Museum of the Armored

France Room 1940

France Room 1940

The French tanks of 1940

The rapid defeat of the French armies in May and June 1940 cast suspicion on the combativity of the men and the qualities of their equipment.

The armored army did not escape its lapidary judgments, carried without discrimination in the emotion of defeat. History has to be given time to write and allow one to step back in order to judge.

We know today :

- the number of armored vehicles and their equivalent in both camps
- that the more modern German tanks often proved inferior to their French counterparts
- that the French armored cavalry and the tanks of battle can be honored with their authentic feats of arms stopping the German advance at the price of heavy losses

In spite of the efforts of certain clairvoyant officers whose Colonel De Gaulle and the generals Flavigny and Delestraint France entered the war in 1939 under the orders of generals always blinded by the victory of 1918 and deaf to the warnings of recent events.

At mobilization, the French armored potential is still mainly scattered in support of the infantry corps. As in 1917 mechanized divisions are just beginning to be formed, in the light of the invasion of Poland by the hordes of panzers hurrying down in tight rows and overturning everything in their path.

In the room Campaign of France 1940 one can see the tanks :

- Hotchkiss H 39
- Renault AMR 33
- Renault R 39
- Renault R 35
- Panhard AMD 178
- Renault B1 bis
- Somua S 35
- Renault UE 31
- Side Gnome & Rhone
- Renault ACG1
- FCM 36
- Laffly V15T Unicorn


  • The tank Hotchkiss H 39

    The Hotchkiss H 39 is a small vehicle, 4,22 meters long, 1,95 wide and 2,15 high. Its body is made up of six cast steel parts, which are bolted together. We thus have the engine floor and that of the combat compartment which form the bottom of the vehicle, and four parts for the top: one at the front, one at the rear and two at the sides. The use of steel ...

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  • The Renault B1 bis

    The most powerful of the French tanks in service in 1940 was of an old-fashioned formula, its main artillery being placed in casemates which reduced the latitude of aiming. However, its 60mm armor could not be pierced by any enemy tanks. It had a powerful armament (two guns of 75 and 47 mm, 2 machine guns of 7,5 mm) and a good mobility in ...

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  • The Gnome & Rhone side car

    The AX2 800, most often harnessed, was reserved for the army and succeeded the 750 XA which, being overthrown, frightened the soldiers. The side car is a Bernardet, official supplier of the Gnome and Rhone couplings. The AX2 is the strongest displacement of the brand, but not the most powerful.

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