French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

The Char 2C was the result of a specification issued in 1916 by the General Headquarters of the French Army for a heavy breakthrough tank.  The tank was to be heavily armored and able to cross trenches 12 meters (13 feet) wide.  In 1918 the French ordered the manufacture of 300 units to be ready in time for the 1919 Spring offensive, but with the Armistice in November 1918 all urgency was removed.  Only ten Char 2C were eventually completed, the last being delivered to the French Army in 1923.

To this day, the Char 2C is arguably the largest production tank ever to enter military service.  With a weight of 76 tons (69 metric tonnes) and a length of almost 34 feet (10.3 meters) it is a monster.  The front and turret were protected with 35 mm armor, with 21 mm plate on the sides.  Maximum speed was 15 kph.

Being represented as “land battleships”, the tanks were numbered and named after regions of France.  These were 90 Poitou, 91 Provence, 92 Picardie, 93 Alsace, 94 Bretagne, 95 Touraine, 96 Anjou, 97 Normandie, 98 Berry, and 99 Champagne.  In the fall of 1939 Normandie was up-armored in an effort to render her immune to German guns and re-named Lorraine.  She emerged with frontal armor 90 mm thick and a weight of 84 tons (76 metric tonnes).

The Char 2C design had immense propaganda value for the French in the years between the wars, but by 1939 it was obsolete.  Despite their limitations, the ten Char 2C were mobilized to form the 51st Bataillon de Chars de Combat to defend against the German invasion.  Six of the tanks were immobilized by a fire while being transported by rail.  With no way to move the tanks, they were destroyed by their own crews to prevent them from falling into German hands.  One tank, the Champagne, was captured intact by the Germans and returned to Berlin as a war prize.  The Char 2C never actually saw combat.

Char2C_01
The Char 2C was armed with a 75mm ARCH 1897 gun in a rotating turret and four 8 mm machine guns, one in a rotating turret at the rear of the vehicle, one mounted in the forward hull, and in each side sponson.  The crew was twelve men.
Char2C_02
Transportation was always a problem, so special railroad trucks were designed to help move the vehicles.  The trucks each had three axles and bolted directly onto the hull, using the structure of the tank for support.
Char2C_03
Propulsion was provided by two 210 hp Chenu engines driving DC generators, which in turn powered an electric motor for each track.  The engines were later replaced with 250 hp Maybach engines which gave the tank a maximum speed of 15 kph (9.5 mph) over level ground.
Char2C_04
The propaganda value of the huge tanks was not lost upon the French, film and photographs often showed them on maneuvers or crushing obsolete fortifications.
Char2C_05
A fine study of Champagne in a segmented camouflage.  The complexity of her running gear is obvious, the complexity of her engineering system is implied.
Char2C_06
The up-armored Lorraine.  With a frontal and turret armor of 90 mm, she would have been a very difficult opponent for German gunners.
Char2C_07
Champagne was captured intact by the Germans and returned to the Reich as a war prize.  The Germans took several photographs for propaganda purposes.  The inscription painted on the side reads Erbeutet PzRgt 10, which translates as “Captured (by) Panzer Regiment 10”.  Depending on the film used this inscription is either very visible as shown here, or very subtle.
Char2C_21
In 1/72 scale the Char 2C is available in resin form from Ostmodels in Tasmania.  The kit comes packaged in a recloseable plastic bag.  Smaller parts are contained in a second bag.  The kit was packed well in a sturdy cardboard box and bubble wrap, and survived the trip to the USA with no apparent damage.  A list of Ostmodels kits in 1/72 and 1/76 scale can be seen at the Henk of Holland website here:  https://henk.fox3000.com/Ostmodels.htm
Kits can be ordered by contacting Mr. Anker J. Fuglsang by email at kerank@ozemail.com.au.
Char2C_22
This data sheet is provided, but no instructions.  Like the SMK reviewed last week I do not see this as a major obstacle for experienced modelers.
Char2C_23
If there was a steam powered tank design I would expect it to look something like this.  Here are the parts laid out with an exacto knife for scale.  The main hull casting is 145 mm long or almost 6 inches.  This will be a big one!  Being cast in resin the parts count is mercifully low.  Some parts clean up will be required but that is not difficult nor unexpected.

3 thoughts on “French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank Description and Kit Review

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