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. However, their government is divided, with Communist influences threatening to weaken it further. The memory of the Great War is also very much alive, and the people of France are reluctant to fight another major war in Europe. Should an aggressive adversary like Germany threaten its heartland, France is unlikely to be willing to sustain defensive efforts that could see the entire country devastated.
- 1 Historical Background
- 2 Events
- 3 National focus
- 4 Technology
- 5 Politics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Military
- 8 Strategies and Guides
- 9 Achievements
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.
Threatened with annihilation, the British evacuated their expeditionary forces and what Allied units they could until Dunkirk fell. Soon thereafter, France agreed to an armistice—effectively surrendering—in 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.
- 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 shared 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 or to strengthen the current democratic 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.
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 infantry equipment and industry. This makes France a technologically weak country by the time Germany invades.
|Without Man the Guns|
France is the only nation to start with Battlecruiser II, a 1940 technology.
France starts with four National Spirits in Man the Guns:
- Recruitable Population: −0.3%
- War Support: -5%
- Land Doctrine Research Speed: -75%
Disjointed Government and Protected by the Maginot Line can possibly 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|
Staff and Designers
These are choices of ministers and design companies for France.
|Conscription Law||Economy Law||Trade Law|
| Limited Conscription
|| Civilian Economy
|| Export Focus
6 Military Factories
8 Naval Dockyard
35 Civilian Factories
Military production is dwarfed by Germany (28) 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 Mécanisée
- Armor - Division Blindée
France has 1 Carrier(CV), 5 Battleships(BB), 7 Heavy Cruisers(CA), 7 Light Cruisers(CL), 52 Destroyers(DD) and 63 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 Kriegsmarine 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 BB, DD and SS techs. 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.
42 Naval Bombers
204 Tactical Bombers
France starts with 450 fighters, 42 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.
These are the Military Staff candidates for appointment in France.
Strategies and Guides
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 1.1.
Veteran Democratic France - Extend the Maginot
HoI4 France in 1936 lacks any sort of significant military industry and the political power needed to change mobilization or conscription ideas. In veteran or elite difficulty, France actually loses political power. In addition, French divisions are severely lacking in equipment at the 1936 start, requiring significant time just to get all divisions up to strength. Because of these factors, a democratic France (especially on Veteran/Elite) is unable to field an offensive army by 1939 and should focus purely on defense.
On veteran difficulty it is absolutely essential to take the political focus tree down to Strengthen Government Support first. It is possible to go either with the Allies or form the Little Entente, but if neither Romania or Yugoslavia join the Little Entente the alliance is pointless (since there's no way to help Czechoslovakia).
After finishing Strengthen Government Support, France gains a national spirit that increases stability for 365 days. Take the French industrial tree down to the extra research slot during this time (350 days total) and then take the defensive military focus. Upon conclusion of the military focus, The strengthen government support national spirit will no longer be present and it will be possible to take the Defensive Stratagems focus, removing Disjointed Government. Alternatively, it is possible to delay taking any focus after the research slot to wait for the government support spirit to disappear and then take Defensive Stratagems.
The next focus to take is Levée en Masse. The infantry equipment production bonus is important to give France enough equipment to arm all of its divisions. After that the fortification focus should be taken.
During a Little Entente run, the fort construction focuses must be taken and then immediately the invitation focuses to other nations to join the French faction must be taken. During an Allies run, it is possible to first take the Algerian industry focuses and then the fort construction ones. Once these focuses are complete it is up to the player to decide their priorities.
France begins with only 3 research slots and a massive penalty to land doctrine research. It is advisable to not research land doctrine and instead focus on industry. It is useful to start the game researching anti-tank so as to have divisions equipped with 1939 anti-tank when war with Germany begins. Researching 1936 fighters before 1937-1938 should also be done so as to begin production before war begins.
All industry should be producing military factories. The default French infantry division template works, though ideally it would also have support engineers and anti-tank. A good military factory allocation is 8-10 factories to infantry equipment, 4 to support equipment, then 2-3 on artillery and 4-5 on anti-tank. After those are covered, military factories should be devoted to fighters and CAS.
In early or mid 1938 industry should be turned to construction of land forts along the Italian and Belgian borders. Land forts cost more to produce the higher the level they are, but the focuses to extend the Maginot line add 2 levels to the Italian and Belgian borders regardless of the current fort level there, so it is more efficient to first construct 3 levels of forts on each state before completing the focuses.
Most French divisions in mainland France should be converted to the basic infantry division at the start of the game. If the player considers having armored divisions, all divisions should be converted to the "Légère Méchanisée" template. However, on veteran difficulty it is more efficient to not use armored divisions at all (until later on in the war when France fully mobilizes) as they require significant industrial investment. It is advised to station about a dozen divisions in Algeria and 4-5 in Egypt (if joining the Allies).
Divisions will have to be exercised to gain enough military experience to improve their templates. Engineering and Recon support battalions are useful. Adding anti-tank support battalions is highly recommended when eventually fighting Germany.
The French Air Force should get as many fighters as possible after the Army is equipped. Air superiority will prevent forts on the German and Belgian borders from being damaged. Close air support allows for infantry-based pushes and naval bombing in the Mediterranean.
The French Navy is useful, but does not require much attention. The default production lines given at the start of 1936 are fine and should complete sometime around 1939 if all dockyards are used to produce it. Be sure to place the two battlecruisers in the Mediterranean to fight the Italian navy.
War will either break out in 1938 or 1939 depending on what route the player is taking. Players looking to protect Czechoslovakia should have 20-24 infantry divisions sent to Czechoslovakia and 8-12 divisions sent to Yugoslavia to help hold the line. 20 or so divisions is enough to hold the Maginot line in 1938, and all remaining divisions should be placed on the Italian border in the very likely case that Italy declares war on France. As many divisions as possible should be trained the moment war begins to help the Italian front and hold the Belgian border.
In the case of a war in 1938, it is possible to launch offensives from Czechoslovakia to create a small pocket against Western Poland, drastically shortening the front and freeing divisions to exploit gaps the stupid AI makes. Without Czechoslovakian factories and with an extremely large front to defend, France can capitulate Germany by 1939 with careful micromanagement.
If going to war in 1939, France should have 48-56 divisions on a defensive line from Switzerland to the English Channel along the border with Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Care should be taken to reinforce the tip of the Maginot line, as the easternmost state can be attacked by 24 divisions at once. All remaining divisions should be sent to the Alps against the Italians.
As of patch 1.5.4, it seems that the AI will never seriously commit to attacking states with forts over level 6. From my experience, the only time Germany will ever attack the Maginot line seems to be during the initial push into Belgium, presumably because the AI executes a plan across the entire front. Thus, it is possible to hold the line with just 2-3 colonial divisions on each state bordering Germany and Italy. This leaves the player free to commit better divisions to roll over North Africa, hold Switzerland and potentially Spain, invade Italy, and hold Southeast Asia.
It is probably also possible to build level 4 forts in limited parts of northern France or on the Italian border to ensure Germany/Italy attacks them and wastes their manpower and equipment, but this is untested.