An Illustrated Guide to the Modern United States Army by Tim Ripley

By Tim Ripley

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This particular tank was built under the October 8, 1936 contract and delivered in mid-1937. The company names for the colors used here were olive green (vert olive), beige (ocre), sea-green (vert d’eau), and dark earth (terre de Sienne). This shows “Tunisie” in its gaudy prewar markings. The 15e BCC retained the World War I pattern of markings in 1938 and 1939, with the triangle indicating 3e Companie and the diamond indicating 3e Section; markings were over-painted in 1940. 2: CHAR B1 BIS, 37e BCC, 1ere DCR “Var,” no.

By 1939–40, the army began to demand more armor and firepower, and this led to schemes for a small subturret in front with an antitank gun or flamethrower and a 90mm gun in the main turret further to the rear. At the end of 1939, the three firms were developing six designs. The project closest to completion was the FCM F1, and the firm presented a full-scale wooden mock-up to the army commission on April 12, 1940. Had it reached production, the FCM F1 would have had 100mm armor, a combat weight of 130 tonnes, a 20km/h road speed, and an armament of a 90mm gun in the main turret and 47mm gun in the subturret.

Com Bataille B. Trials of the pilot tanks began in 1929 and dragged on for more than five years, since there were simply not enough funds to contemplate production. The aim was to begin production in 1934. The trials uncovered problems with one of the critical features of the design, the Naeder steering system. This was an advanced servo motor mounted in the powertrain to permit precision steering of the tank in order to aim the gun. Due to the limited space available in the hull front, it was impossible to provide the gun with sufficient traverse.

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