France is a major power in 1936, one of the winners of the Great War, and in control of a globe-spanning empire. Their heartland in Europe is rich; almost half of Africa is under their control; and they have colonies in Indochina, Syria and Guyana, not to mention direct control of islands in all the oceans of the world.
France, along with the United Kingdom, guaranteed the independence of Poland prior to its invasion by Germany. Feeling secured by the Maginot Line in the Eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, France declared war against Germany with the United Kingdom. However the Allied armies were defeated in just six weeks during the Battle of France against Germany and Italy, in contrast to the years-long campaign expectation by both sides. Thinking their chances poor regardless, Germany gambled on a decisive victory by sending Panzer divisions through Luxembourg and the Ardennes forested hills, terrain which the French supreme commander Gamelin thought unable to sustain tank movements. The Panzers then drove — without waiting for infantry to secure their supply lines — through France to the English Channel, surrounding the bulk of the Allied forces which had been sent to Belgium's border with Germany aiming to deny them room for mobile warfare and overconfident that their main thrust would be through Belgium as in WWI's Schlieffen Plan.
The British evacuated their expeditionary forces and what Allied units they could until Dunkirk fell. And soon, France effectively surrendered — a defeat which caused great astonishment to the rest of the world, as France was a leading world power that only 20 years earlier had won the Great War.
France sued for peace and, in a German-dictated armistice, was divided between a German occupied zone, in the north and along the Atlantic coast, and the free zone in the south. Germany wholly annexed the Alsace-Lorraine, while Italy occupied Corsica and Nice.
Philippe Pétain, a hero of WWI, took control of France's government. The authoritarian regime of Pétain was called the “État Français” but, as the government moved from Paris to the city of Vichy, is more often called “Vichy France”.
The Petain regime soon engaged in collaboration with Germany, believing the Axis would be the winners of WWII, and Hitler the leader in the fight against international communism.
In England, General Charles de Gaulle launched his famous "Appel du 18 juin" calling all soldiers to join him to continue the fight against the Axis, thus creating what would later be known as the Free French Army which fought alongside the Allies.
In the French colonies, some remained loyal to Vichy France (Algeria), and some preferred to join the Free French.
After the invasion of Algeria in November 1942 by Allied troops in "Operation Torch", Germany invaded Vichy France, in order to take control of Mediterranean ports and the remains of the French Navy in Toulon harbor. The crews scuttled their ships, instead of being caught by German troops.
The Free French Army participated in the invasion of Normandy in "Operation Overlord", with a special air service on D-day, and later in the battle of Normandy with a armored division (2eme Division Blindée, led by General Leclerc), which was part of 3rd Army under US General Patton. Leclerc's forces were authorized to be the first to liberate Paris.
After the liberation of most of the French territory, the First French Army was created with all French soldiers and resistance fighters who wished to join it. Their equipment was a mix between recent American equipment and 1940 materials which had been taken back during the Liberation of France. This First French Army was in charge of the entire far-right flank of the Allies, next to Switzerland.
After the Liberation of France, General de Gaulle became the head of the provisional government, until the 4th French Republic formed in 1946.
- Main article: French events
- Main article: French national focus tree
The French national focus tree can be divided into 4 branches:
- Industrial branch
- This branch offers the possibility to develop Metropolitan France and the overseas region, as well as two more research slots.
- Defensive and aggressive branch
- These branches are mutually exclusive. They end with the shard focus Army Reform which removes the starting national spirit Victors of the Great War. (This focus can only be taken after removing Disjointed Government via the government reform branch.)
- Government Reform branch
- This branch consists of various diplomatic focuses and focuses to change the ideology of the government. All possible mutually exclusive branches contain a focus to remove the crippling Disjointed Government national spirit.
- Navy and air force branch
- This branch includes focuses which grant experience and research bonuses to improve in these domains.
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.3.
France starts with very good tanks, having unlocked 2 levels of the light tanks tree. This is offset by a major penalty to doctrine research, making it extremely time consuming to develop proper doctrines. In addition, France's focus tree lacks many research boosts that other majors (and even minors) do have, such as artillery, infantry equipment and industry. Combined with having one less research slot than Italy, this makes France a technologically weak country by the time Germany invades.
France is the only nation to start with Battlecruiser II, a 1940 technology.
|Army Technology||Naval Technology||Air Technology||Electronics & Industry|
France starts with three National Spirits:
Disjointed Government and Protected by the Maginot Line can be removed by completing National Focuses in the Government Reform branch.
Victors of the Great War can be removed by completing National Focuses in the Defensive or Aggressive branches.
France starts outside of the Allies at the start of 1936, but has options to join later. They also have focuses to form their own faction with Czechoslovakia and invite Yugoslavia and Romania to form the Little Entente.
France has focuses to intervene in the Spanish Civil War, either for the Nationalists or Republicans, but these require first becoming fascist or communist.
|Rule||Whether it applies||Reason|
|Can declare war on country of the same ideology group without a war goal||No||Democracy|
|Can Guarantee other Ideologies||Yes||Democracy|
|Can join Factions led by another Ideology||Yes||Democracy|
|Can create Factions||No||No National Spirit. Requires National Focus|
|Lowers World Tension with Guarantees||Yes||Democracy|
|Can puppet a country||No||Democracy|
|Can justify wargoals against a country that have not generated world tension||No||Democracy|
|Conscription Law||Economy Law||Trade Law|
| Limited Conscription
|| Civilian Economy
|| Export Focus
6 Military Factories
8 Naval Dockyard
36 Civilian Factories
Military production is dwarfed by Germany (40) and Italy (19) and only on par with Belgium. The player can also expect production to be crippled by the 1936 strikes. However, the very good civilian production allows for considerable military buildup in the years before the war.
These numbers represent the base available resources, depending on the trade law a certain amount may be traded away.
France has access to huge amounts of Steel and Aluminum. They also control large supplies of Rubber, Chromium and Tungsten from their Asian colonies. They have no access to Oil so they need to import that.
France has 74 divisions in 1936, but several of those are colonial divisions with only two infantry battalions, and their armored divisions are basically brigades. They rely on the heavy fortifications at the border against Germany to defend them there.
Examples of alternative division template names for France include:
- Mountaineers - Division d'Infanterie Alpine
- Marines - Division d'Infanterie de Marine
- Paratroopers - Division Aéroportée
- Motorized - Division d'Infanterie Motorisée
- Mechanized - Division d'Infanterie Mécanique
- Armor - Division Blindée
France has 1 Carrier(CV), 5 Battleships(BB), 7 Heavy Cruisers(CA), 7 Light Cruisers(CL), 52 Destroyers(DD) and 57 Submarines(SS) at the start, and boasts a reasonably modern - if understrength - fleet. Whilst the Marine Nationale is strong enough to decisively defeat either the Kreigsmarine or the Regia Marina alone, it would have no chance against a combined Axis fleet. As with her tanks, France begins the game with modern naval technology, such as 1936 CA, CL, DD and SS techs, and even 1940 BC tech. However, poor naval infrastructure and low shipbuilding priority means that constructing a large modern fleet is not easy, and in fact can often be counter-productive in that it denies vital raw materials from tank and motorized production.
As of the v1.3 patch, the old Courbet-class dreadnought battleships Courbet and Paris have been added, and the battlecruisers Dunkerque and Strasbourg are under construction in 1936.
In 1939, the modern Richelieu-class battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart and Clemenceau are under construction.
This means all of France's capital ships are now correctly available.
44 Naval Bombers
204 Tactical Bombers
France starts with 457 fighters, 48 Naval Bombers and 204 modern Tactical Bombers. It is a rather good air force, but it will need to be significantly strengthened before the war starts.
Strategies and Guides
Build all of your industry in Africa, this is because you will need them if you surrender.
The level 10 forts on the German border will make sure that Germany will not be able to go through there. Build level 10 forts on the borders with Luxembourg and Belgium as this will make it nearly impossible for Germany to invade you. Build at least level 4 forts on the Italian border and defend it with 24 mountaineers. Send all of your tanks and motorized divisions to Africa so that you can take Africa, as you will not need them in France as it is going to be entirely defensive. If Italy manages to push past the mountains, and if Germany breaks past your level 10 forts or if Spain declares war on you, immediately evacuate France. This means that you won't lose any troops when France falls. Evacuate them to England and North Africa. Then send those troops from England to the rest of your colonies. Always refuse Japanese demand for French-Indo-China, and defend it if they go to war with you over it. If Japan puppets Siam retreat your troops to Indonesia or Malaysia and defend the rubber supplies. In the African focus on kicking Italy out of Libya, let England remove Ethiopia and if the Spanish join, kick them out of Africa. In the Middle-East the player should use a few divisions to kick Vichy France out of Syria. Have extra divisions ready to kick them out of Tunisia.
Alternatively, France can attempt an early-all-out attack on Germany.
In the beginning of the 1936 scenario, Germany actually has a smaller army and navy than France. When Germany attempts to Militarize the Rhineland, declare war on them (Don't expect the British to help you if you do) but make sure that all of your troops are positioned by the French-German border
Another consequence of going to war over the Rhineland is a civil war within France (Due to the disjointed government, the Communists declare war).
Advance into Germany while dealing with the Communist Rebels. Defeat the French Communists as fast as possible to gain back the territory, resources and factories for the conflict against Germany. Without Austria and Czechoslovakia, Germany is not ready for war, and will last only several months against France.
Once you've defeated Germany, France is now in a position of unrivaled power. Focus on improving the Army and Navy (Since Japan has a large navy) while justifying war on Italy. They should lose within a few months (be careful of the mountain terrain of Central Italy and the land route towards Sicily)
With Germany and Italy annexed, France should defeat Japan (which should be at war with the Chinese by now).
Together with the Allies, you can defeat the Soviet Union (If they declared war on Poland).
Little Entente Strategy
France has the option of creating a little entente with Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia as members. Little entente can be used to fight Germany a year earlier (in historical mode) when it tries to take Sudetenland. This alternate strategy has several pros and cons over the more historical gameplay of joining the war when Germany attacks Poland. Pros: no Italy in axis yet, a year earlier means a weaker Germany, Germany will fight on three fronts and France only on one front. Cons: no English support, the player will need to spend some political power to join the war, the player will have one less year to prepare for war. Keep in mind that because of superior industrial power and fascism bonuses Germany would be able to strengthen itself more than France could in that extra year.
While the benefits outweigh the negatives the 1938 war with Germany will still be difficult. The player should focus on the offensive. Before the war focus all construction on factories and stay clear of spending any of your industrial power on forts. In terms of focuses Get to "Strengthen the government" first to remove the destructive Disjoint government. Then focus on ideas that establish your entente and give you more industrial power. Be ready with your army on the western front as soon as you see Germany start the Sudetenland focus. Since this will be a more local war recall all your Asian and African forces to your German border.
When war starts attack, but be aware that attacking over Rhine can be very difficult. A better approach is to push for Moselland where there is no river crossing. Since Germany will likely focus on Czechoslovakia you will have relatively few divisions on French front the player should be able to overwhelm them with superior numbers. Once the line is broken the player should try to find a weak point to cross Rhine. The general idea is to reach Czechoslovakia before it falls which is a matter of time, or to at least destroy some German divisions before they focus a much larger force on the French army. Reaching Czechoslovakia cripples Germany since half their army is now split in a landlocked area with no access to capital. At that point the war is won. Taking as many German provinces as possible after the war will create one of the most industrially powerful nations.
All the while on the sea be sure to setup a blockade, France has enough ships to make sure that Germany never gets a drop of oil from outside of Europe.