I have been slowly painting the models, and was quite clear to myself that I wouldn’t buy any more models for this force until I had most of the existing models painted.
On a recent visit to the Warlord Games Store in Nottingham I was tempted by the boxed model of the French Char B1.
The French Char B1 is one of my favourite tanks, probably as a result of making that Matchbox plastic kit of the Char B1 and the Renault FT17 when I was young.
So it was probably a no brainer to get one of these for my French partisan band.
The Char B1 was a specialised 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.
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, captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, with some rebuilt as flamethrowers, Munitionspanzer, or mechanised artillery.
What I had discovered in my research about the FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur) was that they had re-captured many of the German Char B1s and used them against the Germans.
Captured Char B1 bis FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur) Panzerkampfwagen B-1 740(f) recaptured by Free France forces in 1944 and used in the liberation of Paris.
This B1-bis FFI Vercors of 13rd Dragons was used in La Rochelle in May 1945.
So once the model is made I have two choices about which paint scheme to use.
B1-bis captured by FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), battle of Paris, August 1944.
B1-bis FFI Vercors of 13rd Dragons – La Rochelle, May 1945
Of course there is a slight reality issue in that by 1944 the Italians had already surrendered and changed sides.
The model is a plastic kit and comes in a nice box.
The first stage will be to make the model kit. There are two sprues in the box.
The kit does go together relatively easily.
I had a few issues when putting the frontal weapon into place and where the top hull joins the bottom hull.
There are quite a few options when it comes to putting it together, if you want an original vanilla French Char B1, a captured German version or, as I am doing a liberated version for use in 1944 and 1945.