Categories
Cold War French Fake Tanks Fake Tanks

Panhard EBR 105 (Fake Tank)

Nation France (1970s)
Fake armored car

The French company of Panhard was and remains perhaps the largest provider of wheeled armored vehicles of the French military ever since the interwar era. The manufacturer of many of France’s most successful armored cars, such as the Panhard 178 or AML, one of the company’s most peculiar armored vehicles for its time was the 8-wheeled Panhard EBR. It was developed as a response to a program initiated as early as March of 1945 by the French Military, looking for a 75 mm armed, high-mobility, long-range wheeled reconnaissance vehicle.

Panhard’s vehicle was adopted in December of 1949 and mass-produced in two major variants all the way up to 1960. Notable for its quite heavy firepower for a wheeled vehicle (particularly the model fitted with the AMX-13’s FL-10 turret, produced from 1954 onward), 8-wheel configuration with two metallic side-wheels being used to improve the vehicle’s cross-terrain capacities (the vehicle using just the 4 front and rear wheels on good terrain), and dual driving post guaranteeing equal speed forward and backward, the EBR served as a mainstay of the French military’s reconnaissance force for most of the Cold War. The vehicle was finally retired in 1985.

In comparison to many other French military vehicles of the era, the EBR was long excluded from most popular video games focusing on armored vehicles, due to those, for a time, almost exclusively including only tracked vehicles. In recent years, though, the progressive diversification of these games, and notably Wargaming’s ‘World of Tanks’ (‘WoT’), has lead to the inclusion of French wheeled vehicles in WoT’s update 1.4, on the 6th of February 2018. As part of that upgrade, six French wheeled vehicles were added to the game; of those, one was Hotchkiss’ EBR prototype, the unlucky competitor to the Panhard EBR in the late 1940s, and two variants of the Panhard EBR: the EBR 90, and the so-called ‘EBR 105’, armed with a 105 mm gun in a turret that has never been seen on the EBR. (The model 1954 EBR, fitted with the FL-10 turret, would also be added a premium at a later date)

A render of Wargaming’s EBR 105. Source: Wargaming

Historical upgrades to the EBR’s firepower

Historically, the Panhard EBR went through two major upgrades to its firepower during its service.

A column of Model 1951 EBRs – the first production model – of France’s 8th Hussars Regiment during military exercises. Source: Char-français

As it first entered service, the EBR was fitted with the 75 mm SA 49 main gun; a medium-velocity 75 mm gun, offering anti-armor performances more along the lines of the 75 mm guns used in vehicles the likes of the Panzer IV during the Second World War – so quite outdated by the 1950s. This gun was fitted in the FL-11, a fairly small oscillating turret, featuring no autoloader but a manual loader instead.

The first concept for improving the EBR’s firepower was straight up giving the vehicle the FL-10 turret used on the AMX-13, which featured the longer 75 mm SA 50 with an autoloader, and was much larger and higher. This concept was first considered in 1951; an EBR prototype first received the FL-10 turret in 1952, and after an order in July of 1953, the first examples would be delivered in the last days of 1954. This model would be known as the EBR model 1954.

An EBR mle 1954 during cross-country exercises. The larger, heavier, and higher FL-10 turret gave the vehicle a much higher silhouette and center of gravity, though the 75 mm SA 50 main gun was vastly more potent than the original 75mm SA 49. Source: char-français

The 75 mm SA 50 offered much more firepower than the SA 49, but the addition of the FL-10 turret made the EBR heavier (from 12.5 to 14.9 tonnes) and higher (from 2.33 to 2.58 m). Therefore, the FL-10 armed model only supplemented the FL-11 armed one, with only about 280 FL-10 equipped EBR manufactured, while about 900 FL-11 equipped ones were produced.

The 1960s saw considerable evolution in anti-tank gun technology, and notably lower-pressure guns firing HEAT projectiles. These new guns could offer performances similar or even superior to older low-velocity guns at a fraction of the weight (albeit typically at a reduced maximum effective range). For the EBR, this resulted in the D.921A gun, the same as on Panhard’s lighter AML being adopted for the FL-11 equipped examples in 1964. With the Panhard EBR being out of production by four years at this point, 650 FL-11 equipped EBR were refitted with the 90 mm gun, and all remaining EBRs equipped with the FL-10 or FL-11 were phased out of service.

A 90 mm-armed Panhard EBR, with the side wheels retracted for road circulation. This model can be quite hard to differentiate with the original model 1951, seeing as the turret is the same and the main guns can be quite similar in length. Source: char-français

No major firepower upgrade appears to have been considered on the EBR following the refitting of the 90 mm D.921A, with the vehicle quickly appearing to be, by most measures, quite obsolete (lacking in NBC protection notably). While a replacement was considered as early as the 1960s in the form of the ERAC, its final development, the AMX-10RC, would only enter service in the late 1970s – leaving the last EBRs soldiering on until 1985 in France.

Wargaming’s EBR 105

In Wargaming’s World of Tanks, the EBR 105 stands as the pinnacle of French wheeled vehicles in the game, as a Tier X; it serves as the conclusion of the branch.

Wargaming’s description of the vehicle is as follows: “A variant of the Panhard EBR armored vehicle with more powerful armament. It featured improved suspension and the two-man GIAT TS 90 turret, upgraded to accommodate a 105 mm gun. The vehicle never saw mass production, nor entered service.

Nothing is mentioned in the way of dates, however, a quick examination of the vehicle would show the vehicle would at least be a late 1970s development, due to its turret being first mounted on an armored vehicle in 1977.

The inaccurately-modeled TS 90 turret

The turret mounted on the EBR 105 is a modified version of the NEXTER TS 90 turret, mounted on the old hull of the EBR.

Introduced by Nexter in 1977, this is a welded two-man turret with a manually loaded 90 mm anti-tank gun in its historical configuration. This fairly light turret (2.5 tonnes with ammunition but without crew) could theoretically be mounted on any vehicle that could accommodate a sufficiently large turret ring as well as weigh at least 7.5 tonnes. In practice, however, it is mounted on the ERC-90 for the French army and export, VBC-90 for the French gendarmerie and Oman, and on the AMX-10 tracked chassis, creating the AMX-10P PAC 90 for export. A variety of other vehicles, such as the Mowag Piranha or even the M113 were modified to mount the turret but never went beyond the prototype stage with it.

A French Army ERC-90, the most common user of the TS 90 turret, in maneuvers near a river. In comparison to Wargaming’s modified model, the smaller dimensions of the actual TS 90 turret are obvious. Source: char-français

However, Wargaming did not straight up take the historical TS 90 turret and mount it on the EBR. This would already be an unhistorical combination; by the time the TS 90 was around, the EBR was on its way out, with its straight-up replacement, the AMX-10RC, beginning to enter service; the sometimes more than 25 years old hulls were worn out by years of intensive use, and there was little will or need to keep using them for long. Wargaming designed its own heavily modified version of it. It is referred to as the ‘Panhard EBR 105’ turret.

In real life, the TS 90 is a two-man turret with a manually loaded 90 mm gun. In this form, it is already quite cramped. Wargaming, however, swapped out the turret’s 90 CN-90 F4 for the older but larger 105 mm D.1504 or CN-105-57 – the 105 mm gun featured, for example, on the Israeli M51 Sherman, the AMX-13-105 or the SK-105 Kürassier. This gun is manually loaded on the EBR 105, however, it ought to be noted that another fake vehicle produced by Wargaming, the Batignolles-Châtillons “Bourrasque” which uses the same modified TS 90 turret, is fed by a two-rounds autoloader.

Wargaming’s 105 mm-armed version of the TS 90 is visibly extended towards the rear, most likely in order to simulate the larger breech. Unlike on the Bourrasque, in which the presence of both an autoloader and the larger breech would likely make the turret extremely cramped, the EBR’s version of the modified TS 90 may be somewhat plausible in terms of internal space; however, this turret having a two-man crew means the commander would also assume the role of loader, for the fairly large 105 mm rounds used by the CN-105-57 – making his task more complex and harder to perform. Historically, there are no known projects aiming to mount a 105 mm gun in the TS 90 turret. Light vehicles contemporary with its development (though they would have to be somewhat heavier to mount such a turret) typically used the TK 105 three-man turret featured in the AMX-10RC. This turret mounts a more modern 105 mm MECA F2 L/48 low-pressure gun, a far more modern gun than the CN-105-57 featured on the fictional EBR 105.

A view inside the TS 90 turret of an ERC-90. Source: World of Tank forums

Weight increase and mysteriously improved engine

Wargaming’s EBR 105 is stated to have a weight of 17 tonnes – whether the vehicle would actually feature such a weight with Wargaming’s fictional version of the TS90 turret is not known. This is, however, a considerable addition of weight onto the EBR, weighing slightly more than 2 tonnes more than the FL-10 equipped model 1954 EBR, and 4.5 tonnes more than the original, FL-11 equipped production model. While Wargaming does mention the vehicle as having a reinforced suspension in its short description, the EBR’s capacity to reasonably operate at such a weight is unknown.

What is almost certainly unimaginable though is that the vehicle received the tremendous upgrade in powerplant Wargaming gave the EBR 105. Historically, all models of the EBR used the Panhard 12H 6000S engine. This 12-cylinder air-cooled engine could produce up to 200 hp at 3,700 rpm, which was sufficient to give the EBR a quite admirable maximum speed for the time. The model 1951 FL-11 equipped model could peak at 105 km/h on a good road, and despite receiving no power plant upgrade, the heavier FL-10 equipped model 1954 was reported to be able to reach this speed as well.

The engine used in Wargaming’s EBR 105 appears to be a development of the original Panhard engine used in the EBR – being referred to as the ‘Panhard 12H 6000 X’, but it has been boosted to an implausible 720 hp. It is unlikely such a powerful engine could be derived from the 12H engine to begin with and combined with the idea that it may be fitted in an EBR hull is stretching the bounds of plausibility to the limit, seeing as this likely would result in a much larger power plant.

Wargaming’s EBR 105 did receive some notable changes to its design. Notably, the rear no longer features any form of driving post, but instead what appears more along the line of an engine compartment, which raises the question of where the vehicle’s fourth crew member, which Wargaming refers to as a ‘radio operator’, would be located. However, the idea that this hull change would be enough to fit such a powerful and likely larger engine is very unlikely (and in any case, nothing suggests the increased size of a largely boosted up version of the EBR’s engine was taken into account when designing the vehicle). This engine gives Wargaming’s vehicle a power-to-weight ratio of 42.35 hp/ton, far higher than the EBR model 1951’s mere 16 hp/ton. However, despite this, Wargaming’s EBR 105 is still appreciably slower than all other EBRs, at ‘merely’ 91 km/h. In general, all that surrounds its automotive capacities and upgrades can be described as quite nonsensical.

A rear view of the early render of the EBR 105; it is substantially different from that of a standard EBR, where the rear is very similar to the front in overall shape. However, it is unlikely this would be enough to accommodate the new 720 hp engine. Source: Ritastatusreport
A view of the general configuration of the EBR (though this is the FL-10 model, this can apply to all): with Wargaming’s vehicle featuring a likely very large engine at the rear, where the fourth crew member would sit is unknown. Source: char-français

Conclusion – Another kitbashed fake tank

The EBR 105 that Wargaming introduced into World of Tanks is obviously a fake vehicle. While it may take inspiration in the fact the EBR was mass-produced with two different turrets and received considerable firepower upgrades during its service life, this does not change the fact that, as it is presented, the vehicle makes little sense. The use of components such as the TS 90 turret would suggest the EBR 105 would have been a late 1970s project, and by that time, the far superior AMX-10RC would have been on its way to replace the EBR – 105 mm-armed or not. This is particularly underlined by the fact a vehicle such as the EBR 105 would have been very close to a complete rebuild; with a new engine, new turret, new hull rear, and reinforced suspension, there would, in the end, be little but the mere shell of the original EBR left, a most likely very costly upgrade.

The EBR 105 is far from the only fake tanks featured in World of Tanks; another French fake vehicle, the ‘Batignolles-Châtillon Bourrasque’, is quite closely linked to it, being a kitbash of the modified TS 90 turret modeled for the EBR 105 and the hull of the BatChat 12t light tank. It can be argued to be somehow even more nonsensical than the EBR 105, combining a modified version of a turret produced from the late 70s onward with a hull on which no developments are known after 1951. In general, WoT, particularly its higher tiers, contains a quantity of fake vehicles: one could, for example, cite most Chinese tank destroyers, or the FV215b, Conqueror Gun Carriage, and Caervanon Action X. As for unhistorical configurations of vehicles that did actually exist, those are legion, though some are more shocking than others; within French vehicles, the famous AMX-40 stands as a notable example.

French army AMX-10RCs preparing for a 14th of July parade in Paris in the late Cold War, with gendarmerie Berliet VXBs may be seen in the background. The existence of the AMX-10RC, which entered service in 1981 and was already at the prototype stage since 1973, makes any kind of significant upgrade of the EBR performed after this date redundant. By this time, the about 30-year old design would still be very much outdated, even with a more powerful engine and a completely new turret. Source: char-français
Wargaming’s mish-mash of EBR parts with an anachronistic, modified TS 90 turret. Illustration by Ardhya ‘Vesp’ Anargha, funded by our Patreon campaign.

EBR 105 specifications

Total weight, battle-ready 17 tonnes
Engine 720 hp ‘Panhard 12H 6000 X’
Power-to-weight ratio in hp/tonne 42.35
Top road speed 91 km/h
Turning angle 33°
Main armament 1 x 105 mm D.1504/CN-105-57 main gun (36 rounds)
Rate of fire 5 rounds per minute
Secondary Armament None featured in WoT specifications but possibly the same 7.62 mm AANF1 as on the standard TS90 turret
Turret traverse speed 66 deg/s
Hull Armor 40 mm (front & rear), 16 mm (sides), 20 mm (bottom), 10 mm (roof)
Turret Armor 15 mm (front & mantlet), 10 mm (sides & rear), 8 mm (top)
Total production None

Sources:

Char-français:
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=710
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=708
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=41
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=782
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=726
Army-guide
AMX30 Main Battle Tank Enthusiast’s Manual, Haynes editions, M.P Robinson & Thomas Seignon, 2020

Categories
Cold War French Fake Tanks Fake Tanks

Batignolles-Châtillon Bourrasque (Fake Tank)

Nation France (1940-70s)
Light tank – None built

From the 1930s to the 1950s, the French company of Batignolles-Châtillon, based in Nantes, on France’s western coast, had several tries at designing tanks for the French army. In the 1930s, the company produced a light infantry tank prototype as well as the DP2 amphibious light tank. After the end of the German occupation of France, the company again produced a light tank for the program which would result in the AMX-13 – this being the Batignolles-Châtillon 12 tons – and, ultimately, created the Batignolles-Châtillon 25 tons, a lightweight medium tank prototype, in the 1950s.

None of Batignolles-Châtillon’s tanks were adopted by any military, with their most notable influence on service French vehicles being experience gained in the 25t project being used for the development of the AMX-30. In recent years, though, Batignolles-Châtillon’s designs (though almost exclusively the post-WW2 ones) have received newfound attention due to the inclusion of first the 25t, and later the 12t, to Wargaming’s popular online game World of Tanks, with the 25t notably being praised for its peculiar gameplay for years.

Wargaming’s care about the historical accuracy of the Batignolles-Châtillon vehicle is, however, very lackluster to say the least, with the recent Bourrasque premium tank being the worst offender – combining real elements of the 12 tons project, of which development ended in September of 1951, with an inaccurately-modeled turret from the 1970s.

World of Tanks fake tank
A view of the Batignolles-Châtillon Bourrasque in the hangar within World of Tanks. Source: WIKIWIKI.jp

Bourrasque or 12T modèle 1954 ?

In December of 2019, a new premium French light tank was added to Wargaming’s supertest servers. It was then marketed as the “Bat.-Châtillon mle. 54”. After a few minor tweaks, the vehicle, identical in appearance, was added to all servers in May of 2020, under the new name of “Bat.-Châtillon Bourrasque”. This vehicle features a modified version of the GIAT TS90 turret used on vehicles such as the ERC-90 Sagaie, mounted on the hull of a Batignolles-Châtillon competitor to the project which would become the AMX-13.

The 12T modèle 1954 designation which was used at first, while it may seem in accordance with the French army designation system, is absolutely ahistorical. Development did not continue on the Batignolles-Châtillon 12T following the end of its trials in September of 1951, and seeing as AMX’s project ended up being adopted, becoming the AMX-13, continued developments on Batignolles-Châtillon’s hull would have been redundant.

Wargaming’s fake description of the Bourrasque:
“A project of a French tank developed by Batignolles-Châtillon. The vehicle was to receive a two-man turret upgraded to accommodate a 105 mm gun. Existed only in blueprints.”

The Hull: Batignolles-Châtillon 12t

Batignolle-Châtillon 12t hull
The Batignolle-Châtillon 12t hull which was actually manufactured. Though the suspension type it uses is different from Wargaming’s, the 12t hull present in WoT at least exists in blueprints. Source: Char-français

The hull used for Wargaming’s Bourrasque was taken straight from Wargaming’s already existing Bat-Chat 12t. It ought to be noted that, while a prototype of the 12t was manufactured, it does not match the one present in WoT; the 12t prototype used four large road wheels, two return rollers, and a torsion bar suspension.

Wargaming’s hull is instead based on one which existed only on paper, though it was projected both for a light tank and a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. This hull uses seven interleaved road wheels, in a fashion that reveals the considerable German influence on France’s first postwar designs. An idler and drive sprocket are also present, but there are no return rollers; the type of suspension used would most likely be torsion bars.

Bat-Chat 12t in the configuration used in WoT
The Bat-Chat 12t in the configuration used in WoT. This suspension type never left the drawing board. Source: char-français

The TS 90 Turret: Back to the Future

On this hull project, dating from the late 1940s and early 1950s, Wargaming decided to mount an absolutely unrelated turret; the GIAT TS90.

Introduced by GIAT in 1977, this is a welded two-man turret with a manually loaded 90 mm anti-tank gun, in its historical configuration. This fairly light turret (2.5 tons with ammunition but without crew) could theoretically be mounted on any vehicle that could accommodate a sufficiently large turret ring as well as weigh as least 7.5 tons; in practice, it is mounted on the ERC-90 for the French army and export, VBC-90 for the French gendarmerie and Oman, and on the AMX-10, creating the AMX-10P PAC 90 for export. A variety of other vehicles, such as the Mowag Piranha or even the M113, were modified to mount the turret, but never went beyond prototype stage with it.

In itself, the basic characteristics of the TS90 turret would likely make it compatible with a modified Bat-Chat 12t hull, but it is obviously highly anachronistic. The turret, as well as the CN 90F4 anti-tank gun that features as its main armament, were a 1970s development, using technologies that did not exist or were not widely in use at the time when the 12t was developed.

French Army ERC-90s
French Army ERC-90s on maneuvers in the Alps; the ERC-90 remains the most prolific vehicle using the TS90 turret. Source: Char-français

An Inaccurate Turret

However, while the turret Wargaming mounted on their “Bourrasque” is based on the GIAT TS90, it was added to the game in a modified form that obviously favors gameplay over historical accuracy.

In real life, the TS90 is a two-man turret with a manually loaded 90 mm gun. In this form, it is already quite cramped. Wargaming, however, swapped out the turret’s 90 CN-90 F4 for the older but larger 105 mm D.1504 or CN-105-57 – the 105 mm gun featured, for example, on the Israeli M-51 Sherman, the AMX-13-105 or the SK-105 Kürassier. This new gun is fed by a two-round autoloader, the type of which Wargaming did not care to specify. One could note that, while being older in comparison to the TS90 turret, this gun would still have been anachronistic if Wargaming kept the “mle 1954” designation, seeing as it was first introduced in 1957.

Wargaming’s 105 mm-armed version of the TS90 is visibly extended towards the rear, likely to model the 2-round autoloader that features ingame. Though the large turret extension towards the rear would likely be large enough for an autoloader, particularly a small 2-rounds one (though the type of autoloader has never been specified by Wargaming), the larger breech of the 105 mm CN 105-57 in comparison to the 90 mm CN-90 F4 would likely reduce the space available to the crew. Historically, there are no known projects that aimed to mount a 105 mm gun in the TS90 turret. Light vehicles contemporary with its development (though they would have to be somewhat heavier to mount such a turret) typically used the TK 105 three-man turret featured on the AMX-10RC. This turret mounts a more modern 105 mm MECA F2 L/48 low-pressure gun, a far more modern gun than the CN-105-57 featured on the Bourrasque.

view inside the TS90 turret of an ERC-90
A view inside the TS90 turret of an ERC-90. Source: World of Tank forums
Bat-Chat Bourrasque
A side view of the Bat-Chat Bourrasque in WoT; the turret has been extended towards the rear, and the position of the smoke dischargers has been changed accordingly. Source: MMOWG.net
French Army ERC-90
French Army ERC-90 Sagaie on parade, Bastille Day 2015. The turret is obviously smaller, with the rear compartment that likely models the autoloader in Wargaming’s turret being absent from the real one. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly enough, Wargaming does not call its turret by TS90 or a variation of this designation, such as TS105; instead, it is called “Panhard EBR S-105”. This likely is linked to the fact that the same fake turret was mounted in another French mish-mash present in WoT, the EBR 105; it misses the fact that Panhard rarely if ever designed turrets, with its vehicles instead using turrets from Fives-Lilles in the early Cold War and GIAT or Nexter after the 1970s.

A Theoretically Identical Weight

Officially, the Bourrasque does not have any specified weight; due to being a premium vehicle, it has a set of components with no need to progress and change some of them, and as such, the weight mechanic present in other WoT vehicles would be useless there. Nonetheless, seeing as we know the specified power of the Bourrasque’s engine as well as its horsepower-to-weight ratio, one can easily deduce the weight of the vehicle.

The Bourrasque has a 310 hp engine (A “Mathis 300-2”; though Mathis is an actual engine producer, no 310 hp model is known to exist, with the closest being either 200 or 500 hp engines), and a power-to-weight ratio of 25.8 hp/ton, giving it a weight of 12.01 tons – almost exactly 12 tons. It ought to be noted that the actual weight of the Batignolles-Châtillon 12t is unknown – even more so for the one using the same hull as Wargaming, seeing as it stayed on paper. However, it is quite likely that, equipped with the FL10 turret, it would have exceeded the requested weight of 12 tons, as did the AMX project that became the AMX-13. Fitted with an enlarged TS90 turret that features a larger 105 mm CN-105-57, it is impossible that the Bourrasque would realistically have a weight of almost perfectly 12 tons. The maximum speed achieved by the Bourrasque in WoT is 62 km/h.

Conclusion: Another Unhistorical Mish-Mash

In short, the Bourrasque featured in World of Tanks can be described as a mish-mash of a late 1940s-early 1950s hull, with a modified late 1970s turret that mounts a late 1950s gun. The historicity of such a combination is non-existent; even the turret and gun are not known to have ever been considered together, and mounting them on the hull of a vehicle that was out of consideration for years by the point they were developed could be described as nonsensical. As for why Wargaming created such a vehicle, while no official answer has been given, one could imagine that a very easy to make vehicle (seeing as both its hull and turret already existed within the game) that uses the name of Bat-Chat, which has quite the reputation in World of Tanks, may have seemed very attractive to Wargaming when they were considering a French high-tier premium tank.

The Bourrasque is far from the first fake vehicle featured in World of Tanks though; many such fabrications are present in the game. One could, for example, cite most Chinese tank destroyers, or the FV215b, Conqueror Gun Carriage and Caervanon Action X. France has not been spared either, with another fake mish-mash in the form of the EBR 105 that uses the same turret as the Bourrasque (though it can be argued as slightly less shocking, seeing as the EBR hull was at least used up to the 1970s and not discarded in 1951) as well as many vehicles been given very much unhistorical components, the famous AMX-40 being a notable example.

The fake marriage of the paper design of the Bat.Chat.12t, the ERC-90’s turret modified with an autoloader and an anachronistic 105 mm gun. Illustration by Ardhya ‘Vesp’ Anargha, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Specifications

Total weight, battle-ready 12.2 tonnes
Crew 3 (Driver, Gunner, Commander)
Propulsion 310 hp “Mathis 300-2”
Top road speed 62 km/h
Power-to-weight ratio in hp/tonne 25.8
Armament 105 mm D.1504/CN-105-57 main gun with a two-round autoloader (36 rounds)
Rate of fire 5 rounds per minute
Secondary Armament None featured in WoT specifications but possibly the same 7.62 mm AANF1 as on the standard TS90 turret
Hull Armor 20 mm (upper front)
40 mm (front)
30 & 20 mm (Iower front)
20 mm (sides & rear)
10 mm (bottom)
Turret Armor 15 mm (front & mantlet)
10 mm (sides & rear)
8 mm (top)
Turret rotation speed 55°/second
Total production None

Sources:

Char-français: http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/2-archives/engins/2642-1947-batignolles-12t
http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/blindes-a-roues?task=view&id=782
Army-guide:
http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product3558.html
AMX30 Main Battle Tank Enthusiast’s Manual, Haynes editions, M.P Robinson & Thomas Seignon, 2020

Categories
WW2 French Prototypes

Batignolles-Châtillon light infantry tank

Nation Flag IconFrance (1934-1936)
Light tank design – 1 prototype built

The armored force of France’s infantry, typically better funded and larger than the cavalry’s, had, during most of the interwar years, the WW1-era Renault FT, the most produced and arguably most successful tank of the First World War (at least, without a doubt, from the French side). An innovative light tank, the FT was produced in massive numbers and, with the adoption of new tanks being slowed down considerably after the end of the Great War, it proved to be the most suitable vehicle for the French military to settle on. By the 1930s though, the old FT had grown obsolete, and timid attempts to produce some somewhat heavier FT-based vehicles had resulted in the NC and D1, which were not built in numbers sufficient to replace or even substantially supplement the FT.

The 1933 light tank specifications

Anticipating a replacement for the FT would soon be requested by the French military, Hotchkiss offered, in June of 1933, their preliminary design for a light infantry tank – by that point a turretless, machine-gun-armed project. Hotchkiss’s proposal ended up as somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, pushing the French army to establish requirements for a new light infantry tank to replace the FT.

Renault FT light tanks on a parade
Renault FT light tanks on a parade, likely on the 14th of July, in the interwar years. Source: char-français

Those new requirements were finalized on the 2nd August 1933. Though their formulation was a result of Hotchkiss’s proposal, they would be sent far and wide to French industrialists, with up to 14 different manufacturers working on a design, including some with little to no past experience. Indeed, the role of replacement of the FT, the French Army’s workhorse, would logically lead to massive contracts, as this was no irrelevant vehicle to replace.

The specifications sent to the various manufacturers were quite detailed, with performance requirements in a number of different aspects. The tank was to weigh 6 tonnes, feature a crew of two, and be armed with either one or two 7.5 mm machine-guns, or a 37 mm cannon. The maximum speed should be of 15 to 20 km/h, the armor 30 mm thick, and the vehicle should be able to run for 8 hours and at least 40 km. A large number of mobility requirements were also made, such as being able to climb a 65% slope, be stable laterally on a 60% one, or cross a 1.70 m wide-trench or ford water 1.20 m deep, among others. Generally, the requirements called for a vehicle very similar to the FT in role and capacities – merely updated to take into account some more modern features.

Batignolle-Châtillon enters in the fray

One of the manufacturers which offered a design for the specifications was Batignolles-Châtillon. A subsidiary of the larger Batignolles, Batignolles-Châtillon was installed in Nantes, western France. Formed in 1917 as the Compagnie générale de construction de locomotives Batignolles-Châtillon (Eng: General Locomotive Manufacturing Company Batignolles-Châtillon), the company’s products were mostly linked to locomotive and wagon manufacturing, but already included some military aspects, such as the carriages of railway artillery pieces.

370 mm modèle 1915 artillery piece
A 370 mm modèle 1915 artillery piece on a Batignolles carriage. Source: Railway Artillery: A Report on the Characteristics, Scope of Utility, Etc., of Railway Artillery, Volume II via Wikimedia Commons

The first ‘Bat-Chat’

During the mid 1930s, Batignolles-Châtillon expanded its operation to include armored vehicles manufacturing, which is not particularly surprising from a locomotive manufacturer. Proposing a vehicle for the 1933 program was an important aspect of this foray into armored vehicles manufacturing, though it was not the only attempt. The company also simultaneously designed an amphibious tank design, the DP2.

As with most manufacturers, Batignolles-Châtillon offered a plan in 1934. A prototype was ordered to the company, which is quite notable. Only five manufacturers got to the prototype manufacturing stage, with the other four, APX, Renault, Hotchkiss, and FCM, being involved in military affairs to a greater extent and since an earlier point than Batignolles-Châtillon. Batignolles-Châtillon’s light infantry tank prototype would be completed in the early spring of 1935 and delivered to the trials commission of Vincennes on the 5th of April that year.

The Batignolles-Châtillon design weighed in at 11.76 tonnes at the prototype stage. It was notable for some of its construction principles, as the vehicle combined cast construction for its turret and riveted construction for the hull. It was the only prototype produced as a result of the 1933 program to use riveted construction. Despite this combination of casting and riveting, the Batignolles-Châtillon prototype is overall more reminiscent of the fully welded FCM design rather than the cast APX, Renault, and Hotchkiss vehicles.

A front 3/4 view of the Batignolles-Châtillon
A front 3/4 view of the Batignolles-Châtillon vehicle, from the trials at Vincennes; source: Archives de la Direction Générale de l’Armement of Châtellerault, via char-français

Hull design and construction

The Batignolles-Châtillon’s hull was notable due to its riveted construction. It featured front plates quite considerably angled backward, particularly for the lower hull and front sides. This front lower hull featured two doors from which the driver, sitting in the hull, would enter or leave the vehicle. The upper front hull featured two vision ports, one behind bulletproof glass and another behind a perhaps more solid steel cover. Vision ports under glass were also found on each of the front sides of the hull.

The vehicle’s hull got quite narrower behind the crew compartment, with the engine having a fairly diminutive size. The radiator was located at the rear, with the exhaust on the somewhat angled rear plates. Overall, and unsurprisingly for a riveted design, the hull used very angular shapes, making it comparable to the FCM 36 in this regard, though the Batignolles-Châtillon arguably made use of steeper angles. The precise dimensions of the hull are unknown, and in general little precise data has emerged from Batignolles-Châtillon’s light tank prototype. The armor thickness itself is also not known, though 40 mm (to meet the expected requirements that were updated in 1934) all-around were likely, and realistic considering the vehicle’s weight. The armor of the hull behind the suspension and on top would naturally have been lighter – if compared to other French vehicles of similar role and weight, likely in the 15 – 25 mm range.

A side view of the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank
A side view of the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank, with side skirts mounted. The narrower construction of the hull behind the crew compartment is obvious. Source: Archives de la Direction Générale de l’Armement of Châtellerault, via char-français

Powerplant and suspension

The Batignolles-Châtillon vehicle’s power plant was a 66 hp Unic diesel engine. There are few additional details available, however, this is a quite weak engine for such a heavy vehicle. With a power-to-weight ratio of 5.6 hp/ton, it is quite likely the Batignolles-Châtillon vehicle would have been quite sluggish, with even the quite slow R35 having 8 hp/tonne. Reaching anything higher than the program’s required 20 km/h appears an unlikely feat for the Batignolles-Châtillon tank.

The vehicle’s suspension consisted of seven road wheels, an independent one at the front, and six grouped in three bogies of two each. On top of those bogies were nine triangular mounting points for the side skirts, on which they would be riveted. The drive sprocket was installed at the front and the idler at the rear. In operations, the bogies would be covered by a side skirt, though the road wheels themselves would remain uncovered.

suspension used by Batignolles-Châtillon
A view of the vehicle’s side with the side-skirt removed, showing the suspension used by Batignolles-Châtillon. Some elements are quite original and different from other suspensions used by French vehicles in the 1930s. The large side skirts mounting point are unheard of in other French designs of the time, and the road wheels using riveted construction, or the quite frail bogies, also differ significantly from other French suspensions of the time. Source: Archives de la Direction Générale de l’Armement of Châtellerault, via char-français

An original one-man turret

The Batignolles-Châtillon design featured a one-man turret armed with a 37 mm SA 18 main gun and a coaxial 7.5 mm MAC 31 machine gun. All of the vehicles in the program would eventually match this armament, although the Renault and Hotchkiss vehicles were first offered either without turrets or with a turret design fitted with two MAC 31s instead.

It should be noted that an armament of two MAC 31s instead of just one is often mentioned, but there do not appear to be any mount for a machine-gun outside of the co-axial one. It is possible this may refer to a backup machine-gun being stored in the vehicle either in case of the mounted one being damaged or having a failure or of the crew having to leave the vehicle. This was common in the French cavalry but rarer in the infantry.

As with the front hull, the turret featured a large number of visors. Glass-covered vision ports were featured on the front of the turret’s forehead’, towering quite considerably in the rear three-quarters of the design, as well as on each side. Smaller vision slots were found on the sides and front sides.

At the rear of the turret, a spring-loaded rectangular door could be found. It would allow the commander to stick out of the turret outside of combat situations, or to evacuate the vehicle in urgency. The commander would enter the vehicle from the front hull hatches, and not the turret door.

The size of the turret ring, while not known, was most likely 875 mm, as with the APX turrets featured on the APX, Hotchkiss, and Renault designs, and the FCM’s welded turrets. Turret interchangeability was a requirement for the 1933’s program turrets. In any case, the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank had a one-man turret, in which the crew member would occupy the roles of commander, gunner, and loader. Even with a lot of intelligent technical solutions, making such a turret ergonomically viable – especially with an armament heavier than machine-guns, even with a gun firing small shells such as the 37 mm SA 18 – was pretty much in the realm of fantasy. The commander would very likely have been very much overtasked in operations – though this is also no different from all other vehicles of the 1933 program, due to all following the requirements of a vehicle featuring 2 crewmen.

rear view of the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank
A rear view of the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank – showing the exhaust as well as the spring-loaded rear turret door. Source: Archives de la Direction Générale de l’Armement of Châtellerault, via char-français

Unsuccessful trials in 1935

The Batignolles-Châtillon light infantry tank was trialed in 1935, from the vehicle’s delivery in April of 1935 onward.

The vehicle did feature some interesting aspects. Notable was that the liberal use of glass-covered vision slots by the designers allowed for very good visibility, superior to that of other proposals for the light infantry tank design. The armor was also judged satisfactory, with the exception of the hull armor behind the suspension, though how vulnerable this section of the vehicle’s hull would be in practice is questionable. In terms of performance, the Batignolles-Châtillons did not at all appear to have been inferior to other candidates.

Where the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank failed, though, was in terms of reliability. Mobility trials of the vehicle were quite the failure. On the 24th June 1935, the tank was unable to accomplish a 50 km drive, with a breakdown requiring repairs. The weak engine was likely an important factor in those failures leading to the prototype being returned to its factory, and receiving some considerable modifications to its suspension.

Modifications and new in vain trials

The new suspension trialed on the Batignolles-Châtillons
The new suspension trialed on the Batignolles-Châtillons. It appears to have been pretty much entirely new, from the ground up, but this does not mean it was flawless: the various black arrows in this picture were part of the trial commission’s report and indicated parts of the vehicles where flaws were identified. Source: Pierre Touzin, Les Véhicules Blindés Français, Nancy 1979, via Wikimedia Commons

The Batignolles-Châtillon prototype was returned to its factory following the breakdown in late June, and then received an entirely new suspension, likely due to the old one being lackluster – once again not particularly surprising for a newcomer in armored vehicles design.

It returned to trials with idlers and sprockets that may have been slightly larger. However, those are by far the most moderate changes. Instead of seven, the vehicle now had six, larger road wheels of a newer design, with larger outer rims. Those road wheels were installed, two-by-two, on three bogies of a new, more sturdy design. Those featured horizontal and vertical springs allowing for more extensive movements of the road wheels. The vertical springs were located behind the boggie’s outer structure, on which the side skirt would most likely insert. Four classic rounded return rollers were featured.

This modified prototype was trialed in 1936, from the 20th January to the 1st August. In comparison to its first iteration, the new suspension likely improved the vehicle’s mobility. The gearbox also appears to have been more reliable on this modified prototype. However, the significant issue of poor power-to-weight ratio remained unsolved. Even if the Batignolles-Châtillon prototype had been perfect – as perfect as a two-men infantry tank could be – it is unlikely it would have been adopted at this point, with three of the five prototypes presented in the 1933 program, the Hotchkiss (H35), Renault (R35), and FCM (FCM 36) already having been adopted. Adding yet another very similar vehicle would have been redundant. In general, the quite similar FCM 36 appears to have been superior to the Batignolles-Châtillon in most aspects, although also mounting a diesel engine, the one it used offered a better power-to-weight ratio, and its welded construction would have been sturdier and more durable than the Bat-Chat’s riveted hull and cast turret. The main advantage the Batignolles-Châtillon would have had over the FCM would most likely have been vision, which, while not irrelevant, would still be little in comparison to the advantages offered by FCM’s welded design. Therefore, and while Batignolles-Châtillon appears to have attempted to salvage its design by suggesting outfitting the tank with a more powerful engine – the Batignolles-Châtillon light tank would not be adopted.

Conclusion – An unsuccessful but interesting first foray into armored vehicles design

The Batignolles-Châtillon light tank is quite notable in that it was one of the contenders for the replacement of the Renault FT. Though it would be an unlucky competitor to the R35, H35, and FCM 36, it is still notable that Batignolles-Châtillon, a newcomer in armored vehicle design, managed to have their proposal reach the prototype stage, something only a minority of the 14 manufacturers called upon succeeded in.

This unsuccessful first attempt would not result in Batignolles-Châtillon stopping their foray into armored vehicle design. In the late 1930s, they would continue studying amphibious vehicle design, with the DP2 and later DP3 amphibious tanks. The most famous Batignolles-Châtillon designs are not, however, those from the 1930s, but rather, the firm’s proposed vehicles from the 1950s: the Batignolles-Châtillon 12t, an unlucky competitor to the AMX-13, and, most significantly, the 25t, a lightweight medium tank which gathered some considerable online fame in the last decade. It ought to be noted, however, that no Batignolles-Châtillon armored vehicle would be adopted by the French military, the closest being the Batignolle-Châtillon’s powerplant being an inspiration for that of the AMX-30, which would become France’s standard-issue main battle tank in most of the Cold War.

The suspension of the Batignolles-Chatillon tank is visible here, showing the bogies, springs, and return rollers.
The Batignolles-Chatillon light infantry tank, as it was built. The well-angled front (predating the T-34) is visible, as is the rather anemic gun. Illustration by Pavel “Carpaticus” Alexe, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Specifications

Crew 2 (Commander/gunner/loader, Driver)
Armament 1x 37 mm SA 18 main gun, 1x MAC 31 7.5 mm machine gun; perhaps an additional, back-up MAC 31
weight 11.76 tonnes
Engine 66 hp Unic Diesel
Power-to-weight ratio in hp/tonne 5.6
Armor Most likely 40 mm all-around, lighter behind suspension & on top and bottom

Sources

Tous les blindés de l’Armée Française 1914-1940, François Vauvillier, Histoire & Collection editions, p48
Char-français.net (http://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/chars?task=view&id=692)
Trackstory N°4: R35/R40, Editions du Barbotin, Pascal Danjou
Les véhicules blindés français, 1900-1944, Pierre Touzin
Chars de France, Jean-Gabriel Jeudy

Categories
Cold War French Prototypes

Voisin CA 11 amphibious light tank

France (1949-53)
Light colonial amphibious tank prototype – 1 built

Immediately after the conclusion of the Second World War, France found itself embroiled in a large-scale guerilla war in its colony of Indochina as it attempted to reassert control over the area. Seeking to overthrow their colonial rulers was the Vietnamese Việt Minh, led by Hô Chi Minh, as well as associated Laotian and Cambodian movements.

 French colony of Indochina map
The French colony of Indochina map with its various territorial subdivisions: Cambodia, Laos, Cochinchina, Annam and Tonkin. Source: croiseur-lamotte-picquet.fr

Indochina was a particular theater that was characterized by a large number of swamplands and jungles, particularly along the Mekong Delta in the south of the country and the Hong River in the north. This type of terrain was particularly hard to operate in for French armored vehicles, particularly wheeled armored cars like the Panhard 178B or the British Coventry Armored Car, but even for tracked vehicles, such as the American M8 Scott or M24 Chaffee. Tracked amphibious vehicles were an obvious answer as to how to bring armored firepower into swamplands and rivers; however, by 1949, France was yet to have any of those vehicles in its inventory. While the USA had a potential answer in the form of the LVT-4 amphibious assault vehicle and its assault version, the LVT-4(A), the acquisition of such vehicles by the French had yet to be negotiated.

A Panhard 178B armored car
A Panhard 178B armored car in Indochina. Though armored cars were quite useful for patrolling roads, the limitations of such vehicles in rice paddies or swamps are obvious. Source: char-français

Setting requirements for an anti-guerrilla amphibious tank

On the 18th of January 1949, as the Indochina War had been raging on for more than three years by that point, the French EMA (Etat Major des Army – ENG: Army Headquarters) requested from DEFA (Direction des études et fabrications d’armement – ENG: Direction of Armament Studies and Manufacturing), the service in charge of directing France’s military research and production a light amphibious tank to be used in Indochina and, generally, in France’s colonies and overseas territories. Those other colonies and territories included Equatorial and Western Africa, and French Guyana – all places which would also benefit from the use of amphibious light tanks. This vehicle was desired to weigh not more than 11 tonnes, offer good off-road performance, particularly in swampy terrain, and mount a 75 mm howitzer in a turret.

Voisin/SNECMA’s proposal

On the 25th of April 1950, the Voisin branch of the state company of SNECMA accepted to design a vehicle for the light amphibious tank requirements, as well as to produce a scale model which would be used for floatation trials.

The Société des Avions Voisins (ENG: Voisin Planes Society) was, despite its name, more of a car-manufacturing company that had been founded by an aviation pioneer than an aircraft-manufacturing company. Founded in 1919, this company took the place of Aéroplanes Voisins (ENG: Voisin Aircrafts), an actual plane-manufacturing company that had manufactured a number of different aircraft for France’s aviation during the First World War. This included aircraft, such as the Voisin III to XI biplanes, which were notable for their pusher configuration.

The Société des Avions Voisins had, after the end of the Second World War, been incorporated first into the engine manufacturer Gnôme-Rhône, which was nationalized in 1945 to form the core of the state manufacturer SNECMA (Société nationale d’études et de construction de moteurs d’aviation – ENG: National aircraft engines study and construction society). Despite the Société des Avions Voisins being out of operations for five years by 1950, its name remained in occasional use for designs which were produced by what remained of its design bureau. This was the case of the CA 11 light amphibious tank; alongside a couple of other colonial amphibious projects from the same era, such as the CA 2 and CA 4 troop-transport tankettes, the CA 11 appears to have been Voisin’s sole foray into armored vehicles manufacturing.

The manufacturing of a scale model apparently went quite well, with an order for a mild steel prototype being made quickly. This prototype was manufactured in 1951-1952 and presented to the French military at Satory on the 20th of March 1953 for trials.

Voisin’s amphibious tank design

Voisin’s amphibious tan
Voisin’s amphibious tank from a ¾ angle. Source: Les véhicules blindés français 1945-1977, Pierre Touzin, éditions EPA, 1978

The vehicle designed by the Voisin design team was a 12.5-tonne tank. Despite this light weight, the vehicle had fairly large dimensions, closer to a WW2-medium tank than a light tank, measuring 5.81 m long, 3.05 m wide, and 2.66 m high, with a ground clearance of 0.40 m. These large dimensions are likely a consequence of the vehicle’s amphibious hull design.

The fairly large hull of the Voisin tank bears some resemblance to the general shape of the LVT-4, likely due to some inspiration being taken from the American design. The boat-like hull shape optimized floatation capacity, with a bow striking out at the front, the drive sprockets being installed at its side, and, further back, a frontal plate angled backward. The suspension of the vehicle was relatively large, covering most of the hull’s side, in a fashion that can be reminiscent of vehicles such as the pre-war B1; such large suspension is typically installed to optimize all-terrain capacity. The suspension featured six fairly large road wheels at the bottom of the hull, as well as what appears to be a tender wheel at the rear. Three large box-shaped elements are located between the drive sprocket and tender wheels; the purpose of these may have been to improve floatation. The tracks were also clearly influenced by the LVT vehicles with a large curved grouser or spud on each link to improve traction is very soft ground as well as drive when negotiating water obstacles.

The engine, likely installed at the rear, was an air-cooled 8-cylinder, 10.857-liter unit producing 300 hp at 3,000 rpm, although it is not known whether it ran on petrol or diesel. This engine gave the CA 11 a very respectable power-to-weight ratio of 24 hp/ton; while the fuel consumption and capacity are unknown, the vehicle is known to have had a respectable range of 300 km. On road, the vehicle could reach a maximum speed of 54 km/h; on water, the maximum speed was 12 km/h. The CA 11 did not feature any hydrojet system; on water, its propulsion was assured by the tracks. These were 0.35 m wide, and appear to have used a flexible, most likely rubber construction. The armor layout of the vehicle is unknown, but the combination of light weight and fairly large dimensions of Voisin’s tank likely meant the armor was very thin, as typically expected of a counter-insurgency vehicle or amphibious tank. The crew configuration of the hull is also unknown; it may have had either merely a driver, or perhaps two crew members.

The SAGEM turret

rear view of the Voisin CA 11
A rear view of the Voisin CA 11, showing the flat rear of the turret’s basket. Source: Les véhicules blindés français 1945-1977, Pierre Touzin, éditions EPA, 1978

The Voisin CA 11’s turret was not designed by Voisin, but instead, by another company, SAGEM (Société d’applications générales d’électricité et de mécanique – ENG: Society of general electricity and mechanic applications). Although there is little detailed information on it, observing the few known photos of the CA 11 show the turret appears to have used a welded construction. To the left, a large commander cupola featuring a number of episcopes (perhaps 8) is located; another observation device can be found on the right-side. Though the crew configuration of the CA 11 is unknown, the turret generally appears to have been geared to house a two-man crew, with the commander to the left and the gunner to the right.

The main armament of the CA 11 was a 75 mm howitzer. Though the exact model is not specified in any source, the gun present on the vehicle shows many similarities with a 75 mm gun that was developed for the Panhard 178B, but never ended up used in the post-war model of the Panhard 178 armored car. This was a 75 mm gun based on the old 75 mm mle. 1897, shortened but firing the same shells with a lower velocity (though only by 15 m/s according to French documents). This gun was designated as the 75 mm SA 45. This gun was never known to have been mounted on a Panhard 178B prototype, and if it was actually the gun present on the CA 11, the Voisin amphibious tank may have been the first known vehicle to mount this obscure armament. It would have had the notable advantage of using the same ammunition as the 75 mm mle. 1897 – a mainstay of the French Army for decades, with large stocks of ammunition still in existence. That being said, while the CA 11’s gun appears visually similar to the SA 45, if it actually used this gun has not been confirmed. The vehicle’s ammunition stowage is unknown as well; it is, however, it is known that it used a 7.5 mm MAC31 as a coaxial machine-gun, likely on the right of the main gun.

75 mm SA 45 in a turret
Plans for the mounting of the 75 mm SA 45 in a turret, for the Panhard 178B armored car which ended up using the 47 mm SA 35 instead. This gun was likely the one used on the CA 11. Source: French military archives

Conclusion – Overtaken by the LVT-4

Voisin’s CA 11, though an interesting design for the challenges faced by France in Indochina, arrived way too late; by 1953, when the prototype was presented to the army, a solution had already been found to the problem of bringing armored firepower to the swamps and rivers of Indochina: The acquisition of American LVT-4s had been negotiated, with the first examples being delivered in 1950 – before the prototype CA-11 was even unveiled. While the CA 11 could arguably have filled a niche for the French if the American deliveries had only included machine-gunning armed examples it was rendered redundant as the American deliveries included 75 mm-armed LVT-4(A). The French themselves would eventually modify a number of the troop transport LVTP-4s to accommodate 75 mm recoilless guns or even turreted 40 mm Bofors autocannons.

With the presence of the LVT-4 in the French army, the procurement and production of the CA 11 would have been a costly and redundant affair. The Indochina War in general was, by that point, a costly and very unpopular affair in which France was embroiled, with no hope of quickly recovering the colony. With little enthusiasm for the idea of remaining involved in the region, France ended up pulling out in 1954, leaving, as far as possible, friendly local governments in place. The end of the Indochina war likely removed all enthusiasm for a colonial amphibious tank for a time although the LVT-4s which had been obtained were conserved. They went on to be used to form an amphibious assault school in Algeria and eventually being used during the Suez Crisis against Egypt in 1956. The Voisin CA 11 project was likely shelved indefinitely, marking an end to Voisin’s short foray into armored vehicles manufacturing. As for the manufactured prototype, its fate is unknown, but it very likely ended up scrapped.

French 40 mm-armed LVT-4s in rice paddies
French 40 mm-armed LVT-4s in rice paddies, Indochina. The use of the LVT-4 by the French army, including this local conversion performed by units in Indochina and retained in the following years, made the CA 11 redundant. As for the LVT-4, it would remain in French service until the 1970s.
Tentative side profile of the Voisin CA-11, as no side drawings or good side pictures exist. Illustration by Yuvnashva Sharma, funded by our Patreon campaign.

Specifications

Dimensions 5.81 m  x 3.05 m x 2.66 m
Total weight, battle ready 12.5 tonnes
Crew Likely 3 (driver, commander, gunner)
Propulsion 8-cylinder 10.857 litre air-cooled engine producing 300 hp at 3000 rpm
Range 300 km
Ground Clearance 0.40 m
Max. Speed (road) 54 km/h
Max. Speed (water) 12 km/h
Armament 75mm howitzer (perhaps 75mm SA 45)
MAC 31 7.5 mm coaxial machine-gun
Power-to-weight ratio (in hp/ton) 24

Sources

Les véhicules blindés français 1945-1977, Pierre Touzin, éditions EPA, 1978
Char-français: https://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/engins-divers?task=view&id=103
https://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/engins-divers?task=view&id=680
https://www.chars-francais.net/2015/index.php/engins-blindes/engins-divers?task=view&id=102
French military archives at Châtellerault: Note pour la direction du matériel, N°28.750, 8 Juin 1945