FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur) Char B1 for Bolt Action

B1-bis captured by FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), battle of Paris, August 1944.

After thinking about Bolt Action for a while and reflecting on the rules I finally decided on which force I was going to build. My regular opponent Simon was going Italian, so I actually had quite a wide choice of potential foes, from Early War French, British Desert Rats, Anzio which would mean regular British Infantry and US forces, Russians and even Germans towards the end of the war. I did initially think about Greek, they used regular British equipment so would be quite easy to model. I did consider Late War Germans, so I could get a JagdTiger in 28mm…. but in the end I decided that I would go totally irregular and go with Partisans, so just infantry, or maybe a car or truck or two.

I have a few civilian vehicles, a Citroen Civilian 1000kg Dropside Truck.

Citroen Civilian 1000kg Dropside Truck

And the slightly bigger truck, the Citroen Civilian 4,500kg Truck with Canopy.

Bolt Action Citroen Civilian 4,500kg Truck with Canopy

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.

However…

On a recent visit to the Warlord Games Store in Nottingham I was tempted by the boxed model of the French Char B1.

Bolt Action Char B1 bis

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. 

The Matchbox and Airfix Influence

I already have a few in 15mm for Flames of War on the workbench too.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

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.

B1-bis captured by FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), battle of Paris, August 1944.

This B1-bis FFI Vercors of 13rd Dragons was used in La Rochelle in May 1945.

B1-bis FFI Vercors of 13rd Dragons - La Rochelle, 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 captured by FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), battle of Paris, August 1944.

B1-bis FFI Vercors of 13rd Dragons – La Rochelle, May 1945

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.

Painting the Flames of War Char B1 bis

After deciding to create an Early War Flames of War French force I went and got the French Early War Paint Set.

After purchasing the set and getting out some French Infantry to paint I was disappointed to find that the box set didn’t contain Green Brown (879)for the uniforms or Olive Grey (888) for the helmets. I had a pot of Green Brown, but no Olive Grey. So I left painting the infantry until I placed an order for some Flames of War miniatures and ordered a pot of Olive Grey paint.

So you can imagine my frustration when after that arrived and I sat down to give my Char B1 tanks a basecoat of Tan Yellow (912) the standard basecoat for French tanks was also not in the box. There was an assumption that you would have other box sets… I didn’t… so I needed to get another pot of paint in order to paint my models… I bought the box set so that I would have all the paints I needed, in the end I think it may have been easier to just buy the paints separately.

Once the Tan Yellow (912) arrived I gave the three Char B1s a basecoat.

Painting the Flames of War Char B1 bis

Painting the Flames of War Char B1 bis

Painting the Flames of War Char B1 bis

The turrets were stuck to a wooden stick to make them easier to paint.

Painting the Flames of War Char B1 bis

See the workbench feature on the French Char B1 bis.

Undercoating the Flames of War French Char B1 bis


The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before the Second World War. It was a specialised 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 armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm.
Having constructed the three Char B1 tanks the next stage was to give them a white undercoat.


This is one of them on their own.


The next stage will be painting a basecoat of Tan Yellow (912) which I had to buy separately as it wasn’t available in the French Paint Set.
See the full workbench feature on my Char B1 bis platoon. I have also managed to get a fourth one to make as a command version.

Constructing the Flames of War French Char B1 bis

The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before the Second World War. It was a specialised 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 armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm.

Within the blister you get the resin hull and turret whilst the rest of the model is whitemetal.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

Here are the three resin hulls lined up.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

They are smaller than I expected.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

For some reason I had this impression that the Char B1 was a really large tank. Well compared to other Early War tanks it is, however compared to Late War tanks it’s quite small. Continue reading “Constructing the Flames of War French Char B1 bis”

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before the Second World War. It was a specialised 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 armour, equipping the armoured divisions of the Infantry Arm.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

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 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 mechanised artillery.

It’s as the German flamethrower variant that is sold for Flames of War that I purchased. At the time of writing battlefront have repackaged the blister as early war French version. I got two blisters of the Char B1.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

Though having looked at the army lists in the Blitzkrieg book it looks like I should really have three, however there were only two in the shop when I bought them. So I ordered a third when I made a recent order for Flames of War.

Within the blister you get the resin hull and turret whilst the rest of the model is whitemetal.

Flames of War French Char B1 bis

See the full workbench feature on my Char B1 bis platoon.

I have also managed to get a fourth one to make as a command version.

Flames of War Renault FT-17

I have always had a fondness for this little tank, probably as a result of making that Matchbox plastickit of the Renault and the Char B1 when I was young. So I am very pleased to see that it is going to be available for Flames of War.

France still had several thousand First World War Renault FT tanks in 1940. Over 500 of them were still in service in independent bataillons de chars de combat (BCC) tank battalions in the front lines. Although adequate for infantry support, they were totally outclassed by German tanks in a mobile battle.

As I am creating an Early War French army I going to have to just get some of these little tanks for Flames of War. The tanks were small in real life and were quite small in the 1:76th scale kit, so I am expecting quite a small tank for 15mm. Actually I was surprised by how small the Char B1 is compared to Late War tanks, I don’t know for some reason I thought the Char B1 was a “big” tank, well it might be “big” for Early War, but otherwise it is quite a thin small tank compared to the Cromwells and Panthers you find in 1944. It’s quite incredible the pace of technological change in tank design during the war in just a few years.
Actually talking about “big” tanks, I do hope that Battlefront will take the plunge and make some Early War Monsters, I would love to see a Flames of War Char 2C French tank, something that the FT-17s could run around…