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View Diary: The Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - a unique fighter (49 comments)

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  •  absolutely fascinating--I knew about the P36 but (8+ / 0-)

    not its use in France.  I'm afraid my sense of the Battle of France air-war is completed shaped by the "Battle of Britain" movie--ie a few scrappy squadrons of Hurricanes and Spits from the BAF, that's all.   For that matter, I couldn't tell you a thing about French armor either, except that Charles De Gaul had some brief success against the panzers.   The French definitely didn't get to write the histories of WWII...

    Thanks for another great post.

    •  French heavy tank...powerful but unreliable! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Otteray Scribe

      Sadly, I still cannot embed YouTube videos, but here is the link...

      http://www.youtube.com/...

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 09:15:37 PM PDT

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      •  Let me see if I can get it to go (3+ / 0-)

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 10:09:14 PM PDT

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      •  Plus the French Cavalry Tank (6+ / 0-)

        In the spring of 1940 the French SOMUA S-35 was considered the premier tank in the world.  During the spring 1940 Flanders campaign, the S-35s in the two Divisions Legere Mechanique deployed to cover the Gembloux Gap in Belgium acquitted themselves quite well against the panzer divisions they faced.  The German blitzkrieg legend is built largely around the German's having been able to deploy their absolute best units (the veteran panzer divisions) against second-tier infantry reservists defending the supposedly impassable Ardennes.  The French performance with a a single Char B1 bis tank holding up the Germans at Stonne for an entire day shows how all infantry reacted when faced by armor in the early days of WW2.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 11:15:05 PM PDT

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        •  Similar to the few examples of the ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jay C, RiveroftheWest

          ....slow A11 Matilda Infantry Tank of the 7th Royal Tank Regiment that the British were able to bring to battle in France.  

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:29:49 AM PDT

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          •  More Like A Cruiser Tank (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jay C, shortfinals, RiveroftheWest

            The SOMUA S-35 really corresponded better with the cruiser tanks which the BEF deployed to the continent than the the Matilda.  For one thing, the S-35 was designed for use by the cavalry arm rather than the infantry arm and was deployed strictly with the divisions assigned to the Cavalry Corps.  The S-35 was almost as fast as the British A13 Cruiser Tank and offered a comparable range of operations, with better armor and gun.  The French army had at least four tanks designed to support the infantry, which included the redoubtable Char B1 bis, that would have corresponded better with the British infantry tanks like the Matilda A11.  If ever there were a French heavy tank which corresponded to the Matilda A11 it would have been the French FCM Char 2C, which weighed in at a hefty 70 tons and which spent most of the 1940's campaign being shuttled around on their specialized rail carriers.

            "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

            by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 08:38:48 AM PDT

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      •  You could say that for most of the heavy tanks (5+ / 0-)

        The German heavy tanks tore up their transmissions all too frequently.

        The Sherman was a pretty crappy tank but the thing was incredibly reliable. A Sherman at the front line was better than a Panther broken down on the side of the road 10 miles back.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 04:32:03 AM PDT

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    •  Here is some VERY rare color film of the Mohawk... (5+ / 0-)

      being started. It looks to have been taken either in India or Burma. Note the wing guns.

      I have a very tenuous connection to these aircraft, as I was once in charge of the Science Museum, Wroughton, which had been No 15 MU. All RAF Maintenance Units had aircraft types that they specialized in storing and servicing. In 15 MU's case it included the Curtiss Mohawk (amongst other aircraft). Every single Mohawk intended for the Far East or elsewhere moved through 15 MU; they were kept serviceable, and sometimes test flown. When needed in SEAC, they were serviced, then disassembled and crated for the long sea journey!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:12:06 AM PDT

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    •  French armor (4+ / 0-)

      From most of what I have read about the Battle of France in 1940, the failures of French armor were far more those of tactics, rather than design, or engineering. The French tanks themselves were probably as good, or better than all but the very latest top-of-the-line German models, and they had an adequate number of them. The main problem was that, unlike the Wehrmacht, the French used their armor mainly as infantry support, and the tank units were scattered among other divisions, where they performed fairly well: except that the German armor was concentrated in armored divisions for blitzkrieg tactics. De Gaulle, as you point out, had some success, but too little, too late....  

      •  Churchill flew to Paris twice during the crisis... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C, RiveroftheWest, PrahaPartizan

        On 16th May, in a crisis meeting with politicians and the French general staff at the Quai d’Orsay (their equivalent of the British Foreign Office, where staff were already burning piles of papers behind the offices), he asked General Gamelin, “Où est la masse de manœuvre?” (“Where are your reserves?”) and received the answer which condemned France - “Aucune” (“None”).

        'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

        by shortfinals on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 05:09:54 PM PDT

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      •  Importance of Radio (4+ / 0-)

        Besides the French opting for a single-person turret, which placed an impossible load on the tank commander (who had to command the tank, sight the gun and load it), the German decision to put a two-way radio in each and every tank proved the game changer.  In a one-on-one fight, the French tanks could very well defeat their German counterparts.  Unfortunately, warfare is composed of teams, and the German's mounting radios in every tank in the Panzerwaffen meant that a panzer division commander could wield his unit as a cohesive fist.  His French divison blinde opponent had no ability to do that in 1940, since the French were planning on using signal guidons to direct unit action, with the problems that inevitably entailed.

        Alas, the French were also late to form their armored units, only creating the three division legere mechanique in 1939 after the war started and their four division cuirassee (heavy armor) in very late 1939 and 1940.  Only one of the seven French armored divisions really had a chance to work up the units to achieve cohesion and that was because it had existed since about 1937.  Oddly enough, the other failing in French organization was that their armored divisons were very tank heavy, with almost no infantry in the tank divisions.  The German commanders had realized that they needed about a 1:1 ratio of infantry battalions to panzer battalions for an effective armored unit and that's what they fielded.  The fact that the Germans concentrated their absolute, very best divisons in their Ardennes push against probaby the worst divisons in the French army along the same stretch of the front also didn't hurt.  Once the Germans were across the Meuse and those sub-par French divisions dissolved, it was "hello, English Channel" for the German schwerpunkt.

        Incidentally, Guderian had spent WW1 in the signals operations on the Western Front working with artillery.  I suspect his work with radio then convinced him that the German armor needed radio everywhere it could to direct the unit's actions and he was in a position to implement that belief.  No such equivalent officer existed on the French side, to their dismay.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Jul 01, 2013 at 10:59:00 PM PDT

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