Friend of the blog Nigel recently put in a request for some early war armor from the Battle of France. In this early war period the British Expeditionary Force and the French forces faced off against the unrelenting onslaught of the German Blitzkrieg.
The British: May 1940:
The British doctrine of infantry support tanks led to many designs sacrificing armor for higher speed and maneuverability. This however, would leave the majority of British armor venerable to German anti-tank weapons and the new Panzer IV. The only light tank that truly could withstand enemy fire was the relatively new Matilda II.
The Matilda was only available in limited numbers with only 23 serving in the BEF. Due to its heavier armor the Matilda was near impervious to German anti-tank fire, however the Germans quickly learned to turn their 88mm anti-aircraft guns on the British tanks, halting their advance. During the British evacuation the remaining Matilda IIs were abandoned.
Another more common tank on the field of France was the Cruiser MK IV (also called the Crusader) The MK IV was very traditional infantry tank, and while it had the same fire power as the Matilda II, it lacked the armor that made the Matilda II so effective. However it was considerably faster than its heavier cousin, but not much faster then the German tanks it would be facing.
The Germans: France 1940:
The German doctrine of Blitzkrieg (Lighting War) mandated that the Germans build fast, agile tanks. Yet in 1940 many of their tanks were underpowered, lightly armored, and under gunned. Tanks like the Panzer I were more than obsolete by the time the Germans had reached Dunkirk, and while the Panzer I would serve until 1945, its combat ability was severely lacking. Having no large caliber gun, its MG13s were only effective against soft targets, and most of its armor was barley an inch thick.
The Germans most capable tank of the era aside from the new Panzer IV, was actually the Czech made 38t. Nearly a 1000 of these tanks would be used first against Poland and then in France. Featuring a 37mm main gun and upwards of 50mm of armor, the 38t was fast, and effective against all but the heavy frontal armor of the larger tanks of the era. The chassis of the 38t was so versatile and well designed that the Germans would use it as the base for both the Hetzer and the Marder III. Another great advantage for the 38t was its reliability, brake downs to due mechanical failure were rare, and when they did happen they were easy to repair with simple tools.
Available below are two PDFs featuring the four tanks above with recruitment tokens that allow them to be added to any of Heroes of Normandie’s existing British or German units. Letting you create your own early war unit compositions, and scenarios.
In the British file you’ll find one Matilda II, and one Cruiser MK IV, with their recruitment tokens.
In the German file you’ll find two Panzer Is and two 38t tanks, along with the required recruitment tokens.
That is all.