or 12.2cm (r) (1 vehicle on an armored train) howitzers and used as SP artillery in the PzDs before the arrival of the Wespe and Hummel SP howitzers.
    • 48x FCM-36 converted with 10.5cm howitzers.
    • beside the Lorraine and FCM conversions, there were also numerous Hotchkiss conversions and for example the 200. StuG Abt / 21. PzD in Normandy was equipped with 16x 7.5cm Pak40 auf Hotchkiss and 24x 10.5cm leFH18 auf Hotchkiss
    • 18x B2 chassis with 10.5 cm howitzers
    • 60x B2 tanks with flamethrower
    + other halftracks/tanks converted to SP AT gun, SP mortar(s), SP flamethrower, SP Flak or SP rocket-launchers
    + halftracks converted to APCs like the leSPW U304(f)

    About 100 7,5cm Pak40 auf Geschützwagen Lorraine "Marder I (SdKfz 135)" were still in service by April 20, 1943.

    The 21.PzD in 1944 had over 50 different softskin types (mainly French) including Citroën, Laffly and Renault trucks. Unic P107 and Somua MCL and MCG halftracks as well as Somua SPWs were very common. In emergency situation the Germans always used their booty vehicles and proved to be skilled to convert and re-use all what they captured ... Even old 120mm Mle1878 De Bange French guns (!) were still used in some fortifications and by Rumanian troops in 1944. If they didn't used themselves some of these booty equipments they provided their allies (mainly Rumania, Bulgaria and Italy) with captured vehicles, guns, small arms or planes. All these captured equipments were necessary to the motorization of the German army of 1941.

    Beside the booty vehicles, the main companies (Renault, Peugeot, Citroën, Panhard, Berliet and Saurer ...) produced about 90000 new trucks for the German army between 1941 and 1944. Especially for the eastern front 200 French tanks were also converted to Mörserzugmittel / Artillerie-Schlepper and others to Bergeschlepper or various tractors.


    • 100. Panzer Abteilung (committed to 91. ID)
    Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f)
    Panzerkampfwagen 39H 735(f)
    Panzerkampfwagen 35S 739(f)
    Flammenwerferpanzer Renault B2 (f)
    Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730c(f)

    • 21. Panzer Division
    Panzerkampfwagen 35S 739(f)
    Panzerkampfwagen 39H 735(f)
    Flammenwerferpanzer Renault B1/B2 (f)
    Panzerbeobachtungswagen auf 35/38/39H(f)
    Großer Funk- & Beobachtungspanzer Lorraine-S (f)
    10,5cm leFH18/40 auf Geschützwagen 38H (f)
    10,5cm leFH18 auf Geschützwagen Lorraine
    15cm sFH13/1 auf Geschützwagen Lorraine
    8cm Reihenwerfer auf SPW Somua S303/307 (f)
    8cm Vielfachwerfer auf SPW Somua S303/307 (f)
    7,5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw 38H (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    7,5cm Pak40 auf PzKpfw 39H (f) "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    7,5cm Pak40/1 auf Geschützwagen Lorraine "Marder I (SdKfz 135)"
    7,5cm Pak40 (Sf) auf mSPW S307(f)
    4,7cm Pak(t) auf PzKpfw 35R (f)
    Zugkraftwagen P107 U304(f)
    Zugkraftwagen Somua MCL S303 (f)
    Zugkraftwagen Somua MCG S307(f)
    leSPW U304(f)
    leSPW U304(f) (Fkl)
    leSPW U304(f) (FlaK 38)
    leSPW U304(f) (PaK 36)
    leSPW U304(f) (8cm GrW)
    mSPW S303(f)
    mSPW S303(f) (Pionier)
    mSPW S307(f)
    Softskins : 21.PzD had over 50 different softskin types (mainly French, but also some Italian ones) including Citroën, Laffly and Renault trucks. Unic-Kégresse P107 and Somua MCL and MCG softskin halftracks as well as Somua SPWs were very common.

    • Artillerie Regiment of the 716. ID was equipped with :
    8cm Reihenwerfer auf SPW Somua S303 (f)
    8cm Vielfachwerfer auf SPW Somua S307 (f)

    • Panzerjäger Abteilung of the 709. ID had nine 7,5cm Pak40 (Sf) auf mSPW S307(f)


  5. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2

    It is interesting - in most of the History books I have read, the Syrian Campaign is played down quite a lot - they do acknowledge that it was a bloody campaign, but play it down to the level of the invasion of Madagascar, almost. 5000+ casualties on both sides is way more that I even imagined.

    Similarly, I have always been a touch hazy about the Vichy Forces and Operation Torch. As far as I was aware, there was much worry that they would fight the Allies, but in general they did not. This does not seem to be the case!

    For my personal clarity:
    So did the 32,000 who stayed Vichy after Syria became Free French after Torch, or did they not, or does nobody really know?
    Not having a dig guys, just asking.

    And just for humour:
    Norway is a French Colony? :D
    I know what you meant David, just having a giggle!
  6. David Lehmann

    David Lehmann New Member

    Aug 1, 2004
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    Well sorry for the mistake about Norway, I listed the French tanks outside metropolitan territory, of course Norway was never a French colony.

    The Armistice Armée (a French version of the 100,000 German Army since Versailles until 1935) introduced intense physical training and sport activity by himself in his programs according the German example without any German instructor. Vichy was a "neutral" state not an ally of Germany.
    The real purpose was not only to get a better morale and general efficiency but to train in a discreet way all the remaining new, light divisions to mountain warfare in sight of the "second round" with the Italian Army that both Vichy and Rome waited at the end of the general conflict to have to fight around Nice and some Alps valleys. Many military researches and programs were also led secretly for tanks and planes.
    About the high standard, in spite of the scarce and poor weapons available, of the "Armée de l'Armistice" do not forget that the French were able to use, for their new regiments, only the best of the volunteers of the army and of the new classes available, with an optimum number of officers and, above all, professional NCOs.
    The post 1940 Vichy Army was divided in two. There was the 100,000 men "Armée Nouvelle" in the Unoccupied (Vichy) Zone in France proper and the larger Colonial Army, most of which was in North Africa.
    The "Armée Nouvelle" was meant to be composed of volunteers, but couldn't raise sufficient, so the Germans allowed it to keep part of the 1940 conscription class with the colors. When these were demobilized (in early 1942 I think) it fell far below strength. At the time it was disbanded by the Germans on end November 1942 it only had about 70000 men. It was allowed no tanks, no anti-tank guns and no artillery above 75mm. It was also allowed only very limited mechanization and made much use of bicycles instead. Its most powerful vehicles were about 50-60 light Panhard armored cars. It had some secret armories hidden away from the Germans, but these was mostly infantry weapons. Generally the Vichy army in France was under-strength, under-equipped and of lower quality than the French army in North Africa.
    By contrast, the Vichy army in North Africa was slightly larger (120,000 men), fully up to strength and was allowed heavier equipment by the Germans. This was because the Vichy French said they wanted to recapture the African colonies that had gone over to the Free French and also so that they could resist any Allied attack more effectively. As a result they were allowed heavy artillery, anti-tank guns and some tanks. The best French officers also volunteered for service in North Africa because it offered more prospect of active soldiering.
    The Vichy Army was never a German puppet army and it only clashed with the Allies in the colonies as a result of Allied attacks against the "neutral" state. When it did so it generally acquitted itself creditably.
    The value and effectiveness of the French Vichy Army was tested for example in Syria where the Australian, British and Free French forces didn't led a very brilliant campaign in 1941. Since July 1941 the British forces attacked the Vichy forces (Mers El Kébir, Dakar) by surprise, without any declaration of war.
    After surrendering in Syria, most of the Vichy forces instead of joining the Free French forces were sent to North Africa. In November 1942 the Vichy French forces fought against the too much "green" US Army divisions during operation Torch but in fact only few of the French units fought really, there were important political discussions which will lead to the later formation of a unified French Army. In 1943 the former Vichy colonial forces in North Africa were transformed into the bulk of the Free French forces that went on to campaign in Italy, France and Germany.


    In Morocco there were nevertheless fights between Vichy French troops and the landing US troops. Some French troops received orders not to fight, other received no orders at all or contradictory orders. As soldiers spotting an invading force which was preceded by an air an naval attack it seems rather logical to try to defend yourself.

    FRENCH ORDER OF BATTLE - MOROCCO - 8 November 1942

    GROUND FORCES : French forces in Morocco were organised into four divisions plus coastal defences.

    Division de Fez - General Salbert
    - 4e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (4e RTM), in Taza and Boured
    - 5e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (5e RTM), in Oujda and Guercif
    - 11e Régiment de Tirailleurs Algériens (11e RTA), in Fez and Gafsaï
    - one battalion of the 3e Régiment Etranger d'Infanterie (3e REI - Foreign Legion), in Fez and Ksar-el-Souk
    - one battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Fez
    - 1er Régiment Etranger de Cavalerie (1er REC - Foreign Legion), in Fez, Oujda and Guercif
    - 63e Régiment d'Artillerie Africain (63e RAA)

    Division de Meknès - General Dody
    - 7e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (7e RTM), in Meknès and Midelt
    - 8e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (8e RTM), in Meknès and Ouezzan
    - 1 or 2 battalion(s) of the 3e REI - Foreign Legion), in Hel Hajeb, Meknès and Kénitra
    - 3e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (3e RSM)
    - 10e Groupe d'Escadrons Autonome Portés de Chasseurs d'Afrique (10e GACA - motorised battalion)
    - 64e Régiment d'Artillerie Africain (64e RAA)

    Division de Casablanca - General Béthouart
    - 1er Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (1er RTM), in Port-Lyautey and Souk-el-Arba
    - 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (6e RTM), in Casablanca, Kasbah Tadla and Mazagan
    - Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale du Maroc (RICM), in Rabat, Casablanca and Mazagan
    - one battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Casablanca
    - 1er Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (1er RCA)
    - part of the 3e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (3e RSM), in Rabat
    - Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale du Maroc (RACM)

    Division de Marrakech - General Henry-Martin
    - 2e Régiment de Tirailleurs Marocains (2e RTM), in Marrakech, Mogador and Agadir
    - 2e Régiment Etranger d'Infanterie (2e REI - Foreign Legion), in Marrakech, Ouarzazat and Agadir
    - one battalion of the 6e Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (6e RTS), in Marrakech
    - 4e Régiment de Spahis Marocains (4e RSM), in Marrakech and Tiznit
    - Régiment d'Artillerie Coloniale du Maroc (RACM)

    Coastal defense batteries :

    - Port-Lyautey area
    Batterie Ponsot (Mehdia) : 2 x 138mm Mle 1923

    - Fedala area
    Batterie de Fedala : 3 x 100mm Mle 1897/1917, 1 x twin 13.2mm CAD AA HMG
    Batterie de Pont Blondin : 3 x 138 mm Mle 1910, 1 x single 13.2mm CAS AA HMG
    Défense des Passes : 2 x 75 mm G

    - Casablanca area
    Batterie d'Oukacha : 4 x 100mm Mle 1897/17, 2 x twin 13.2mm CAD AA HMG
    Batterie du poste d'entrée de rade : 2 x 75mm G, 2 x twin 13.2mm CAD AA HMG
    Batterie d'El Hank : 4 x 194mm Mle 1902, 4 x 138mm Mle 1910, 4 x 13.2mm CA AA HMG

    - Mazagan area
    Batterie : 2 x 75mm G

    - Mogador area
    Batterie : 2 x 75mm G

    - Safi area
    Batterie de la Railleuse : 4 x 130mm Mle 1924
    Batterie du Port : 2 x 75 mm, 2 x 13.2mm CA AA HMG

    - Agadir area
    Batterie de Brougham : 4 x 100mm MLe 1897/1917

    French air forces under General Lahoulle

    Fighter Squadrons
    Groupement de Chasse 25 (Cdt de Saint-Albin)
    G.C. I/5 (19x Curtiss H-75) at Rabat et Salé
    G.C. II/5 (20x Curtiss H-75 + 13x Dewoitine 520 arriving later) at Casablanca

    Aéronautique navale
    1e flotille de chasse - Flotille 1F (LV Folliot) at Port Lyautey (25x Dewoitine 520 but only 21 aircrafts operationnal)
    Esc. 1AC
    Esc. 2AC

    Bomber Squadrons
    Groupement de Bombardement 11 (Colonel de Lahoulle)
    G.B. I/22 (11x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Rabat et Salé
    G.B. I/23 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Marrakech
    G.B. II/23 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Meknès
    G.B. I/32 (11x Douglas DB-7) at Casablanca

    Aéronautique navale
    3e flotille de bombardement - Flotille 3F (LV Mathon) (12x Glenn-Martin 167F but only 9 aircrafts operationnal)
    Esc. 2B at Port-Lyautey
    Esc. 3B at Port-Lyautey
    + 2x Glenn-Martin 167F in Agadir

    Reconnaissance Squadrons
    G.R. I/22 (13x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Rabat et Salé
    G.R. I/52 (13x Potez 63.11) at Marrakech

    Transport Squadrons
    G.T. I/15 (18x Potez 29, 4x Farman 222.2, 1x Farman 222.3, 1x Farman 224) at Rabat et Salé
    G.T. III/15 (1x Amiot 143, 1x Lioré et Olivier 451) at Oujda


    1x battleship in construction : "Jean-Bart"
    1x light cruiser : "Primauguet"
    2x counter-torpedo boats : "Milan" and "Albatros"
    7x torpedo boats : "Fougueux", "Frondeur", "L'Alcyon", "Brestois", "Boulonnais", "Tempête" and "Simoun"
    3x avisos : "La Grandière", "La Gracieuse" and "Commandant Delage"
    5x patrol boats : "Chasseur II", Victoria", "Algéroise", "Sablaise", "Servannaise"
    11x mine sweepers
    11x submarines : "Sidi-Ferruch", "Le Tonnant", "Le Conquérant", "Orphée", "Méduse", "Oréade", "Psyché", "La Sybille", "Amazone", "Antiope" and "Amphitrite".

    No real match for the numerous destroyers, aircraft-carriers, cruisers and battleships of the US/UK fleet.


    - Escort Force H provided by the Royal Navy : 27+ ships
    3 battleships
    5 cruisers
    2 aircraft carriers
    17 destroyers
    + submarine screen

    - The Center Task Force, destination Oran in Algeria :
    Commanders : Admiral Troubridge (Royal Navy) and General Fredendall (US Army)
    37 ships + transport ships
    About 39000 soldiers for the landing

    - The Eastern Task Force, destination Algiers in Algeria :
    Commanders : Admiral Burrough (Royal Navy) General Ryder
    34 ships + transport ships
    23000 British soldiers + 10000 US soldiers for the landing

    - And since we are here interested in Morocco, the Western Task Force (TF34), destination Fedhala, Mehdia and Safi for the landings.
    The objectives are to take Safi (an important port on the Atlantic), Casablanca (and its port) and Port-Lyautey (and its airbases).
    Commanders : Admiral Hewitt (US Navy) and General Patton (US Army)
    77 ships + 29 transport ships
    35000 US soldiers
    250 tanks (55 are Shermans whose destination is Safi, the other are mainly Stuarts)
    28x Grumman Avenger
    36x Douglas SBD Dauntless
    108x F4F-4 Wildcat
    76x P-40 destined to be ground based in Port Lyautey

    The US provided 172 planes (the P40 are only transported) and the Royal Navy provided :
    7x Fulmar
    35x Albacore
    35x Martlet IV
    51x Seafire IIc
    39x Sea Hurricane IIc
    6x Swordfish

    total : 345 US/UK planes in the area.

    TF34 is divided into :

    - Northern landing group (9000 men)
    landing in Mehdia, objective Port Lyautey
    - Center landing group (19000 men)
    anding in Fedhala, objective Casablanca and its harbor
    - Southern landing group (6500 men)
    landing in Safi harbor, next to Marrakech

    Total superiority of the US/UK forces in both sea and air.
    On the ground, the French forces in November 1942 have still the same equipments than in 1939-1940 and about 120000 men in the whole North Africa.

    To this OB can be added 6 supply convoys with 84 transport ships and 42 escort ships sailing
    from Britain to Gibraltar between 14 October and 10 November :
    KMS 1 (slow) : 47 transports, 18 escorts
    KMF 1 (fast) : 39 transports, 12 escorts
    KMS 2 : 57 transports, 14 escorts
    KMF 2 : 18 transports; 8 escorts

    EVENTS :

    1) Landing in Fedhala (next to Casablanca) and Cherqui
    19000 men and 1701 vehicles.

    The French beaches are defended by :
    - 3x 100mm
    - 2x 75mm
    - 4x 138mm
    - the 102nd costal infantry company
    - 3 FT-17 tanks
    - about 100 Moroccan "tirailleurs" (skirmisher)
    A real tiny force in face of the whole fleet support and the men landing there.

    On the evening of 7th November, the General Béthouart sent a liaison officer to give orders not to resist to the landings (behind the military stuff there were intricate political discussions and they wanted to join the allies) but only the infantry was informed, not the sailors in the costal batteries.
    A French convoy at sea met TF34 and was captured but could warn the French HQ.
    A French searchlight spotted a US destroyer which opened fire and destroyed it.
    At 7.13 the French opened fire.
    The CL-40 Brooklyn and 4 destroyers attacked the 138mm guns. Not less than 152mm shells were fired on them but only 2 hit the French position. 1x 138mm gun and the observation post were destroyed.
    The DD-603 Murphy was hit and forced to retreat.
    At 9.30 the French battery was captured by an infantry assault.
    The 100mm battery damaged the destroyer but it was hardly bombarded by the 203mm guns of the CA-31 Augusta. This battery is also assaulted by the US infantry but they lost about 100 KIA in front of it. The battery surrendered at 14.00 after having destroyed its own guns. Only 15 French soldiers were still alive.
    A small auxiliary ship, the "Abbé Desgranges" still resisted with only a few LMGs and 5 revolvers, its crew resisted until the ship sank.
    During the operation 150 landing ships (LCMs) out of 347 were destroyed by the French defences.

    In front of Casablanca there was a small naval battle, small because the French fleet is there really small compared to the US/UK combat fleet in the area.
    From the ground the El Hank battery supported the naval battle, as did the "Jean-Bart" battleship which is immobilized in the harbor (in construction) but with one operational turret of 4x380mm guns. A half-completed ship fighting an armada ! But, the really good part of the story is after the working turret was jammed by a hit and the French repaired it, but left it in train to simulate that the damage was permanent. That was a great trick, it sure surprised a lot of people on the Massachusetts.

    First there was an artillery duel between the "Jean-Bart" + El Hank and the
    BB-59 Massachussets
    CA-37 Tuscaloosa
    CA-45 Wichita

    1 light cruiser, a few torpedo and counter-torpedo boats as well as several subs tried to sail out from the
    harbor to attack the US/UK fleet.

    UK/US losses after the naval battle :
    - 5x ships damaged (including the Admiral ship)
    - 1x transport ship sunk
    - 1x SBD Dauntless destroyed

    French losses after the naval battle :
    - 6x torpedo or counter-torpedo boats sunk
    - 4x submarines sunk
    - 4x ships damaged
    - 490 KIA, 969 WIA

    2) Landing at Mehdia, objective is Port Lyautey

    The Admiral Michelier and the staff of General Noguès clearly cancelled the orders of Béthouart who told not
    to fight. 3 FT-17 tanks + infantry counter-attacked and pulled the US troops back on the shores. The US General Truscott requisitioned the landing boats crews to fight as infantry men. Finally after huge naval artillery support, the 138mm battery was captured, but after 48 hours of fighting the US beachhead is still very thin and unsecured.

    3) Landing at Safi (200 km South of Casablanca)
    2 ships entering the harbor with commandos at night captured the harbor installation and the 2nd Armored Division was able to disembark about 55 Shermans in Safi. The other beaches allowed only the landing of Stuarts.


    The USN air fleet wanted to destroy the French planes based in Morocco. As indicated in the previous post, the French air force is small compared to the 172 US planes (not counting all the UK planes) and except the Dewoitine D-520 only composed of old H-75 fighters. The 108 USN Wildcats will have to face 86 French fighters but only 40 were rather modern. Despite the surprise and the fact that most of the aircrafts were at ground when then air raids were launched, the French air force reacted.

    Over Casablanca the Wildcats of the VF-41 encountered the old Curtiss H-75 of the GC II/5. 4x Wildcats, 3x Dauntless and 7x H-75 were shot down.
    5x bombers of the GB I/32 and the whole GB I/33 were destroyed on the ground.

    In Port Lyautey about 10 D-520 and 6 bombers are destroyed on the ground. At least 2 Wildcats are destroyed by a D-520 but it was also hit and the pilot had to crash its plane and to evacuate it.

    During the 8th November morning French fighters strafed the landing beaches at Fedhala and several landing boats were destroyed.
    At 12.30 a few French bombers attacked the beachheads without losses.

    On 9th November, 5x H-75 from GC II/5 strafed again the beaches.
    Later a bigger attack involving 10x bombers from GB II/23, 3x bombers from GB I/32 escorted by 15x H-75 from GC I/5 was launched. Several transport and landing boats were destroyed but no really important ship is hit. The Wildcats from VF-9 intercepted the French aircraft, the bombers went back safely but the 4x H-75 were destroyed, as well as 1x Wildcat.

    At 14.00 an important US raid surprised on ground 4x DB-7, 5x H-75 and 6x D-520. The small French air force in Morocco was then neutralized.

    At Safi, the US planes were provided by the ACV-29 Santee whose crews were very green. From 31 aircrafts, 21 lost themselves and were forced to emergency landings on the ground.

    Finally, on 11th November, the US had lost 44 planes from 172 at the beginning :
    25x Wildcats
    9x Dauntless
    10x Avenger

    The "Jean-Bart" battleship is damaged but will be repaired and will have a long post WW2 career.

    After the landings on 8th November 1942, the situation on 9th November is still tricky, especially for the Mehdia beachhead which is in danger. This day is crucial both on the military level and on the political level because there are discussions between Morocco and the Vichy HQ (Béthouart, Darlan, Weygand, Auphan) as well as discussions between Darlan and the US HQ. Before Operation Torch all the operation were accepted by General Giraud (Free French) but the US wanted to get rid of the Free French of General De Gaulle and negociate with the Vichy forces.
    Darlan has to look at the same time at the situation in North Africa and at the situation in France, where the Vichy government is frightening an invasion of the free area by the Germans if the resistance to the US/UK forces is not apparent enough.
    Darlan is negotiating with the US while Pétain is convincing the Germans that the French forces in North Africa do everything to resist to the landing forces.

    During the 9th November there are several small fights while the US are trying to secure and increase their beachheads and while the Shermans of the 2nd AD are moving from Safi towards Casablanca. Sometimes the French are defeated and sometimes not. An armored car group for example makes US POWs at two times and captures also 4 Stuart tanks.

    The French are organizing the defences and roadblocks around Casablanca :

    * East :
    - III/6e RTS on the Rabat-Casablanca road, next to Aïn Sebaa
    - II/6e RTM on the road 106
    - 4x 90mm AA guns in Aïn Sebaa
    - reinforcement of Aïn Sebaa by 4 platoons of surviving sailors (each man issued with a carbine, each squad with 1 LMG, 1 MMG and 10 grenades).

    * South : III/6e RTM on the Marrakech road

    * South-West : II/RICM

    * West, near El Hank : I/6e RTM and 4x 90 AA guns.

    On 9th November the positions are attacked by SBD Dauntless attack planes without significant results.

    The US troops who landed at Mehdia are in a difficult position and have to face many French counter-attacks which reach the beaches. The 1st Bn, 60th Infantry Rgt supported by Stuart tanks is facing the III/1e RTM supported by few Renault R-35 / Hotchkiss H-35 tanks. 4 Stuarts and 2 R-35/H-35 are destroyed, but the US troops are saved by the intervention of the USN air fleet which blocks the French attack.
    4 times the US troops take Mehdia and 4 times they are pulled back.
    On 11th November the French infantry counter-attacks and takes back the 138mm battery lost on 8th November, the Lighthouse and part of the beach but finally thanks to an important tank offensive the US are able to capture Mehdia and Port Lyautey. At 11.30 there are still several French pockets but the first P-40s are landing on the captured airbase. In Mehdia there were about 89 US and 133 French KIA.

    AÏN SEBAA BATTLE (east of Casablanca) :
    On 10th November at dawn, the US infantry + Stuarts attack the II/6e RTS and the sailors in Aïn Sebaa. The French 90mm guns causes many KIA by firing on US mortar positions which have to be changed frequently but the French guns are neutralized by naval heavy artillery fire. At 11.00 the French are forced to leave Aïn Sebaa and to move to the main resistance line. Two sailors platoons have sustained 50% losses and encircled are forced to surrender. The other units manage to retreat properly.
    2 French avisos, the "Commandant Delage" and the "Gracieuse" block the US offensive with their 100mm guns but are forced to flee in front of the cruiser Augusta and the destroyers Edison, Boyle, Tillman and Rowan. The US attack is stopped here, they are waiting for the Shermans who landed in Safi.

    The 8 November 1942 landings at Fedhala, Mehedia and Safi were not precisely an US Army success and the day had to be saved by the excellent US Navy fire. The US troops were unable to arrive, after 3 days of fighting, in front of Casablanca (not to mention the same idea to occupy that town) and were allowed to enter there only on 12 November after the French Admiral Darlan had signed a truce with General Clark which led him to power in French North Africa. The French orders during the cease-fire were to go back to the barracks, to preserve the integrity of all the facilities, equipments and armaments and to exchange the POWs.

    The consequences of operation Torch for the French are :
    - invasion of the unoccupied zone by the Germans
    - self-destruction of the high sea fleet based in Toulon to prevent its capture by the Germans (there was small fights between the French sailor and the Germans from the 7.PzD in Toulon)
    - but also the beginning of a new mobilization of the whole French forces in North Africa on the allied (US, UK and Free French side). After that, in 1943 there is no distinction anymore between Free French and Vichy French, there is only a French Army.


  7. David Lehmann

    David Lehmann New Member

    Aug 1, 2004
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    via TanksinWW2
    Concerning Operation Ironclad in Madagascar it was as you mentioned are much smaller battle in comparison to operation Ironclad for example.

    On 5 May 1942 British Force 121 conducted Operation Ironclad, an amphibious invasion of the Vichy French colony of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Here notes taken from the internet mainly and personal notes.


    British ground forces

    • British 29th Infantry Brigade (independent) :
    • Amphibious landing near Diego Suarez on 5 May 1942 :
    2nd South Lancashire Regiment
    2nd East Lancashire Regiment
    1st Royal Scots Fusiliers
    2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers
    455th Light Battery (Royal Artillery)
    one MG company
    six medium tanks
    six light tanks

    • No. 5 Commando :
    Amphibious landing near Diego Suarez on 5 May 1942.

    • British 17th Infantry Brigade Group (of 5th Division) :
    Landed near Diego Suarez as second wave on 5 May 1942 :
    2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers
    2nd Northamptonshire Regiment
    6th Seaforth Highlanders
    9th Field Regiment (Royal Artillery)

    • British 13th Infantry Brigade (of 5th Division) :
    Landed near Diego Suarez as third wave on 6 May 1942 :
    2nd Cameronians
    2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
    2nd Wiltshire Regiment

    British Naval Forces

    • Battleships :

    • Aircraft Carriers :

    • Cruisers :

    • Destroyers :

    • Corvettes :

    • Minesweepers :

    • Assault transports :
    Winchester Castle
    Royal Ulsterman

    • "Special" ships :
    Derwentdale (for motor landing craft and tanks)
    Bachaquero (tank landing ship) (one of the Maracaibo freighters)

    • Troop ships :
    Duchess of Atholl

    • Stores and MT ships:
    Empire Kingsley
    City of Hong Kong

    British air forces

    • Aboard Illustrious :
    881 Sqdn : 12x Grumman Martlett
    882 Sqdn : 8x Grumman Martlett and 1x Fairey Fulmar
    810 and 829 Sqdn : together, 20x Fairey Swordfish

    • Aboard Indomitable :
    800 Sqdn : 8x Fairey Fulmar
    806 Sqdn : 4x Fairey Fulmar
    880 Sqdn : 6x Hawker Sea Hurricane
    827 and 831 Sqdn : together, 24x Fairey Albacore


    Ground Forces Order of Battle, July 1942

    Note : This OB gives the position of French forces after the fall of Diego Suarez to the British. It is reproduced directly from "La "guérilla" des troupes vichystes à Madasgar en 1942" which looks like a reliable article. However, one point is subject to caution : there were in fact two Régiments Mixtes Malgaches of three battalions rather than one of six battalions as shown below (this is obvioulsy a typo). I haven't yet been able to check which battalions in fact belonged to the 2e RMM.

    West Coast
    - 2 platoons of reservists and volunteers at Nossi-Bé
    - 2 companies of the Régiment Mixte Malgache (RMM - Mixed Madagascar Regiment) at Ambanja
    - 1 battalion of the 1er RMM at Majunga

    East Coast
    - 1 battalion of the 1er RMM at Tamatave
    - 1 artillery section (65mm) at Tamatave
    - 1 company of the 1er RMM at Brickaville

    Center of the island
    - 3 battalions of the 1er RMM at Tananarive
    - 1 motorised reconnaissance detachment at Tananarive
    - Emyrne coastal battery at Tananarive
    - 1 artillery section (65mm mountain guns) at Tananarive
    - 1 engineer company at Tananarive
    - 1 company of the 1er RMM at Mevatanana
    - 1 company of the BTM at Fianarantsoa

    South of the island
    - 1 company of the BTM at Fort dauphin
    - 1 company of the BTM at Tuléar

    There were a handful old FT-17 tanks (at least 1x FT-17 BS)

    Armée de l'Air Order of Battle, 5 May 1942
    Groupe Aérien Mixte (Cne Leonetti)
    Unit Aircraft Total Avail. Base Commander
    Esc. 565 (17x Morane-Saulnier 406, 11 available). Based in Ivato-Tananarive, commander : Cne Baché
    Esc. 555 (6x Potez 63.11, ? available). Based in Ivato-Tananariv, commander : Lt Le Bouedec

    Note : A small detachment of MS 406 and Potez 63.11 was permanently stationed at Diégo Arrachart under Lt Rossigneux (its aircraft are included in the numbers above). In addition, there were some Potez 25TOE and Potez 29 used mainly in for casualty evacuation.

    Therefore there were only 11 French fighters facing 83 British aircrafts and a whole fleet.


    1) The main landings went in on landing craft around Courrier Bay and Ambararata Bay (across the peninsula from Diego Suarez) on 5 May 1942. These landings were unopposed.

    2) Meanwhile, a diversionary "simulated" bombardment and landing took place to the east, and dummy paratroops were dropped. Carrier-based aircraft bombed Vichy shipping in the harbor.

    3) By mid-morning the invaders had run into French defences. Advance was hampered by difficulty in finding a suitable beach for Bachaquero to land artillery (although tanks were already ashore). A frontal assault next morning against the French position defending Antsirane finally succeeded, and additional shelling by British warships convinced the local Vichy commander to hoist the white flag. Surrender documents signed on 7 May.

    4) French defences consisted of few coastal batteries, trenches, two armed merchant cruisers, two sloops and five submarines operating in the area, 11 Morane 406 fighters, 6 Potez 63 reconnaissance aircrafts, 1500-3000 troops in the Diego Suarez area, about 8000 troops on the island as a whole (approx 75% native).

    5) British losses in the Diego Suarez operations amounted to 105 KIA and 283 WIA. Vichy lost about 150 KIA and 500 WIA.

    6) To quote the British official history: "Ironclad was the first large amphibious assault made by British forces since the attempt to storm the Dardanelles in the First World War."

    7) Vichy French (predominantly native) troops in the area were quickly withdrawn to the south and a protracted campaign ensued at a low level of intensity.

    Further units involved :

    As 5th Division was required for the defence of India (and in fact had been en route there prior to the Madagascar diversion), 13th Brigade was withdrawn on 20 May and 17th Brigade on 10 June 1942. This left, however, only the northern end of the island occupied by the Allies and a state of hostilities still in effect.

    British 29th Brigade remained behind and reinforcements arrived for further operations:

    22nd East African Brigade Group: Arrived 8 June 1943; departed 23 January 1944. OB as of June 1942:
    1/1st Kings African Rifles
    5th (Kenya) Kings African Rifles
    1/6th Kings African Rifles
    56th (Uganda) Field Battery
    9th Field Regiment (Royal Artillery)

    South African 7th Motorized Brigade: Arrived 24 June 1942; departed 7 December 1942:
    1st City Regiment
    The Pretoria Regiment
    Pretoria Highlanders

    Northern Rhodesia 27th Infantry Brigade: Arrived 8 August 1942; departed 29 June 1944. OB as of August 1942:
    2nd Northern Rhodesia Regiment
    3rd Northern Rhodesia Regiment
    4th Northern Rhodesia Regiment
    55th (Tanganyika) Light Battery
    57th (East African) Field Battery

    The 29th and 22nd Brigades conducted another amphibious landing at Majunga on 10 September 1942, with the latter taking the lead in advancing toward Tananarive and then Ambalavao before the island finally surrendered on 6 November 1942. British 29th Brigade, meanwhile, had departed Madagascar on 16 October.


  8. E. Rommel phpbb3

    E. Rommel phpbb3 New Member

    May 5, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Charles City
    via TanksinWW2
    Where do you get all this information?
    Its interesting i didt know the brits invaded Mada gascar and isnt that off Africa cause thats not the indian ocean
  9. David Lehmann

    David Lehmann New Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Likes Received:
    via TanksinWW2

    Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean.
  10. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Likes Received:
    via TanksinWW2
    An interesting side note:
    In the MMO World War II Online which I played regularly for a couple of years one can "try out" this eqipment that we read about in a realistic way.
    This may sound like a sales pitch for the game but it is important to understand a few facts about this unique game. Unlike most tank simulation games there are no hit points. There is a physics engine built into the game that calculates the range, velocity,(to get energy in joules) angle of impact, thickness of armor to determine if the round would penetrate. If it does penetrate it ricochets inside the tank or fragments and crewmembers are struck if they are in the path and depending upon how much energy and where they are hit die or became wounded. Similarly tracks stop working, engines stall and fires break out if it is indicated likely by the penetration.

    The point in telling you all that is to give you a perspective of what I mean to "try out" tanks like the R-35, S-35, B1 bis, Pz II, III and IV, Stug, Matilda and so on. You soon get a feeling for the strengths and weaknesses of each tank (or anti tank gun, aircraft or infantry for that matter).
    Back to the r-35. It's gun is not very powerful versus armor however in skillful hands using good tactics like stealthiness and flanking of enemy tanks it can be quite lethal against the German tanks of the era (battle of France basically though later equipment can be brought in by research and development which is player high command controlled, to a point).

    The B1 bis is very tough versus all German AFVs of less than 50mm maingun (most all of them) but suffers from poor situational awareness.
    In contrast the German tanks are mostly all fast with good SA and weak guns that achieve success by flanking and double and triple teaming the slower tougher French tanks.
    A game like WW II Online allows you to gain a perspective of what it must have been like to crew one of these vehicles that no dry technical manual can duplicate.
    If you should decide to try out the game, even during the frequent free 30 day trial periods I would recommend that you join a squad. It's okay to free lance to try out equipment but to really have a chance to make a difference in a battle you need to join a squad of organized players. That way you get the benefit of combined arms with air support , infantry and anti tanks guns to help support your efforts. There are squads of Euro players also so that off peak time (north American peak time) battles go on as well.
    When I get more free time(soon I hope) I will return to the game, the North African campaign should be starting soon. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the introduction of the Tiger into the game ..now that will be a challenge for the Allied players :eek:

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