British Circa 1941 WW2 Information Poster: The French Renault D1 (Char D1) Light Tank
This poster shows key technical and tactical information in English on the French Renault Light Tank, also known as the Char D1, including its weight, length, width, height, the limits of its mobility such as climb angle and fordable water depth, and most crucially for soldiers, its vulnerable points at varying ranges when engaging it with a 2 pounder gun or anti-tank rifle.
Curiously, someone has used the plain back of the poster to draw a picture of two sailboats, in what looks like charcoal.
40x26.75 inches, printed on thick paper by Malby & Sons. Some minor creasing to the edges and browning along the very bottom edge, some minor charcoal smudges to the front side from rolling.
The D1 was an upgraded version of the Renault FT, the main battle tank of the French during WW1. With a somewhat troubled development process during the late 1920s, and a redesign of the turret during the early 1930s, the last of the 160 vehicles went into service in 1935. However, the design was rapidly overtaken by tank development and an improved version was being demanded before the production run had finished. The tank was considered close to obsolete by 1937 but France lacked the money to replace the whole fleet, instead sending the D1 to its colonies in Tunisia to serve as a deterrent to Italian expansionism in North Africa. One battalion of 43 of the most operational vehicles was recalled to defend France in 1940 and were unexpectedly quite competitive with more sophisticated light tanks, but almost all were destroyed or broke down within a week of hard fighting covering the French retreat.
This poster is likely to date to after the fall of France in 1940, when the Renault tank went from an allied vehicle to a potential threat: 18 were captured in France by the Germans and given the designation Panzerkampfwagen 732 (f). The 106 left in Tunisia became Italian property after the surrender of France, and most were formed into tank units within the Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique (RCA), under the command of the Vichy French government. During Operation Torch in 1942 the American 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion inflicted heavy losses on the 2nd RCA while it was fighting on the side of the Axis. The 4th and 5th RCA (the latter driving 20 tanks successfully hidden from the Italians) refused to put themselves under the command of the German Afrika Korps and took the opportunity of the Allied offensive to turn on the Germans, remaining with the Allied forces in North Africa for the rest of the war as the ‘Brigade Legere Mechanique’. A D1 is credited with destroying at least one Panzer IV at the Kasserine Pass, but lacking resupply they were steadily replaced in service with British tanks. No original D1 tanks survive today.