German footage of knocked out Allied tanks May 1940


Lots of knocked out Char B1 Bis and Somua S35 tanks.

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I wonder what killed those Char Bs?

The YouTube link to this actually describes in detail each encounter in the description (including time stamps). Very impressive.

:14 into the video…


3.7cm Pak-36 anti-tank gun. I doubt these 2woudl punch through the skin of a Char b1 or a Somua though. Most likely the 5cm KwK-38 from a PzIII would’ve done the damage.

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I’d say it’s more likely to be either an 88mm or that they have been destroyed by the crews after running out of petrol. The Panhard armoured car and the British light tank are possible Pak-36 victims. Most of the Panzer IIIs were still armed with the 37mm. It’s just possible the short 75mm on a Panzer IV may be responsible at close range.


What were rough French tank numbers in use prior to the invasion ?

In answer to my own question … it looks like about 3000 were available of various designs ready to face the German advance.

This was from Wiki…
In armour and firepower, French tanks were generally not inferior to their German counterparts. In one incident, a single Char B1 “Eure” was able to destroy thirteen German tanks within a few minutes in Stonne on 16 May 1940, all of them Panzer III and Panzer IV] tanks. The 37mm and 20mm guns the Germans used were ineffective at penetrating the thick armour of the B1, which was able to return safely despite being hit a large number of times.
Even German General Rommel was surprised at how the French tanks withstood the German tank shells and had to resort to using the German 88 artillery as antitank guns against the French tanks to knock them out. Setbacks the French military suffered were more related to strategy, tactics and organisation than technology and design. Almost 80 percent of French tanks did not have radios, since the battle doctrine employed by the French military was more a slow-paced, deliberate conformance to planned maneuvers. French tank warfare was often restricted with tanks being assigned for infantry support.


At the time of the 1940 Battle of France, the Panzer III still had a 37mm main gun. They didn’t get the short barreled 5cm gun until 1941, and the long barrel until 1942.

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I always thought that the French tanks were some of the best at that time and let down by poor tactics.

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Besides the general lack of radios, most of the French tanks of that era had a one man turret. That placed far too heavy of a work load on the tank commander.

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It’s true, the French tanks of 1940 were some of the best in the world, but they were dispatched to infantry units in 2’s and 3’s. In such small numbers they were easily overwhelmed by the Germans.


I recall reading of one incident where Rommel personally commandeered a tank, possibly a platoon of them, either a Mk.III or Mk.IV and had it/them fighting in close quarters village streets against what sounded like Char 1 Bis. He had the panzer attack from the sides at close range, aiming for the side radiator grills in order to knock out the more heavily armored French tanks. This was in the Time Life book on the 1940 Blitzkrieg as a side panel story.


I read about the Germans having particular difficulty knocking out the Char B1- they were able to soak up a lot of damage. The main issue was, as you and others have mentioned, all the other things like poor radio comms, bad unit co-ordination (particularly with the BEF- very little way of communicating when operating together) and a lack of numbers. De Gaulle knew how to use the tanks well but the situation was very much beyond his control in terms of the invasion.

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