The Renault AMR-35 (French Automitrailleuse de Reconnaissance Renault Modèle 35) was a French light tank developed during the Interbellum and used in the Second World War.
The AMR-35 originated from a project in 1933 to improve the earlier AMR 33 by moving the engine from the front to the back. In 1934 also a stronger suspension was fitted and the type was chosen to replace the AMR 33 on the production lines that year. Three orders were made by the French Cavalry of in total two hundred vehicles in five versions, including two machine-gun tanks, two tank destroyer types and a command tank. The production would be much delayed by financial and technical problems, deliveries only starting in 1936.
The AMR 35 proved to be an unreliable vehicle, it was one of the fastest tanks of its day, but its very speed overstressed its mechanical parts. In 1937 it was decided not to make any further orders but organisational difficulties slowed final deliveries of some versions until well into 1940.
The AMR-35 is somewhat larger than the AMR 33, being 3.84 metres long, 1.76 metres wide and 1.88 metres tall. It weighs, fully loaded, 6.5 tonnes. The vertical armour plates have a thickness of thirteen millimetres, the sloped plates are nine millimetres thick and the top and bottom plates six millimetres. Its general configuration has been changed in that the engine was moved to the back. Originally it had been intended to give the driver a more central position to improve his view to the right but eventually he remained at the left side of the hull, the right side being occupied by a large ventilation grill. The turret, where the second crew member, the commander/gunner, is located, is also placed left of centre. Two types of turret are being used: the Modèle réglementaire AVIS-1 fitted with the 7,5 mm M1931 machine-gun and the AVIS-2 with a 13,2 mm machine-gun.
The suspension uses four much more robust road wheels. The two in the middle are paired into a central bogie, sprung by a horizontal rubber cylinder block, that again consists of five smaller rubber cylinders separated by steel discs. These cylinders also serve as shock dampers, avoiding the problems caused by the oil dampers used with the AMR 33. The wheels in the front and back are independently sprung, again by a rubber cylinder block, but now consisting of four smaller cylinders. The sprocket is in the front. The track is 22 centimetres wide and is supported by four top rollers. The wading capacity is sixty centimetres, the trench crossing-capacity 1,7 metres and a vertical obstacle of fifty centimetres or slope of 50% can be climbed.
The AMR 35 vehicles remained very unreliable: on 1 January 1939 only 129 chassis of all subtypes were present in the combat units, the others being centrally repaired or having been sent back to the factory. Due to the structural delays and technical problems it had been decided in 1937 to eventually discontinue AMR 35 production
For Renault, the entire AMR project had been a financial disaster. On 16 November 1938 he begged the government to be exonerated from the contractual fines, pointing out that he had already, on his expense, twice completely replaced the gear wheels on all vehicles and additionally all transmissions and front axles.
Due to the near-nonexistence anti-armour abilities of the 7.5mm MG several attempts to give AMR-35 ability to fight armoured vehicles.
ZT-1 with 13.2mm Hotchkiss MG
This variant featured the AVIS-2 turret fitted with a 13.2mm Hotchkiss HMG which could penetrate 20mm steel at 500 metres (against the 7.5mm MG which could only penetrate the lightest armors at nearly point-blank range).
To accommodate the larger machine-gun, the turret was made higher, more so at the left where the commander/gunner was seated and from which side the gun was fed — normally this was done vertically, but to reduce height the gun had been rotated to the left — giving it an asymmetrical and skewed appearance.
ZT-2 with 25mm SARF Cannon
This variant used the larger octagonal welded steel APX 5 turret equipped with a shortened 25 mm SARF gun (used by Panhard 178 armoured car), which had a penetration of 40mm at 500 metres.
The hull of the ZT 2 was largely identical to that of the "ZT 1". Apart from the 25 mm gun, having a stock of fifty rounds, the turret was fitted with a 7.5 mm machine gun, with 2250 rounds. The turret had both a large roof hatch and a smaller hatch in the back right facet.
During the Battle of France the AMR 35s were part of armoured and motorised divisions, the vast majority being lost during the first weeks of the fighting. AMR-35 ZT-1 13.2mm were unable to defeating even armored vehicles at normal combat due to their bullets being deflect by their sloping armor. During the remainder of the Second World War Germany made use of some captured vehicles under the designation Panzerspähwagen ZT 702(f).
In Girls Und Panzer
The Renault AMR-35 makes two appearances in the manga. First in a Tankathlon match against an unidentified school where they fielded at least five AMR-35 (three ZT-2 and two ZT-1 (at least one with 13.2mm MG, unclear for the other see trivia)). And a least five (two ZT-2, two ZT-1 with 13.2mm MG and one ZT-1 with 7.5mm MG) were fielded for the match against Tatenashi, after 1 R35 was shot down by Shizuka who mocked her Te-Ke as a R35 it raised the already existent tension between the two factions. The tension explodes when two of Freedom AMR-35 ZT-2 fires at a BC R35 mistaken it with the mocked-up Te-Ke, at this point BC thought that Freedom want to get rid of them and Freedom thought that BC is in cohort with the enemy starting an all-out battle between the faction.
- On Ribbon Warrior Chapter 6 there is a goof. On page 11 Asparagus uses a ZT-1 with 13.2mm HMG (the asymmetrical turret on the left and the long cannon indicates that's the AVIS-2 turret and the Hotchkiss MG), while on the page 12 she uses a ZT-1 with 7.5mm MG (the symmetrical turret and the shorter cannon indicates that's the AVIS-1 turret and clearly not the Hotchkiss MG so it's a Reibel MG). The only logical explanation is that Asparagus changed tanks during the fight, what is highly improbable.