This book sheds light on one of the major tanks developed by the French after World War 1. The Renault D1 was a step forward in tank design for the French. They realized that what was needed for the future was "More": more speed, more armor, and more powerful armament. Unfortunately some bad habits were still dragged along into the newer designs like insistence on one-man turrets.
The book was written by Pascal Danjou with color profiles by Eric Schwartz and English translation by Claude Gillono. It was published in 2008 by Editions du Barbotin (ISBN 978-2-917661-00-0). The book has 62 6.75"x9.5" pages with text in both French and English. There are no scale drawings. All photos are black and white with 22 color profiles at the back of the book.
"Char NC, the link between the FT and the D1"
This chapter describes the tanks that lead up to the D1: FT17 Kegresse, NC1, and NC2. A few FT17 Kegresses were made by mating the FT17 with a new suspension for faster on-road performance. Some saw service in Morocco during the Rift War and in WW2 with Yugoslavia. They did not perform well so the NC1 and NC2 were developed. Although the NC2 didn't amount to much, the NC1 formed the basis of the D1 and was actually bought by Japan as the NC27 where they were modified into the Otsu Gata Sensha which saw some combat in Manchuria. There are 9 pictures: 1 photo of FT17 Kegresse, 3 photos of NC1, 3 photos of NC2, and 2 of NC27 or Otsu Gata Sensha.
"The D1, a tank that broke new ground"
This chapter describes the evolution of the design of the D1. While Renault developed the hull, Schneider was tasked to design the turret. The turret proved troublesome and went through 2 designs (ST1 and ST2) while the first hulls were delivered with FT17 turrets. There are 2 photos of an early D1 with FT turret and 2 with ST1 turret, a picture of a production D1 with FT turret, 2 pictures with ST1 turret, and one with a prototype ST2 turret with a hatch instead of a cupola. There is one photo each of the forward interior of the ST1 and ST2 turrets as well as cut-away views of the ST1 and ST2 turret.
"The radiotelegraphy on board the D1 tanks"
The Renault D1 was the first tank designed to have a radio built into every tank. The radios were not good enough for effective voice communication so a telegraph was used. The FT17-like crew of a driver and gunner/loader/commander was expanded to a telegraph operator/auxiliary loader (since ammunition was stored in the hull). This chapter describes the problems with these early sets and the modifications made for company commander tanks. There are 2 photos of regular D1s, 2 company commander tanks, and 1 experimental radio tank as well as 1 drawing of the ER51 radio set.
"The hoist-carrying trucks"
The problem with tanks is that they break down, often in places hard to access. First you have to get the tank back onto a nice hard surface like a road. Then you have to get the tank onto a truck to get it back to a repair depot. The French decided to solve the problem with a truck that could do it all. Only two companies, Willeme and Berliet competed, with Berliet eventually winning the contract. This chapter tells the story of their development. There is 1 photo of Berliet's GPE1, 1 of the GPE3, 4 of the GPE4, 3 of Willeme's DW12A, as well as a drawing of recovery procedures.
"Between the Wars"
This chapter is very short, basically explaining how hard the D1 was used as they were the first post-war FT-17 tanks available for experimenting with tactics. There are 4 photographs of D1s with ST2 turrets on exercises.
"1937-1940: The watch on the boundaries"
By the start of WW2, the D1 was deemed obsolete so the 3 battalions of D1s were sent to Tunisia. This chapter covers their use. There are 3 photographs of D1s in Tunisia preparing for and during a parade.
"Back to France"
After Dunkirk, one battalion (67th BCC) of D1s was sent back to France and fought to the last tank in June 1940. This chapter covers this sad tale. There are 9 photographs, mostly German, of broken down/abandoned D1s.
"1942, the fight resumes"
This chapter covers use of the D1 in Algeria and Tunisia both against the Allies of Operation Torch and against the Italians and Germans. There are 3 photographs of D1s in service after switching to the Allied forces.
"Camouflage and Markings"
Due to the late delivery of ST2 turrets, some tanks had different camouflage for the hull and turret. There is 1 photo of D1s with FT17 turrets and 5 photos of D1s with ST2 turrets.
There is one page showing 5 markings specific to turrets of the 67th Battalion with 11 pages with 2 color profiles per page.
• Renault FT17 M28 "Kegresse" tank in Yugoslavia 1941
• NC27 Otsu Gata Sensha in Manchuria 1932
• D1 Prototype
• D1 with ST1 turret
• Training tank with ST1 turret at Versailles Tank School 1936
• Experimental Artillery Observation/Command tank mid 1930s
• D1 with FT17 turret at Renault Factory in 1934
• D1 with FT17 turret during maneuvers in Champagne in 1935
• Tank #1022 wearing an experimental camouflage pattern during tank transporter tests
• D1 at Camp Sissone, June 1936
• Tank #1069 at Camp Sissone, June 1936
• Tank #1062 destroyed at Suippes, June 1940
• Tank #1026 destroyed at la Croix et Champagnes, June 1940
• Tank #1003 abandoned after running out of fuel at la Croix et Champagnes, June 13, 1940
• Tank #1066 with broken track, June 12, 1940
• Tank #1042 scuttled by crew, June 13, 1940
• Tank #1095 burned out, June 11, 1940
• Tank #1046, a company commander's tank, possibly in Tunisia, 1939
• Tank #1065 during a parade in Tunis, 1938
• Tank #1054 in Tunisia, 1942
• D1 in Tunisia, late 1942
• D1 in Oran, 1943
As usual, there are mostly French books and articles mentioned with a smattering of English and German sources.
Highs: Great subject. English text (some problems in translation details but nothing serious). Color Profiles.Lows: No scale plans.Verdict: If you want to know more about the evolution of French armor, then this book is highly recommended.