Original French WWII Model 1935 Tanker Armored Vehicle Helmet with Blue Paint
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very difficult type of helmet to find, known as the Chars de Combat helmet or Armored vehicle helmet. Features a steel skull shell with rear visor and front leather brow pad. These helmets were issued to armored vehicle and tank crews in the French military before and during World War Two.
The helmet features much of its original paint and has an RF (République Française) flaming bomb badge on the front, the standard badge for the French Army. It also retains its original brown leather ear flapped liner with belt buckle style buckle, similar to British Dispatch rider helmets. Size is approximately a US 7 (56cm).
Unlike other helmets we have seen, this example is finished in the dark blue color usually used for helmets from the French Armée de l'Air (Air Force), and the liner is made from textured black leather. Usually these are finished in olive green with a brown liner, so it is possible that it saw service in the Air Forces, and not with the army. It also may have been repainted post war for Air Force use. Definitely some interesting research potential.
A scarce helmet to find and in very good service used condition. The leather liner shows overall age and light deterioration, and the shell has wear through the blue paint, which has allowed the steel to oxidize and flake off some additional paint. There are also a few small dents on the crown area.
This helmet has loads of patina and is ready to display!
French development into tanks began during World War I as an effort to overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, and largely at the initiative of the manufacturers. The Schneider CA1 was the first tank produced by France, and 400 units were built. The French also experimented with various tank designs, such as the Frot-Laffly landship, Boirault machine and Souain experiment. Another 400 Saint-Chamond tanks were manufactured from April 1917 to July 1918, however these tanks were largely underpowered and of limited utility due to the design of the caterpillar tracks, which were too short in comparison with the tank's length and weight. The most significant French tank development during the war was the Renault FT light tank, which set the general layout for future tank designs and was used or redesigned by various military forces, including those of the United States.
At the start of World War 2, France had one of the largest tank forces in the world along with the Soviet, British and German forces. The French had planned for a defensive war and built tanks accordingly; infantry tanks were designed to be heavily armoured. Within France and its colonies, roughly 5,800 tanks were available during the time of the German offensive, and some when they came into contact were effective against the German tanks.
The R 35 was intended to replace the FT as standard light infantry tank from the summer of 1936, but even by May 1940 not enough conscripts had been retrained and therefore eight battalions of the older tank had to be kept operational. On 1 September 1939, at the outbreak of war, 975 vehicles had been delivered out of 1070 produced; 765 were fielded by tank battalions in France. Of a total order for 2,300 at least 1,601 had been produced until 1 June 1940 serial numbers known to be actually used indicate a production of at least 1670 vehicles.
In the Battle of France, despite an advantage in number and armour against the Germans, the French tanks were not used to good enough effect. Ironically, cooperation with the infantry was poor. The Cavalry units alone were too few in number.
In armour and firepower, French tanks were generally not inferior to their German counterparts. In one incident, a single Char B1 "Eure" was able to destroy thirteen German tanks within a few minutes in Stonne on 16 May 1940, all of them Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks. The 37mm and 20mm guns the Germans used were ineffective at penetrating the thick armour of the B1, which was able to return safely despite being hit a large number of times. Even German General Rommel was surprised at how the French tanks withstood the German tank shells and had to resort to using the German 88 artillery as anti tank guns against the French tanks to knock them out. Setbacks the French military suffered were more related to strategy, tactics and organisation than technology and design. Almost 80 percent of French tanks did not have radios, since the battle doctrine employed by the French military was more a slow-paced, deliberate conformance to planned maneuvers. French tank warfare was often restricted with tanks being assigned for infantry support. Unlike Germany, which had special Panzerwaffe divisions, France did not separate tanks from the Infantry arm, and were unable to respond quickly to the Blitzkrieg tactics employed by the Germans, which involved rapid movement, mission-type orders and combined-arms tactics.
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