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This was a French heavy tank from 1940. In its day the Char B was regarded as one of the most powerful tanks in the world, yet still had many features which harked back to the First World War. The Char B was issued to tank battalions in armoured divisions and saw extensive combat in the summer of 1940.

The Char B1 was a specialised heavy break-through vehicle, originally conceived as a self-propelled gun with a 75 mm howitzer in the hull; later a 47 mm gun in a turret was added, to allow it to function also as a Char de Bataille, a "battle tank" fighting enemy armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm. 

Starting in the early twenties, its development and production were repeatedly delayed, resulting in a vehicle that was both technologically complex and expensive, and already obsolescent when real mass-production of a derived version, the Char B1 "bis", started in the late thirties. Although a second uparmoured version, the Char B1 "ter", was developed, only two prototypes were built.

The Char B1 Bis was an upgraded variant of Char B1, with thicker armour at 60 mm maximum (55 mm at the sides) and an APX4 turret with a longer-barrelled (L/32) 47 mm SA 35 gun, to give the tank a real anti-tank capacity.

The Char B1 bis had a top speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) provided by a 307 bhp (229 kW) petrol engine. The operational range was about 180 km (110 mi) which was similar to other tanks of the period. At 20 km/h (12 mph) the three fuel tanks (total capacity of 400 l (88 imp gal)) would be exhausted in six hours.

However the B1 bis had fewer 75 mm rounds compared to the earlier B1 : 74 instead of eighty, normally only seven of which were APHE ammunition. Early in 1940 another change was made when the ER53 radio was replaced by the ER51 which allowed spoken wireless communication. The company and battalion command tanks also had an ER55 for communication with higher command. The crews of the 1re DCR kept their old sets however, preferring them because the human voice was drowned by engine noise.

Among the most powerfully armed and armoured tanks of its day, the type was very effective in direct confrontations with German armour in 1940 during the Battle of France, but slow speed and high fuel consumption made it ill-adapted to the war of movement then being fought.

After the defeat of France, of the 365 Char B-1 Bis built, large numbers (161) were captured intact by the Germans in France in 1940. Those tanks that survived were later incorporated into the German Army and modified in various ways (flamethrowers or mechanised artillery). These were pressed into service as second line and training vehicles under the name of Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740 (f). 

One German unit, Panzer-Abteilung 213, was equipped with the Char B1 bis and deployed on the Channel Islands from 1941 to 1945. One of their tanks is displayed by the Bovington Tank Museum, though repainted in French coloursnever saw action against the allies.

Tank Chats #28 Char B-1 Bis - Awesome review! Thank you Mr. Fletcher!

Photos courtesy of Jack-Sparrow1968

Fuente: 

The Tank Museum (Youtube) | Wikipedia

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