First Clash of Armor

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One of the biggest tank battles of World War II took place in the early days of the war when a German PanzerKorp tried to breakthrough the French Mechanized Cavalry Corps, covering the establishment of the infantry divisions of the French First Army in the Gembloux Gap.

The purpose of the present study is to compare the organization, equipments, tactics of both the German PanzerWaffe and the French Mechanized Cavalry (the true counterpart to the German PanzerWaffe and not the French Division Cuirassée de Réserve)

French Mechanized Cavalry Corps vs XVI's PanzerKorp


Tactics of the German PanzerWaffe and the French Cavalry

Smashing through the Belgian defences

The road to the battle

First Encounter: Hannut, 12th May 1940

Clash of Armor: 13th May 1940

The Cavalry Corps retreats: 14th May 1940

When the infantry stopped the tanks: 15th May 1940


    - L'Arme Blindée Française: Mai-juin 1940 ! Les blindés français dans la tourmente, Gérard Saint-Martin, Economica
    - Belgique et Nord, 1940 - Blitzkrieg à l'Ouest, Yves Buffetaut, Collection hors-série Militaria n°8, Histoire & Collections
    - Le Désastre de 1940 (vol. 3): La Guerre Eclair, Claude Paillat, Robert Laffont
    - Une bataille oubliée: Hannut, face à face Blindés/Panzer, Patrick de Gmeline, article in 39-45 magazine n°18
    - Mai 1940 La Manoeuvre Dyle: La Bataille de Gembloux, Raoul François, article in 39-45 magazine n°71
    - La manoeuvre Dyle, Franz Labarre, article in 39-45 magazine n°83
    - L'armée du sacrifice 1939-1940, Pierre Porthault, Editions Guy Victor
    - Victoire sans lauriers: la campagne de 1940, Werner Haupt, Editions France-Empire
    - La Bataille de Belgique-Dunkerque 10 mai-4 juin 1940, Henri Bernard, Bibliothèque d'histoire Duculot
    - Les relations militaires franco-belges Mars 1936 - 10 Mai 1940, CNRS
    - Blitzkrieg-Legende: Der Westfeldzug 1940, Karl-Heinz Frieser, R. Oldenbourg Verlag
    - Blitzkrieg in the west, Then and Now, Jean-Paul Pallud, After the Battle
    - German order of battle WWII (vol. 1): Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, Light and Cavalry Divisions, George F. Nafziger
    - German WWII organizational series (vol 2/I): Mechanized Army Divisions (10th May 1940), Leo W.G. Niehorster
    - Panzer Truppen Vol.1: The complete guide to the creation & combat employment of Germany's Tank force. 1933-1942, Thomas L. Jentz, Schiffer Military History

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