Debut: February 2015



.: Bob Williams' Char 2 C French Super Heavy Tank





Modelling Time:

~ hrs

PE/Resin Detail:



TS-009: "comments"

Char 2C

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Char 2C
Char 2C Alsace
Type Super-heavy tank
Place of origin  France
Service history
In service 1921–1940
Used by  France
Wars World War II
Production history
Designed 1917
Produced 1921
Number built 10
Variants Char 2C bis
Weight 69 tonnes (68 long tons; 76 short tons)
Length 10.27 m (33 ft 8 in)
Width 3 m (9 ft 10 in)
Height 4.09 m (13 ft 5 in)
Crew 12

Armour 45 mm (1.8 in) max.
75 mm gun
Four 8 mm machine guns (three in gimbal ball mounts at front and both sides forward, one mounted in a rear turret)
Engine Two engines
2 x 250 hp
150 km (93 mi)
Speed 15 km/h (9.3 mph)

The Char 2C, also known as FCM 2C, is a French super-heavy tank developed, although never deployed during World War I. It was in physical dimensions, the largest operational tank ever made.


The Char d'assaut de grand modèle

The origins of the Char 2C have always been shrouded in a certain mystery.[1] In the summer of 1916, probably in July,[1] General Léon Augustin Jean Marie Mourret, the Subsecretary of Artillery, verbally granted Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (FCM), a shipyard in the south of France near Toulon, the contract for the development of a heavy tank, a char d'assaut de grand modèle. At the time, French industry was very active in lobbying for defence orders, using their connections with high-placed officials and officers to obtain commissions; development contracts could be very profitable even when not resulting in actual production, as they were fully paid for by the state. The French Army had no stated requirement for a heavy tank, and there was no official policy to procure one so the decision seems to have been taken solely on his personal authority. The reason he later gave was that the British tanks then in development by a naval committee seemed to be better devised as regarded lay-out, ventilation and fire protection, so a shipyard might improve on existing French designs.[2] Exact specifications, if they ever existed, have been lost. FCM then largely neglected the project, apart from reaping the financial benefits. At that time all tank projects were highly secret, and thereby shielded from public scrutiny.

On 15 September 1916 the British deployed tanks in battle for the first time in the form of the Mark I, and a veritable tank euphoria followed. When the public mood in Britain had been growing ever darker as the truth of the failure of the Somme Offensive could no longer be suppressed, tanks offered a new hope of final victory. The French people now became curious as to the state of their own national tank projects. French politicians, not having been over-involved in them and leaving the matter to the military, were no less inquisitive. This sudden attention greatly alarmed Mourret, who promptly investigated the progress that had been made at FCM and was shocked to find there was none. On 30 September he personally took control of the project. On 12 October, knowing that the Renault company had some months earlier made several proposals to build a heavy tracked mortar which had been rejected, he begged Louis Renault to assist FCM in the development of a suitable heavy vehicle; this request Renault obliged. Even before knowing what the exact nature of the project would be, on 20 October Mourret ordered one prototype to be built by FCM.[2]

This development coincided with a political demand by Minister of Armament Albert Thomas to produce a tank superior to the British types. On 7 October he had requestedLloyd George to deliver some Mark Is to France but had received no answer. Correctly concluding that no such deliveries would materialise, on 23 January 1917 he ordered that French tanks should be developed that were faster, and more powerfully armed and armoured than any British vehicle. He specified a weight of forty tonnes, an immunity against light artillery rounds and a trench-crossing capacity of 3.5 metres.[3]

Meanwhile, Renault had consulted his own team, led by Rodolphe Ernst-Metzmaier, which had been, since May 1916, in the process of designing the revolutionary Renault FT light tank. This work had not, however, stopped them from considering other tank types. Renault, always expecting his employees to provide new ideas instantly, had by this attitude encouraged the team to take a proactive stance — setting a pattern that would last until 1940 — and to have various kinds of contingency studies ready for the occasion, including a feasibility study for a heavy tank. This fortunate circumstance allowed a full-size wooden mock-up to be constructed in a remarkably[1] quick time. It was visited by the Subsecretary of State of Inventions Jules-Louis Breton on 13 January 1917, who was much impressed and developed a keen interest in the project.[1] The design was presented to the Consultative Committee of the Assault Artillery on 16 and 17 January 1917, after the basic concept had been approved on 30 December. This proposed tank was the most advanced design of its time; it was received very favourably, also because of the enthusiastic report by Breton, and a consensus began to form that the project was most promising and a potential "war-winner". It featured a 105 mm gun in a turret, had a proposed weight of 38 tons and 35 mm armour. The committee decided to have two prototypes developed, one with an electrical transmission, the other with a hydraulic transmission.[1] In this period both the French and the British military had become aware of severe mobility and steering problems with heavy tracked vehicles; the French designs paralleled extensive British experiments with all kinds of improved tank transmissions to solve them.


Operational history

"Champagne" after capture by German forces in western France, summer 1940
"Lorraine" in summer 1940

The ten tanks were part of several consecutive units, their organic strength at one time reduced to three. Their military value slowly decreased as more advanced tanks were developed throughout the 1920s and 1930s. By the end of the 1930s they were largely obsolete, because their slow speed and high profile made them vulnerable to advances in anti-tank guns.

Nevertheless, during the French mobilisation of 1939, all ten were activated and put into their own unit, the 51st Bataillon de Chars de Combat. For propaganda, each tank had been named after one of the ancient regions of France, numbers 90-99 being named PoitouProvencePicardieAlsaceBretagneTouraineAnjouNormandieBerryChampagne respectively. In 1939, the Normandie was renamed Lorraine. As their main value was in propaganda, the giants were kept carefully out of harm's way and did not participate in the September 1939 attack on the Siegfried Line. They were used instead for numerous morale-boosting movies, in which they were often shown climbing and crushing old French forts. To the public, they obtained the reputation of invincible super tanks, the imagined dimensions of which far surpassed the actual particulars.

Of course, the French commanders knew perfectly well that this reputation was undeserved. When the German Panzerdivisionen, in the execution of Operation Fall Rot, ripped apart the French lines after 10 June 1940, the decision was made to prevent the capture of the famous equipment. All were to be sent to the south by rail transport. On 15 June the railway was blocked by a burning fuel train, so it became incumbent to destroy the tanks by detonating charges. Later Goebbels and Göring claimed the tanks were hit by German dive bombers. This propaganda lie was to be repeated by many sources. One tank, the Champagne, was nevertheless captured more or less intact and brought to Berlin to be exhibited as a war trophy until disappearing in 1948.


In 1926, the later Champagne was modified into the Char 2C bis, an experimental type with a 155 mm howitzer in a cast turret. New engines were fitted and the machine gun positions deleted. In this configuration the tank weighed perhaps 74 tons. The change was only temporary though, as the vehicle was brought back into its previous condition the very same year; the new turret was used in the Tunisian Mareth Line.

Between 15 November and 15 December 1939 the Lorraine, as the company command tank, was experimentally up-armoured at the Société des Aciéries d'Homecourt to make it immune to standard German antitank guns. The front armour was enhanced to 90 mm, the side to 65 mm. In this configuration, weighing about 75 tons, the Lorraine had at that time the thickest armour of any operational tank, and is probably still the heaviest operational tank ever.


In 1940 twelve FCM F1 tanks were ordered, another very large twin-turret tank. France was defeated before they entered service.

Please go to Wikipedia, if you want any further information

Thanks Wikipedia!

Box art:

and here's a few other interesting photos & drawings I discovered whilst preparing this page......

How big is this tank....???

Presented some transportation problems

Like all tanks, not indestructable!

Destined for the Rob McCallum Collection

Click on each image for a closer look

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