Book Review
FCM 36
Trackstory #7: FCM 36
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by: Gary Kato [ GARYKATO ]


The FCM 36 was one of three light tanks intended to replace the FT-17. The R35 was picked for supporting the infantry. The H35, with its higher speed, was picked for equipping the cavalry, but the Infantry also ordered it later. Like the FT-17, it had a 2 man crew. It was armed with the short barreled 37mm SA18 gun and a co-axial machine gun. The design was quite different from that of the R-35 and H-35.

The Book

The book was written by Pascal Danjou with color profiles by Eric Schwartz and English translation by Claude Gillono. It was published in 2007 by Editions du Barbotin (ISBN 978-2-9520988-7-8). The book has 62 6.75"x9.5" pages with text in both French and English. There are no scale drawings. All photos are black and white with 17 color profiles at the back of the book.

The Chapters

The FCM 36 Origins recounts how the tank was born from the same competition that begat the R35 and H35. The FCM was ground-breaking in mounting their own turret design (instead of the standard APX turret), using welded construction (instead of cast or bolted), mounting the transmission in the back to provide an unobstructed combat compartment, and using a diesel engine.

There are 19 photos: 6 of mock-ups and prototypes, a photo of the crew compartment from the open driver's hatches, the automatic fire extinguisher (is this in the driver's compartment or the engine compartment?), the suspension sans armored covers, the turret interior taken from the open commander's hatch, an FCM fitted with a proposed trench crossing tail, the turret, 3 of turrets fitted with the longer barreled SA38 gun (but did not see production), a grenade and a mine test on the FCM, and interesting photos of an R35 with an FCM turret and an FCM with the standard APX turret (turrets were supposed to be built to a common standard). There is an overhead plan sketch showing the general interior layout of the hull and a nice 3-view cutaway sketch of the turret.

The Losing Contenders is a short chapter with an overview of 3 of the losing contenders of the second round for the light tank competition. The one most known was from Batignolles Châtillon. It had much in common with the FCM design. State-owned APX seems to have been more for a reference design with which to compare the others and was also like the FCM. There are no design records of the tank from Delaunay Belleville. There are 3 photos and 1 sketch of the Batignolles Châtillon and a heavily retouched photo of the APX design.

About the BCCs offers details and insights into the organization and equipment of an infantry tank battalion. There are 4 photos.

Mobilization and the Phony War is a small chapter on the reorganization of the FCM-equipped units and how they were deployed just before the Germans invaded. There are 4 photos.

May/June 1940 - The Spring of the Sacrifice covers the battle history of the FCM and is quite a bit longer than in other Trackstory books. This is probably because only two battalions used it (4th and 7th BCC) so the battle history can be more thorough. There are 13 photos.

With German Markings recounts how the Germans did use the FCM right after the Battle of France but didn't keep them in service as they used diesel fuel. Like the other French tanks, the hulls were later modified into a tank destroyer (mounting the 75mm PAK 40) and artillery (mounting the 105mm leFH 18) versions. There are 7 photos of which is 1 of the tank destroyer and 2 are of the artillery version.

The FCM 36 Schemes covers the 3 paint schemes and various marking used. There are 12 photos

Color Profiles:
•Unit Markings shows standard insignia plus company badges unique to the 7th BCC.

•National Markings were mandated during the war to avoid friendly fire. Both the 4th and the 7th BCCs had their own style.

•Markings of 3rd Company, 7th BCC was unusual in that tanks have white numerals on them.

The regular color profiles (two profiles per page) include 12 French FCMs, 2 German FCMs, 1 German tank destroyer, 1 German 105mm self-propelled gun, and 1 of the proposed AMX 38 (FCM armed with the SA38 gun). There is also a photo of the AMX 38 prototype and a scale drawing of the right side of it.

Bibliography lists references for further reading.
Highs: Wonderful overview of a little covered tank. Color profiles.
Lows: Small Trackstory format.
Verdict: This book was most interesting to me as I knew little of the FCM 36. Now if only someone (Bronco? Tamiya?) would come out with a nice 1/35 injected plastic kit of this!
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-2-9520988-7-8
  Suggested Retail: $27.95 USD
  PUBLISHED: Mar 29, 2009

About Gary Kato (GaryKato)

Copyright ©2021 text by Gary Kato [ GARYKATO ]. All rights reserved.


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