- For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:Flammpz. B2(f)
Flammpz. B2 is a German Support unit. It is a captured French heavy tank pressed into German service after the battle of France. Meant to be a breakthrough tank in trench warfare, it was considered to be very well armoured and powerfully armed in 1940. However, tank design had advanced by leaps and bounds and the Panzer B2 had clearly become an outdated design by 1944.
The tank is an interesting combination of two main gun. Its armour and mediocre gun only makes it suitable to fighting light tanks & vehicles. However, it sports a powerful napalm flamethrower capable of incinerating enemy infantry at 260m range, acting as a close support tank.
Flammpz. B2 is a Panzer B2(f) having its "KwK 37 L/24 (75mm)" mounted in the hull replaced with a flame projector.
Switching the 1000m-range "KwK 37 L/24 (75mm)" against the 260m-range flame projector clearly designates the Flammpz. B2 for close support. The remaining 1000m-range "SA 35 L/27 (47mm)" mounted in the turret is unlikely to supress enemy AT guns in time, but good enough to fight and destroy lightly armored enemy vehicles.
The hull mounted flame projector points to the front and can only pivote about 7.5° to each side requiring the entire tank to rotate (and therefore to move, i.e. the currently firing turret weapon receives a huge penalty to its accuracy!) to be able to shoot at a target outside its very small 15° cone of vision.
The most decisive weakness of the Flammpz. B2 is its speed of 13km/h. Infantry can outrun it, making this flametank specifically vulnerable to enemy AT infantry. If you think you might need to pull the unit back into safety, keep it on the road.
The Flammpanzer B2(f) is a nice complement to the defence-oriented 716. Infanterie, giving it a powerful close support unit which helps the division's numerous infantry units to combat enemy soft targets. Its main impact is in phase A, where one one-star Flammpanzer B2 is available for deployment and enemy AT threat is still relatively low. There's always the risk of losing the tank to troops equipped with AT weapons, so it's best to send in some Osttruppen or other infantry to scout & pin down enemy infanty before engaging with the support tank. Dousing enemy locations with artillery also helps in softening up the enemy before engaging.
When phase B comes around, the Flammpz. B2(f) will start becoming much more vulnerable as potent Allied AT starts arriving on the battlefield. However, it remains a core support unit in the division, whose doctrine is that of defensive pushes - infantry leads the way, supported by copious amounts of artillery and light tanks. The B2's main gun is woefully inadequate against enemy tanks at this stage. Instead, firepower must come from the division's anti-tank arm: Pak 43s, Pak 40s and Marders.
Flammpz. Sd.Kfz. 251/16 is the other Axis unit with a flame projector and much more agile.
The most powerful French tank in 1940, the 32-ton B1-bis was armed with a hull-mounted SA 35 75mm howitzer for use against fortifications, a turret-mounted SA 35 47mm gun, and a MAC 31 7.5mm machinegun. Its design philosophy was rooted in World War I experiences, with the specifications that eventually culminated in the B1 dating back to 1919. However, the tank put in production in 1935 was a surprisingly advanced design, including self-sealing petrol tanks, a fireproof bulkhead, a gyroscopic compass, an electric starter and a floor escape hatch doubling as chute for the disposal of empty cases. It proved itself largely invulnerable to German tanks during the Fall of France, defeated by logistical problems and strategic mistakes rather than direct combat.
With 365 built before the defeat of France, many Char B1s were captured in serviceable condition and pressed into German service as Panzerkampfwagen B-2 740(f). Most were utilized as tanks, primarily for occupation duties, but a number were modified for special purposes: Sixteen were converted into self-propelled artillery, mounted with a 10.5 cm leFH 18 light howitzer in an open-top casemate. Another sixty were modified by replacing the hull howitzer with a flamethrower, creating the Flammwagen auf Panzerkampfwagen B-2(f).
These tanks of the 716. Infanterie Division are part of Panzer-Abteilung 213. In real life this Panzer-Abteilung was stationed in the Channel Island with the 319. Infanterie DIvision. Panzer-Abteilung 213 had two Kompanies each with 15 Char B2 and five Flammpz. B2.