France (1934) - Armoured Personal Carrier - circa 30 built
The French colonial APCFrom the start of the Second World War, APCs, or armored personnel carriers, were mass-produced by the US (M3 half-track) and Germany (Sd.Kfz.251). However, other countries completely overlooked this class of vehicles. Commonwealth troops improvised the "Kangaroo" series using turret-less tanks and disarmed SPGs. These were used especially in Normandy and the subsequent fight until 1945. The Soviets used their tanks to carry their troops into battle, hanging onto bars welded on the T-34's turret. They also used small tractors, like the Komsomolets, as well as Lend-Lease half-tracks received from the US. The Italians also improvised a small number of models during the war, such as the Dovunque 35 Blindato, the FIAT 655NM Protetto and the Autoprotetta S.37. They were all partially armored, with an open roof, and only built in small numbers. In France, General Estienne thought that the Schneider tank could carry troops up to the enemy trenches during the First World War. However, the tank was too cramped, hot and noisy for such an operation to ever be put into practice. In the 1930s, during the Rif War in Morocco, significant quantities of French troops were drawn in. The conflict was also used for experiments with combined armored columns and aviation. The Army asked for the development of a troop carrier able to rapidly transport infantry units to the front of a column when the highly mobile and evasive rebel troops were spotted. To simplify maintenance and lower costs, Panhard proposed an adaptation of their model 175 chassis. The Model 179 was developed in 1934 at the request of the army for the TOE (Théâtres d'Opérations Extérieurs, Foreign Operation Theaters), in competition with other models. Only the Panhard 179 and the Berliet VUDB were approved and produced for service in limited quantities. It should be noted that the French also produced a fully tracked APC in 1940, the VBCP (voiture blindée de chasseurs portés) Lorraine 38L, based on the standard 37L tractor.
DesignThe Panhard 179 shared its mechanical elements with the Panhard 175. The rear part was completely rebuilt, with a cabin large enough for 6 equipped soldiers, in addition to the vehicle commander and the driver. It was a simple rectangular riveted box, with mudguards cut into the lower part and supports for tools and utility boxes behind each wheel. Access to the combat compartment was through the rear, with two doors opening to the sides. The soldiers were seated on back-to-back benches facing each wall. Above the main armored box was a sloped roof with hatches on top for ventilation. There was an opening at the front of this structure for the machine gun and a single slit at the rear. The main compartment had an armored vision slit on each side and two more at the rear. Front visibility was restricted to two small armored panels for the driver and commander that could be raised up to give a better field of view. The panel on the right also had a vision slit to allow some visibility when buttoned up. Additional armored windows were placed on each side of the driver's compartment. The only weapon onboard was a MAC 31 or FM 24/29 7.5 mm machine gun placed on the right of the top structure. The gunner had to stand to operate it. Traverse was limited by the small vertical opening. Armor The lower hull front was protected by 9 mm thick armor plate, with thinner 7 mm plates for the upper hull front, sides and rear. The top superstructure only protected by 5 mm armored plates, like the top of the bonnet. The hull bottom was only 4 mm thick, offering little protection. Mobility The chassis and mechanical parts were taken from the Panhard 175, so a gasoline engine Panhard 4-cylinder engine delivering 90 hp. Offroad capabilities were limited, but sufficient for the North African landscape. Ground clearance was 0.31 m, maximum fording depth 0.60 m, trench crossing 0.70 m, obstacle clearance 0.30 m and climbing ability 40°. Production It is difficult to establish how many were produced. Most sources state that 30 vehicles were built. However, Panhard's records showed they had produced 12 vehicles. It is possible the others were conversions.
The Panhard 179 in action
Panhard 179, 3rd BCA (Bataillon de Chasseurs d’Afrique) 1940.
Most the the vehicles were Sent to serve with the 1st REC, then in June 1940, the 1st RCA operating in Morocco. Details of operations are sketchy to say the least;
SourcesThe Panhard 179 on Wikipedia
Model on scalemate
Model on Blitz
"Les chasseurs d'Afrique" Histoire&collection
Magazine Histoire de Guerre Blindés et Matériel N°78
Militaria magazine n°42 (art sur le REC)
Panhard 179 specifications
|Dimensions||5.43 x 2.10 x 2.20 m ()|
|Total weight, battle ready||7 metric tonnes ( lbs)|
|Crew||2+6 (driver, commander/gunner, 6 infantry)|
|Propulsion||Panhard 4-cyl SK gasoline, 105 hp, 4 Forward & 1 Reverse transmission|
|Speed||70 km/h (45 mph)|
|Suspensions||4 x 4 leaf spring suspensions|
|Range/fuel capacity||600 km (350 mi)/200 l|
|Armament||MAC M1931 7.5 mm (0.295 in) machine-gun|
|Armor (max)||5 to 9 mm (0.33 in)|
|Total production||Circa 30|