France

At the start of the war, France had one of the largest tank forces in the world along with the Soviet, British and German forces. The French had planned for a defensive war and built tanks accordingly; infantry tanks were designed to be heavily armoured. Within France and its colonies, roughly 5,800 tanks were available during the time of the German offensive, and some when they came into contact were effective against the German tanks.

The R 35 was intended to replace the FT as standard light infantry tank from the summer of 1936, but even by May 1940 not enough conscripts had been retrained and therefore eight battalions of the older tank had to be kept operational. On 1 September 1939, at the outbreak of war, 975 vehicles had been delivered out of 1070 produced; 765 were fielded by tank battalions in France. Of a total order for 2,300 at least 1,601 had been produced until 1 June 1940 serial numbers known to be actually used indicate a production of at least 1670 vehicles.


In the Battle of France, despite an advantage in number and armour against the Germans, the French tanks were not used to good enough effect. Ironically, cooperation with the infantry was poor. The Cavalry units alone were too few in number.

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SOMUA S35

The SOMUA S35 was a French Cavalry tank of the Second World War. Built from 1936 until 1940 to equip the armoured divisions of the Cavalry, it was for its time a relatively agile medium-weight tank, superior in armour and armament to its French and foreign competitors, such as the contemporary versions of the German Panzerkampfwagen III. It was constructed from well-sloped, mainly cast, armour sections, that however made it expensive to produce and time-consuming to maintain.

During the German invasion of May 1940, the SOMUA S35 proved itself to be a tactically effective type, but this was negated by the French command's strategic mistakes in deploying the Cavalry armoured divisions. After the defeat of France in June 1940, limiting production to a number of about 440, captured SOMUA S35s were used by the Axis powers, some of them on the Eastern Front. A derived type, the SOMUA S40, with an improved suspension, lowered hull cast and welded turret armour, had been planned to replace the original version on the production lines in July 1940. Agreements to produce this improved type for the benefit of Vichy France, Germany and Japan, ultimately did not lead to any manufacture.

£7.99
CHAR B1 and B1 Bis

The Char B1 was a French medium tank manufactured before World War II.

The Char B1 was a specialised break-through vehicle, originally conceived as a self-propelled gun with a 75 mm howitzer in the hull; later a 47 mm gun in a turret was added, to allow it to function also as a Char de Bataille, a "battle tank" fighting enemy armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm. Starting in the early twenties, its development and production were repeatedly delayed, resulting in a vehicle that was both technologically complex and expensive, and already obsolescent when real mass-production of a derived version, the Char B1 "bis", started in the late thirties. Although a second up-armoured version, the Char B1 "ter", was developed, only two prototypes were built.

Among the most powerfully armed and armoured tanks of its day, the type was very effective in direct confrontations with German armour in 1940 during the Battle of France, but slow speed and high fuel consumption made it ill-adapted to the war of movement then being fought. After the defeat of France, captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, with some rebuilt as flamethrowers, Munitionspanzer, or mechanised artillery.

£8.99
SOMUA SAu 40

A project for an SPG to support light mechanized units. Designed from 1935 through 1937 on the basis of the S35 and S40 vehicles. The design featured a modified upper part of the armored hull with the 75-mm casemate Mle 1929 gun. The top of the cabin featured a single-seated turret with the 7,5-mm Mle 1931 machinegun. The mass production of the SAu 40 was requested in October 1939. A prototype (and, according to some historical sources, four more pilot SAu 40) were sent to the frontline and used in action in June 1940.

£8.99
FCM F1 Superheavy Tank
The FCM F1 was a French super-heavy tank developed during the late Interbellum by the Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée company. Twelve were ordered in 1940 to replace the Char 2C, but France was defeated before construction could begin, a wooden mock-up being all that was finished. The FCM F1 was large and elongated, and had two turrets: one in front and one in the back, with a single high-velocity gun in each turret. The rear turret was higher so it could shoot over the first one. The vehicle was intended to be heavily armoured. Its size and protection level made it by 1940, at about 140 tons the heaviest tank ever to have actually been ordered for production. Despite two engines its speed would have been low. The primary purpose of the tank was to breach German fortification lines, not to fight enemy tanks. The development path of the FCM F1 was extremely complex, due to the existence of a number of parallel super-heavy tank projects with overlapping design goals, the specifications of which were regularly changed. For each project in turn several companies submitted one or more competing proposals.
£19.99
Landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat
The landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP) or Higgins boat was a landing craft used extensively in amphibious landings in World War II. Typically constructed from plywood, this shallow-draft, barge-like boat could ferry a roughly platoon-sized complement of 36 men to shore at 9 knots (17 km/h). Men generally entered the boat by climbing down a cargo net hung from the side of their troop transport; they exited by charging down the boat's lowered bow ramp.

The craft was designed by Andrew Higgins based on boats made for operating in swamps and marshes. More than 23,358 were built, by Higgins Industries and licensees.

Taking the last letter of the LCVP designation, sailors often nicknamed the Higgins Boat the "Papa Boat" or "Peter Boat" to differentiate it from other landing craft such as the LCU and the LCM, with the LCM being called the "Mike Boat."
£11.99
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