Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Renault R-35

I'll be posting, on an occasional basis, musings about particular pieces in the Axis & Allies series of miniatures.

The Renault R-35 has been a rather popular piece, showing up no fewer than three times so far.
It was collector No. 2/48 from the Base Set, No. 14/60 of the 1939-45 set and 57/60 of the Eastern Front set.
The Base Set version
Rarity: Rare in the base set, uncommon otherwise
Speed: 2
Defense: 4/4
Cost: 9
Attacks vs troops at short-medium-long ranges: 6 - 6 - 4
Attacks vs vehicles at short-medium-long ranges: 8 - 7 - 5
Special abilities: Trench Crossing
Revision: The French version is a "1940" card in base set and 1939-45 sets instead of a"1939" card
Historical text: French versions - The R-35's extension rails helped it cross trenches and other obstacles at the expense of speed and firepower
Romanian version - Romania bought 41 R-35s from France and acquired 34 Polish R-35s from units that retreated into Romania.
The 1939-45 set
The unit in history: The R-35 was meant to be the standard light tank supporting French infantry divisions, replacing the World War I veteran FT-17. It was the most common French tank in 1940, with more than 1,600 built. A few ended up in service in other armies, including Poland and Romania as noted on the Romanian card. After the 1940 campaign a few French R-35s saw combat in North Africa and Syria against the Allies. Other notable actions involving R-35s were by the German 100th Panzer Battalion in Normandy against American paratroopers and Arab fighters against Israelis at Degania in 1948. Contrary to the flavor text, the lack of firepower and speed were not a trade-off for havingt he extension rails but were a combination of doctrinal beliefs, design compromises for weight and availability of weapons. The tank was envisioned as an inexpensive infantry support vehicle so it didn't need a lot of speed and anti-infantry capability was more important than antitank power.
The Romanian version from the Eastern Front set
The unit in the game: The R-35 's forte is its high defense value for its cost, which makes it pretty tough by 1940 tank standards. It's foibles are minimal speed and low antitank values. The piece is always available to French armies under standard construction rules , with a 1940 date (originally 1939, but changed to 1940 in the revised cards), but realistically it should have an end date of 1940 as well . It could also represent Vichy French troops on the Axis side in campaigns in Syria and Africa until such time as a specific Vichy French figure shows up in the Axis OB. The In Romanian service it's well past its prime, but they don't have a lot to choose from so it may be of some use as an infantry support vehicle.

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