Apart from artillery tractors and ARVs, other vehicles based on the Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f) chassis appeared on the Eastern front. This time it wasn’t just some auxilliary vehicles, but a war machine that could potentially improve the tank-killing capabilities of Army Group “Center”. Its history starts in the end of 1940 when the Germans had a critical look at their captured vehicle stock and came to the conclusion that the Renault R35 wasn’t exactly the best thing on the battlefield. The chassis could however be used to build a self-propelled gun.
At that point the Germans already had the experience with such conversions of Panzer I chassis by creating a vehicle called 4.7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Pz.Kpfw.I (Sd.Kfz.101) ohne Turm, commonly known as the Panzerjäger I tank destroyer. The Panzerjäger I was buit by removing the turret of Panzer I Ausf.B and installing a superstructure with a Czechoslovak 47mm anti-tank gun (P.Ú.V. vzor 36). Panzerjäger I was a relatively successful vehicle and it first appeared in combat in the spring of 1940. Last of these vehicles were used in combat by the end of 1942.
4,7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw.35 R 731(f) during training, 1941
Following this success, an approval was given on 23.12.1940 to creat such a conversion based on Renault R35 chassis. This vehicle would be designated 4.7 cm Pak(t) (Sfl) auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw.35 R 731(f). The Altmärkische Kettenfabrik (Alkett) company was selected as the producer of these vehicles – at that point it was the leading German SPG manufacturer. The task was however not easy for the tank designers from Spandau – the chassis was even smaller than the one of Panzer I Ausf.B – a vehicle originally designed for two Frenchmen (unless they suffered from claustrophobia) was supposed to carry three German crewmembers, a rather large 47mm gun and enough ammunition for it.
so, you think the Germans in World of Tanks are finished? No more line candidates, right? No more regular high-tiers possible?
Check this out. This is a German proposal for a Leopard 1-based Jagdpanzer. No, it’s not a fake, this was actually seriously considered. Very light armor, low silhouette, high mobility, apparently a L7 gun. Ideal tier 9. Why tier 9? No armor of course.
As far as I remember, some detailed data is available. But… no line can be complete without a suitable tier 10 and that’s still missing. Or, is it?
This is a “Heavy Tank Destroyer” proposal based on the Leopard 2 chassis, as considered by the Bundeswehr. This illustration was published by the Soldat und Technik magazine in 1969, which means the project is probably somewhat older. More information exists, I just gotta ask the person who found this picture. The concept is roughly similar to the Swedish Strv 103, otherwise known as the S-Tank. The gun is unclear, but let’s say it’s an autoloaded L7 as well. There is no indication that this vehicle would use composite armor, making it – once again – viable for World of Tanks.
But there’s one part that might cause trouble – check out the picture carefully, especially the suspension. That’s right, this vehicle uses the same suspension principle as the S-Tank, using hydraulics to elevate, depress and aim the gun, which by itself has no real traverse. But… is it really a problem? Well, no. As you probably already know, Wargaming is working on two lines for the Swedish branch – a line that ends with the Krv HT and a line that ends with the S Tank. After all, the S Tank is too iconic to pass up!
So, the game mechanism is being developed as well. Could be a nice interesting little mini-line, no?
Tanks in foreign service are one of my favourite topics. German tanks used by Czechoslovaks, French tanks used by Germans and vice versa etc. I just find it interesting to see how other nations deal with foreign captured equipment. Luckily for me, Yuri Pasholok wrote another interesting article, this time about the Renault R35 conversions. So sit back and enjoy. Oh and one more thing – this article continues the story of the Renault R35 light tank – check out earlier FTR articles from a few days ago about its development!
The Renault R35 was the most numerous French tank of the spring of 1940 and consequently became the most numerous captured French tank in German service. In many cases, the Germans got their hands on pristine vehicles (or with only very light damage) and were able to immediately turn them against their former masters. In total, the Germans managed to capture between 800 and 840 of these light tanks, quite a high number under any circumstances.
On the other hand, while the name of the vehicle changed with its introduction to German service (it was called Panzerkampfwagen 35R 731(f)), its questionable combat value most certainly did not. As a result of that, its “career” in German service (albeit long) was not exactly filled with its primary purpose. Instead, the Germans used it as an artillery tractor, a self-propelled gun or an ARV.
The first cases of the German use of the R35 were documented even during the May-June 1940 campaign in France. The Germans were able to master these new vehicles quickly and had some opportunities to use them against the French. Such cases were however rare. The Renaults were slow and armed with quite weak guns and with crews that were not completely familiar with them yet they just couldn’t make a lot of difference in the fighting. In order not to be attacked by other German units, the German units drew big crosses (Balkenkreuz) on their vehicles’ sides and the vehicles were usually repainted to grey color (Schwarzgraul RAL 7021), even though some of the captured tanks retained their original French camouflage. The rest of the captured stock was just stashed, very few conversions took place during the fighting – that happened later.
Captured Renault R35 from 1940. It was repainted with grey color and crosses and sent to fight its former masters.
it’s been a while since I posted on any topic like this one, but recently, I gave this topic some thought. Here’s a thought about the Israeli branch and its introduction into World of Tanks. Yes, I said World of Tanks – for Armored Warfare, this is not really a problem (there’s the Merkava already), but World of Tanks branch-making follows a different set of rules.
The whole question can be split into two parts:
- is it even possible to make an Israeli branch?
- will such branch be implemented?
The answer to the first question is easy enough – yes, absolutely. More than three years ago (oh god, I’m old), I made a proposal. It was really crude, but it does showcase how the branch would look like (we’re talking about a medium branch of course, any other branch becomes exponentially more difficult).
The basic setup is:
- 1948 Independence War oddities on low tiers
- Shermans in the middle
- Sho’t (Centurion), Mag’ach (Patton), Tiran (captured T-series) or even Merkava prototype on high tiers
Merkava I hear you say? Impossibru! Well… it would be those three years ago. But we are somewhere else now. The old rules don’t apply anymore to a certain extent. When it comes to timeline, we have a Type 74 prototype and the Type 64 Chinese light tank, those are fairly new. There are other factors as well – I’ll get to that. Back to Merkava – some of the prototypes might very well be suitable.
This is actually VERY important. It means that the branch has a viable, attractive Tier 10 and that is rare. Really, really rare – the remaining Tier 10 candidates are mostly paper stuff the introduction of which has to be “justified” by other means (for example, the upcoming heavy French branch – French heavies were one of the few outstanding lines left). Now, to concrete examples.
While I disagree with some of the choices he made, it’s the most comprehensive proposal available. Definitely check the thread I linked, it’s well worth the read. So yes, it’s possible to assemble the tree.
here’s something interesting for you. Lebanon was always one of those countries that operate really strange or obsolete equipment, making them super interesting for tank enthusiasts. There were some interesting lebanese conversions, which mostly met their fate during the fighting with Israel or the civil war that tore the country apart. Here’s a graveyard of some of the more interesting vehicles – I picked just a few pictures as examples, the full album can be found here.
Autors of photos: Mathieu Morant and Chadi Rachid
Lebanese AMX-13 – Lebanon operated around 60 of those in the 1970s and 1980s, they were phased out of service in the 1990s. The AMX-13 was an amazing design for its time and served for ages in various parts of the world. Even now it is viable (although it can’t really slug it out with MBT’s).
The Charioteer – a certain number of these tank destroyers found its way to Lebanon in the 1970s. Participated in some fighting.
And here’s one more interesting thing – the Staghound armored car with a Crusader turret.
More vehicles and photos can be found in the Flickr album I linked above.
One thing that needs to be discussed separately is the tanks armament. The thing is, the SA18 gun, used on the Renault FT light tank, was already obsolete by 1926. The reasons why this gun appeared on this new vehicle were purely economic ones. The first reason was that the notoriously underfunded French infantry branch had to save money on practically everything, even on the metal for new tanks production. This was in fact one of the reasons for the appearance of what was basically just an improved version of Renault FT with thicker armor but in roughly the same weight category.
The second reason was that there was a very large number of these guns produced and they were used in the obsolete FT’s. When in 1934 the French started re-arming the FT’s with MAC Mle.1931 machineguns, they didn’t re-arm only the machinegun variants but also the FT variants that carried guns before that. That left them with thousands of “free” guns. At the same time, those Renault FT’s that were too worn-out were phased out as well for scrap. This process also became a source of “free” guns.
another interesting article by Yuri Pasholok came out recently, this time about the development of the Renault R35 light tank. It’s… very long, so I might split it into two parts. I’ll see. So sit back, get some omelette du fromage and let’s begin :)
The French light tank development after WW1 consisted of a number of improvements to the original Renault FT. After a long line of experiments (one of the results of which was the Renault NC light tank), the French Infantry Command decided to develop a tank in the 12 ton category. This program culminated with the development of the 14 ton Renault D1, which was – size- and weight-wise – more like a medium tank.The D1 was plagued by a number of technical issues and was never a serious Renault FT replacement – 160 were made, which was only a drop in the sea of 3500 Renault FTs. The Infantry Command had to find another solution and the result was the R35 by Renault, a light tank that played a sad role in the French defeats of 1940.
One of the most important reasons for further development of French tanks were the new discoveries and improvements to the armor-making technology. At that time, the armor plates were attached to each other usually by riveting. As far as bullet protection went, riveted armor was quite fine, but making it more resistant in order to withstand more serious hits was complicated. The first nation to partially utilize welding in armor assembly were the Germans in the 1920s, but since their tank program was still a secret by then, no-one actually knew about it.
Another alternative approach to armor creation was casting. Even the first Renault FT’s had cast hull parts and turrets, but for a number of reasons this technology did not immediately become widespread. The French returned to it only in the early 1930s and even then it was limited to turrets. Using cast hull parts was actually a promising technology with the perspective of simplifying hull production – and cast hull parts were much sturdier than equal parts assembled by riveting. The first people who proposed to en masse introduce casting to tank production were the engineers from the Hotchkiss company from St.Denis (today, this town north of Paris is in fact one of the Parisian suburbs).
Hotchkiss was a massive arms manufacturer at that time, introducing its first combat vehicle as early as in 1909 – but that was an armored car, Hotchkiss wasn’t initially interested in tank manufacturing. Nevertheless, the casting procedure technology, as proposed by the Hotchkiss engineers, caught the eye of the Infantry Command, since the technology was more suitable than anything else for 30mm armor or thicker. In addition to the technology itself, the Hotchkiss company also proposed to make a tank that the French infantry sorely lacked.
Renault ZM mock-up (pay attention to the turret, that pattern was only used on the mock-up)
The Hotchkiss project was great and all that, but the French Army wasn’t as reckless as to award such a project to a company that had never built tanks before. Instead, they formulated the demands for the new light infantry tank and issued them on 2.8.1933. This future tank was specifically intended to replace the hopelessly obsolete Renault FT and largely overlapped with the requirements issued for the Renault D1. These included: