On the Drawing Board (1) :
Tanks and Armoured Cars

[ Main Page ]  [ Abbreviations ]  [ Sources ]
En franšais

This is a selection of planned vehicles which reached either prototype or mock up stage. Not all planned vehicles are covered (no B1 ter or AMX 38 yet).

[ ARL V 39 ]  [ SOMUA S 40 and SAu 40 ]  [ FCM F1 ]  [ Renault G1R ]  [ Gendron AM 39 ]  [ Panhard AM 40 P ]

ARL V 39 :  [ Top of Page ]

Unarmoured prototype of the ARL V 39 self-propelled gun.

Designed as a self-propelled gun for the DCRs, the Infantry's armoured divisions, 72 ARL V 39 (including 24 unarmed command variants) were ordered on 15 October 1939 to arm 8 battalions each with two batteries of 3 vehicles (two battalions per DCR). On 9 May 1940, the order was increased to 108. The ARL V 39 was to have 50mm armour and be armed, like the SAu 40, with a new "high power" APX 75mm gun of which only two prototypes existed, both mounted on the SPG prototypes. None were produced other than the single prototype, evacuated to Morroco and abandoned there.

Derived from the 1929 fortress gun (itself a development of the old 1897 field gun) with a semi-automatic breech and an automatic loader added, the "high power" APX 75mm gun fired a mle 1915 HE round with a reduced charge at 400 m/s and the mle 1915 AP round at 570 m/s (50mm penetration at 1000 m) and its two sights and stereoscopic rangefinder allowed a direct fire range of 2000 m. Horizontal traverse was 7° to the left and 7°6 to the right, -10° to 30° vertically. 200 rounds were carried. One original feature of the gun was the fact that the barrel could be retracted inside the hull to reduce the vehicles length when moving.

SOMUA S 40 and SAu 40 :  [ Top of Page ]

From left to right : a late SOMUA S 35, the improved S 40 and SAu 40 self-propelled gun prototypes.

The main differences between the S 40 and its forerunner are : slightly wider simplified hull for ease of production, uprated engine (220 hp instead of 190, 13475 cc, 45 km/h), slightly redesigned running gear with the front wheel moved forward, a new wider ARL 2C turret (the turret on the photo is a wooden mock up). Production was planned for July or late June 1940.

The SAu 40 SPG was initially the ARL V 39's counterpart for the DLMs, the Cavalry's armoured divisions. 36 vehicles were ordered on the same day as the ARL V 39 (24 SPGs and 12 command vehicles, organised as the ARLs) but this was cancelled on 1 May 1940 because of teething problems with the new 75mm "high power" APX gun and in order to standardise production on the ARL design. Instead, 72 SAu 40s were ordered as tank destoyers, armed with the 47mm mle 1937 (the same gun as the Artillery's 47mm ATG). None of these were produced but  it appears that the SAu 40 prototype above saw action in an improvised unit in June 1940.

FCM F1 :  [ Top of Page ]

Full scale wooden mock up (note the man standing on the left who gives a good idea of the F1's size).

Twelve of these 140 tonnes behemoths were ordered on 27 April 1940 to replace the aging FCM 2Cs. This tank, designed to lead assaults on the Siegfried Line in 1941, was to be armed with a high-velocity 90mm gun (mv 710 m/s, penetration 100mm at 1000 m) in the rear turret and a 75mm SA 35 in the front turret (the mock up above shows a 47mm gun mock up instead) with a 25mm AT gun on each side of the hull ! The design wasn't finalised however and armament variants included a 105mm gun in the forward turret of in the front hull. Its front armour was to be 120mm with 100mm side armour and its two 550 hp engines would hopefully allow it to race along at a mighty 24 km/h...

Renault G1R :  [ Top of Page ]

Two views of the wooden mock up of Renault's G1 R tank, probably the most promising tank design

The 1936 requirement for a D2 replacement in the "battle tank" role called for a 20 tonnes tank, capable of 40 km/h, with the armour of a B1 bis, a 47mm SA 35 turret gun and a hull-mounted 75mm gun. However, Renault's design evolved into a 35 tonne tank with a turret mounted "high power" APX 75mm gun... which was rejected on 14 May 1940 because it was too far from any official requirement !

Gendron AM 39 :  [ Top of Page ]

Right : Final prototype of the Gendron AM 39 with an APX 5 turret mounting a 25mm gun and a 7.5 coax MG

Designed as a short-range reconnaissance armoured car (AMR) in 1934, the Gendron AM 39 was adopted on 2 September 1939 and 150 were ordered as stop gap vehicles to supplement the Reanult AMR 1935 pending the delivery of the Panhard AM 40 P.

Engine : 75 hp, 4840 cc     Weight : 6150 kg
Speed : 69 km/h     Armour : 15 mm
Length : 3.74 m     Width : 2.05 m     Height : 2.00 m

Panhard AM 40 P (voiture spéciale 201) :  [ Top of Page ]

Right : Panhard AM 40 P prototype.

Designed to the 1938 specifications of the "auto-mitrailleuse puissante" (powerful armoured car) which fused all armoured car classes into one, this was a very innovative low profile, 8-wheel drive, monocoque 2-man design with an oscillating turret and 60mm armour ! The central wheels were used only for cross-country movement and could be raised for road travel. The main armament would most likely have been a 47mm gun although a 25mm was mounted on th prototype. 600 were ordered... on 1st May 1940. The single prototype was evacuated to North Africa and lost there, although many of the AM 40 P's features were incorporated into the post-war EBR.

Engine : 85 hp, 3834 cc     Weight : 9000 kg
Speed : 80 km/h     Armour : 60 mm
Length : 4.34 m     Width : 2.00 m     Height : 1.80 m

Sources : [ Top of Page ]

[ Main Page
[ Top of Page ]