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Book Review
Renault D2
RENAULT D2 by Pascal Danjou, translated by Claude Gillono, artwork by Eric Schwartz
  • Couv_D2_bordperdu_def_copy

by: David Maynard [ DRADER ]

Originally published on:

This is the ninth volume in Editions du Barbotin's interesting series on French AFVs of the inter-war period and the desperate fighting of the 1940 campaign. The format is much the same as the previous volumes also reviewed on Armorama. However, this book contains some speculation which is, I suppose, inevitable given the limited information available on such a relatively obscure subject. Text is presented in the usual Trackstory dual-column French/English format, with the English translation being workmanlike rather than inspired.
The 'char D2', a super D1?
The signals network of the 'chars D2'
The AA defence in D2 units
1937-1939 a chief and his unit
The 19ème BCC during the Phoney War
The independent companies
The 19ème BCC on campaign
List of chars D2
Individual markings of the char D2
The Renault D2 medium tank was something of an unwanted child of the French armoured troops, who would far rather have bought more B1bis battle tanks, but were impeded by financial issues and the possibility of interference from the International Disarmament Conference, which forced them to look at lighter and cheaper designs. As a result, the D2 was something of a disappointment, but it was one of the first tanks fitted with a radio as standard, although 30s radio technology was unreliable and short-ranged. It didn't help either that the telegraphist's position was badly-designed with no vision devices and the morse-key having to be worked from the operator's knee.

D2s were produced in two different batches in 1936-7 and 1940. Tanks of the first batch, armed with short 47mm guns, were issued to the 1st battalion of the 507ème BCC, commanded by Colonel Charles de Gaulle who, like any ambitious officer given the most modern tank in the army, used it as a means to get noticed. Means towards this end included naming tanks after a wide range of French battles (de Gaulle's own tank was interestingly named 'Yorktown'). Sadly the book doesn't include an incident mentioned in the history of the 507ème printed in GBM where an unauthorised discharge during a display in front of senior officers caused serious embarrassment.

With the outbreak of war, the first batch tanks were beginning to get weary and their short 47mm guns were in need if replacement with long-barrelled models. Needless to say, the process was slow, and 1/507 (now 19ème BCC) went to war with a mixed bag of worn-out and repaired tanks. Tanks of the 2nd batch were now leaving the Renault factory and were destined for independent companies, which were manned by soldiers with no experience of the D2 at all! Inevitably some were diverted to the 19ème, leaving the worn-out tanks for the independent companies. The story of the part the D2 played in the 1940 mirrors that of the rest of the French armoured force with more tanks lost due to breakdowns and than in action, and by June the small D2 force was almost entirely lost. There appears to be evidence of German use.
Colour plates
The history and employment of the D2 is covered in the efficient Trackstory style with well-chosen photographs, but for most modellers the main interest is in the splendour of French camouflage. The book does not disappoint as the D2 wore schemes that make other French armour look pedestrian. It is evident that Trackstory has tracked down much precious archival material, and it would be nice one day to see this brought together in a single volume (please!).

Page 54 has probably the best example of French paint schemes with D2 2050 shown with large patch of sky blue paint on the turret, but this is put in the shame by 2018 shown in the full range of Renault colours – including two shades of purple. Renault even managed to circumvent the low-contrast grey-green/umber scheme that was supposed to be universal in 1939-40 produced tanks by adding a bright green shade.

The review copy is my own, but thanks are due to Editions du Barbotin for the use of images from their website.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Photos and colour plates – the latter especially providing much food for thought
Lows: None really, the English translation lacks polish, but having it in parallel with the French is very useful in adding to your technical vocabulary when reading French-only books
Verdict: As always, another valuable addition to the growing library of books on French subject. One that is, sadly, way ahead of the list of available kits. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the subject, no matter how small
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN978-2-917661-02-4
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 23, 2009

About David Maynard (Drader)

From south Wales originally, I became an archaeologist by chance and have continued being one for about 20 years. Which is a lot of mud shifted. The nursing home where I was born is now part of the Celtic Manor and, by a nice bit of irony, I did the archaeology for several of their golf courses. I h...

Copyright ©2021 text by David Maynard [ DRADER ]. All rights reserved.


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