Designed in 1933 and produced from 1936, the Renault R35 was intended as a light infantry support tank, equipping autonomous tank battalions, that would be allocated to individual infantry divisions to assist them in executing offensive operations. It was relatively well-armoured but slow and lacking a good antitank-capacity, fitted with a short 37 mm gun.
At the outbreak of the war, the anti-tank role was more emphasized leading to the development and eventual production from April 1940 of a subtype with a more powerful longer gun, the Renault R40. It was planned to shift new production capacity to the manufacture of other, faster, types, but due to the defeat of France the R35/40 remained the most numerous French tank of the war, about 1685 vehicles having been produced in June 1940.
R35's were also exported to Poland, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia. The Germans and their allies would also use captured vehicles.