Wednesday, October 21, 2009
It was a specialized 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 armor, equipping the armored 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, as already obsolescent when real mass-production started in the late thirties of a derived version, the Char B1 bis. Of a second uparmored version, the Char B1 ter, only two prototypes were built. Among the most powerfully armed and armored tanks of its day, the type was very effective in direct confrontations with German armor in 1940 during the Battle of France, but a slow speed and high fuel consumption made it ill-adapted to the war of movement then fought. After the defeat of France captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, some rebuilt as flamethrowers or mechanized artillery.