Renault Char B1

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Renault Char B1
Char de Bataille B1

Char de Bataille B1

General properties
crew 4th
length 6.50 m
width 2.50 m
height 2.80 m
Dimensions 32 tons
Armor and armament
Armor 14 mm to 60 mm
Main armament 1 × 75 mm howitzer ABS-SA 35
1 × 47 mm cannon SA Mod 34
Secondary armament 2 × 7.5 mm friction MG
drive Six-cylinder in-line engine (Renault)
300 PS (221 kW)
suspension Coil springs
Top speed 28 km / h
Power / weight 6.9 kW / t
Range 140 km

The Char de Maneuver B , later Char de Bataille B1 , is a tank developed by Renault in the interwar period and used by the French armed forces during World War II .


According to the tactical principles of the First World War , the development of the Char B1 was commissioned in 1926 as the successor to the Renault FT . The first prototypes were available in 1931. Three copies were tested in the annual maneuvers of the French army in 1932 . Series production of the Char B1 bis with a longer cannon did not begin until 1937 - by May 1940, 361 units had been delivered to the troops, which were grouped into armored divisions (Divisions Cuirassées de Réserve). The total production was approximately 405 vehicles. Only some of the tanks (182 pieces) were manufactured by Renault and were therefore not actually called Renault Char B1  - but this designation is now common.

It was a compact vehicle with a revolving chain and a small turret, in which a 47-mm cannon and a coaxial machine gun ( Reibel , caliber 7.5 mm ) were located. Another machine gun and a 75 mm howitzer with a short barrel, which could only be swiveled by one degree to the side and which could only be roughly aimed by turning the entire vehicle, were installed in the front of the hull .

The front armor was up to 60 millimeters thick and could not be penetrated by any German anti-tank gun . Only the 8.8 cm anti-tank gun, often used for anti-tank defense , was able to fight the B1 effectively. Even the cannons of all German main battle tanks at the time could not penetrate the front of the B1.  A Panzer III was able to fight the B1 from the front at 100 m only by using the scarce Panzer Grenade 40 - a hard core projectile with a tungsten carbide core . A shaped charge grenade was introduced in the summer of 1940 for the 7.5 cm stub cannon of the earlier models of the Panzer IV , which could theoretically disable the B1 at any distance if hit.

When Renault realized that the technological development based on the Char B1 could not continue, successor models such as the Char G1R were designed, but not built.


In 1940 the Char B1 was superior to all German tanks in terms of armament and armor . With its 47 and 75 mm cannons, the tank was also superior to the Axis power models of the time . Disadvantages were its low mobility and the comparatively small fuel tank, which only allowed an operation time of around two hours across country. Another disadvantage was the one-man turret, in which the commander had to take over the function of the gunner and loader for the 47 mm cannon and - if necessary - also had to operate the turret machine gun. One member of the crew, on the other hand, only operated the radio that was not found in all vehicles. Another problem was that the driver also had to operate the elevation system of the 75 mm howitzer in the front, while the radio operator acted as the loader for the howitzer.

An example of his superiority over the German tanks was shown in the battle around the village of Stonne south of Sedan . Here, on the morning of May 16, 1940, the command tank "Eure" of the 1st Company of Panzer Battalion 41 under the command of Captain Billotte managed to advance to the only street in the village during a counterattack. There he came across a column of eleven Panzer III and two Panzer IV of the 10th Panzer Division . "Eure" shot down all 13 tanks with its two cannons and also destroyed two anti-tank guns . "Eure" received 140 hits during the battle without a single shell penetrating its armor.

With the Armistice of Compiègne on June 22, 1940, many Char B1 tanks continued to be used as booty tanks in the Wehrmacht , some of them converted as flamethrower tanks or as self-propelled guns in the mobile artillery .

Technical specifications

Destroyed B1
B1 conquered in the western campaign
B1 destroyed in the western campaign
B1 shot down in France in May 1940
French B1 shot down in Belgium in May 1940
Char B1
0 General characteristics
crew four soldiers
Combat weight 31.5 t
spec. Ground pressure 0.85 kg / cm 2
length 6.37 m
width 2.50 m
height 2.79 m
Ground clearance 45 cm
Chain width 50 cm
0 armament
Main armament 75 mm L / 17 cannon

47mm L / 32 cannon

Secondary armament 1 × MG
Combat load HW 74 floors

50 floors

Combat load MG 5100 rounds
0 mileage
engine Six-cylinder in-line engine
(Renault petrol engine )
cooling water
Displacement 16.6 l
Bore × stroke 140 × 180 mm
maximum speed 1900 / min
power 300 PS (220 kW)
Liter output 18.2 hp / l
Weight related performance approx. 9.4 hp / t
transmission five forward and one reverse gear
Speed ​​limit road 28 km / h
Fuel supply 400 l
Range road 180 km
Range terrain 100 km
steering Double differential
Rollers 14th
suspension Coil springs
Fording depth 72 cm
0 armor
Tub bow 14-65 mm
Tub side 55 mm
Tub rear 55 mm
Tub roof 14-27 mm
Tub bottom 22 mm
Tower front 55 mm
Tower side 45 mm
Turret stern 45 mm
Tower roof 28 mm

See also


  • Steven J. Zaloga: French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4728-0776-2 .

Web links

Commons : Char B1  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Fleischer: Panzerkampfwagen III. The tank of the Blitzkrieg. Waffen-Arsenal, Volume 187, Podzun-Pallas, ISBN 3-7909-0732-4 , p. 7.
  2. ^ Steven J. Zaloga: French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-1-4728-0776-2 .
  3. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser : Blitzkrieg legend. The western campaign in 1940. Munich 2012, pp. 47–52.
  4. ^ Karl-Heinz Frieser: Blitzkrieg legend. The western campaign in 1940. Munich 2012, p. 265.
  5. Thomas L. Jentz : The German Armored Troop 1933-42. Podzun-Pallas Verlag 1998, ISBN 3-7909-0623-9 , p. 277.