Battle of Hannut - Aftermath


The German PzKpfw III and IV were the only German tanks capable of matching the SOMUA S35 in battle. The SOMUA S35 was generally considered to be the most formidable tank during the campaign in the west. Despite being outnumbered by odds of two to one, the German forces still managed to defeat the qualitative and numerical superiority of the French. The Germans saving grace was their superior tactical deployment. Using radio and mobility they constantly outmanoeuvred the French, who used rigid, static positioning as in the First World War. The French tanks could not communicate with such fluidity or rapidity. Thus tactical and operational expedience was lost, and prevented effective coordination. The German tanks also had more crew members. The Commander could concentrate on command tasks, while the French commanders had to act as gunner and assistant gunner as well.

The German plan failed to forestall the French 1st Army at Gembloux, despite their victory over the 3rd DLM. Still, Hoepner's advance to the Belgian plain tied down the Cavalry Corps and part of the French First Army while the decisive German assault succeeded across the Meuse to the south-east. The Germans had hoped that Hoepner's panzers and their neighbouring corps would tie down and neutralise the threat of the First Army. However on 15 May, forces of the First Army, properly settled into position, checked the Panzerwaffe which gained them time and space to manoeuvre. In the end it was the First Army which, sacrificing itself, held up the bulk of the Panzers which had broken through to the Southeast, enabling the British Expeditionary Force and other French units to escape from Dunkirk.

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