The Char D1 was the next tank on my Tier II project (about to be expanded with the advent of British tanks) and I have to say it was a very frustrating time. When I have done with the Tier II tanks this tank will certainly not be among the candidates to be retained. Playing this tank is about like trying to touch-type with three fingers taped together.
I believe this tank belongs to the infantry tank doctrine of slow moving, relatively heavily armoured tanks with weaker weaponry. The “problem” is that, as the game plays, this tank is not really very well armoured at all. Oh it has more armour than most other Tier II tanks, just not enough. Tier II tank destroyers, quite a few upgraded Tier II tanks, and Tier III tanks all have relatively little trouble in ruining one’s day. The hull armour is weaker than the turret armour, which means a “hull-down” strategy might work – except there is virtually no depression to the gun.
Likewise the firepower of the tank – especially to start with – is not so much underpowered as utterly anaemic. The problem is really one of penetration – there just is not very much. Once the gun is upgraded finally there is the capacity to inflict damage, but even then it feels a good deal less than other tanks of this tier. The slow speed, combined with poor overall damage and inadequate protection, is the final insult.
It is interesting in a way to compare this tank to the Pz 38H 735f. That tank is also a slow moving, heavily armoured, weaker-firing tank. However, while certainly no quicker than the D1 that tank has two vital advantages – the armour is just that little bit better, and so is the armament.
My own experience of the Char D1 lasted six battles (two victories) with only one enemy kill to my name. It is some comfort to know that, in real life, this tank was also something of a failure, shipped out of France to the colonies before World War 2 broke out.
Now, I generall