French Medium Tank Renault D2

Cromwell 1:76 Scale Vehicle Review

French Medium Tank Renault D2, 1:76 Model Kit Cromwell F1

Renault D2 medium tanks formed the backbone of the French Division de Ligne envisioned by de Gaulle in 1934-35. The formation should have had a tank brigade consisting of one heavy tank regiment, one medium tank regiment, and one light tank battalion. The heavy regiment was to consist of 48 heavy and 48 medium tanks, with 24 each as replacements. The medium regiment would have been composed of two medium tank battalions with 48 tanks and 24 replacements each. The Division should have had two three-battalion infantry regiments, and a light infantry battalion, which would have become a mechanized infantry battalion eventually. Reconnaissance, engineers, light and heavy artillery, transport and a dedicated camouflage battalion would have completed this division.

De Gaulle's ideas were not put into effect. By 1938, the French army maintained a small training establishment at Nancy, which consisted of three heavy (Char B1) and one medium (Char D2) tank battalion, two motorized infantry battalions, and an artillery group. From these modest beginnings, the 1re and 2e Division Cuirassée were hastily built in January of 1940, and the 3e DCR followed in March. On 15th May 1940, well into the war, de Gaulle took command of a mixed batch of armour, and mechanized cavalry units which made up the 4e DCR. When his formation attacked elements of Guderian's Panzer Corps at Grécy, de Gaulle had 80 light, 40 medium and 30 heavy tanks, but only one battalion of infantry at his disposal. The light tanks were repulsed when they encountered a concentration of anti-tank guns firing from ambush. The infantry failed to come up in time to participate in the attack of the medium tanks, who suffered casualties as well before returning to their own lines.

A lot of captured French equipment was subsequently used by the Wehrmacht, but very few medium tanks remained in service until the Normandy landings in 1944. Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung 100 had one Somua in operation at Carentan, and there were two Somua tanks with Panzer Abteilung 206 in the Cotentin Peninsula. Renault D2 medium tanks are not listed in the 1944 inventory of these units, probably because they were slower than the Somua, a significant disadvantage in combat. Recaptured Somua tanks are known to have served with the French army again in 1944-45.

Contents

Char Moyen Renault D2

  • Type: Medium Tank, 1934-1940
  • Armament: 47 mm L.35 Hotchkiss,
    Turret MG and Hull MG
  • Penetration: 62 mm at 0-100 meters
  • Weight: 20 t
  • Road Speed: 23 km/h
  • Crew: Commander, Gunner & Driver

Evaluation

Excellent choice of subject. Renault D2 medium tanks served alongside Renault B1.bis heavy tanks in 1940, sometimes in adhoc formations created from units immediately at hand, and from replacements which could be called up. The resulting mix of vehicles from different units, and the different camouflage patterns they sported, creates a most interesting picture in simulation games.

Scale model with much raised detail, hinges, locks, engine gratings, hatches and other small parts. The vehicle shows a lot of undercutting, particularly around the exhaust and the antenna mounting.

Easy to assemble, only 4 parts. The running gear was slightly warped, and the left fender was wildly bent out of shape. These parts were softened in hot water, straightened, and set with cold water. The area between the fender and the hull front had to be filled with putty.

Good quality kit with only minor air inclusions. Three of the six engine gratings were damaged, but they can be filled with putty and engraved again with the tip of a modelling knife.

Compatible with Airfix, Fujimi, Matchbox, Nitto, and VAC-U-CAST.

Decals are not included, they may be scrounged from another kit or painted by hand.

The turret does not attach to the hull, it may fall off if the tank is handled in the course of a simulation game. One way to correct this is to glue a 20 mm pin of 0.6 mm pianowire into the turret, and locate the pin in a corresponding hole in the hull. The friction of the pin will keep the turret in place, but it still turns when it needs to.

Historical Employment

  • French Army Medium Tank, 1940

Possible Conversions

  • Atlantic Wall bunker with Renault turret, 1944. Dismounted Renault turrets were used to arm many emplacements along the Atlantic Wall.

This Renault D2 model will serve very well alongside Matchbox Char B1.bis heavy tanks, and Somua S-35 cavalry tanks. De Gaulle's 4e DCR armoured division was an adhoc formation built around available tank and cavalry units, with very little infantry attached. Light, medium and heavy tanks will be needed to recreate this interesting unit. The camouflage pattern used on Renault D2 medium tanks is different from that used on Char B1.bis and Somua S-35, it's fun to paint and looks very nice on this tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

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French Miniatuers of World War Two