With the upcoming release of the new plastic French infantry, Francomania has been running wild at Warlord Games HQ. Everyone and their dog is looking at starting a new French army, and a big part of that is choosing your artillery. French Forward Artillery Doctrine virtually guarantees that every force will be packing a brace of big guns, but the question is – which to take! Let’s look at the models currently in the range, and what they can do for you on the Bolt Action Tabletop. For convenience, I’ve split them into howitzers and anti-tank guns. For a more in-depth look at artillery in Bolt Action, check out this article from earlier this year.

French anti-tank gunners of the 2nd Army engage German panzers.


We’ll kick off with a certified classic – the iconic Canon de 75 modèle 1897, better known as the ‘French 75’. The world’s first truly ‘modern’ field artillery piece, it utilised a hydro-pneumatic recoil system to ensure the gun remained still while firing. This eliminated the need to reposition and re-aim after each shot, massively increasing the rate of fire. A stalwart of the First World War, the 75 was widely exported and copied, and although technological advancements meant it was approaching obsolescence by the outbreak of World War Two, it was still a capable weapon, and the primary light artillery of the French Army. Following the Fall of France, many would go on to see second-line use with German forces throughout the war. On the tabletop, the French 75 is the archetypal light howitzer, giving good indirect service on a budget, at only 60 points for Regular with a Spotter. For the competitively minded, it’s also a great excuse to add an 8-point horse limber or 4-point mule team to your force – the cheapest Order Dice in the game! As it’s such good value, I wouldn’t usually take it as my free choice (unless I’m bringing a pair, of course), but it’s a great budget option to sit in your ‘normal’ artillery slot, as well as being an absolute icon of the French military.

The second of the two readily available howitzers is the larger Canon de 105 court modèle 1934 Schneider. This intermediate 105mm gun was a relatively simple and old-fashioned design, but nonetheless, a perfectly serviceable weapon which performed well when called upon. As with most of the French artillery train, captured examples were put to good use by the Germans, and the direct descendants of this weapon would go on to service in various armed forces around the world until the 1980s! As a medium howitzer, it’s arguably the gold standard of tactical artillery in Bolt Action, and it’s a rare French force that doesn’t include at least one – and I can’t say I blame them! 85 points for Regular with a spotter is fantastic value – the only thing that could be better is getting one for free as well! You really can’t go wrong with a good medium howitzer, but remember – if you double up on high explosive, you might find yourself lacking in the anti-tank department. That brings us nicely to…

Anti-Tank Guns

The first of the two anti-tank options for the French army is the canon de 25 mm semi-automatique modèle 1934, known in English as the 25mm Hotchkiss gun. While a 25mm anti-tank round might seem frankly puny to those of us used to later-war monsters, the Hotchkiss was an excellent inter-war design, and was widely exported worldwide, being more than sufficiently powerful to deal with the tanks then in development. Unfortunately, by 1940 it was found to lack the necessary stopping power to reliably defeat German Panzer IIIs and IVs, but was still a thoroughly acceptable weapon for dealing with armoured cars, half-tracks, and the large numbers of Panzer Is and IIs still in German service. The British Expeditionary Force were also equipped with the type (in addition to their own 2-pounders), and of course captured examples could be found in German and Italian hands later in the war. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of light anti-tank guns, but I have seen them used to great effect (sometimes against me!), particularly if they are overlooked. At only 50 points for Regular, +4 Penetration is nothing to sniff at, particularly in the early war, where you can expect to see plenty of Damage Value 7+ and 8+ vehicles!

The larger (and unfortunately for the French, rarer) of the anti-tank guns in French service was the canon de 47 mm semi-automatique mle 1937. A genuinely modern and dangerous gun, it was a potent threat to all German armour in theatre – there simply weren’t enough to go round! Captured examples would go on to serve on the Atlantic Wall, and as the main armament of a number of Panzerjäger tank destroyer conversions, and the gun remained viable throughout the war in this role. I really like medium anti-tank guns, as 75 points for a Regular weapon that can genuinely menace virtually any tank it comes up against is a real bargain. My temptation for a French force is always to take a free medium howitzer, and then a 47mm in my second artillery slot, giving me a good mix of anti-infantry and anti-tank punch, particularly if I’m supplementing my HE barrage with a medium mortar and plenty of VB launchers!

Remember, if you purchase any of the above artillery pieces directly from the Warlord Games webstore, you’ll receive a large MDF oval base for free. allowing players to mount their weapons and crews together on a single, high-quality base, and strike an impressive diorama on the tabletop. This offer is exclusive to the Warlord Games webstore.

A French anti-tank gun team lies in wait.

When putting together your new French army (yes, that one – the one you’re planning right now!), remember that you’ve got two artillery slots, and plenty of options. Use them wisely!

French Army – Bolt Action Starter Army Boxed Set

The new French Starter Army is your first port of call for starting a new Bolt Action French Army, as it contains no fewer than 36 of the brand-new plastic infantry (get a closer look at the new kit here). A medium mortar, medium machine gun and 25mm anti-tank gun provide additional firepower to these brave sons of France, whilst armoured support is found in the Char B1 bis medium tank.

French Army All-in Bundle

Kick it up a notch with the All-in bundle, containing the starter army, the Armies of France and the Allies Bolt Action supplement, and a host of other miniatures for a wealth of tactical options on the tabletop. It represents terrific value from buying its contents separately, you’ll get a weapons teams box, and perhaps best of all, two of the artillery pieces discussed above for free!

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