Char B1 Bis
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"The B1 looks like a mallard, right?"
―Miho Nishizumi
"Better than Type 89 I guess..."
―Anzu

The Char B1 Bis often incorrectly referred as Char de Bataille B1 Bis (French Battle Tank B1 bis) was a French heavy tank developed before WWII, primarily designated to attack enemy fortifications and breakthrough operations.

History

Development

The Char B was the result of a proposal made by General Estienne in 1919 in his concept of "Char de Bataille" (Battle Tank) that could break through enemy line destroying all opposition like fortifications, tanks and gun emplacements. Four project were started in 1921, the SRA and SRB by Renault-Schneider, one by Forges et Aciéries de la Marine et d'Homécourt and the FCM 21 by Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée. The prototypes were presented on May 13th 1924 and in the end the SRB design was chosen by Estienne as base of the future production in March 1925 fitted with a 75mm gun, a FCM developed Holt-track, a FAMH-suspension with a front armor of 40mm. A wooden mock-up wasbuilt in early 1926 and the first prototype by Renault was delivered weaponless on March 1929 (the howitzer was fixed on April) while FCM and FAMH were deliver soon after, the prototypes were widely tested until April 1934 when the first order for seven B1 tank was made.

In the end the original B1 had a 40mm frontal and side armor, with an one-man APX1 turret with a 47mm SA 34 L/27.6 gun and a 75mm ABS 1929 SA 35 gun mounted in the right-hand side of the hull front and a top speed of 28 km/h, thirty-four were made. However the B1 was quickly abandoned in favor of the B1 bis which was upgraded with a thicker 60mm armor, a new APX4 turret with a longer 47mm SA 35 L/32 giving it better anti-tank capabilities, a more powerful engine and an increased fuel capacity, this model of the B1 bis were made. At the same time as the B1 bis development of the B1 ter started on 1937, giving the tank an upgraded a sloped and welded armor (instead of bolted armor) to 70mm to accelerate mass production and a 350hp engine, the supression of the Naeder transmission in favor of the BDR gave enough room for a fifth crew member and the tracks were protected by the top armor but the project was put on side in favor of the B1 bis mass production, three prototypes were made before the Fall of France and were lost on June 21st 1940 when the ship evacuating the prototypes was bombed and sunk.

Operational History

Despite many flaws such as requiring too much maintenance, its poor autonomy and speed, its delicate transmission, its one-man turret and the disposition of its armament, the B1-bis was a remarkable tank combining fire power and strong armour. It made a great impression on German soldier (nicknamed it Kolosse), the tank was unmatched by German tanks such as the Panzer III and IV which were unable to pierce its armor and couldn't withstand a hit from the B1 bis. The only things that could destroyed it was the mighty FlaK 88mm AA gun or the Stuka dive-bombers. However this advantage was wasted by the incapacity of French tactician who prefered using tanks by small groups instead of large scale division backed-up by the Luftwaffe and couldn't handle the German tsunami.

The most known engagement of the B1 bis was during the Battle of Stonne, when on May 16th 1940 the B1 bis Eure commanded by Pierre Bilotte destroyed a column of two Panzer IV and eleven Panzer III, totally impervious to everything German tank fired on it.

161 B1s captured by Germany after the France was defeated and used them under designation Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740(f), some were converted in flamethrower tank designated Flammwagen auf Panzerkampfwagen B-2(f) and others were converted into SPG designated 10.5 cm leFH18/3 (Sf) auf Geschützwagen B-2(f). The captured tanks were mostly used on police operation in occupied France, some were deployed on Channel Islands, four were deployed on the eastern front, seven were deployed in the Balkans and Flamethrower version were used during Operation Market Garden.

In Girls und Panzer

Anime

The B1 Bis was found in a swamp by Yukari and Hippo Team before the match against Anzio and was assigned to the future Mallard Team before the match against Pravda.

During the tournament semi-finals match against Pravda Girls High School, the B1 bis gets surrounded as all others Ooarai tanks and bombarded by Pravda. After they broke the siege, during the pursuit the B1 bis acted as a the ultimate shield for the flag tank and was ultimately destroyed by the IS-2.

During the tournament final match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy, the B1 bis after escaping the hill battle, they helped the M3 Lee to not get drift away by the river stream. It was ultimately destroyed after Kuromorimine's Panzer III led Ooarai into a trap meeting the mighty Maus, the tank vainly tried to shoot it and receive a nearly point-blank range shot from the behemoth sending it upside down.

Manga

During the alternate-manga quarter-final match against Anzio, the B1 Bis was fielded with a temporary crew, with Yukari as commander/47mm gunner and loader, Erwin as Radio Operator/75mm loader and Aya as driver/75mm gunner. At the beginning of the match, the tank suffered engine problem that resolved itself later, during the rest of the match the B1 bis will act as a shield for the flag tank receiving severe punishment from the P26/40, the M13/40 and the Semoventi. At some point the tank's turret ring was jammed and it lost one of its track, leaving the tank helpless but not destroyed.

Der Film

In the exhibition match against St.Gloriana/Pravda, the B1 Bis was part of Leopon Team's detachment preventing Pravda to regroup with St. Gloriana. However because of Chi-Ha-Tan reckless charge. Pravda managed to break Ooarai backguard forcing them to retreat in the city. Once regrouped at the OY line, it exchange fire with Pravda tanks until the line was broken, the B1 Bis retreat and position itself on a bridge with the Hetzer as a ramp allowing the tank to aim to the ground, the Type 3 brought a clueless persuing T-34 into a trap, the B1 Bis fire its two guns on the roof armor of the Soviet tank destroying it. It was ultimately seen persuing Darjeeling's Churchill and was destroyed by the IS-2 trying to climb the parking ledge.

During the match against All-Stars University Team, the B1 Bis was part of Dandelion Platoon under the command of Miho and survive the engagement against Rumi's Pershings in the swamps. After the retreat in the theme park, the University storm in the park with the T28 Super-Heavy Tank as a shield, the B1 Bis was called back as reinforcement against the armored wall, but eventually retreat alongside the other tanks and getting trapped at the amphitheatre. They managed to escape thanks to Rabbit Team's ferris wheel diversion and scattered alongside the StuG and the Crusader. Soon after as part of "Operation Macaroni 2.0", the B1 Bis and the Crusader lured two Pershing into Hippo Team's camouflaged grasp. At some point near the end of the match the B1 bis rescued the CV.33 stuck on a rollercoaster welcoming it on its back and use it as diversion to destroy a Pershing but was destroyed soon after by the Centurion.

Little Army 2

Ooarai Girls Academy fielded their B1 Bis during the Commemerative Cup repechage match against Bellwall Academy. The tank was placed alongside almost Ooarai tank as an ambush on the top of a highway interchange while the Panzer IV lured some tanks, Bellwall's T-44 and Jagdpanther took the bait and were welcome by a fierce fire barrage where the T-44 was destroyed however it is unknown who destroyed it. Soon after the B1 Bis was shot down by the Tiger persuing Miho.

Fierce Fight! It's the Maginot Battle!

Maginot Girls' College fielded one B1 Bis (labelled Diamond Bleu commanded by Galette) during the mock-up match against Ooarai Girls Academy. At the beginning of the match Maginot entrenched their tanks to deceive Ooarai about their tactics. After their plan was foiled they launched into a fierce pursuit during which Diamond Bleu unleashed hell on the M3 Lee, but after some drawbacks the B1 Bis was forced to retreat with the SOMUAs. Once Maginot retake the initiative by destroying Duck Team (by SOMUA Heart Bleu) and Hippo Team (by the B1 Bis) they spread, the B1 Bis paired with the SOMUA Heart Bleu to pursuit Turtle Team and Rabbit Team while Spade Bleu took care of Anglerfish Team. During the pursuit the two persued tanks spread out, Galette took pursuit of the Panzer 38(t) leaving the M3 Lee to Fondue, however with a clever movement from its opponent the B1 Bis was isolated from the SOMUA and get violently rammed by Rabbit Team and received several shots that couldn't pierce to B1's armor. Galette realizing that her adversaries might have found a weak point, she used the B1 Bis incredible steering speed to rotate quickly enough to deliver a killing blow to the American tank but only shot down the Panzer 38(t) which acted as a shield leaving time to Rabbit to shoot the tank's air duct (the B1 Bis legendary weak point) and destroyed the heavy French tank.

Gekkan Senshado Magazine

Maginot Girls' College fielded two B1 Bis (one as flag tank) during the tournament first round match against Anzio Girls High School. At the beginning of the match, Anzio managed to disrupt Maginot's line luring them out leaving the B1 flag tank isolated at the beginning while the other one took pursuit on the CV.33s. Which lead into a flag tank battle between Anchovy's Semovente and Maginot's flag tank which result in the destruction of the two flag tanks but Anzio emerged as victorious.

BC Freedom High School fielded one B1 Bis during the tournament first round match against St. Gloriana Girls College. The tank remained isolated in the city not participating to combat due to frictions among BC and Freedom factions.

Das Finale

During the 41st Winter Continuous Track Cup first round match against BC Freedom High School, the B1 Bis was seen stuck like the other on the wooden bridge exchanging fire with BC tanks. After the miraculous evacuation of the bridge and BC retreat in the bocage, the B1 Bis having the same turret as a SOMUA was used as a disturbance firing at BC's ARL 44 emulating friendly fire, the plan goes well when SOMUAs and ARLs begin to shoot at each other, but the plan was foiled by Marie and Mallard Team was destroyed by Andou and Oshida.

Maginot Girls' College fielded at least one B1 Bis (labelled Diamond Bleu as flag tank) during the Winter Continuous Track Cup first round match against Kuromorimine Girls Academy. During the last stages of the match, the tank was seen taking refugeon the roof of a bunker like structure, when all Kuromorimine tanks unleashed a massive barrage the tank was strucked down and destroyed.

During the tournament quarter-finals match against Chi-Ha-Tan Academy, the B1 Bis spent the first part of the match by being harassed and exchanging first with Chi-Ha-Tan tanks. When crossing a mud pit the B1 was stuck and was helped by Leopon and Anglerfish to get it out. Since at the lake the once M3 saw the first Ka-Mi, the B1 Bis was seen firing at it with the StuG and was the first to spot one the second Ka-Mi silently sneaking to Hippo Team, it rammed the amphibious tank sending it away, saving Hippo Team, but the Ka-Mi immediately charged the heavy tank back, the B1 Bis shoot it managing only to damage its flotation system and get shot to the air duct destroying it.

Trivia

  • The Char B1 Bis is featured in World of Tanks as B1, a French Tier IV heavy tank; it's also present (as a premium tank of the same Tier) the German-captured variant as the Pz.Kpfw. B2 740 (f). The latter has no hull gun and the mantlet for it was armored/covered.
  • Along with the SOMUA S35, the Char B1 bis was considered by many historians as the best French tank or even the best tank of 1940.
  • The Char B1 Bis is the only tank known so far to be used by three different schools, Ooarai, Maginot and BC Freedom.
  • The myth of its weak point is based on an isolated incident when, during the Battle of Stonne (May 16th 1940), gunners of two 37mm Pak 35/36 claimed to have taken down three B1 Bis by firing into the air duct at close range. The air intake was a 150 mm thick assembly of horizontal slits alternately angled upwards and downwards between 28 mm thick armour plates and as such intended to be no more vulnerable than the normal 55 mm side plates. Despite this, in battle against the Maginot Rabbit team destroyed the tank this way and Mallard Team was also destroyed this way during match against Chi-Ha-Tan by the Ka-Mi.
    • During the same battle, Captain Pierre Billotte commanding the B1 Bis "Eure" destroyed thirteen tanks (two Panzer IV and eleven Panzer III) lying in ambush in Stonne and two Pak 35/36. After the skirmish, the crew counted approximately 140 impacts on the hull.
      • The Billotte Medal achievement in WoT was named after him.
  • The B1 Bis is one of the few tanks with the Tiger II, Tiger I and BT-42 to possess a steering wheel.
  • In the manga the B1 bis was fielded on match earlier in the Anzio match instead of the Pravda one, with Yukari, Erwin and Aya as crew instead of Mallard Team.

Gallery

Main article: Char B1 bis/Gallery
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