Hello, fellow tankers, or should I say, “Bonjour, amis tankistes”!
Are you tempted to develop the French tank tree? Do you hesitate to buy a French premium tank?
I have accumulated more than 15000 battles with French tanks (including 1500+ in RB, and a few dozens in SB) from BR 1.0 to BR 11.7 (all my tanks fully spaded or about to be, except for the VAB SANTAL, AMX-30 Roland, and ItO 90M, 3 high-BR SPAAs that I will probably never spade).
Hence, I would like to share with you my assessment of these tanks in different BR ranges (using Arcade BR; but I mention Realistic BR, when different), along with a few historical facts… and even some pronunciation advice!
You can watch many gameplays with French tanks in the BR range 3.7-11.7 on my YouTube channel devoted to strategy in ground battles and map guides. There, I have also posted a brief review of the French tech tree in English and in French.… in a video also featuring a crazy gameplay with my… FCM 2C bis.
BR 1.0-2.7 (click here to read about the tanks)
Grind the BR 1.0-1.7 French tanks and do not play them again! But seriously, who goes back to BR 1.0, except shameless seal clubbers (with obviously other nations than France…)? Yet, thanks to one of my bug reports (more than a dozen of them helped improve French tanks so far; see below), most of these BR 1.0-1.3 tanks are now able to shoot 15 or 19 shells per minute (including with their 47mm gun), instead of 8-10 during the first 9 months after their introduction in the game.
The addition of the very decent reserve wheeled AMD.35 is also good news for people wanting to start French tanks. By the way, I strangely like the light AMC.35 at BR 1.3. If you have the event H.39 “Cambronne” at BR 1.0 or the AMD.35 (SA35) at BR 1.7, use them, as they are decent and will help you pass Tier 1 faster. The Lorraine 37L and Char D2 at BR 1.3 are really not the best tanks of this Tier 1 line-up…
The SOMUA 1935 (S.35 in the game) is a very decent tank at its new BR of 1.3, but not as good in the game as it was in real life, compared to its competitors of the mid-30s’ (its frontal armor was recently fixed thanks to this bug report). In fact, at the start of WW2, the S.35 was only marginally outmatched by the Pz. IV, but was superior to Pz. I & II and most Pz. III, as demonstrated during the battle of Hannut (“KDR” of the S.35 around 2; a large fraction of the immobilized/destroyed S.35 was in fact attributed to the mighty Luftwaffe, and not to German tanks and AT guns) and the siege of Lille, which delayed the German forces and permitted the escape from Dunkirk (an unfortunately too often forgotten episode…).
The Char FCM 2C (see picture just above) at BR 2.3 is equipped with a 75mm gun and was the biggest ever mass-produced tank (10 units including the 2 “upgraded” Char FCM 2C bis; see below) with a crew of 12! It’s (very) slow but (very) fun!
The addition of the British Crusader Mk. II (at BR 2.3/2.7 in AB/RB; used in Africa by the Free French Forces – FFL) and the American M3A3 Stuart (at BR 2.3/2.7 in AB/RB; mostly used in Europe, but also in Africa by the FFL) nicely complement the low BR French line-up.
The premium B1 ter (often available for free in the war bond shop), now at BR 2.7, was OP at its previous BR of 2.3… For sure, it will now suffer against 3.7 tanks… The B1 bis at BR 2.3 is decent despite a weaker armor than the B1 ter, while the SOMUA 40 (SAu 40 in the game) benefits from its new BR of 1.7 (it was absurdly introduced at BR 2.7).
The GMC CCKW 353 AA at BR 2.7/2.0 in AB/RB is a very decent SPAA which can also fulfill the trolling role of a mean tank killer (71mm penetration at 120 shot/min with the AP belt), if you can survive enemy MG and artillery.
Finally, the premium Char FCM 2C bis at BR 1.7 is certainly a must for collectors! As mentioned above, it was the largest operational tank ever produced, with a crew of 12 (see it in action! The 10 units were numbered from n°90 to n°99, and the model in-game is probably the n°99 (nicknamed “Champagne” after the region of France), which was the only one captured in working order by the German Army (the others were sabotaged before their capture). The Char FCM 2C bis is equipped with a short Schneider 155mm gun (instead of the 75mm gun of the 8 first units; hence the “bis”) firing a mighty HE (58mm penetration and almost 8 kg of TNT!) able to one-shot a Panther and more, but with a slow reload of order 20s (17.2s aced). By the way, the Char FCM 2C bis is very slow, but the engine is powerful enough to maintain its max speed (16/15 km/h in AB/RB). This could become the new “meme tank”…
In conclusion, the recent changes of BR and rate of fire and the addition of new tanks finally make the BR 1.0-2.7 French tanks definitely playable and actually result in a truly excellent line-up at BR 2.0-2.7.
No more excuse not to develop your French ground tree!
BR 3.0-4.3 (click here to read about the tanks)
This BR range has seen quite a few additions since the introduction of French tanks and I now consider that the French line-up at BR 3.7-4.0 is one of the very best in the game in AB and RB (with that of Russia and Sweden)!
The great M4A3 (105) can be played at BR 3.0 as the leading tank (where it is almost OP) or as a support tank in a BR 3.3 or 3.7 line-up in AB/RB.
The excellent M4A1 at BR 3.3 is firing a good APCBC with 104mm penetration that can be found on several US and French tanks in this BR range. Note that the French Division Blindée (DB; armored division) had only a very few of these early version M4A1 among their 850+ identified Shermans…
The addition of the M4A4 at BR 3.7 is very welcomed, as several hundreds of them were indeed used by the French DB during WW2… before some being recycled to produce the first units of the M4A4 (SA50), a.k.a. Israeli M50 (see below).
The AMX-13 (FL11) is the real star of this French line-up at BR 4.0, especially since its reload time has been reduced to 6s (ace crew), with a good mobility, and an engine block which will stop quite a few shots if the enemy makes the error to shoot it there. By the way, since you’ll meet the acronym “AMX” quite often in the following, know that it refers to “Ateliers de construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux” (now NEXTER; literally, “building factory of Issy-les-Moulineaux”, a bordering city south-west of Paris; 70000 inhabitants; this city also played a major role in the early stage of French aviation). This first AMX-13 of a long series is indeed there at BR 4.0… The last one will be at BR 8.3! You’d better start learning to drive your AMX-13 efficiently and to adjust to its (unrealistically) bouncy gun/suspension when you stop. My advice with all AMX-13: shoot in motion with your gun pointing at 90° while releasing the accelerator, but without breaking sharply by pressing on reverse/break (and/or configure a soft breaking). With a little practice, this handling of “playing like a crab”, in addition to sometimes confusing your enemy target, results in the gun being quite stable, even in RB/SB. All AMX-13, as well as some other French tanks (like the Lorraine 40t and AMX-50 at BR 7.0), have an oscillating turret offering high gun placement, reasonable gun depression (but bad gun elevation), smaller turret size, and simple fitment of an autoloader (the latter, available on all the AMX-13 at higher BR; and on many other French tanks, starting with the premium M4A1 (FL10) at BR 4.7/5.0 in AB/RB). See the section about autoloaders at the end of this review.
The excellent M10 at BR 3.7/3.3 in AB/RB is exactly the same as the one in the US tree, in a nicer color (list of the 300+ M10 tank destroyer used by the French DB during WW2, with many photos).
The ARL-44 (ACL-1) is the first post-war French tank (partly designed in clandestinity during WW2; 60 were ultimately produced, including the ARL-44 at BR 5.3). Despite its shell with a respectable 125mm penetration, decent armor, and new BR of 3.7, the ARL-44 (ACL-1) is a bit of a disappointment, its shell often bouncing enemy tanks that it should have penetrated.
At last, the iconic Tier 3 E.B.R. (1951) (see picture just above) made its apparition in the main French tree at BR 4.3/5.3 in AB/RB (see below for the two other event E.B.R.) and features the same turret as the AMX-13 (FL11). Like all E.B.R., this tank must be played “like a crab” (gun at 90° toward the enemy), and really shines in RB, even if Gaijin gave stupid BR to these tanks in RB.
The premium AMX-13-M24 is a cool chimera associating an AMX-13 chassis with an M24 turret at BR 3.7 (often available for free in the war bond shop). 150 units of this vehicle were assembled, and they mostly served during the independence war in Algeria. After 1962, they were used to train French tankers. Note that the reverse chimera (AMX-13 turret on a Chaffee chassis) was also tested by the French army.
If you won it in the dedicated special event, the Lorraine 155mm howitzer (BR 4.3) is a fun troll tank, although not really a meta tank (yet, I have seen very good players netting 10+ kills in AB and RB with it… playing battles up to Tier 5), but it can help you grind faster your next-level tanks.
The same goes for the fun Battle Pass event LVT-4/40, now at BR 3.7 after being introduced… at BR 2.3 (another Gaijined French tank…), which can shred tanks (and planes?) with its 40mm Bofors gun.
Note that the AMX-13 (FL11), M4A4, and ARL-44 (ACL-1) are Tier 3 tanks, which allows you to grind your daily and special tasks at BR 3.7 or 4.0 with French tanks (with Sweden, the only nation featuring such a good Tier 3 line-up at such a low BR)!
BR 4.7-5.3 (click here to read about the tanks)
The French line-up there is pretty good, especially when including the awesome premium M4A1 (FL10) at BR 4.7/5.0 (AB/RB) with an autoloader (12 shots/min; high-velocity APC shells with 182mm penetration). In particular, this French line-up is well suited when being uptiered by BR 5.7-6.3 tanks (and even when played at BR 8.0!), thanks to their impressive shell penetration. Note that many French tanks in this BR range met the fate Gaijin reserve to all good enough non-Russian and non-German tanks: an increase in BR…
Indeed, the M4A4 (SA50), now at BR 5.0, despite its historically justified reduction of frontal armor, is an excellent tank shooting deadly APCBC shells with a massive 202mm penetration and featuring a nice -10° gun depression.
In addition, the “French” M4 Jumbo (see picture just above) is the same as the “OP” tank in the US tree (now at BR 5.3 in AB/RB).
But… Historically speaking, this line-up is a bit odd:
- The M4A1 (FL10) was for export only, in particular to Egypt;
- The M4A4 (SA50) or M50 Israeli “super Sherman”, and later, the M51 “Isherman” were equipped with French designed M4 recycled turrets carrying respectively the 75mm gun of the AMX-13 and a shortened version of the 105mm gun of the AMX-30.
“Fun fact”: the M4A1 (FL10) and the M4A4 (SA50) actually fought against each other during the Suez crisis/Sinai war!
- The French DB had only one known M4 Jumbo (see picture just above, with its historical camo from WT-Live) among their 850+ M4 used during WW2 (yes, only one! Here it is!), which makes its presence in the French tree quite amusing.
In fact, WW2 French M4 were mostly mid and late versions of the M4A1, A2, A3, A4; some of them equipped with the 76mm or 105mm gun. See the exhaustive list of the 850+ known French M4 used in WW2, including wartime photographs for many of them, sometimes also after their destruction.
I guess it would be reasonable for Gaijin to add an “historical” and 100% American M4 in the French tree to fill the French tree around BR 5.0-5.7 (M4A1 (76) or M4A3 (76) used by the French 2nd DB) and to correct the historical inaccuracy. I have made such a suggestion on the old forum.
The decent ARL-44 (BR 5.3; a heavy tank strangely treated as an SPG in-game) brings a bit more of armor to the French line-up. It is not very fast but is reasonably agile, although it suffers from a bad suspension and a mediocre reload.
The AMX-10P transport vehicle at BR 5.3 is treated as an SPAA, but can also inflict serious damage to enemy tanks with its APDS with 66mm penetration.
Finally, the BR 4.7-5.3 French line-up is also excellent in RB, when adding the AMX-13 DCA (DCA is the French acronym for AA) at BR 4.7/4.3 in AB/RB. This very mobile and decently protected SPAA can also be a really mean tank killer thanks to the 94mm penetration of its AP belt (I admit that I have not mastered it as a plane killer…). Several of these tanks can also easily complement a line-up at BR 5.7 (see hereafter).
BR 5.7-6.3 (click here to read about the tanks)
Like many other French tanks, the great AMX-13 (see picture just above) also keeps on increasing in BR (now at BR 6.3/6.7 in AB/RB). It features a 75mm gun (202mm penetration APCBC shells) shooting every 5 seconds thanks to a comfortable 12-round autoloader.
Featuring the same gun/shell and even more fragile than the Panhard AML-90 (see below), but with an inferior mobility, a limited turret rotation, and unable to scout, the ELC bis at BR 6.0 (after being absurdly introduced at BR 6.7) is a very mediocre addition to the French tech tree.
The CA Lorraine at BR 5.7/6.0 in AB/RB is a very mobile (in fact, too mobile in AB, being hard to control for aiming) but weakly armored straight-shooter SPG with a long reloading time of 11s (Expert crew; 100mm gun without an autoloader; see below). I find it completely useless in AB, but decent in RB.
The American M36B2 at BR 5.7 is a useful addition in a BR range including only a very few tanks, and is a good open-top SPG featuring the excellent M82 APCBC and a very decent HEAT-FS to fight heavy targets.
The awesome E.B.R. (1954) event premium light tank with a FL10 autoloaded turret (same turret and gun as the M4A1 (FL10) mentioned above) has finally reached BR 6.3/6.7 in AB/RB (introduced at BR 4.3, then 4.7, then 5.3, then 5.7, then 6.3, then 6.7… and soon at BR 11.0!). It was really about time that Gaijin introduced this iconic reconnaissance wheeled vehicle (quite OP and dreaded in WoT), whose 1200 produced units saw combat in several African countries, with about 200 of them exported. Note that a turretless EBR carried the coffin of Général de Gaulle during his burial. The E.B.R. (1954) suffers from a relatively mediocre mobility on difficult terrain, despite going as fast forward and in reverse (two drivers IRL), at a maximum theoretical speed of 105/116 km/h in RB/AB (in practice, you will rarely go past 70 km/h in RB; my bug report on the faulty in-game gearbox of the E.B.R. has been ultimately addressed by the devs).
You can complement your line-up with the premium captured Panther G “Dauphiné” (BR 6.0; named after an initially misspelled French region; French tanks are most often named after cities or regions) at BR 6.0, although other French captured Panthers would have offered a much less boring camo…
BR 6.7-7.3 (click here to read about the tanks)
This BR range features an extremely competitive and fun line-up, if you can appreciate extremely mobile tanks with little armor and a good autoloaded gun (the ultimate tanks for active players, the ones who won the battles).
The very good AMX M4 (introduced at BR 6.0, then bumped at BR 6.3, and then at BR 6.7…) features a 90mm gun firing 215mm penetration APC shells and an autoloader but with an inexplicably “long” reload time of 6.7s. The AMX M4 features a decent armor for a medium tank, a good forward acceleration and speed, but a mediocre reverse speed.
The American M26 at BR is a nice addition to the French tech tree, and a great companion for the AMX M4 and the AMX-13. It features the excellent M82 round, as wells as a pretty good APCR for heavy targets (287mm penetration; I always carry 6-8 of those).
The Panhard AML-90 at 7.0/7.3 in AB/RB is a cute little 4-wheel light vehicle shooting the same HEAT-FS as the AMX-13 (90) (see below) but with a lower muzzle velocity and without an autoloader. Its max speed of 101 km/h is probably a bit too generous. Its very small profile, mobility, and good gun, along with its total lack of armor (beware of 0.5 cal…) makes it more adapted to RB.
The Lorraine 40t (see picture just above) is simply my favorite and most played tank in the game (4200+/650+ battles in AB/RB; 78% win rate in both modes). The Lorraine 40t (introduced at BR 6.3, then bumped at BR 6.7, then at BR 7.0/7.3, and now at BR 7.0/7.7 in AB/RB) and the “heavy” AMX-50 (TOA100) (now at BR 7.0/7.7 in AB/RB; treated as a medium tank in-game) share the same TOA100 turret and SA47 100mm gun shooting excellent APCBC shells with a massive 273mm penetration… every 4 seconds (following one of my bug reports based on some “documents secrets”). Yet, be aware that their autoloader only carries 7 shells (+1 loaded in the gun) and that you should manage your reloading periods accordingly, especially in fast-paced arcade battles (but the refilling of the autoloader is very fast on captured zones; see the section below about autoloaders). The AMX-50 features a better hull armor than the Lorraine 40t (not too hard…) somewhat able to bounce some shots, a good forward acceleration and speed, but a slower but recently improved reverse. As for the Lorraine 40t, it is so good, being so well adapted to the game meta with its exceptional mobility, gun, and reload time combo, that you can play it with great results up to top BR (especially in RB)! In fact, both tanks have a much better survivability than their mediocre armor would suggest, especially if you do not carry too many shells (ideally, 15), and because so many players do not know how to fight the French tanks with autoloader (see the section about killing French tanks at the end of this review).
The AuF1 howitzer (“Au” for “Automoteur”/self-propelled; now progressively retired and replaced by the CAESAR) is a very fun vehicle firing HE shells (great 61mm penetration) and HE-VT shells and equipped with an autoloader giving it the fastest reload of 7.5s in its class (after the great Swedish Bkan 1C).
The AMX-10 ACRA at BR 7.3 was a prototype platform to test the 142mm ACRA gun (see the nice AMX-30 ACRA below). Unfortunately, this SPG is too handicapped by the absence of a turret, and is rather mediocre despite firing very good missiles (700mm penetration).
The AMX-50 Foch SPG (BR 7.3; Marshall Ferdinand Foch was the supreme allied commander during WW1 – pronounce “fosh”) has one of the very best effective frontal armor in the game (do not angle it at all, as its sides are made of paper) and is almost impenetrable from the front by many tanks at this BR range (HEAT-FS with 320+mm penetration are notable exceptions) and has excellent mobility, speed (54 km/h) and acceleration power (both better than that of a T-54), and carries a great 15mm MG and a nice 120mm gun shooting the same deadly shell as the US M103 (301mm penetration). Should I tell you its weak spot? Oh yeah, if you shoot at the rangefinder on the top, the shell sometimes bounces inside the tank, which seems totally ridiculous. Finally, this SPG will suit campers (hum sorry, “snipers”, as they call themselves) and active players equally and will Foch up quite a few enemy tanks!
The fun premium AMX-13 (SS.11) at BR 6.7, in addition to having the same 75mm gun as the AMX-13 at BR 6.3, carries 4 ATGM which are preloaded and which hence can be launched successively with no delay (its ATGM reload time is quite long after you have launched the 4 of them).
The event premium E.B.R. (1963) at BR 7.3/7.7 in AB/RB is a renovated version of the E.B.R. (1951) and could be obtained in a past Battle Pass. It features the same gun as the Panhard AML-90. It is also the least competitive of the three E.B.R.in the game.
The AMX M4/AMX-50 series/SOMUA SM/Loraine 40t program (developed partly with US funding) has an interesting history (summarized here), but was ultimately abandonned in 1959. In the end, the various AMX-13 and E.B.R., the AML-90, and the AuF1 were the only mass-produced vehicles among the French tanks in the BR 6.3-7.3 range, and saw combat in many conflicts:
- 4300 AMX-13 of various versions built for the French army and 3400 exported to 35+ countries;
- 1200 E.B.R. of all sorts produced, among which 150 were exported;
- 5000 Panhard AML and its variants produced between 1960 and 1987, a majority of them exported to 50+ countries, and still in use in 30 countries or so, mostly for peacekeeping and/or frontier surveillance operations. Note that the first South African Eland were just AML-90, and were later built under a license (1600 built) with more and more local components (like for the Eland 90 Mk.7 in the game);
- 400 AuF1 produced, among which 150 were exported.
All in all, France has the best mobile and fast-firing line-up in this BR range, whereas several other nations have also excellent and better-armored line-ups so that any comparison would depend on each player’s play-style and taste. In RB, you will easily build a really excellent line-up in the BR 6.7-7.7 range with these tanks (see also below).
BR 7.7-8.0 (click here to read about the tanks)
The Char de 25t (built by the company Batignolles-Châtillon; the famous “BatChat” of WoT; now at BR 7.7 in AB/RB) features a 90mm gun firing the US M82 APCBC (209mm penetration) and a comfortable 12-shells autoloader with a new reload time of 4s (finally!). The Char de 25t, as a prototype preparing the transition between the AMX-13 and the AMX-30, has better armor and mobility than the AMX-13 (in particular, an awesome reverse speed), but its shell lacks a bit of penetration at this BR.
At BR 7.7, the AMX-50 Surbaissé (meaning “lowered” chassis; pronounce “sur-bay-say” or more precisely, “sur-bé-cé”, like in “Be-yon-cé”) carries the same shells as the AMX-50 Foch (and as the US M103) but with a nice 19-round autoloader with a scary rate of fire (6s reload, following one of my bug reports based on extensive “documents secrets”). I advise carrying 19-20 rounds so that anyone shooting at its lower hull will just kill the driver and will not hit any ammunition rack. In AB, the AMX-50 Surbaissé is fast (when fully spaded) and very maneuverable. Hence, don’t camp with it and play it very aggressively in AB where it will shine in good hands, even in battles at a much higher BR, especially in urban environment. In RB, the AMX-50 Surbaissé loses a lot of mobility (more than most other tanks) and its more sluggish pace and its high profile make it a less deadly tank than in AB. In addition, the event tank AMX-50 Surblindé (“over-armored”) at BR 8.0 is similar to the AMX-50 Surbaissé, but a bit higher and shorter and with a decently armored V-shaped front hull (anyway, always shoot at the turret of French autoloaded tanks to kill them, since the hull is – mostly – empty if the enemy takes the right amount of ammo; see the section about killing French tanks at the end of this review).
As for the AMX-13 (90) at BR 7.3, it fires a very decent HEAT-FS with 320mm penetration (especially effective against Russian tanks) at the same rate as the other AMX-13, but currently lacks a night vision module that it should have. This tank is very underrated, and I actually find it very good in AB and in RB.
The excellent AMX-30 (1972) (see picture just above) at BR 8.0 (possibly, the best tank at this BR) is a fast and mobile tank with a 105mm gun firing modern HEAT shells (“Obus G”; also the stock shells on the AMX-30B2, before you switch to APFSDS). Although the Obus G was not fin but spin-stabilized, it was however specially designed so that the internal charge on bearings does not rotate, resulting in damaging properties very similar to that of HEAT-FS and a much better long-range accuracy (but it was also much more expensive, which was the main reason this type of shell was abandoned, along with the generalized use of APFSDS). I posted a bug report to correct the penetration and damage model of the “Obus G” which resulted in its penetration being buffed to 400mm (360mm previously) and to a much improved damaging power, now making the AMX-30 (1972) extremely competitive at its BR 8.0.
The premium version of the AMX-30 loses the great 20mm gun of the regular model (very useful to kill light targets or even planes, or to eliminate obstacles before firing the HEAT shell), and is hence a dubious buy at its current price.
In fact, the premium SOMUA SM heavy tank at BR 7.7 is a much better buy, and brings some relevant armor to this light French line-up, featuring the same autoloaded gun as the Lorraine 40t (4s reload but now with 8 shells in the autoloader). It is slower than its lighter companions, but remains actually very agile, even in RB. I really like it a lot and consider that it is currently the best non-event French premium tank!
Finally, the event AMX-50 (TOA 90/930) is a premium tank which was available in the “Royal Guard” Battle Pass, at the (too high) BR 7.7, featuring the same gun/autoloader/shells as the Char de 25t. Certainly a decent tank, but definitely not a game changer at its too high BR.
BR 8.3-8.7 (click here to read about the tanks)
The AMX-10RC at BR 8.3 is a light reconnaissance/scouting (thanks to this bug report) amphibious wheeled vehicle featuring a 105mm gun firing a decent HEAT-FS (350mm penetration) and a really good APFSDS (325mm/0° and 376mm/LoS 60° penetration). The suspension is too soft, making the gun wobble (like on the AMX-13 before its suspension was improved), and the recoil was much more pronounced than in real life, before being fixed. Despite a theoretical maximum speed of 85/92 km/h (RB/AB; indeed reached on tarred roads), its mobility is a bit disappointing (in particular on snow and sand; like most wheeled vehicles in-game) due to a flawed in-game gearbox (see the bug report which resulted in a slight improvement). Yet, being skid steered, the AMX-10RC can perform pivot turn and is certainly a very smooth drive (avoiding the “Puma effect” with an awkward driving at high speed). Note that “RC” stands for “Roues-Canon” (wheels-gun) and not for “reconnaissance”, as often incorrectly stated.
The AMX-13 (HOT) greatly benefits from its new BR 8.3 (be happy, it was for a long time at BR 9.0…) carries the same Franco-German high-velocity HOT missiles (6 preloaded) as the German Raketenjagdpanzer and is also equipped with the usual 75mm gun (202mm penetration with the “good” APCBC shell). It’s a fun tank but marginally competitive at this BR.
The AMX-30 ACRA prototype at BR 8.3 fires powerful missiles (but at a relatively slow rate) and may be more effective in RB than in AB. I am not really a fan of this kind of tanks that cannot be played too aggressively, although I am slowly starting to enjoy it.
The MARS 15 (BR 8.3; developed around 1990) was a brief and unsuccessful attempt at replacing the AMX-13. In the game, it features an APFSDS inferior (271mm penetration) to that of the AMX-10RC and shares its scouting ability. Also featuring a good mobility and fast reload (but no autoloader), this tank is barely decent, shines at nothing in particular, and does not even offer a new type of gameplay. It is hence a bit redundant in a French line-up in this BR change.
The AMX-30B2 at BR 8.7 carries deadly APFSDS (OFL F1) shells (and the stock HEAT of the AMX-30 (1972) ; see above) but their penetration (361mm at 0°; 209mm=418mm LoS at 60° which is still 50% higher than for the T-62) has been unfortunately nerfed compared to real life (bug report forwarded to devs)… and to the dev-server (442mm at 0°). Still, this APFSDS remains the best in the 8.0-8.7 BR range, with that of the Japanese Type 74. The AMX-30B2 Brenus, also at BR 8.7, features ERA protection and the EIREL missile jammer. Both these tanks have excellent mobility (same gearbox and speed going forward or in reverse) but lack a stabilizer and hence are not really competitive at medium range. Hence, use them in close fights or for camping/snipping, preferably in RB for the latter use. Both tanks are blessed with the same great 20mm coaxial gun as the AMX-30: please use it without restraint as it can break enemy guns, kill/cripple many MBTs from their side, kill light vehicles and planes/helicopters, and can clear the way by destroying most destructible obstacles in the game. I am really puzzled seeing so many players barely using their 20mm gun when playing an AMX-30… Overall, I love these two tanks, which I find sooooo underrated.
The SK-105A2 (Austrian vehicle boasting a lot of French technology) at BR 8.7 has a very decent mobility and features the same excellent shells as the AMX-30B2, a 12-round autoloader (4s reload!) along with a non-stabilized gun, and high-def gunner thermal vision. However, being a last line of the tech tree, it takes an extremely long time to spade (I do not understand the rationale for this annoying “feature”). Played aggressively, this tank has a huge potential.
The VAB Mephisto (see picture just above) at BR 8.7 fires 4 excellent HOT-2 ATGM (900mm penetration) without delay and features a great animation of the reasonably fast automatic reload procedure of the 4 missiles (it only carries a total of 4x3=12 missiles). The missiles are launched from high enough, which can be interesting if one stands behind a hill. The mobility of the wheeled VAB Mephisto is also pretty good. On the downside, the vehicle has not much armor and lacks an MG for destroying bushes or to defend from CAS. All in all, and despite this kind of vehicle not being my cup of tea, I find it pretty decent and strangely pleasant and fun to play.
Now at BR 8.3 (after being first rated at 7.7 and then, quite mysteriously, at 7.3, before being put at 8.0…), the AMX-30 DCA (DCA=AA) constitutes a very nice and fun surprise once you get the best shells (600x2 shells; 600 shots/min with 110mm penetration APDS shells!). This SPAA shreds all medium tanks in seconds (including T-54, T-62, T-80, Leopard 2, M1 Abrams…), can inflict a lot of damage on many heavy tanks (do not try it on a Maus though!), is very fast and well armored (for an SPAA), carries twice more ammunition than its BR 7.7-8.7 competitors, and is also an excellent plane killer at its BR. You can see it as the Tier 6 Wilberwind! Take short breaks between long shots, as the guns can stop firing due to overheating (and then you have to wait quite a while before resuming shooting). Definitely the best and most versatile SPAA without ATGM at, or below BR 8.3!
Overall, and despite the lack of stabilizer, I consider that France now features the best and most flexible/versatile 8.3-8.7 line-up, characterized by excellent mobility and firepower.
BR 9.0-9.7 (click here to read about the tanks)
The AMX-40 at BR 9.7 is a bit like a Leopard 2K on steroid, with the same 20mm gun, and with a good but ultimately nerfed APFSDS (394mm at 0° and 456mm LoS penetration at 60°; unfortunately, after a long grind) on par with the German DM23 (see the justified reason for the nerf on this post)… It does not help that the stock HEAT-FS was also nerfed to a 480mm penetration (like for all NATO Tier 6-7 tanks). The AMX-40 has the best mobility of all high tier MBT (especially in RB), and a small profile. Its main drawbacks: a pretty weak armor (yet, a reasonable survivability); a rather slow turret rotation compared to its German and American competitors; a long braking distance in AB when unspaded (a bit like the KPZ-70); it had a too narrow gunner field of view compared to real life, but I submitted a bug report on this issue which addressed this issue. The AMX-40 is an excellent tank in RB/SB where its amazing mobility should be exploited (play it like the Lorraine 40t) and remains a pretty good tank in AB.
The AMX-32 (see picture just above) at BR 9.3 has the same 120mm gun/shells and rather slow turret rotation as the AMX-40, but does not match its incredible mobility. Both tanks received an ESS module, thanks to one of my bug reports. Considering the respective size of the ammo-ready rack of the AMX-40 and AMX-32 (19 vs 17 rounds), I carry respectively 20 and 18 shells, so that the hull is empty, drastically improving their survivability. Both tanks were unsuccessfully proposed for the export market, but were also used to test technologies which would later be implemented in the Char Leclerc.
The welcome AMX-32 (105) at BR 9.3 complements nicely the French line-up in this BR range, and is similar to the AMX-32 (120mm gun), but featuring the same (stabilized) gun and shells as the AMX-30B2 series (carry 20 shells; 2 more than on the AMX-32 (120mm gun)).
Finally, the VAB SANTAL at BR 9.3 shooting Mistral missiles is yet another high-BR SPAA that I will probably never spade…
The premium AMX-30 Super at BR 9.3 features the same gun/shells as the AMX-30B2 but with a stabilizer, improved smoke launchers, a more powerful engine, but unfortunately loses the 20mm gun and the very fast reverse of the latter. Still, it is certainly a good tank, and buy… If you are ready to put that kind of money in a premium tank. Yet, too bad one can only find very vague (starting with its dev blog) or sometimes conflicting references about this tank and that Gaijin did not instead implement the AMX-30C2 prototype or the Venezuelan export AMX-30V (still in service), which also featured a stabilizer and for which many reliable sources exist.
The premium VBCI-2 (MCT30) at BR 9.3 is a very mobile IFV equipped with a 30mm gun firing APFSDS (116mm penetration at a firerate of 200 shots/min) comparable to the Finnish CV9030. I’ll be honest, I did not (yet) buy the VBCI-2 (MCT30) (but I have grinded the CV9030). My guess is that this IFV is definitely more adapted to RB/SB than to AB, and that it is not a game changer.
Little by little, this BR 9.3-9.7 range is definitely becoming competitive for France (still waiting for the VEXTRA; see my wishlist below)… but is also unfortunately at the most frustrating BR range in the game, characterized by numerous “players” using only one (often premium) tank, hence horribly and randomly skewing battles in favor of the team with the least of these “quitters” (which are also, most often, terrible players…).
BR 10.0-11.7 (click here to read about the tanks)
The Leclerc S1 (probably a Tranche/batch T3), Leclerc S2 (Tranche T6 to T9; note the accumeter above the gun and the basket in the back in this nice gameplay), the Leclerc SXXI (Tranche T10 and T11; with improved turret armor and high-def commander thermal vision), and the Leclerc S2 AZUR (see picture just above) with its urban combat kit upgrade at BR 11.7, are named after the commander of the 2nd Division Blindée during WW2.
The Leclerc offers excellent mobility (amazing acceleration and reverse when spaded; especially in AB), very decent armor protection, and a 6s autoloader (down to 5s is possible in real life, but is not normally used, to avoid excessive mechanical stress). My advice: do not carry more than 23 shells so that the hull does not carry any shell, which definitely increases the Leclerc survivability. The stock shell is, again, a mediocre HEAT-FS (480mm penetration) and the OFL 120 F1 APFSDS shell (575/664mm LoS penetration at 0°/60°) is only available at the 4th research stage. But following my bug report to add the OFL 120 G1 shell of the AMX-40 as a stock or fast researchable shell, the Leclerc now has a very decent shell available at the 1st research stage (muzzle velocity updated thanks to another of my bug reports, leading to a 425/492mm LoS penetration at 0°/60°). The OFL 120 F1, jointly developed with the Germans (known as DM43/LKE1 in Germany, but never used by the Germans who preferred to wait for DM53) is a really excellent shell, especially since its recent boost following a bug report passed to devs. The gun depression is pretty decent (-8°) and the Leclerc can shoot behind at 180° but with a reduced gun depression (but it is not as bad as on the M1 Abrams or Leopard 2). The Leclerc has only a crew of 3 (no loader) but you can very often still shoot and reload when down to 1 crew and recrewing in AB (provided you researched the extra crew modification, which you should do ASAP). Right now, there is no doubt that the Leclerc is the best MBT in AB, with the Strv 122 and the Leopard 2A6. In RB/SB, its less impressive but still very good mobility (the AMX-40 is the most mobile MBT in RB/SB) and its only 3 crews (reducing its survivability, since you die with only 1 crew left in RB/SB) results in the Leopard 2A5 & 2A6/Strv 122 being superior to the Leclerc.
Finally, the AMX-30 Roland, all alone at BR 10.0, is a capable AA firing missiles (they can also destroy light ground vehicles). Yet, lacking a gun, it is certainly not as good as the Russian Tunguska or the American ADATS.
It is supplemented by the SAM ItO 90M at BR 11.7, featuring a Finnish chassis equipped with the French Crotale NG (New Generation) missile/system (a vehicle that I will probably never spade).
All in all, the Leclerc-based French Tier 7 line up is definitively competitive in RB, and is simply one of the very best in AB. Hopefully, a Leclerc prototype will complement soon the French line-up around BR 10.0, to fill the BR gap between the AMX-32/40 and the 4 Leclerc.
Premium and event French tanks
The mighty B1 ter, the cool AMX-13-M24, the awesome M4A1 (FL10), the fun AMX-13 (SS.11), the original and great SOMUA SM, and the good AMX-30 Super at respective BR 2.7, 3.7, 4.7/5.0 (AB/RB), 6.7, 7.7, 9.3 could have been in the above list of my favorite tanks. In addition, for collectors, the Char FCM 2C bis at BR 1.7 is certainly a must-have!
Still, I consider that the M4A1 (FL10) (great tank and excellent grinding value at a very enjoyable and popular BR) and the SOMUA SM (the best French premium tier-to-tier) should offer the most fun, originality, and performance for your bucks (I am biased: I love fast firing autoloaders!).
The Panther G “Dauphiné” is almost alone at its BR of 6.0 and should not be a priority.
As for the AMX-30 at BR 8.0, it lacks the great and very useful 20mm gun of the 1972 model already in the French tree, and is hence a very dubious choice at its current price and BR (except, of course, for faster grinding and for collectors).
The VBCI-2 (MCT30) at BR 9.3 does not seem to be a game changer, and is actually the only French premium tank with the Panther G “Dauphiné” that I did not buy yet…
The following premium tanks are event vehicles, and some are available on the Gaijin market (I give their – sometimes stupid – price as of November 2023):
- The H.39 “Cambronne” (new players can get it for free) at BR 1.0 and the AMD.35 (SA35) at BR 1.7 (2 GJN) have limited grinding value, but can help you quickly pass the French Tier 1;
- The LVT-4/40 at BR 3.7 and Lorraine 155mm howitzer at BR 4.3 are currently unavailable and are the pride of collectors;
- If you did not get the E.B.R. (1954) at BR 6.3/6.7 (AB/RB), you definitely missed something, and you have to hope that Gaijin will offer another opportunity to obtain it;
- But you should not have too many regrets if you missed the E.B.R. (1963) at BR 7.3/7.7 (AB/RB), especially at its current market price (120 GJN!);
- The AMX-50 (TOA 90/930) at BR 7.7 (60GJN) is inferior to the cheaper non-event SOMUA SM (45 €/$, including 1000 GE and 7 days of premium account; at half-price when on sale).
Last but not least, the non-premium event AMX-50 Surblindé at BR 7.7 is only for the rich (1600 GJN!)…
A few words about autoloaders and about killing French tanks
Many French tanks are equipped with an autoloader which comes with many advantages: you can reload even if your loader has just been killed (!); excellent reload time (12 shots/min for the AMX-13 and M4A1 (FL10); 15 shots/min for the Lorraine 40t, AMX-50, and Char 25t; 10 shots/min for the AMX-50 Surbaissé and Leclerc…) and independent of the skill level of your crew; most of the time, the reload is not stopped by the activation of FPE; in AB, you can still shoot and reload with a high fire rate when down to only your gunner (provided you have the extra crew researched, which is crucial on tanks with autoloaders), which will often save your life!
Your autoloader continuously but very slowly refills one shell at a time between shots (a process which is interrupted if you shoot before its completion) but you can dramatically accelerate this process by standing still on a captured zone (you can still pivot-turn without stopping the reload). At any moment, by using the “O” key (by default), you can look at your tank in X-ray and check the number of shells in your autoloader, and even see them fill live! In this video, you can see the 2 circles showing the fast reload on the cap (left circle; reload interrupted if you move or leave the cap) and the slow secondary reload (right circle; reload interrupted if you fire your gun).
In particular, because of this slow secondary reload, I generally advise carrying just a few more or as many shells as the autoloader can accommodate, which will also greatly improve the survivability of your autoloading tanks, by reducing or even eliminating the shells stored in the hull: carry around 15-18 shells for 7-round autoloaders, no more than 23 shells for 12-round autoloaders, and exactly 20/23 shells for the comfortable 19/22-round autoloaders of the AMX-50 Surbaissé/Leclerc (you may carry 2 more shells on the Leclerc in case you lose your ammo burning in the blowout panel).
As a consequence, avoid shooting at the hull of French autoloaded tanks (except against the Leclerc, which you should shoot between the very thick front flat middle plate and the turret ring), and rather shoot at the (base of the) turret to kill them (on the gunner side!), since the hull is – mostly – empty (if your enemy takes the right amount of ammo).
Note that the gunner can be on the right or on the left side (when facing the tank), a crucial information to keep in mind when fighting a French tank, especially one with an autoloader against which killing the gunner should be your absolute priority:
- Right side (Russian-style): Lorraine series, AMX-50 series, SOMUA SM, AMX M4, Char de 25t, Panther G “Dauphiné”;
- Left side (American-style): ARL-44 series, AMX-13 series, AML-90, ELC bis, AMX-30 series, all tanks released in the game after the AMX-30 (AMX-10, SK-105A2, AMX-32, AMX-40, Char Leclerc…), and obviously, all US tanks (M4 Sherman series, M10, M36B2…) in the French tech tree.
A few words about camouflages
In addition to their standard camo (grayish green), all French tanks feature a really superb unicolor desert camo (see my AMX-50 Surbaissé above), the usual white winter camo, and an elegant bicolor (green and maroon) camo, which are obtained by achieving enough kills. For 200 GE each (“pay to be beautiful!”), one can buy a nice bicolor desert camo (yellow and maroon; but I do prefer the basic unicolor one), a tricolor camo (green-yellow-maroon), and for some tanks, a winter spotted camo.
I like playing with the scale of the camos, and in particular, I love the green and maroon camo when the minimal scale is selected. The AMX-30 (1972) has also a nice historical “Montmirail” camo, and some Tier 6 tanks (AMX-30B2, AMX-10RC…) feature the beautiful CENZUB (see above; French training center in urban zone; 500 GE! Also available on the market) and FORAD (my favorite; see my AMX-10RC above; used for “enemy” tanks at the CENZUB; 200 GE) camos.
For some high tier tanks, the NATO three-tone CARC camo is available (200 GE), but featuring a too dark green compared to the three-tone camo actually used by the French army. Any lover of French tanks should hence boycott this camo! Fortunately, you will find the beautiful historical “Austerlitz 1805” camo for the Leclerc S2 on Gaijin’s market (along with many other French camos), which features the actual French tricolor camo with the correct shade of green and extra details (see above).
My “wishlist” for new French tanks (listed according to my personal preference):
- AMX-13 (105) (around 500 units produced, all exported, notably to the Netherlands and Indonesia; especially now that Germany has the DF105 featuring the same turret… and produced at… 1 unit)
- VEXTRA (105/120mm gun; the first version of the Swedish premium CV90105 used the French TML turret and 105mm gun of the VEXTRA… Yet, this TML turret also tested on the AMX-10RC is not in the game for France…) to fill the BR range 9.0-9.7
- AMX-30V (Venezuelan AMX-30B2 with a stabilizer; still in service) and/or AMX-30C2 (prototype based on the AMX-30B2 with a stabilizer) to fill the BR range 9.0-9.7
- ERC Sagaie 1 & 2 (a reconnaissance wheeled vehicle from the mid-70s’, a bit similar to the AMX-10RC; hopefully Gaijin will model it better…)
- One historical M4A1 (76mm) or M4A3 (76mm) that the French DB used during WW2 to fill the 5.3-5.7 BR range
- Char Leclerc (prototype ARES or BAYARD ; and later, the Leclerc XLR being currently deployed in the French Army)
- See also the very long list of suggested additions to the French ground tree and this post showing a tentative and almost complete French ground tech tree
My favorite tanks in terms of fun and performance (in order of preference):
- Lorraine 40t – medium tank at BR 7.0/7.7 (AB/RB); the best tier-to-tier French tank in-game according to most players (and my favorite and most played tank in AB and RB with 78% win rate in both modes)
- Leclerc S1/S2/SXXI/S2 AZUR – MBT at BR 11.7
- AMX-13 (FL11) – light tank at BR 4.0
- AMX-50 – heavy tank, but treated as a medium tank in the game, at BR 7.0/7.7 (AB/RB)
- AMX-30B2 & Brenus – medium tanks at BR 8.7 (extremely underrated)
- SK-105A2 – light tank at BR 8.7
- AMX-30 (1972) – medium tank at BR 8.0
- AMX-50 Surbaissé – (“light” and mobile) heavy tank at BR 7.7
- **M4A4 (SA50) **– medium tank at BR 5.0
- AMX-13 (90) – light tank at BR 7.7
- AMX M4 – medium tank at BR 6.7
- AMX-30 DCA – SPAA at BR 8.3; a mean tank killer and a good SPAA
- AMX-13 – light tank at BR 6.3/6.7 (AB/RB)
- Char 25t – the “BatChat” light tank at BR 7.7
- AMX-30 DCA – SPAA at BR 8.3; a mean tank killer and a good SPAA
- VAB Mephisto – ATGM launcher at BR 8.7; not my style of tank, but that one is very fun and reasonably good
- AMX-50 Foch – SPG at BR 7.3; fun but not as good as when introduced
- AMX-13 DCA – SPAA at BR 4.7/4.3 (AB/RB); a mean tank killer and a decent SPAA
My favorite BR ranges to play with French tanks (AB/RB)
- Anywhere between 6.7 and 8.7, where French tanks really shine in AB and RB
- 11.7 (the Leclerc really shines in AB, but remains excellent in RB)
- 3.3-4.3 (especially with the improved reload of the AMX-13 (FL11), and the introduction, at last, of the EBR (1951))
- 4.7-5.7 (especially if you have the M4A1 (FL10); if you wish to buy only one “cheap” French premium, this M4A1 (FL10) is awesome)
- 2.3-2.7 (I rarely play there, but the line-up is now really excellent)
- 9.3-9.7 (especially if you have the AMX-30 Super and if you don’t mind the many “quitters” and 1-tank “players” in this horrible BR range)
Let me conclude by mentioning that what I really like with these French tanks is the diversity of gameplay they already offer at all BR (quite unique at BR 6.3-8.7), despite the respectable but limited number of tanks available (more soon, I guess; hopefully starting with my wish list).
Let me also add that most of these light-armored but very mobile French tanks are better suited for active players (the ones who win the battle!) rather than for passive players/campers (the cannon fodders who continuously lose games)…
Thanks for reading this review (and feel free to consult my French tanks video playlist)! I hope you found it of interest. If so, leave your thoughts below and recommend it. If not, do exactly the same!
See you on the battlefield! À bientôt sur le champ de bataille !