Renault AMR-ZB (gun), WW2 French light tank in china

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​caid’s suggestion #9

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I would like to suggest an odd light tank that was used in China, the AMR-ZB 47

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In 1932, the French Army was developing a new type of tank on their own, the Auto-mitrailleuse de Reconnaissance. or AMR. this development led to the AMR 33 which received a production relatively interesting for the French army but the vehicles were mostly obsolete. the development of an improved version took root as early as 1933 and Renault Proposed an upgraded version of the AMR-33 named the Renault ZB for the successor of the tank. at the same time, they offered a completely new version, the Renault ZT because of the AMR-35.

but it wasn’t the end of the Renault ZB. As the French army had no interest in the ZB, the tank was offered to the international market where it was been noticed by the Yunnan local government who appreciated the tank and put an order of 4 of them armed with a 13.2mm. those tanks seem to have been received the same year.

later this year it was the turn Nanjing national government to take the fancy of the Renault ZB but found the firepower insufficient. Nanjing had put a request to have a version that could carry better firepower to face tanks than the 13.2mm, the variant is the one we propose in this topic. Renault answered with a simple addition of a 47mm gun which is likely to be a Schneider Mle 1936. the Chinese record seems to mention a Puteaux 37mm SA18 which is not correct. the internet community identified it as the Skoda 47mm M1936 due to the muzzle but this gun was certainly not available in 1936 when Renault was building the tank. the only possible gun in my opinion is the 47mm Schneider mle 1936 which was proposed in the early 30s for France but was refused services and exported to Romania bought a license to produce the gun. As the Schneider 47mm Mle 1936 was refused by France, and was approved to export, and Schneider was another French company, the Schneider and Renault company, who was in general rival, could easily have agreed to install a few guns to the new tank. in total 6 tanks were armed with the 47mm gun and arrived in China, along with 6 other machine-gun tanks (those were probably armed with a Ribel 7.5mm MAC 31) in 1938. they were integrated into the Chinese 1st Army. but that tank was infamous for its lack of reliability, yet they managed to serve all the WW2 up to 1945 when they was used during the second part of the Chinese Civil War and lost (destroyed and captured) to the communists.

during WW2 they were used by the Chinese expeditionary force in Burma in 1942 and they weren’t used in any direct action before 1945 when they were lost to the Communists. after they fell into the hands of the communists, the Renault ZB, who was often called AMR-ZB (47) disappeared from the record.

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the armament of the ZB is the subject of discussion. as most of the sources claim the 47mm gun was the 47mm Skoda 1936, the chance of the Skoda gun was exported to china is rather low. as the gun was produced in 1939 and under the German occupation. the German had an agreement with his most important allied, the German-Italian-Japanese alliance was specifically forbidding to maintain commercial relation with each other enemy, the Whole China was enemy of Japan since 1937 and the German and Italian relation immediately stop at that exact time. plus the Renault ZB was delivered with the gun already in place.

the most likely fact was the gun wasn’t the Skoda but a Schneider Mle 1936 who happened to be a french gun who was produced from 1936 to 1945 by France and Romania. but of course, this gun is a lot less known than the Skoda. both guns share the same sort of muzzle the Schneider which is likely to be the reason for the miss identification opposite to the Skoda model, The Schneider was produced in 1938, a few years ago, came from the same country, and was subject to no export restriction toward china.

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as for his service history. the Chinese received the Renault ZB from 1938 to 1940. There was evidence they used them but the track of their service was lost as China didn’t keep clear records during that time. it seems they were shipped by French Indochina to Burma where it reached the Chinese expeditionary force. after being in Chinese hands. they just disappeared from the record with a few photos of unidentified times and places showing they existed. the combat history is unknown, and their fate is unknown. but in 1945 they weren’t used anymore. they didn’t appear anywhere during the last part of the Chinese Civil War of 1945-1949. there is a possibility they were destroyed by the Japanese, in one way or another. or just abandoned as the tank was known to be unreliable and requiring a lot of maintenance. China didn’t have many spare parts and supposing that an important comportment was broken, such as the suspension, transmission, or engine, there was little to be done to fix it. The abandon or scavenging was likely to happen if it broke down. at least one remained in service long enough to fall in the hands of the communists in 1945 but it seemed it was unarmed

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armament (3 possibility)

the armament is not certain. as whatever it was a Skoda or a Schneider. and it seem to be a tank version of those field guns. the barrel length may also been shorter. but in any case, the gun should have a penetration decent enough to make it in the game.

47mm Schneider mle 1936

Spoiler

according to the French historian, Stéphane Ferrard, the Schneider 47mm had a penetration of 70mm of armor at an angle of 30° @ 400m, using the Gaijin calculator, a 2.3kg 47mm at 750m/sec should have a penetration of 96.53mm. the Romanian test reported 40mm of penetration at 500m (unknown angle). in any case, even the lowest possible penetration seems to be enough to give it decent gameplay. but in the eventuality the gun was shorter than the field gun, the velocity would certainly be affected and the penetration as well. still, as long the velocity is above 400 m/sec (which is very likely to be) the penetration should be above 40mm which is enough to my standard. the fact is the Yunnan government had ordered the first 4 AMR-ZB with the machine-gun which was later rearmed with the DP-28 (confusing with the 13.2mm) the Kuomintang government soon ordered 12 other tanks of which half was going to be armed with Anti-tank gun at the specific request of the Chinese at the last minute. the only easy way was to get the Schneider 47mm which was going into export and fix it in the tank.

47mm Skoda 1936

Spoiler

if the gun was indeed a Skoda gun, the penetration should reach 93mm @ 100m with 30° angle. which is a bit better than the Schneider but as I do not believe it was this gun, I do not think it should be taken into consideration, to not shut the door out of pride, I mention it anyway just in case I am wrong. like the Schneider, the Skoda gun in this tank seems to be shorter than the field version, and again as long the velocity is above 400 m/sec it should be fine.

on the downside, there does not appear to be any coaxial gun. the ammo load is also unknown. We only know that along with the 16 tanks, there were 1500 HE, 1500 HE-T rounds, 3000 AP rounds, and 300 practice rounds. most likely to be all for the 47mm as the LMG (or HMG) was easily run out of ammo with that little provision.

37mm Schneider 1930

Spoiler

another weapon could be a tank version of the 37mm Schneider Mle30 AA gun. this gun was proposed in the early 30s but only went into production in 1940 for the army of France, there was an order from the French navy, and exported to Spain during the Civil War and to Romania as well. it could be an adapted version for the tank of this gun which could explain the confusion between the 37mm and 47mm that is often referenced in the various sources. this could also explain the absence of the coax as the gun has a good ROI but again it would need to be a shorter version to be fitted in a tank turret.

Mobility.

the Renault ZB was different than the ZT version used in France. The ZT had 4 road-wheel and 1 bogie while the ZB as used in China had 5 road wheels and 2 bogies. they were using the same engine, the Renault 432 22 CV 4-cylinder engine which could provide 85 to 88hp. the mass seem to be a bit different as it retained most of the AMR-33 chassis. it gives a weight of a bit over 5 tons but keeps the bad reliability of the AMR-33. the top road speed was tested just a bit under 64 km/h on the road but the cruising speed was 35 km/h.

Protection

the armor is not his best feature. with only 13mm of armor pretty much all around and 9mm on the horizontal part, this vehicle will not be much protected. but the 13mm should at least protect it against LMG from the coax guns. his small size and high mobility should make up for his lack of protection. also, the crew of 2 men is not likely to allow good survivability either.

source

Spoiler

Weapons, including possible miss-identified one

the tank itself (including the AMR 35)

the Chinese services

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Hopefully a 47mm gun is being used, but it’d be fun regardless! +1

they are all fit for the game, its already good news. but the BR would depend on which gun it had.

An interview with one of the Drivers of those tanks made a couple of years ago said it was 37mm, but still his memory is somewhat doubtful. and he was unable to say which gun it was. they never learned the name of the gun.

I identify 3 guns as the potential guns it could have. but there could be another one. We just did not know for sure what it was. I still hope to come across information about it soon or later.

2 Likes

Interesting! Hope you are able to figure it out.

seeing how ridiculously bad low caliber solid shot perform (especially non ballistic capped), i’m more interested in upgunned french vehicles with things like the russian 45, or even german 37mm (that got aphe).

It should be the new reserve, replacing the overpowered greyhound.

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if the 37mm is the gun it had and i got the right one, it would be a perfect reserve. but the 47mm is much more powerful than the regular reserve gun and this tank has a pretty nice mobility. it would be better at 1.3 to 2.0 with a 47mm, all depending on which one it might have.

alternatively, there is a version of the same tank with a 13.2mm heavy machine-gun

this other tank has heavy machine-gun that offers about the same performance as the 12.7mm M2HB. i think it could work as reserve along with the T-26

the 45mm from Russia is overpowered; it’s the best reserve gun of the game and by far. and they mounted it on an excellent tank that performed quite too well. no wonder they keep using it and use it well at rank II. i even often see BT-5 in rank 4-5 and they do manage to kill a tank quite often (which give them a bonus in Silver Lions)

so this is not exactly the best reference for the comparison. the Russians should get the BT-2 to replace the BT-5 as a reserve. it has the same mobility but a weaker gun that still can do a good job.

Spoiler

50mm of penetration at combat distance is more than enough for me to be at reserve level.
keep in mind this tank also offers a small size and good mobility which gives it good flexibility in its gameplay.

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it’s also overperforming by quite a large margin, being irl slightly weaker than the french 47mm. I honestly don’t understand why we don’t have the bt-2 for reserve, that would be balanced.

to me, 60mm should be the utmost penetration a gun should have, especially fast firing ones. The problem is the french 47mm that gets a long reload for not much post pen damage. And i don’t know why the sa34 os 9 seconds to reload (well i believe gaijin forgot it…) while the sa35 got a buff to 3.5.

Would you happen to have any information about a potential aphe for france? like i don’t know, prototype round, captured rounds compatible, etc.

the SA34 should have a 4sec reload as iyt was supposed to have it. i provided Gaijin with a primary source from the French Archive of Vincennes last week or so about it. it confirmed it was 15 rounds per minute even with a single man to man the whole turret.
i had to double-check to make sure as i may have missed something, but the 47mm SA35 has a reload of 4.1 sec which gives it 15 rpm. This is also a historical performance.

i am doing great with 37mm SA 38. i even did well with the 37mm SA18 and managed to keep a positive KD ratio. but it is not a reference as i am an experimented player fighting against new players.

50mm of pen with a mobile vehicle is good for the game. even with a solid shot, i am sure of it. But among all the guns, it’s the 37mm that matches the less the appearance of the guns used on the tank. not that i discard it right away but it’s the one i am the least certain it had.

for the 37mm, the best rounds France had was the 37/25. the earliest APDS that was accepted to service in history. it was produced in 1940 but few reach the front.

this round wasn’t used in this gun.
there are APHE rounds here and there but none of them are interesting or worth mentioning for the current weapons of the game. this table is for the SA18. the SA38 already have all his round in the game

only the 75mm is missing a lot of interesting ammunition. this includes an APDS, an APBCB (without filler) a HEAT, and a handful of conventional rounds that could be added including AP and APHE. i also filled out a report to correct the ammunition used by the FCM 2C. The gun should get a huge buff as they just give it a Naval round apparently which the Army never used and we had the proper velocity for the round it used as well. better projectile, better velocity, it gives a huge buff of penetration with an APHE. enough to maybe consider the FCM 2C up-armored to be balanced and added.

shit, i already knew about almost all of those (except the sa18 apds, i almost excpet a heat now XD), and thought there was like a 1910m or similar for the sa35, like a recartridged aphe from the sa34 for the sa35.

for the 75mm? yes the 1910M was the standard and re-cartridge for the 75mm SA35 while it did not need to be cartridges for the APX 1929 (used on the Sau.40) or the Short barrel 1897 (used on the FCM 2c) which they used the exact same cartridges

but the 47mm was never re-cartridge. i checked this possibility a dozen times. it was just never done.

besides, those guns (possibly used on the ZB) was not compatible

Really good suggestion for something that is able to replace the M8 LAC as a reserve tank in the Chinese tech tree.

Another good tank would be the Vickers Mark E Type B, which is the same as the Finnish Vickers Mk E, that we already have ingame, but with a British 47mm cannon instead.

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the gun is not that good for the 6ton. the vehicles do not have great performance to make up for his weak gun

how unfortunate, the french 47mm sa35 (sa34 and sa35 refers to the 47mm, my bad) is a very fun gun, but it awfully lack in post pen damage, and everything helping that was a very welcome hope. Are you sure the 1897 on the 2c is a shorter version though, it looks like the same length as the original?

Honestly, it’s a shame this didn’t get added with the release of the Chinese Tree, anyway it gets my +1

yes, it was been confirmed.

serial document describ it as “canon de 75 mle 97 racourci”

they probably shortened it to balance it in the turret.