Eaglemoss EM005 French AMC Schneider P16 (M29) Halftrack - 1er Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division D'Infanterie, Mettet, Belgium, 1940 (1:43 Scale)
"A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost."
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch
The AMC Schneider P 16, also known as the AMC Citron-Kgresse Modle 1929 or the Panhard-Schneider P16, was a half-track that was designed for the French Army before World War II.
The P 16 was developed in 1924 by Citron from the earlier Citron-Kgresse Modle 1923. It was very similar in conception but had an enlarged armoured hull, built by Schneider, and a stronger 60 hp Panhard engine. In June 1925 an order was obtained for a pre-series of four vehicles. In October that year a first production series of ten is ordered. Citron found itself unable to produce the vehicles and the order was delegated to Schneider. Citron would supply the chassis, Kgresse the suspension and Schneider, responsible for the final assembly, the armour plates.
The pre-series vehicles get the company designation Modle 1928 or M 28 after the year they were delivered; the production vehicles are likewise named Modle 1929 or M 29, though the actual delivery was in 1930 and 1931. The official name however, assigned in 1931, is the AMC Schneider P 16. The P 16 was thus accepted as conforming to the specifications for a wheeled AMC, or a AMC N1, as stated by the Supreme Command on April 12th, 1923, although the vehicle was not specifically designed to meet them, and partially fulfilling the requirements of an AMC N2 stated in August 1924, which asked for a tracked vehicle- as a half-track it was indeed in between. "AMC" stands for Automitrailleuse de Combat. Although automitrailleuse is today a synonym for "armoured car", in those days it was the codename for any Cavalry armoured vehicle as the Cavalry was in 1922 forbidden by law to employ tanks. In fact their rle was pretty much that of a main battle tank as the Cavalry would not acquire real modern guntanks until 1935; in the twenties fully tracked vehicles were, given the state of technological development, considered by the Cavalry as being either to slow or not reliable enough. "P 16" refers to the Panhard 16 engine. Confusingly, the pre-series vehicles only were fitted with it, while the production vehicles have the Panhard 17. In total 96 vehicles of the main series were produced, serial numbers from the range 37002 - 37168, resulting in a total of 100 vehicles.
Pictured here is a 1:43 scale replica of a French AMC Schneider P16 (M29) Halftrack that was attached to 1er Groupe de Reconnaissance de Division D'Infanterie, then deployed to Mettet, Belgium, during May 1940.
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Release Date: April 2014
Historical Account: "Classroom Lessons" - Neither the French nor the British anticipated such a rapid defeat in Poland, and the quick German victory, relying on a new form of mobile warfare, disturbed some generals in London and Paris. However, the Allies still expected they would be able to contain the enemy, anticipating a war reasonably like the First World War, so they believed that even without an Eastern Front the Germans could be defeated by blockade, as in the previous conflict. This feeling was more widely shared in London than in Paris, which had suffered more severely during the First World War in blood and material devastation.
The French leadership, in particular Edouard Daladier, Prime Minister of France since 1938, also respected the large gap between France's human and economic resources as compared to those of Germany.
The Supreme Commander of France's army, Maurice Gamelin, like the rest of the French government, was expecting a campaign from the Germans that in the strategic sense would mirror the First World War. The Von Schlieffen Plan, Gamelin believed, was to be repeated with a reasonably close degree of accuracy, and even though important parts of the French army in the 1930s had been designed to wage offensive warfare, it would be preferable to confront such a threat defensively, as the French military staff believed its country was not equipped militarily or economically to launch a decisive offensive initially. It would be better to wait until 1941 to fully exploit the combined allied economic superiority over Germany. To confront the expected German plan - which rested on a move into the Low Countries outflanking the fortified Maginot Line - Gamelin intended to send the best units of the French army along with the British Expeditionary Force north to halt the Germans in the area of the river Dyle east of Brussels until a decisive victory could be achieved with the support of the united British, Belgian, French and Dutch armies. The original German plan closely resembled Gamelin's expectations.
The crash in Belgium of a light plane carrying two German officers with a copy of the then-current invasion plan forced Hitler to scrap the plan and search for an original alternative. The final plan for Fall Gelb (Case Yellow) had been suggested by General Erich von Manstein, then serving as Chief of Staff to Gerd von Rundstedt, but had been initially rejected by the German General Staff. It proposed a deep penetration further south of the original route, which took advantage of the speed of the unified Panzer divisions to separate and encircle the opposing forces. It had the virtue of being unlikely (from a defensive point of view) as the Ardennes were heavily wooded and implausible as a route for a mechanized invasion. It had the considerable virtue of not having been intercepted by the Allies (for no copies were being carried about) and of being dramatic, which seems to have appealed to Hitler.
Manstein's aggressive plan was to break through the weak Allied center with overwhelming force, trap the forces to the north in a pocket, and drive on to Paris. The plan benefitted from an Allied response close to how they would have responded in the original case; namely, that a large part of French and British strength was drawn north to defend Belgium and Picardy. To help ensure this result, the German Army Group B was still expected to attack Belgium and the Netherlands in order to draw Allied forces eastward into the developing encirclement, as well as obtaining bases for a later attack on Britain.