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FCM Char 2C Heavy Tank / Super-Heavy Tank (1921)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/1/2014

Development and mass production of the Char 2C was doomed after the Armistice following World War 1.

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The Char 2C was being planned and designed in the final year of the First World War. The system would become the largest tank of its kind to ever see operational service in any capacity and was ordered for mass production in an effort to bring some finality to the global war. In the end, the German capitulation and Armistice brought about cancellations of many systems in development including the Char 2C. The tank would still go on to see active service - albeit in a limited capacity - and amazingly fielded by French forces in the Battle of France some twenty years later.

As development began, the vehicle was to be originally produced in three weight classes as prototype models consisting of a 30, 40 and 62 ton variants. The Armistice stopped any development of these intended models along with the 300 or so of the 62 ton variant that was planned to be in production by 1919 under the order of Marshal Philippe Petain of the French General Staff. The only model to come out of post-war France was the Char 2C, a 69-ton prototype version that saw some 10 examples beginning service in 1921. Classified as a "super-heavy tank", the machine certainly fit the bill and was the largest tank to ever be produced. The system was heavily armored with the armor contributing to a good portion of the overall weight of the tank. Armament consisted of a single 75mm main gun along with 4 x Hotchkiss machine guns for anti-infantry defense. Machine guns were kept in a forward, rear and side gun positions for total covering fire.

The Char 2C sported a large and high profile. Soldiers alongside the machine were seemingly dwarfed by the track system alone, mounted along the World War 1-style lozenge-type assembly with the tracks running over, under and around. The turret sat well-forward of the hull and mounted the primary armament. Two engines of 250 horsepower apiece drove the Char 2C for a grand operational total of 520 horsepower output. Engines were of either Daimler or Maybach brands and operated under 6-cylinders.

Despite development beginning in 1918 and deliveries accepted in 1921, the system was still under French service in 1940 and the eventual invasion of France by German forces beginning World War 2. The Char 2C was becoming outclassed with the steady rise of new tanks entering the fray. Where their armor was the thickest of any tank to be fielded in World War 1, by World War 2 standards, the Char 2C was extremely vulnerable to most types of anti-tank fire. 1939 saw the ten serviceable Char 2C pressed into "active" service with French forces in the Battle of France.


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Specifications for the
FCM Char 2C
Heavy Tank / Super-Heavy Tank


Country of Origin: France
Manufacturer: FCM Company - France
Initial Year of Service: 1921
Production: 11


Focus Model: FCM Char 2C
Crew: 12


Overall Length: 33.69 ft (10.27 m)
Width: 9.68 ft (2.95 m)
Height: 13.12 ft (4.00 m)
Weight: 76.1 US Short Tons (69,000 kg; 152,119 lb)


Powerplant: 2 x Daimler OR Maybach 6-cylinder gasoline engine developing 520hp total.


Maximum Speed: 7 mph (12 km/h)
Maximum Range: 62 miles (100 km)


NBC Protection: None
Nightvision: None


Armament:
1 x 75mm main gun
1 x 8mm Hotchkiss forward-facing machine gun
1 x 8mm Hotchkiss rear-facing machine gun
2 x 8mm Hotchkiss machine guns in side positions


Ammunition:
Not Available.


Variants:
Char 2C - Base Model Designation


Char 2C bis - Developmental Model (Champagne) of 74 tons fitted with 155mm howitzer main gun armament; cast turret; new powerplant(s).


Operators:
France