Last updated on February 19th, 2019 at 09:07 pm
The Char ARL-44 heavy tank, which was designed in secret when France was under occupation, was supposed to have been an improvement over the Char B1 heavy tank, with a better turret and better main gun.
During World War II, France was occupied by the Germans, so French tank production almost came to a halt.
However, some tank design work continued to take place covertly.
France’s Char B1 heavy tank, which had been developed during the interwar period, had a 2.95 inch (75mm) main gun with a very limited traverse.
In 1938, the Atelier de Construction de Rueil (ARL) began a project to equip the chassis of the Char B1 heavy tank with a new turret and gun.
During the occupation, work on this new tank went on clandestinely.
When Paris was liberated in 1944, this tank, the Char ARL-44 heavy tank, began to be produced.
The first Char ARL-44 heavy tank was built in 1946.
The Char ARL-44 had a suspension and tracks that resembled those of the Char B1, but it had a new engine, hull and turret.
It had a 3.54 inch (90mm) main gun, a 0.3 inch (7.5mm) coaxial machine gun and a 0.3 inch (7.5mm) anti-aircraft gun.
A crew of five operated the Char ARL-44.
A driver and co-driver sat in the front of the hull, while the other three members of the crew sat in the turret.
The engine was in the back of the hull.
Only 60 Char ARL-44s were ever built. They were issued to the 503rd regiment.
The Char ARL-44 only appeared in public once, at a National Day parade on July 14, 1951.
This tank was sometimes called the “Char de Transition” or “transitional tank” because it was supposed to be a transitional design, to be followed by a newer heavy tank, the AMX-50, which had a 4.72 inch (120mm) main gun and an oscillating turret, like the turret on the AMX-13 light tank.
Some prototypes of the AMX-50 heavy tank were built in 1951 and 1952, but production of this tank was cancelled when a large number of American M47 Patton medium tanks became available to France under the Mutual Aid Program.
Char ARL-44 Heavy
|Weight:||47.2 tons (48,000kg) – approximate|
|Length:||34ft 6in (10.52m)|
|Height:||10ft 6in (3.2m)|
|Width:||11ft 2in (3.4m)|
|Weapons:||Main – 3.54in (90mm) gun, Secondary – 0.3 inch (7.5mm) coaxial machine gun, 0.3 inch (7.5mm) anti-aircraft gun|
|Armor||Maximum – 4.72in (120mm)|
|Engine:||Maybach gasoline, 700hp|
|Speed:||23 mph (37kph)|
|Range:||93 miles (150 km)|