This is the Soviet SMK Heavy Tank prototype built from the Ostmodels 1/72 scale resin kit. It is an unconventional design which actually saw combat. The utility of carrying multiple turrets on the same chassis is somewhat limited, but it was a design trend explored by several countries during the 1930s. In the end even the Soviets decided a single turret design with increased protection was a better use of the weight and produced the KV-1 series.
This is the French Char 2C Super-Heavy Tank, available as a resin kit from Ostmodels. The main hull is cast as one large piece which is a very good thing. The model builds up quickly and is a good representation of the original. It is quite big, I have posed it with Trumpeter’s Char 1B to give an indication of its size. If you like building unusual subjects this one certainly fits the bill.
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.
In 1937 the Soviets issued a specification to replace the T-35 five turreted heavy tank then in service with the Red Army. The specification called for an armor thickness of 60 mm, and multiple turrets were in vogue with Soviet tank designers at the time. The first drafts of the SMK design were equipped with three turrets, but this was reduced to two when it was calculated that a three turret design could not be sufficiently armored.
The SMK was armed with 76.2 mm L-11 and 45 mm M1932 guns in superimposed turrets, along with two 7.62 mm and one 12.7 mm machine guns. Armor was 60 mm on the front, turrets, and sides, 55 mm on the upper surfaces. A 850 hp gasoline engine could drive the SMK at a maximum speed of 22 mph (35 kph). Overall weight was 60 tons, crew was seven.
The specification also produced two competing designs, the T-100 which was similar in layout having two superimposed turrets, and the more conventional KV-1 with a single turret. The SMK prototype and two examples each of the T-100 and KV-1 designs were formed into a heavy company of the 91st Tank Battalion for combat trials. The battalion saw action against the Finns near Summa on 17 – 19 December 1939. During the operation one of the KV-1 prototypes was evacuated after a Finnish round disabled its gun and the SMK prototype ran over a mine and was immobilized. Because of its size it eventually had to be abandoned. The Finns made attempts to tow the SMK from the area but also lacked anything heavy enough to move the 60 ton vehicle. When the Soviets secured the area in March 1940 they were finally able to recover the SMK, using six T-28 tanks. The SMK was transported back to the Soviet Union by rail, stripped of useable equipment and eventually scrapped. The KV-1 entered production as the Red Army’s new heavy tank.