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French Resistance to the Blitzkrieg

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by EagleSquadron12, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. EagleSquadron12

    EagleSquadron12 New Member

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    Now contrary to what most people believe about the French military at the time, the French were capable of defending against the Blitz. They're tanks were more heavily armored than the Germans. What did the French in were 2 things. Defensive spread, and one man turrets in tanks.

    1. The spread of the defenses meant that it was hard for one position to assist the other. While in theory the more ground that is covered is better when you're divisions are spread as thin as the French were you're gonna have a problem

    2. The French tanks all had relatively thick armor for the time and would have had no problem dealing with the Germans. If they had more than one person in the turret. Because that guy is acting as the commander, loader, gunner, and radio operator. When that one guy is having to constant switch from commanders binoculars to the gunners sight, reloading, having to go back to the commander hatch to reaquire the target then going back to the gunners seat. It is very easy to get out flanked and knocked out.

    The French were not cowards. They were ready to defend their home with all they had. So let's take a moment to step back and think of how much differently the early war could have been it the French had their defenses spread in a way that they could assist a division in need, and if they're tanks had multiple crew in the turret.

    Personally I think they could've slowed the German advance long enough for the British to get some serious boots on the ground thus halting the advance of the Reich.

    However it is also likely the French could've beaten them back on their own.

    Or maybe we would still have a capitulated France and a much more populated evacuation of Dunkirk.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The latter seems almost inconsequential to me the former more a result of the command and control and doctrinal issues that I see as being more at the heart of the French loss.
     
  3. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru Patron  

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    Its a bit more then just that.

    Their Tank Tactics were incorrect - the doctrine they followed was tanks in the infantry support sort of role, so they were few and far between when it came to actual battle, which gave the upper hand to the Germans. There are accounts, and a search on this forum will find some, where lone French tanks were enough to hinder several German tanks useless.

    As far as spreading out...they had originally thought any attack would come along the Maginot Line, not through Belgium. The BEF was also there to help, so I can't say I agree that they were 'too spread out' since it doesn't quite work like that.

    The French also had a strong Airforce that was backed up by the RAF, but again their air doctrines at the time meant that they were very ineffective and by the time they could scramble the raid was already over and the Germans were able to cut them apart.
     
  4. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Throwing complete units of their best/heaviest into battle without allowing their fuel bowsers to catch up and refuel them after a long forward deployment didn't help either! And once those CharBs were gone, the French had lost most of their decent heavies in France....as the rest of their best tanks had been deployed forward right into the north of Belgium the day the Germans crossed the border and the British/French crossed the Belgian border.

    Those two REALLY big mistakes meant that by the end of the fighting in France the French were reduced to trying to get even rustier FT17s out of the general reserve....the ones that they'd initially turned down when assessing which ones were fit for re-use to give to the Poles in exile in France, or use for airfield defence - but very few reached the front line units they were trying to reinforce, and were discovered by the Germans scattered in transit all over mid-France
     
  5. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    The Char B wasn't made for tank battles. The 75mm gun was almost useless against tanks, so it was reduced to a cumbersome vehicle which was difficult to miss with a 47mm gun. The Somua S-35 should have been the main battle tank, but there weren't much of them available.
    Forget about the FT-17, the backbone of the allied tank forces were the Renault R-35 and the Hotchkiss H-35/39, which were available in large numbers, but again made for trench warfare: Slow, well armoured, gun almost useless against enemy tanks.

    The French Army and their soldiers felt safe behind the Maginot Line. That is why they built it. Once it became obvious, that the Maginot Line was wasted time and money, the French Army more or less collapsed.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Except it is not at all clear that the Maginot line was "wasted time and money".
     
  7. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Except...

    1/ that's what the French used the CharBs for on the day....and thus wasted them;

    2/ the majority of the Somuas were with the French (First?) Army motoring north through Belgium;

    3/ no, the backbone of the French armoured forces were NOT the FT-17 - but my point was that once those tanks with the 1st Armee were factored out, and the CharBs lost etc....attrition over the next days meant that there was nothing else to fill blank files in French armoured units in the few days before the start of Fall Rot - except FT-17s.
     

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