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Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:13 am
by Kustenjaeger

A word of caution. I believe the French tanks were replaced in Pz-Div.21 before D-Day (though some may have remained 'on the books'). I believe some saw combat but not as part of that division.


Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:44 am
by pedivere
unfortunately, I cannot sleep (again) so I am seduced into dealing with the trivia of french tank turret arrangements...

"The turret was a variant of the APX 1 as used on the Char B1: the APX 1 CE (chemin élargi) with a larger (1,130 mm (44 in) as against 1,022 mm (40.2 in)) turret ring, allowing the radio operator to assist the commander in loading the gun from an ammunition stock of 118 shells (90 AP, 28 HE) and 2,250 machine gun rounds. Still, as with the B1, the commander was expected to direct the tank while also aiming, loading and firing the 47 mm SA 35 main gun — although at least the radio duty could be left to another crew member. Radios were planned to be part of the standard equipment of S35s. In practice the platoon commander had an ER (émetteur-récepteur) 29 set for communications with a higher command level, but a shortage of the short range ER28 sets for communication within the platoon meant that the other four tanks were never fitted with any form of radio, although in some units all tanks had antennas: the programme to fit the sets themselves was postponed until the summer of 1940 and thus overtaken by events."

So I note that without radio in most SA-35 the radio operator was probably free to help loading...

"L'opérateur radio, assis à droite, disposait également d'une fente d'observation. Le S 35 était équipé d'une radio de type ER 29. On se rendit compte tardivement, lors de tirs à munitions réelles, que le poste radio se trouvait dans l'axe d'éjection des douilles de 47mm et que le premier coup tiré avait pour conséquence la mise hors service des moyens radios...
Le chef de char servait l'ensemble de l'armement. Assis sur une selle pivotante, il avait à sa portée une partie des munitions, stockées dans des alvéoles fixées aux parois de la caisse.
La tourelle APX 1 CE du S 35 était armée d'un canon de 47 SA 35 semi-automatique et d'une mitrailleuse Châtellerault calibre 7,5 modèle 31 jumelées. La dénomination CE signifie "chemin élargi" car cette tourelle possédait un chemin de roulement plus large que les APX standard. Offrant un espace un peu plus important, elle permettait à un membre d'équipage d'assister le chef de char dans l'approvisionnement des armes."

that this was possible might be illustrated by the interior arrangement in a 1:35 model

and here are some links to read: ... view&id=16

and the interior pictures from the real tank in Saumur ... %2035.html

of course I never actually sat in a tank in combat, so I cannot really judge whether the planned and facilitated crew employment was actually implemented....

good night ;)

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:02 pm
by Arlequín
"The radio operator is on the right (of the driver)" That model is not accurate. The radio operator's seat is not there (nor indeed is it marked on the drawing below). The swivel seat could also go up and down and was actually the tank commander's chair;

"Le chef de char servait l'ensemble de l'armement. Assis sur une selle pivotante, il avait à sa portée une partie des munitions, stockées dans des alvéoles fixées aux parois de la caisse".

"The tank commander used all weapons. Sitting on a swivel stool, he had within his reach some of the ammunition stored in the cells attached to the body walls".

I've underlined it red on this drawing.


So as I said, he can reach some of the machine gun drums and some of the gun ammo, but that's about it.

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:46 pm
by pedivere
indeed, the model and the pictures from Saumur are contradictory, and I could add the Zaloga reconstruction from ther Osprey book (which is incorrect) that would increase the mystery.
The side view is apparently the correct one, but the seat in wquestion is not depicted.
In all photograph sources, the hydraulic seat that that should seat the commander is in the wrong place, on the right side, while the cuppolo, the gun sights and the MG control are on the left side.
My point is that the sources are not reliable, and I need to analyze them:

the written source clearly states the assistance by the radioman, and that the commander serves the gun. In how far the assistance goes, is our point of debate. Since the turret is enlarged (let's not leave out that part) the intention is clear to improve the commander's performance. Now, if I leave out the model and the Zaloga reconstruction, I have the swivel and hydraulic seat from the drawing and from the tank at Saumur. Obviously it is fixed in the wrong place without swivel - so who was sitting on it? Also, another picture of the Saumur tank shows a radio to the left of the driver seat. I also cannot see anything that points to where the second seat is meant to be. If I now assume the drawing to be correct, obviously the Saumur tank is a modification. We know of two deviations from the planned functionality - one is from the french service, where the radioman/loading assistant had no function without radio.
This is the point where the interpretation starts. Maybe the radioman just twiddled his thumbs and occasionally passed some shells, or maybe the seat was removed/replaced/repostioned, so he could really assist. In any case, he would have been able to, since the turret was specifically designed to facilitate that (let us not forget it was used in the B1 too), where the seat arrangement is quite different), in contrast to the purely one-man turrets.
Now comes the german modification, so let's assume the radio on the left is the german one (or the different platoon commander one that the french used?), and let us assume that the efficient germans :geek: thought of fixing a hydraulic chair for the third man. The fix for the swivel is unused in the center (in the Saumur photos).
So I do not have a reliable proof for any assumption, just a written (and subject to interpretation) concept and hints that point to the loading assistance.....

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:34 pm
by Arlequín
It is not too much of a mystery, the whole article on the model provides more detail in small bits.

The tank at Saumur was in German service and the swivel seat was re-fitted by them as shown. Another model made shows a more simple seat next to the driver and with two smaller ammunition racks next to him in addition to those shown.

The commander's seat lowered to access ammunition and then subsequently raised to utilise the gun and sights... a busy man indeed.

The German changes were a little more efficient. The swivel seat was re-positioned more or less under the gun, so as to access ammunition and was raised to load the main gun (and presumably still pass MG ammunition) then probably lowered to get another shell and to avoid the recoil when the gun fired.

The commander apparently had a leather strap to sit on when using the armament, or to stand on when commanding the tank from the cupola. The writer says this was present in French vehicles in 1940, but I think it is more likely to have been done by the Germans to replace the lost seat (which was lined-up with sights and hatch originally).

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:56 pm
by batesmotel34 ... +MY+MODEL) is a scratch built model of an S-35 under construction and it's reconstruction of the interior looks quite plausible for the original interior layout without the enlarged turret.

More photos of the Sauumur S-35: <>, < ... 5-tank.asp>

This photo show there is another pillar base on the floor of the Saumur S-35 which might well have been the base of the commander's seat. That would then mean the seat on the right would probably be the radio operator's seat with the expanded turret so the radio operator could assist in loading.
< ... PenpXxM%3A>


Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:19 pm
by pedivere
wow, that is a great model!
it follows closely Zaloga's reconstruction from the Osprey book.

The picture of the turret interior is good....

I don't know who was sitting on the right seat in that Saumur tank or whether it was a modification or not, but the commander needs to sit on the left, clearly.

it is also useless to discuss in how far a pourvoyeur or a chargeur assists the commander, but it can only be better than grabbing the shells by himself like in the 2-man tanks

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 2:27 pm
by Arlequín
Excellent photos sourced there... to which I'll add this one;


You can see just how much room there isn't over on the right side of the turret.

In its original format the radio operator couldn't easily access the ammo racks behind him, so effectively it was a two-man tank, with an extra crewman manning a radio the vehicle probably didn't even have.

Is it possible that operationally the French dispensed with the dead-weight? :?

Stealing the commander's seat would be quite an improvement, as he no longer has to drop down to get shells, the opérateur radio/'porvoyeur' ('provider' - loader would be 'chargeur') can now access all the ammo racks and ammo drums. The commander now just has to man the guns, or be up in the cupola, one less task to perform... probably.


Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:06 am
by jony663
Arlequín wrote:

While the turret configuration is important, what color would you suggest for the S-35s in this picture?

Re: Somua S-35 in German service.

Posted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:01 pm
by Emilio
Panzer grey?