Somua S.40, the sucessor of the S.35

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caid’s suggestion #111

I would like to suggest an interesting WW2 tank for France, the Somua S.40

the Somua S-40 was to be the next generation of the Somua S-35 and serve in the French army as a Cavalry tank just like the S-35. the tank was undergoing various upgrades, a stronger engine, a better suspension, better armor, and a better speed. the tank was designed to be part of the modernization planned for 1940 which aimed to replace the entire French armored units with new vehicles. the program was launched too late and the outcome of the war didn’t allow many vehicles to reach the prototype stage. The S.40 was no exception. while the development was advanced, it was never finished and the vehicles featured a lot of easy solutions which made it more of a stopgap than an actual successor.

the S.40 was partially built in a hurry in late 1939 with an initial order of 80 tanks. a single tank going by the factory name of AC5 was partially built by the time France surrendered in 1940. it was missing the engine and the armament. the chassis was barely different from the S.35. this tank was captured by the Germans. but between 1941 and 1943, 3 additional tanks were built and reported finished by the CMD at the order of Colonel Mollar. 2 of which were captured by the Germans, the faith of the 3rd one is unknown.

during the German occupation, Vichy France attempted to rearm itself with the S.40. An order of 800 S.40 tanks was made in 1941 but for fear those tanks would be used against Germany, the order was canceled by the Germans. in 1942 Italy and Japan showed interest in the S.40 which they wanted to order with a new 3-men turret after the assault on Pearl Harbour an order of 250 tanks was made by Japan. Vichy France was also allowed to produce the tank for themself at this point. but the operation torch in north Africa halted the production of the tank when Germany annexed Vichy France.

After WW2, the S.40 was just not considered as a potential tank to have anymore. France had a large supply of M4 Sherman and planned to produce the ARL-44. the S.40 was just seen as obsolete and underperforming in every aspect.

Firepower
while there was serious consideration to arm the tank with the 47mm SA37, which would have been interesting. but in 1940 the gun was in shortage. France was unable to add production from 80 additional guns to equip the S.40. The choice fell on the more common 47mm SA35 tank gun. the armament is the same as the one used in the S.35. From the firepower point of view, this tank will not be of any improvement. but the gun remained a quite capable tank gun that in 1940-1941 could deal with any German tanks. The armament was never mounted and the ammunition rack was not ready. but the turret was designed to offer an elevation of -20° to +25° which is quite comfortable.

Mobility
the engine too was never mounted. it was an Somua 8-cyl 125x140 de 13745 cm3 providing 230 hp. the tank weight was going to be 20.5 tonnes and the expectation was to have a top speed of 45 km/h. from the parts the tank was supposed to get, this speed is very likely achievable. the suspension was reviewed to improve the performance off-road. the tank was now capable of crossing obstacles 80 cm tall instead of 50 cm on the S.35. this makes the off-road capacity of the tank much better.

Protection
initially, the protection was intended to be better than the S.35 but due to technical difficulty and rush on the development, the tank had the armor limited to 40mm on the chassis but had 60mm on the turret. in overall, the protection would be similar to the S.35 while being different. the crew of 3 remains standard for the time.

Sources

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Perfect 1.7-2.0 br medium tank

2 Likes

If only it had gotten the SA37 gun! That’d be super cool. Nevertheless, this would be very fun. +1

1 Like

To be fair, both guns were never instaled, so SA37 version can be add

3 Likes

That is true

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extra pictures related to the S40 (1940):




s40_003
s40_005

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it’s good to note that the picture of the turret on the ground (the one with the C and H letters on some cylinders behind it) is most probably a wooden mockup, still usefull for modelisation purpose especially for the gun mantlets of the gun and coax mg.

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Wasnt that thing also captured by Germany?

3 was captured by the Germans. a 4th one was built but the fate is unknown.
the tanks were not finished. some missed the engine, all didn’t have a gun, most didn’t have turret yet and the Germans probably scrapped it. none was ever used in service

Both this one and last photo looks like wood

last one is harder to tell due to the quality of the photo, though we shoudl be able to see the hooks (at least their shadows), so maybe you re right, no hooks means it’s light enough to be put up the hull with other means

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