Several designs to replace the FT-17 were rejected. The Char NC 1 built by Renault ended up being sold to Japan1 and the NC 2 sold to Greece. Renault then produced the D1 in 1930. This was the first French vehicle that had a 47mm gun.
At the Disarmament Conferences the French sacrificed the 90 remaining Mark V (World War I vehicles) at the Geneva Conference. The French General Staff decided to have a policy of only developing infantry support vehicles from then on.
Maneuvers were held in 1933 and the classifications changed to a 6 ton light tank, a battle tank, and heavy tank.1,5
In the 1930s the French started a program to mechanize and build more modern tanks.5 Many of the new models were considered the best in the world at the time. However, they primarily had one man turrets, which had the commander doing too many jobs.
In 1931 a Détachement mécanique de combat (mechanized fighting unit) was established for experimentation. Then in 1932 a Détachement d'engins blindés (armored vehicles unit) was formed. Both of these let to the DCR (Division Cuirassée) of 1940.
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle advocated in his book Vers L'Armée de métier (Toward a Professional Army) the formation of independent armored units.5 He advocated a professional army that was also mechanized with shock troops.5 Paul Reynaud presented these ideas to the political authorities of the time.5 They felt that it was anti-republican as it was viewed these forces would be offensive in nature. Pétain struck him off the promotion lists in 1936 for this.
In 1917 each cavalry division was assigned 18 armored cars, and in 1923 this became 36. In 1930 one of the division's 3 mounted brigades were replaced by a regiment of infantry carried by trucks known as the Dragons Portés.
In 19311 and 1932 3 types of vehicles were designated:
- Auto-mitrailleuse de découverte (AMD): distant reconnaissance wheeled vehicles1
- Auto-mitrailleuse de reconnaissance (AMR): cross country reconnaissance, light tank with a machine gun1
- Auto-mitrailleuse de combat (AMC): tracked vehicle that has better armament and armor capable of fighting1
Renault designed the AMR-33, AMR-35, AMC-34, and AMC-35 in response to the program.
A mechanized force called the Détachement mécanique de sûreté (mechanized security unit) was proposed in 1931. This was developed into the Division de cavalerie de type mixte (mixed cavalry division) in 1932 and was experimented with. This contained mechanized, motorized, and horse elements.
In 1932 the armored elements were formed into a regiment with 80 tanks.
In 1934 the 1ère Division Légère Mécanique (DLM) was created from a fully mechanized cavalry division.1,5 By May 1940 there were 3 DLMs and a 4th forming.1 Each of these contained:
- a reconnaissance regiment with 2 armored car and 2 motorcycle squadrons,1,5
- a tank brigade of 2 regiments each with 87 tanks1,5, one was equipped with H-35s / H-39s and the other with S35 tanks1
- a motor rifle brigade of 3 battalions1, each with:
- a light tank company of 20 AMRs,
- a motorcycle company,
- 2 truck born infantry companies, and
- a heavy weapons company,
- a motorized artillery regiment5, and
- an engineer battalion.
The function of the DLM units were to provide a screen for the deployment of the main part of the army, reconnaissance, and exploitation.