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France's Bataille B1, B1-bis, B1-ter, Char B1 bis, Medium Tanks

Photos

Bataille B1 medium tank:
France's Bataille B1 medium tank
Aberdeen Tank Museum

Design

Some sources have called these Heavy tanks which would probably be a better classification for them, but I'll leave them listed as Medium tanks for now.

In 1921 General J.E. Estienne (pioneer of French tank arm)9 of the Section Technique des Chars de Combat initiated requirements for a 15 ton tank with a 75 mm or 47 mm in the hull.12 Tracteur 30 was the codename for the design.12

Schneider-Renault, FAMH, and FCM submitted 3 prototypes. In 1926 the Section Technique decided to take the suspension from the FCM and the mechanical features from the Schneider-Renault. The ARL (Artelier de Construction de Rueil) supervised the design and the first Char B was finished in 1929. Early prototypes were developed over the years and in April 1935, 35 / 40 Char B1s were delivered.

In March 1935, the Germans re-occupied the Rhineland.7 This caused the French to start to re-arm.7 40 Char B1s were ordered in April 1935 with 60 mm of armor.7 These became the Char B1 bis.7

Were nicknamed Kolosse by the Germans when the encountered them.

Engine

There was a compressed air and electric starting system for the engine.

The fuel tanks were self sealing.5,11

Suspension

The suspension was based on the Holt tractor.7 On each side there were three assemblies with four bogies mounted in pairs.7 There were three independently mounted bogies in the front and one in the rear.7 The idler wheel in front was spring mounted as well.7

There was a Naeder hydrostatic system for steering, when combined with a double differential unit, allowed for very precise turning that was necessary for aiming the gun.7,9,12

Crew

The driver sat in the left front, drove the tank, and fired the 75 mm gun and machine gun in the hull.7 The commander had to aim, load, and fire the turret guns as well as command the tank.7 The loader has to pass ammunition to the commander and load the 75 mm gun in the hull.7 The radio operator was near the turret.7 The emergency exits for the crew were a door in the right side of the hull, hatch over the driver, hatch in the right rear of the turret, hatch in the floor, and a hatch in the roof of the engine compartment.

Armament

The 7.5 mm Chatellerault machine gun was on the right of the hull, and could be aimed by the driver or the commander.

The 75 mm gun was aimed by traversing the whole tank.5,12

Fighting Compartment

There was a Luchard air compressor that blew the smoke and fumes from the gun out the barrel in a similar fashion to naval gun turrets.7 The whole tank had to be turned to move the 75 mm gun into firing line.7,9

The hull had two parts which were separated by a fireproof bulkhead.7 The rear held the engine, and the front the crew.7

Prototype

The prototype that was completed in 1929 had a crew of four, armor 25 mm thick, and four machine guns (3: hull, 1: turret).7 By 1935 it had increased to 28 tons with 40 mm armor.7

Production

  • Bataille B1: 357, 40
    • Production: 1934 - ?7
    • Manufacturer: Renault-Satory8
  • Bataille B1 bis: : 3657,9,12, 3696, 380
    • Production: 1937 - 19405,6,7
    • Manufacturer: Renault3
  • Bataille B1 ter: 57
    • Production: 19407

Variants

  • Bataille B1: Production started in 1935. Had self-sealing fuel tanks, grouped lubrication, electric starter, and a floor escape hatch. Complex to build. First French tank to have electric powered traverse. The suspension was leaf and coil springs on vertical articulations. The tracks were driven by the rear sprocket and could be adjusted from the inside. Had APX 1 turret.7 The 37 mm fire a 1.1 lb HE shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,273'/sec.8
  • Bataille B1-bis: Produced from 1937 by Renault, FAMH, Saint-Chamond, and Schneider. In 1939 AMX joined production. Had revised turret (APX4)7, more powerful engine, and extra fuel capacity.5 The fuel tanks were designed by ARL or FCM. Required a great deal of maintenance and many broke down on the way to the front. Initially had a 250 hp engine, but was later replaced by an aircraft engine. The hull was cast sections bolted together.7 The coaxial turret MG had a separate traverse of 10° left and right.
  • Bataille B1-ter: Prototype was built in 1937. However production was focused on the B1-bis. Added a mechanic to the crew. A few were produced with Renault engines. It had a shorter BDR transmission gear which made for more room in the fighting compartment. The upper track went under steel tunnels and the side armor was sloped. The 75 mm gun was given a limited traverse.7

Usage

Was used in 4 French armored divisions (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th DCRs). Each division had 2 battalions of B1s and 2 battalions of light tanks. There were also 57 B1-bis distributed to independent companies.

German use:

Some were converted to 105 mm self propelled guns. Most were used for training.12

  • PzKpfw B1-bis 740(f), PzKpfw B-2 740(f): Issued to Panzer units in France from 1941 on. Used in Jersey and Guernsey.5 Were issued in 1943 to the 14th and 21st Panzer divisions when they were being reformed. Only a few saw duty outside of France. Four were used by the 223rd Panzerkompanie in Russia, and 7 were used by the SS Prinz Eugen division in the Balkans.
  • PzKpfw B1 (f) Fahrschulewagen: The turret was removed and replaced by a machine gun. It was used as a driver training vehicle.
  • Flammwagen auf Panzerkampfwagen B-2(f):
  • 10.5cm leFH18/3 (Sf) auf Geschützwagen B-2(f):

Specifications

  Bataille B1, Char B1
Crew Commander, driver/gunner, loader, radio operator
44,7,8,9,11,12
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 69,300 lb11
30,480 kg9, 31,500 kg11
25 tons7, 28 tons7, 30 tons4,9,10,12, 33 tons8
Length 20' 8"8, 20.92'4, 20' 10.8"11, 20' 11"9,12
6.37 m9,11,12
Height 7' 1", 9'8, 9' 1.8"11, 9.2'4, 9' 3"9,12
2.79 m11, 2.82 m9,12
Width 8' 2"8,9,12, 8' 2.4"11, 8.17'4
2.49 m9,12, 2.5 m11
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 19"8
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main - turret 1: 37 mm8,10
1: 45 mm11
1: 47 mm4,5,7,9
1: 47 mm / 1.85"12
Main - hull 1: 75 mm4,5,9,10,11
1: 75 mm Howitzer8
1: 75 mm / 2.95" short gun12
MG - coaxial 1: 7.5 mm MG4,9
1: 7.5 mm M31 MG8
1: 7.5 mm / 0.295" MG12
MG - hull 1: 7.5 mm MG4,9
1: 7.5 mm M31 MG8
1: 7.5 mm / 0.295" MG12
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 778
Secondary 508
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 14 - 405, 404,7,9,12
Hull Front, Upper 2.25"@0°8
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 0.75"@0°8
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear 0.75"@0°8
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front 2.35"@0°8
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Renault4,7,9,11,12
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water4,8
Cylinders 64,7,8,9,11,12
Capacity  
Net HP 1804,7,9,12, 2708, 30711
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering Naeder double differential8
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline4,8,9,11,12
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°8
Speed - Road 17 mph8, 17.2 mph4, 17.4 mph9,11,12
28 kph9,11,12
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 93 miles9,12, 112 miles11, 150 miles8
150 km9,12, 180 km11
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth 4' 10"8
Trench crossing 9'8,11
2.74 m11
Vertical obstacle 3' 1"11, 3' 10"8
0.93 m11
Climbing ability 20° slope8
Suspension (Type) Articulating vertical coil springs8
Wheels each side 168
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch 9.5"8
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  Bataille B1-bis
Crew Commander, driver/gunner, loader, radio operator7
41,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,12
Radio ER516
OR ER536
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 31,500 kg1, 32,500 kg9,12
31 tons1, 31.5 tons5,6, 32 tons2,3,4,6,7,9,12
Length 20.94'4, 20' 10.7"1, 20' 10.8"5, 21' 5"6,7,9,12
6.37 m1,5, 6.5 m2, 6.52 m3,6,9,12
Height 9' 2"6,7,9,12, 9.17'4, 9' 1.8"1,5
2 m1, 2.79 m5,6,9,12, 2.8 m2, 2.88 m3
Width 8' 2"6,9,12, 8' 2.4"1,5 , 8' 3"7, 8.19'4,
2.5 m1,2,5,6,9,12, 2.52 m3
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.45 m2
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure 0.85 (kg/cm2)2
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main - turret 1: 47 mm1,4,7,9
1: 47 mm L/322
1: 47 mm L/343
1: 47 mm SA-356
Main - hull 1: 75 mm1,4,9
1: 75 mm L/172,3
1: 75 mm ABS SA-35 howitzer6
1: 75 mm / 2.95" short gun12
MG 2: MG2
1: 7.5 mm MG3
2: 7.5 mm / 0.295" MG12
MG - coaxial 1: MG6
1: 7.5 mm MG4,6,9
MG - hull 1: 7.5 mm MG4,6,9
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 502,3 (AP and HE)
Secondary 742,3 (HE)
MG 5,1002
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 14 - 655, 601,4,9,12
Hull Front, Upper 40-602
60@20°3
Hull Front, Lower 40-60
60@45°3
Hull Sides, Upper 552
60@0°3
Hull Sides, Lower 55
60@0°3
Hull Rear 552
55@43°3 & 55@0°3
Hull Top 14-272
25@80°3 & 25@90°3
Hull Bottom 222
20@90°3
Turret Front 552
56@0°3
Mantlet: 56 round3
Turret Sides 452
46@22.5°3
Turret Rear 452
46@22.5°3
Turret Top 282
30@70.5°3 & 30@90°3
Engine (Make / Model) Renault1,2,3,4,5,6,9,12
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water2,4
Cylinders 61,2,3,4,5,6,9,12
Capacity  
Net HP 1804, 3001,6,7,9,12 , 300@1,900 rpm2,3 , 3075
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type) 5 forward, 1 reverse.2,3
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline1,2,4,5,6,9,12
Octane  
Quantity 400 liters2
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 47 mm: 360°, hand.3
75 mm: 0°3
Speed - Road 17 mph6, 17.2 mph4, 17.4 mph1,5,9,12
28 kph1,2,3,5,6,9,12
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 112 miles5,6, 111.8 miles1,9,12
150 km3, 180 km1,5,6,9,12, 140 km2
Range - Cross Country 100 km2
Turning radius 14 m2
Elevation limits 47 mm: -18° to +18°3
75 mm: -15° to +25°3
Fording depth 0.72 m2
Trench crossing 9'5
2.74 m5
Vertical obstacle 3' 1"5
0.93 m5
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) Vertical mounted coil springs7
Coil Springs2
Wheels each side 16
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width 0.5 m2
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  Bataille B1-ter
Crew Commander, driver/gunner, loader, radio operator, mechanic7
54,7
Radio  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 36 tons4
Length 20.8'4
Height 9.5'4
Width 8.94'4
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Turret ring diameter  
Armament  
Main 1: 47 mm4
Secondary 1: 75 mm4
MG  
MG - coaxial 1: 7.5 mm MG4
MG - hull 1: 7.5 mm MG4
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 704
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Turret Front  
Turret Sides  
Turret Rear  
Turret Top  
Engine (Make / Model) Renault4
Bore / stroke  
Cooling Water4
Cylinders 64
Capacity  
Net HP 3104
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Diesel4
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 360°
Speed - Road 16.5 mph4
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Panzer Truppen The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, 1996
  3. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  4. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Western Allied Tanks 1939-45, David Porter, 2009
  7. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  8. Tank Data 2, Aberdeen Proving Grounds Series, E. J. Hoffschmidt and W. H. Tantum IV, 1969
  9. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  10. Atlas of Tank Warfare From 1916 to the Present Day, Dr. Stephen Hart, 2012
  11. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  12. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site