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Weapons of World War Two

R-35 light tank

R-35 light tank

In 1934 the French Infantry requested a new light tank to replace the large amount of two-seater tanks Renault FT-17 from the First World War, which were still in service. The new light tank should weigh 8 tonnes, have a crew of two men, a maximum speed on road of 20 kilometers/hour, an armor with a maximum thickness of 40 millimeters and be armed with two 7.5 millimeters twin machine guns or a single 37-millimeter cannon.

Four were the companies that realized projects for these specifications, but it was the model from Renault the one which was selected for production. It would be called "Renault ZM" or "R-35". In May 1935 it had been ordered the production of the first 300 exemplars. The prototype was armed with two 7.5 millimeters twin machine guns installed in turret. It was different in many details from the production models. Between 1600 and 1900 of these tanks were produced and when the war was declared the R-35 was the most numerous of all the French armored vehicles. In May 1940 there were 945 tanks R-35 and R-40 in the frontline. Of them 810 were assigned to organic units of the Army, and other 135 to the Reserve Armored Division.

The function of this tank was to serve as support for the infantry and its poor speed on road granted a very scarce mobility. As in the majority of French tanks, the hull of the R-35 was made of casted sections screwed to each other. The driver sat in the fore part of the hull, slightly displaced to the left. He was provided with two upper hatches, one of which opened forwards and the other backwards, operation made possible in this case by a hydraulic device. The turret APX was in the center of the hull and it was exactly alike the one installed in the tanks Hotchkiss H-35 and H-39. It was fitted with a cupola, but the commander entered through a hatch located in the rear part, which served also as seat when the tank was not in action.

The Germans captured a large amount of these vehicles and used them in a variety of functions.

Year: 1935

Weight: 10 tonnes

Length: 4.20 meters

Width: 1.85 meters

Height: 2.37 meters

Ground clearance: 34 centimeters

Maximum armor: 45 millimeters

Engine: Renault of four cylinders, of gasoline, and 82 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 20 kilometers/hour

Operational range: 140 kilometers

Crew: 2

Armament: One 37-millimeter cannon; one 7.5 millimeters coaxial machine gun

Ammunitions: 100 of 37 millimeters; 2400 of 7.5 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 1.6 meters (or 2 meters with prolongation device, as seen in the illustration)

Maximum surmountable step: 50 centimeters

Maximum surmountable slope: 60 percent

Fording: Between 1.60 and 2 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Giovanni dalle Bande Nere cruiserFocke Wulf 190 [Ta 152]Char_B1-bis heavy tank