The French tank corps was an essential part of the French army from 1917 onwards, yet its history has been strangely neglected in English accounts of the Western Front and that is why Tim Gales meticulously researched history is such a timely addition to the literature on the First World War. Using information derived from the French military archives at Vincennes, much of which has never been published in English before, he describes the design and development of the tanks, the political and organizational issues that arose between the French military and civilian bureaucracy and the record of these pioneering fighting vehicles in combat. All the major engagements in which French tanks participated are depicted in graphic detail, often quoting directly from recollections left by individual tank commanders of their experience in battle, and each operation is assessed in terms of its impact on French tactics in general and on tank tactics in particular. The Nivelle offensive and the battles of Malmaison, the Matz, Soissons and Champagne are featured in the narrative, and the actions of the French tanks serving with the US army are covered too. Much of the material in Tim Gales study will be entirely new to non-French speakers. The story will be fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the Great War, the French army, military innovation and the history of armoured warfare.
Recent scholarship has challenged the assumption that military commanders during the First World War were inflexible, backward-looking and unwilling to exploit new technologies. Instead a very different picture is now emerging of armies desperately looking to a wide range of often untested and immature scientific and technological innovations to help break the deadlock of the Western Front. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the development of tank warfare, which both the British and the French hoped would give them a decisive edge in their offensives of 1917 and 1918. Whilst the British efforts to develop armoured warfare have been well chronicled, there has been no academic study in English on the French tank force - the Artillerie Spéciale - during the Great War. As such, this book provides a welcome new perspective on an important but much misunderstood area of the war. Such was the scale of the French tanks’ failure in their first engagement in 1917, it was rumoured that the Artillerie Spéciale was in danger of being disbanded, yet, by the end of the war it was the world’s largest and most technologically advanced tank force. This work examines this important facet of the French army’s performance in the First World War, arguing that the AS fought the war in as intelligent and sensible a manner as was possible, given the immature state of the technology available. No amount of sound tank doctrine could compensate for the fragility of the material, for the paucity of battlefield communication equipment and for the lack of tank-infantry training opportunities. Only by 1918 was the French army equipped with enough reliable tanks, as well as aircraft and heavy-artillery, to begin to exercise a mastery of the new form of combined-arms warfare. The successful French armoured effort outlined in this study (including a listing of all the combat engagements of the French tank service in the Great War) highlights a level of military effectiveness within the French army that has hitherto been little acknowledged.
This title examines the emergence of the first modern tank, the Renault FT. It is a little known fact that France fielded more tanks in World War I than any other army. However, France's early tanks suffered from poor mobility and armor compared to their contemporaries. Indeed, their initial use on the Chemin des Dames in 1917 was a bloody fiasco. In spite of initial set-backs, the French army redeemed its reputation with the Renault FT. The Renault FT pioneered the modern tank design, with armament in a revolutionary central turret and the engine in the rear. More importantly, the Renault was designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture. Discover the history of the early French armor developments and their triumphant new design, the Renault FT, that helped to turn the tide of war in the favor of the Allies.
Focusing on the decisive engagements of World War I, the author explores the immense challenges faced by the commanders on all sides, looking at the changing weapons and tactics and offering his own assessment on what brought about the war's outcome.
The German victory of 1940 stunned the world. France, thought to be a major European power with one of the world's largest armies, collapsed in less than seven weeks. The secret of the Wehrmacht's success lay in its revolutionary new tactics of blitzkrieg: lightning war. Fast-moving tank divisions supported by armored, mobile infantry swept over opposition, helped by both conventional bombers and deadly Stuka dive-bombers. Alan Shepperd's highly detailed text examines the tactics, organization, and equipment of the Allied and German forces, and provides a daily account of the most crucial period of the battle. The German victory of 1940 stunned the world. France, thought to be a major European power with one of the world's largest armies, collapsed in less than seven weeks. The secret of the Wehrmacht's success lay in its revolutionary new tactics of blitzkrieg: lightning war. Fast-moving tank divisions supported by armored, mobile infantry swept over opposition, helped by both conventional bombers and deadly Stuka dive-bombers. Alan Shepperd's highly detailed text examines the tactics, organization, and equipment of the Allied and German forces, and provides a daily account of the most crucial period of the battle. The tank marks as great a revolution in land warfare as an armored steamship would have marked had it appeared amongst the toilsome triremes of Actium. So said General Heinz Guderian, architect of the stunning German victory over France in 1940. Alan Shepperd examines tactics and the German's application of them to their 1940 French campaign, as he looks at the differing organization and equipment of both Allied and German forces. He gives a daily account of the most crucial period of the battle, that of May 10-17, and also examines the evacuation of Dunkirk, in which 337,000 troops, mostly British, were taken out of the Germans' clutches at the last moment by the Royal Navy supported by a vast armada of privately owned vessels. Not only are German strengths looked at but Allied weaknesses are also examined: their ineffective use of tanks, the obsolete French defensive strategy, and, possibly most importantly, the political splits within France that demoralized her army and combined with the German's speedy advance to bring collapse about so quickly.
The tank is such a characteristic feature of modern warfare that its difficult to imagine a time when its presence wasn't felt on the battlefield in some form or another. Rolling Thunder, from eminent historian and author Philip Kaplan, traces the history of the vehicle from its developmental early days on the battlefields of the Great War, to modern-day uses and innovations in response to the growing demands of twenty-first century warfare.Featured in this volume are images of some of the most highly regarded and imposing types, such as the Chrysler-built Grant, the Skoda-built Hungarian Turan and the M-26 Pershing tank, employed so extensively during the Korean War. Tanks employed during the battles of Barbarossa, El Alamein, Kursk and Ardennes all feature, their histories depicted in words and images.From the battlefields of the Great War to modern-day theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the history of this impressive war machine is tracked in detail.
This vivid, detailed history of World War I presents the general reader with an accurate and readable account of the campaigns and battles, along with brilliant portraits of the leaders and generals of all countries involved. Scrupulously fair, praising and blaming friend and enemy as circumstances demand, this has become established as the classic account of the first world-wide war.
On 2 August 1944, in the wake of the complete destruction of the German Army Group Centre in Belorussia, Winston Churchill mocked Adolf Hitler in the House of Commons by the rank he had reached in the First World War. 'Russian success has been somewhat aided by the strategy of Herr Hitler, of Corporal Hitler,' Churchill jibed. 'Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in his actions.' Andrew Roberts's previous book Masters and Commanders studied the creation of Allied grand strategy; Beating Corporal Hitler now analyses how Axis strategy evolved. Examining the Second World War on every front, Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, the Axis might even have won. Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once he was safely beyond defending himself? In researching this uniquely vivid history of the Second World War Roberts has walked many of the key battlefield and wartime sites of Russia, France, Italy, Germany and the Far East. The book is full of illuminating sidelights on the principle actors that bring their characters and the ways in which they reached decisions into fresh focus.