One of the most powerful vehicles of its time, the Char B1 was fitted with 60 mm of armor and armed with a 75 mm howitzer, 47 mm cannon, and two 7.5 mm machine guns. It had a crew that consisted of four men. Measuring 6.52 meters in length, 2.5 meters in width and 2.8 meters in height, the Char B-1 weighed 32.5 tons and was powered by a 180 hp Renault 6 cylinder petrol engine, giving the tank a speed of 28 km/h and a range of 180 kilometers.
The Char B1 soon evolved into the Char B1-bis, which had thicker armor, a larger gun in the turret (47 mm/1.85 in instead of 37 mm/1.46 in) and a more powerful engine. Large numbers of the 365 Char B1-bis tanks built were captured in serviceable condition during 1940 by the Germans who, mainly due to the limitations of the one man turret, and the tank's poor performance, either used the Char B1 bis as training vehicles, or fitted them with radio sets for use by second line units in the west.
The Char B1 was first developed in 1929 in response to a request from General Estienne for a new tank design with high mobility and heavy fire power. This resulted in the Char B1, which was designed by a consortium of French designers under the codename "Tracteur 30" and slowly went into production. By the time of the Fall of France, it was given to many French units. It was used effectively by French soldiers against German invaders during the Battle of France, but was limited by its slow speed and fuel consumption. After the country was defeated, it continued to be used by German and Free French forces.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Forty, George. WW1 and WW2 Tanks. Southwater Books (Anness Publishing Ltd). 2012. ISBN 1 78019 190 1 Page 52