French Tanks of World War II (1) - Infantry and Battle Tanks

Published on
February 10, 2020
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Steven J. Zaloga
Other Publication Information
Illustrator: Ian Palmer, Paperback, 48 pages, color drawings, B-W photos and available in E-Pub and PDF E-Book formats.
Product / Stock #
New Vanguard 209
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front cover

The first of two volumes covering the French armor of World War II, this title looks at the infantry and battle tanks that faced the onslaught of the German Blitzkrieg in 1940. Many of the French tanks were intended as replacements for the World War I-era Renault FT, and various modernization efforts throughout the inter-war years had given rise to a number of new infantry tanks, including the Renault R35 and R40, FCM 36, and the Hotchkiss H35 and H39. Alongside these developments was a separate family of battle tanks, starting with the Renault D1, D2, and, finally, the best-known French tank of the campaign – the Char B1 bis. French Tanks of World War II (1) offers a background to the design and development of these tank types, and an evaluation of their performance in the Battle of France.


  • Introduction
  • Design and Development
  • Operational History
  • Conclusion and Analysis

At 48 pages this book is a pretty quick read and I was able to breeze through it over a lunch break at work. France, after having lost so many of their young men in the Great War had pinned their hopes to Germany’s disarmament to keep them safe from another war. That fact coupled with military doctrine stuck in the bloody trench warfare as well as a virtually non-existent military budget left the interwar tank development nearly non-existent. The book covers approximately a dozen tanks from the NC-1 & Char D1’s which were simply improved FT-17 tanks through the Hotchiss H35 & H39 tanks as well as the Char b1 series and the Chenillette 1937R UE 2 tankette. The book covers a little bit of everything from the doctrine as to why the tanks were developed through their design and manufacture. For a small 48 page book, it Is loaded with many period photos as well as some color photos from restored examples as well as some beautiful color illustrations. To be honest, I could have been hard pressed to name 3 or 4 French tanks from WW II prior to reading the book. Given the low price of the book, and if you have an interest in WW II French tanks, I think you get your money’s worth. Couple that with the fact the book is available in a couple of electronic formats to boot, stop by Osprey Publishing and pick up a copy. Highly recommended!

I would like to pass along my thanks to Osprey Publishing for publishing this fine book and the IPMS USA for allowing me the opportunity to review this fine product.


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