French FCM Char 2C Tank 1921-40

The French Char 2C tank was designed during the last years of WWI and was originally planned to be a super heavy “breakthrough” tank for the big offensive of 1919 which never materialized. After the war, only ten Char 2C tanks were built during the early 1920s and it was the only super-heavy tank ever to attain operational status. A super heavy tank is defined as a tank that has been deliberately made much heavier than regular tanks of its period. The next operational tank to approach its weight was the German Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B (King Tiger) of WWII. The Char 2C tanks were never used in combat but instead for propaganda, first by the French and then later by the Germans after their capture in 1940.

WWI

General John Frederick Charles “Boney” Fuller (1 September 1878 to 10 February 1966) was a senior British Army officer serving in France during WWI. From 1916 to the end of the war, he was in the Headquarters of the Machine-Gun Corps Heavy Branch which later became the Tank Corps. He assisted in planning the tank attack at the Battle of Cambrai on 20 November 1917 and tank operations for offensives in 1918. In the spring of 1918, Fuller had drawn up a military strategy plan for the 1919 spring offensive named “Plan 1919”. His plan criticized the current practice of trench warfare which engaged the enemy along a wide front, and instead envision large number of tanks supported by artillery and aircraft to penetrate the front line and rapidly advance into the enemy’s rear area to destroy the enemy supply bases and communication lines. It would been a lightning thrust into the heart of the German Army.

For the 1919 offensive, the allies (specifically the British and the US) would only consent to provide France 700 of the new Mark VIII “Liberty” heavy tanks if France had made at least a token effort to produce its own heavy tanks. Beginning in January 1917, Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (FCM), a shipyard in the south of France near Toulon, began development of a heavy tank design. Development of the FCM 1A prototype was repeatedly delayed due to multiple problems and testing began on 20 November 1917 which continued until February 1918.

The FCM 1A prototype was 38 tonnes tank armed with a 105mm howitzer, protected by 30mm of armor and was powered by a 200 hp engine. Note the odd square cupola initially featured on the tank.

Film: FCM 1A trials at La-Seyne-Sur-Mer in late December 1917

The French authorities had chosen the heaviest version, the “C”, for production, which required a completely new prototype and it further delayed the project. FCM received an order for 300 Char 2Cs to be built by March 1919 which many felt was impossible to provide the labor and steel required. Further demands complicated the issue when requests for special pontoons, battering rams and electronic mine detectors were to be fitted to the tank. When the Germans signed the armistice on 11 November 1918, not a single Char 2C had been built yet and only four prototypes of the new British-American Mark VIII were built. Plan 1919 was no longer needed.

At first, the production order for the 300 Char 2Cs was cancelled. Despite the end of the war, strong political pressure to adopt new heavy tank projects remained, as there was a considerable surplus capacity in the French heavy industry. It was decided in April 1919 to procure ten Char 2Cs. FCM finished the Char 2C prototype and the other 9 tanks were built almost simultaneously.

The rear of a Char 2C under construction at the FCM factory.

Over head view of five Char 2Cs under construction in the main hall.

All 10 Char 2Cs were delivered to the French Army at Mourmelon-le-Grand in 1921 and they were continued to be modified by the factory through to 1923. The tanks were simply numbered 1 to 10.

The Char 2C had a crew of 12 consisting of the driver, commander, gunner, loader, 4 machine gunners, mechanic, electrician, assistant electrician/mechanic and a radio operator. It had space for two fighting compartments. The forward compartment was crowned by the main gun turret. The front turret was mounted so high that its crew had to climb into it by means of an internal ladder.

The Driver’s compartment in the front hull. At the top right is the ladder to the main gun turret.

The two fighting compartments were connected by the engine room. The design had two engines where each track was powered by its own engine via an electrical transmission. Between the engines on the left and right side of the hull ran a tall corridor, allowing two electricians standing upright to constantly maintain the engines. The assistant-mechanic was seated to the front right of the rear fighting compartment, on top of an escape hatch, and the radio operator was seated at the front left.

The Char 2C had a three-man main gun turret which was the first in history. It mounted a shortened 75mm field gun (Canon de 75 Modèle 1897), muzzle velocity of 550 m/s (1800 ft/s) and 124 rounds were carried. The turret crew sat on seats suspended from the turret roof and operated on an elevated level compared to the machine gunners standing in the hull below. The gun turret rotation was 320° and the main gun elevation was -20° to +20°.

The Canon de 75 modèle 1897, also referred to as the APX 1897 (APX stands for Atelier de Construction de Puteaux or “Puteaux Construction Workshops”) was an effective and prolific gun that was used as a field cannon during both WWI and WWII. It was mounted in other vehicles, built under license, such as the US M3 GMC half-track. The APX 1897 was innovative for its time due to its quick-firing nature where it utilized a hydro-pneumatic reloading mechanism in tandem with a Nordfelt eccentric screw breech. This setup allowed for a firing rate of 15 rounds per minute. The gun was equipped with a 2.5x magnification scope, with a graduation of up to 2000 m (2187.23 yards).

Secondary armament was four Hotchkiss Modèle 1914 8mm machine guns with one in the rear turret. There were three independent machine gun positions, one on each hull side and the third to the right of the driver on the front hull, all in ball mounts providing protection against enemy infantry. It carried a total ammunition load of 9504 rounds for all the machine guns.

Another unique feature was the stroboscopic cupolas on top of the two turrets. The cupola consisted of armored outer and inner cylinders, both pierced by several regularly spaced vertical vision slits around the circumference. Rotating the external cylinder at 300 rpm with an electric motor created the visual illusion of seeing through the cupola as if it was not there due to human persistence of vision, similar to how a picket fence with spaced planks fades from view when the observer moves along side it at speed. The short time both the inner and outer slits were perfectly aligned at any given moment still afforded protection of the inside space, as any projectile not capable of piercing the armor directly would need hit the spaced out slits and to come at an optimum angle and timing to go through both the outer and inner slits. It provided a better view of the surroundings than a single vision slit or a periscope with a narrow field of view.

The suspension contained 39 interleaving road wheels on each side with a total of 90 wheels on the tank. The tracks were quite wide at 60 cm (23.6 inches) and the track assembly consisted of 67 links per side.

The Char 2C had a loaded weight of 69 tonnes, partly because of its armor, which was among the thickest of WWI era tanks, but mostly because of its huge size. It was the largest tank ever put into production. The width was 2.95 m (9 ft, 8 in). With the skid tail fitted, the hull was over 12 m (39 ft, 4 in) long. Without the skid tail, the hull length was 10.372 m (34 ft). The height was 3.8 m (12 ft, 8 in). Adding the front cupola, normally detached for transport, brought height to 4.08 m (13 ft 5 in).

ArmorThickness (mm)
Front Hull30
Hull Sides25
Rear Hull20
Hull Top13
Hull Bottom10
Gun Mantlet25
Turret Front35
Turret Sides30
Turret Rear30
Turret Top5

The rear turret was made of 22mm armor plates.

Ground Clearance0.60 m (2 ft)
Fording Depth 1.40 m (4 ft, 7 in)
Trench Crossing 4.25 m (13 ft, 11 in)
Obstacle Clearance1.70 m (5 ft, 7 in)
Climbing Ability70°

Seven fuel tanks, four on the left side and three on the right side, contained a total of 1260 liters (332.86 gallons) which gave the tank a range of about 150 km (93.2 miles). The first engines were two Chenu type engines (designed for dirigibles), 210 horsepower (150 kW) each. In 1923, the engines were replaced by captured German 6-cylinder 200 CV (150 kW) Mercedes engines allowing for a top speed of 12 km/h (7.5 mph).

Video: The Largest Operational Tank Ever Built – The Terrifying French Char 2C

Video: The Tanks of World War II – Episode 11: Char 2C


Char 2C bis

After a decision made in December 1922, from 1923 until 1926 Char 2C N° 9 was converted at La Seyne (west of Toulon) into the Char 2C bis, an experimental type which mounted a 155mm howitzer in a rounded cast steel turret. The howitzer was most likely a modified variant of the 155 c Mle 1917 Schneider howitzer which had a muzzle velocity of 200 m/s (656 f/s). The commander was also given his own enclosed position behind the turret complete with its own stroboscopic cupola. New engines of the Soutter-Harlé type were installed and the three independent machine gun positions were removed. In this configuration, the tank weighed close to 74 tonnes.


A row of Char 2Cs assigned to 551e régiment de chars de combat (RCC) at Camp de Châlons at Mourmelon-le-Grand, near Châlons-en-Champagne in 1924. From left to right are tanks numbered 3, 10, 8 and 6. Note the tanks do not have the stroboscopic cupolas mounted on top of the main gun turrets indicating they probably just arrived.

Each Char 2C had been named after one of the ancient regions of France, N° 1 to N° 10 were named “Provence”, “Picardie”, “Alsace”, “Bretagne”, “Touraine”, “Anjou”, “Lorraine”, “Berry”, “Champagne” and “Poitou” respectively.

Char 2C N° 3 named Alsace at Camp de Châlons in 1924. It probably was only a coincidence that the Camp de Châlons firing range hosted the individual and team 600 m free rifle shooting events for the 1924 Summer Olympics (in Paris) on 27 June 1924.

In 1930 and 1931, the Char 2Cs were rebuilt with frontal armor of 45mm (1 4/5 in).

On 9 July 1936, the Char 2Cs were assigned to the 511e RCC at Verdun. The Char 2Cs were then renumbered where N° 1 to N° 9 became N° 91 to N° 99 and N° 10 became N° 90. They were renumbered probably to make it appear there were a large number of them. Also N° 7 “Lorraine” was renamed N° 97 “Normandie”.

Throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, their military value slowly decreased as more advanced tanks were developed and entered service. By the end of the 1930s, they were mainly obsolete because their slow speed and high profile made them vulnerable to more advanced anti-tank guns.

After WWI, Fuller wrote 45 books and many articles becoming a highly prolific author whose ideas reached many army officers and the interested public. Fuller’s ideas on mechanized warfare continued to be influential up to the start of WWII, not much with his countrymen but with the Germans, notably Heinz Guderian who spent his own money to have Fuller’s Provisional Instructions for Tank and Armored Car Training translated to German. In the 1930s, the German Wehrmacht implemented tactics similar in many ways to Fuller’s 1919 plan, which eventually became known as Blitzkrieg.


WWII

During the French mobilization in 1939, the Char 2C tanks were still with the 511e RCC at Verdun, where they sat in storage for a long time and were not maintained. Around June or July 1939, an order was received to form the 51e Bataillon de Chars Lourds (BCL) “Heavy Tank Battalion” and to set it up at Belrupt, 5 km (3.10 miles) east of Verdun. The bataillon commander was Major Fournet. The tanks came out of the hangar as they were put into rough working order. The tank repairs required a lot of hard work and sweat. In all seven tanks were running, forming two companies (3 each) and one command tank. All the Mercedes engines were worn out and they were replaced by Maybach engines, located at the Puteaux arsenal, from equipment delivered by the Germans in 1919. With parts found at Verdun, an 8th tank was put into operational condition while repair work continued on the last two tanks. In general, all of the eight running tanks were not considered fit for combat.

Char 2C N° 96 Anjou was unable to run and was written off in September 1939. Armor plates and the 75mm gun turret were removed. Some sources state that the turret was shipped to the Mareth Line in southern Tunisia along the Libyan border which was intended to protect Tunisia against an attack from the Italian colony in Libya.

This is the front of N° 96 Anjou. These photos were taken by the Germans after capture and the Germans had test fired their anti-tank guns at the frontal armor.

As their main purpose was propaganda, these giants were kept far behind the front lines and did not participate in Operation Saar, a brief and ineffective French attack on the Siegfried Line in the area of Forbach-Breitfurt-Homback, 7 to 16 September 1939. Instead, they were used for parades and appeared in numerous morale boosting films, where they were shown climbing over and crushing old French fortifications. The French public were given the impression that the French Army at the time was equipped with large numbers of invincible super tanks which in reality was not true.

Film: Capabilities of two French Char 2C Super Heavy tanks being demonstrated 1939

Climbing and crushing old French fortifications probably took its toll on Char 2C N° 94 Bretagne as it eventually broke down and was written off in September 1939. It had done its job as expected and then it also was cannibalized for spare parts.

A unknown clergyman posing in front of Char 2C N° 97 Normandie.

N° 97 Normandie fording a river with French officers observing in the foreground.

On 4 October 1939, Char 2C N° 99 Champagne had completed its conversion back to its original configuration. After that the Char 2C bis no longer existed.

In October 1939, the 51e BCL relocated to the vicinity of Briey, 43 km (26.72 miles) east-northeast of Verdun where the tank repairs continued.


Command Tank

N° 97 “Normandie” was designated to be converted to a command tank. On 30 October 1939, an electrical signaling system was installed. Between 16 to 27 November 1939, additional armor plating was installed at the Aciéries d’Homécourt (Homécourt steelworks). The armor plates came either from the reformed Char 2Cs or from reserve. The Verdun Park also had 25mm and 45mm armor plates.

FRONT ARMOR:
Increased to 90mm (3.5 in) from superposition of 45mm plates over the existing 45mm plates.

SIDE ARMOR:
Increased to 65mm and 50mm from superposition of plates over the existing plates.

SUPERSTRUCTURE AND TURRET:
Addition of a double roof, with exhaust grille for the air discharged by the fans, with a thickness of 50mm in addition to the previously existing thicknesses. It raised the weight of the tank up to 75 tonnes, about a 10% increase. This increase combined with the increase in power resulting from the installation of two new 250 CV (180 kW) Maybach engines, in December 1939, did not change the possibilities of further progression. From late January through to April 1940, the upgraded N° 97 went through many days of testing and maneuvers.

Plans were made to apply the same upgrades to the other Char 2Cs but it never happened.

In this configuration, the “Normandie” command tank had at that time the thickest armor of any operational tank, and is probably still the heaviest operational tank ever.

N° 97 “Normandie” Surblindé char de commandement (Overblind command tank) with hull roof shielding added. Note the extra armor plates on the hull side.

On 23 April 1940, while conducting crossing tests at the Moutiers quarry, France, N° 97 had broken a track. The track was repaired by the next day and on May 13, the tank rejoined the battalion. This photo gives a good view of the top of the up armored hull.


Battle of France

On 10 May 1940, the German armies invaded Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. During Operation Fall Gelb (“Case Yellow”), German armored units made a surprise advance through the dense Ardennes and then along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium to counter the invading German armies.

On that day, 51e BCL was camped in the woods 5 or 6 km (3.1 or 3.73 miles) north of Briey which was safe behind the Maginot Line. During May, the battalion moved to Noroy le Sec and Joudreville, 10 and 12 km (6.2 and 7.45 miles) northwest of Briey. During the movement, Char 2C N° 95 broke down 2 km (1.24 miles) from Mainville, 8 km (4.97 miles) northwest of Briey, and was awaiting repair.

After the Germans launched Operation Fall Rot (“Case Red”) on 5 June 1940 and began advancing south behind the Maginot Line, the French High Command made the decision to prevent the capture of the so called “super” tanks by moving them as far south as possible.

On June 12 around 1300 hours, orders were given to embark the tanks on the railway at Landres, 4 km (2.48 miles) north of Noroy le Sec. Between 2000 hours and midnight the tanks were driven to Landres. The Landres station master had no instructions or locomotives necessary for loading the tanks onto the rail bogies. In the meantime, the maintenance teams had gone to Landres station to check the bogies and have them installed on the boarding track. The Landres station master telephoned the depot, which sent a locomotive and it arrived at daybreak.

On June 13 at 1030 hours, loading the tanks on the rail bogies was finished. At 1100 hours, the locomotives and wagon cars arrived. Two trains were formed, each carrying three tanks. The second company (N° 91 Provence, N° 93 Alsace, N° 98 Berry) left at 1330 hours and the first company (N° 90 Poitou, N° 97 Normandie, N° 99 Champagne) left at 1430 hours.

The rail bogies were attached to the front and rear of the Char 2C.

In the meantime, orders were issued to destroy two tanks as they would require at least 24 hours of work to repair:

  • N° 95 Touraine awaiting repair near Mainville.
  • N° 92 Picardie broken down at Piennes.

Germans are examining N° 95 Touraine near Mainville. Note the hoist mounted on the rear of the main gun turret and the open hatch on the rear machine gun turret.

This is a side view of N° 95 Touraine. On the ground beside the tank are removed engine components. It is not known if the French crew or the Germans were trying to repair the tank.

Char 2C N° 92 Picardie had a mechanical drive train breakdown at Piennes, 2 km (1.24 miles) southwest of Landres when it was joining up with the other tanks.

N° 92 was scuttled by its crew before being captured by the Germans. Note the German soldier is sitting on a removed electric drive motor. This photo shows the details of the front hull machine gun.

This is the rear of N° 92 Picardie showing the attached trench-crossing skid tail which made its overall length longer. The longest recorded trench crossing by the Char 2C was 4.5 m (14 ft, 9 in).

On June 13 at 1400 hours, written order n° 4144/3 was received confirming the movement of the tanks by rail and that of the echelons by road both to the same destination: Gondrecourt-le-Château, 34 km (21.13 miles) southwest of Toul. The region of Gondrecourt-le-Château and the Ornain valley was being bombarded by the Germans during the day. The two tank companies were still on the railway near Badonvillers, 7 km (4.35 miles) northeast of Gondrecourt-le-Château where they arrived between midnight and 0200 hours.

At 0530 hours on the morning of June 14, the German advance guard had entered Paris. Meanwhile, the 51e BCL was still on the railway at Gondrecourt-le-Château awaiting further orders. There were delays in obtaining movement instructions. Orders were finally given for the trains to go to Certilleux and Landaville stations, 5 and 8 km (3.1 and 4.97 miles) south of Neufchâteau and to direct the echelons to these localities. The two trains started to Gondrecourt-le-Château and then on to Neufchâteau. They were violently bombed a few kilometers from Gondrecourt-le-Château with only minor damage. Between 1300 and 1400 hours, the trains continued to Neufchâteau. In the morning, the railway line within Neufchâteau was bombed. The trains were stopped several times by track cuts that the crews arranged somehow, especially on the ramps where it is necessary to tow tank by tank, the locomotive of each train being unable to tow three tanks. In front, there were trains which advanced painfully slow. At midnight, the trains were still at least 12 km (7.46 miles) from Neufchâteau and the echelons were on their way to Certilleux and Landaville. About 50 m (54.68 yards) of the railway line at the Certilleux level crossing was destroyed by a bombardment. The railway personnel who came to repair the tracks just gave up and joined the retreat to the south. It was impossible to get the trains to Certilleux and Landaville assuming that they manage to get through Neufchâteau. An arrangement was made to switch the trains to another track to Neufchâteau and later on to Is-sur-Tille, 22 km (13.67 miles) north of Dijon, the only route in good condition at the time.

On June 15 at 0400 hours, the two tank trains had progressed but they have not passed through Neufchâteau. Difficulties were encountered due to lack of connection, the accumulated delays with keeping the tanks on rails around Gondrecourt-le-Château and the congestion of the tracks which could have been avoided if they acted more quickly. The French High Command issued a formal order to blow up the tanks if at any place they were absolutely blocked, running the risk of being captured by the Germans or under attack without any means of defense. Between 0800 and 0900 hours, the two tank trains were finally able to pass through Neufchâteau and were heading for Is-sur-Tille. Around 1000 hours, orders were given to the wheeled echelons to head for Arnoncourt-sur-Apance, 40 km (24.85 miles) south of Neufchâteau. The echelon sections were directed to Pouilly-en-Bassigny and Damrémont, 4 km (2.49 miles) west and 7 km (4.35 miles) southwest of Arnoncourt-sur-Apance.

Around 1700 hours, the tank trains were halted near the village Meuse, 40 km (24.85 miles) south of Neufchâteau and west of Arnoncourt-sur-Apance. The situation was catastrophic, the two trains were blocked between five trains in front of them and about as many behind them. In front of them was a burning fuel train. A number of locomotive engineers retreated south after damaging them.

It was reported that the Germans occupied Culmont-Chalindrey, 24 km (14.91 miles) south of Meuse and Montigny. The two tank trains were stuck on a curved cut section of track. The officers and tank commanders had gathered together and studied the situation. They determined it was absolutely impossible to disembark the tanks without special equipment which could not reach the isolated curved track in time. They would not have last very long if they tried to make a stand with the immobilized tanks. There was nothing they could do to save the tanks and the order was given to destroy them with demolition charges. The task was completed by 1900 hours,

Overhead view of a destroyed Char 2C on one of the trains. The tanks were spaced apart on the trains with wagon rail cars separating them.

This is a close up view of the destroyed tank, N° 97 Normandie. Note the high banks along the rail line and the trees in the background.

Today, Meuse is located southeast of Val-de-Meuse along route D417. The Meuse River zig-zags to the west of the rail line (in red) which flows northward to Neufchâteau and then to Verdun. The location of the blocked tank trains would most likely be on the curved section of track in the wooden area to the north of Meuse. In 1940, that area had shattered trees and brushes but 80+ years later that area could had grown into a small forest.

The tank crews and the staff embarked in any available trucks taken from the echelon sections. A convoy was formed on the Montigny-Bourbonne-les-Bains road and it headed towards Gevigney, 26 km (16.16 miles) northwest of Vesoul. The leading elements of the convoy encountered Germans at Blondefontaine and at Jussey, 30 km (18.64 miles) northwest of Vesoul. Due to the congestion on the roads, the convoy had to split into two convoys and they took different routes. They eventually regrouped and arrived at Moustier, northeast of Marseille and west of Nice.

The abandoned Char 2Cs near Meuse were subsequently captured by the 10. Panzer-Regiment, 8. Panzer-Division, XLI Panzer-Korps. The XLI Panzer-Korp started near Rethel advancing south through Châlons passing west of Chaumont and Langres. The leading elements raced ahead to the Switzerland border entrapping French forces behind the stationary Maginot Line (in blue). Follow up units fanned out and covered the countryside along the main advance route. The date when the Germans discovered the Char 2Cs is not known but it most likely have been sometime in late June.

Later Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Göring claimed that the tanks had been destroyed by the Luftwaffe dive bombers. The German propaganda was accepted as an authentic event by contemporary writers and later repeated in many postwar sources. The Luftwaffe did indirectly destroyed them by bombing the rail transportation in the area.

Original NumberNew NumberChar NameUnitLoss Date, Location
191Provence2e Compagnie 15 June 1940, Meuse
292Picardie1ère Compagnie 13 June 1940, Piennes
393Alsace2e Compagnie 15 June 1940, Meuse
494Bretagne (Brittany)September 1939
595Touraine2e Compagnie12 June 1940, Mainville
696AnjouSeptember 1939
797Lorraine (renamed Normandie)Command tank15 June 1940, Meuse
898Berry2e Compagnie15 June 1940, Meuse
999Champagne1ère Compagnie 15 June 1940, Meuse
1090Poitou1ère Compagnie 15 June 1940, Meuse

Poitou

Four crewmen pose in front of their menacing looking Char 2C N° 90 named Poitou in 1939. Note the skull and cross bones painted on the main turret.

N° 90 Poitou after it been destroyed by the crew at Meuse on June 15.

The Germans tested their anti-tank guns against the frontal 45mm armor of N° 90 Poitou to determine the characteristics of its armor penetration. Note the section of the gun muzzle was broken off.


Provence

Char 2C N° 91 named Provence in 1939.

N° 91 Provence at Meuse on June 15. Note the demolition charge had blown out the side hull below the main gun turret.


Alsace

The crew and VIPs pose next to Char 2C N° 93 Alsace in 1939. Note the crest on the turret and the camouflage pattern on the hull.

The left side of N° 93 Alsace destroyed on the train at Meuse on June 15. Note the missing right track.

The right side of N° 93 Alsace on the train. Note the demolition charge had blown out the side hull and had broken the right track.


Normandie

Destroyed N° 97 Normandie on the train. Note the blown out hole on the hull side and the left track is missing.

This is a close up of the hull damage on N° 97.

Due to its increased frontal armor (90mm), the Germans also tested their anti-tank guns on N° 97. Note the extra armor on the turret roof and the frame along the top of the front armor plate. The gun muzzle was not shattered.


Berry

Crew and/or mechanics posing next to Char 2C N° 98 Berry in 1939.

Germans are examining the right side of destroyed N° 98 Berry on the train. Note the riveted construction of the blown out hull plate.

Germans are examining the left side of N° 98 Berry. The explosion had blown a hole completely through the hull to the other side.


Champagne

Only one Char 2C, N° 99 Champagne, was captured pretty much intact. Either the crew did not set any demolition charges or they failed to detonate.

The German standing on top of the left track appears to be examining a spent 75mm shell. Although they were not used in combat, the French probably did test fire the 75mm guns.

On the hull side is painted “Erbeutet Pz.Rgt.10” (Erbeutet translates to “Captured”).

Seen from this angle, the Char 2C tracks are suspended in air above the railroad tracks.


It must had took some time for the Germans (or the French) to clear the wreaked trains from the tracks around Meuse and repair any damaged rail track sections. The following series of photos were either taken at Lunéville (northwest of Neufchâteau and southeast of Nancy) or at Troyes, about 70 miles (112.65 km) west of Neufchâteau. The dates of the photos are not known.

This a top view of N° 99 Champagne taken from top of a highway overpass. The stroboscopic cupola had been removed from the gun turret to reduce the tank’s height. The cupola is sitting on an air filter on top of the hull.

This is a closer view of the main gun turret. It shows the turret roof details and a small view inside the turret.

The photographer had came down the overpass embankment and took this shot of the side of N° 99 Champagne.

Now the photographer had taken this shot of the side of N° 99 Champagne at the railroad track level with the overpass bridge at the left. Note side hull hatch is open.

This is a forward side view of N° 99 Champagne. Underneath the overpass bridge is the front of N° 97 Normandie.

This is a close up of the front of N° 97 Normandie under the bridge.

The photographer had passed under the bridge and took this rear side shot of Normandie showing the additional armor plating on the hull side. Note the hanging section of track at the rear.

The photographer had passed back under the bridge and took this forward right side shot of N° 99 Champagne with the embankment in the background.

This last shot is the rear right side of N° 99 Champagne with the overpass bridge in the background. On the road might be the photographer’s car.

A cleaned up N° 99 Champagne is at an ordnance collection point. The “Erbeutet Pz.Rgt.10” legend that was painted on the hull side had been removed. In the foreground on the platform is a quick firing 25-pounder Mk I howitzer mounted on a 18-pounder Mk IV/V carriage or commonly called the “18/25-pounder”. In France 1940, 704 of them were lost. Behind it and next to N° 99 is a puny French 25mm anti-tank gun. The Germans wearing long coats indicate that this photo was taken in the fall of 1940.

Sources state that Char 2C N° 99 Champagne was transported to Berlin and exhibited as a war trophy and the Red Army transported it to the Soviet Union in 1945. There is some speculation that it is still in Russian possession somewhere and some theorizing that the French government would demand the return of the historic vehicle if it was discovered to still exist. Some sources claim it was last seen in East Germany as late as 1948 and then it disappeared. It is most likely N° 99 was just scrapped. To this day, there is no information on where it is or what happened to it. All the other damaged/destroyed Char 2Cs were most likely scrapped and their armor would been melted down and used for panzer production.


Model Kits

1/35:
Meng Model TS-009 Char 2C French Super Heavy Tank – 2013
Niko Model Detail set NP35001 Tail for Char 2C (MENG TS-009) – 2014
Niko Model Detail set NP35003 Railway Bogies for the Meng Char 2C
DN Models Masking set 35/827-010 Camouflage Paint Mask set for Char 2C (Meng TS-009) – 2014

1/72:
5M Hobby 72006 France FCM 2C Tank – 200?
RetroTracks R72062 FCM 2C – 201?

1/87:
Shapeways Char 2C (3D print kit)

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