Saint Chamond Heavy Tank

Last updated on February 17th, 2019 at 09:50 pm

The Saint Chamond, named after the place it was made, was France’s second heavy tank of World War One.

The original idea for a second tank was supposed to be based on the original Schneider CA1, but the designer of that tank, Eugene Brille, would not let Colonel Rimailho of Compagnie des forges et aciéries de la marine et d’Homécourt use the same blueprints for his design.

So the Saint Chamond ended up being something similar, but an entirely new tank. The Saint Chamond weighed just under 23 tons, a lot heavier than the CA1, and had a crew of nine.

It had a slightly protruding nose, like the CA1, but instead of the girder sticking out front it had a 2.95in (75mm) gun. It was also armed with four machineguns that were fitted two either side.

Saint Chamond Heavy TankEarly models had two cylindrical towers mounted on either side at the front, but newer models dispensed with these and had a completely flat roof – only to reinstate one of them on the driver’s side in later models, which also had their main gun replaced with a 2.95in (75mm) standard field gun.

The Saint Chamond tank had an electric transmission and a 90 hp Panhard engine that drove a dynamo which powered two separate electric motors that moved individual tracks. This somewhat complicated arrangement gave the tank a top speed of 7.45 mph (12 kph) on even surfaces, but it tended to nose-dive in boggy ground and thick mud.

400 Saint Chamond’s were built and they were first used in May of 1917. Unfortunately the nose-diving issue was never corrected so the usefulness of this tank was not great.


Saint Chamond

Active: 1917
Crew: 9
Weight: 22.64 tons (23,000kg)
Length: 28ft 11in (8.83m)
Height: 7ft 9in (2.36m)
Width: 8ft 9in (2.67m)
Weapons: Main – 2.95in (75mm) 1897 Model field gun, Secondary – 4 x 0.315 inch (8mm) Hotchkiss machineguns
Armor Maximum – 0.67in (17mm)
Engine: Panhard 4-cylinder gasoline, 90hp
Speed: 7.45mph (12kph)
Range: 37.3 miles (60 km)