The Char 2C or FCM 2C remains the only super heavy tank produced in series and used operationally in any army, and the heaviest tank ever built until the arrival of the German Tiger II in 1944. The Char 2C was being planned and designed in the final year of the First World War. Although designed to take part in the Hindenburg line assault of 1919, the second project of FCM entered service after the First World War and never fired a shot in anger – only in front of the cameras.

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

The system would become the largest operational tank of its kind to ever see operational service in any capacity and was ordered for mass production in an effort to bring some finality to the global war. In the end, the German capitulation and Armistice brought about cancellations of many systems in development including the Char 2C. The tank would still go on to see active service - albeit in a limited capacity - and amazingly fielded by French forces in the Battle of France some twenty years later.

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (picture diagram)

As development began, the vehicle was to be originally produced in three weight classes as prototype models consisting of a 30, 40 and 62 ton variants. The Armistice stopped any development of these intended models along with the 300 or so of the 62 ton variant that was planned to be in production by 1919 under the order of Marshal Philippe Petain of the French General Staff. The only model to come out of post-war France was the Char 2C, a 69-ton prototype version that saw some 10 examples beginning service in 1921. Classified as a "super-heavy tank", the machine certainly fit the bill and was the largest tank to ever be produced. The system was heavily armored with the armor contributing to a good portion of the overall weight of the tank. Armament consisted of a single 75mm main gun along with 4 x Hotchkiss machine guns for anti-infantry defense. Machine guns were kept in a forward, rear and side gun positions for total covering fire.

The Char 2C sported a large and high profile. Soldiers alongside the machine were seemingly dwarfed by the track system alone, mounted along the World War 1-style lozenge-type assembly with the tracks running over, under and around. The turret sat well-forward of the hull and mounted the primary armament. Two engines of 250 horsepower apiece drove the Char 2C for a grand operational total of 520 horsepower output. Engines were of either Daimler or Maybach brands and operated under 6-cylinders.

The Char 2C under construction at FCM

Despite development beginning in 1918 and deliveries accepted in 1921, At FCM Jammy and Savatier finished the Char 2C prototype, the other nine tanks being built almost simultaneously; all ten were delivered in 1921 and modified by the factory until 1923 

Development was begun in 1918 and ten tanks were built almost simultaneously, being deliveries accepted in 1921; all ten were modified by the factory until 1923. The Char 2C was becoming outclassed with the steady rise of new tanks entering the fray. Where their armor was the thickest of any tank to be fielded in World War I, by World War II standards, the Char 2C was extremely vulnerable to most types of anti-tank fire.

French "Char 2C" super-heavy tank with crew of 12 and their commander (France - c. 1940)

The ten tanks were part of several consecutive units, their organic strength at one time reduced to three. Their military value slowly decreased as more advanced tanks were developed throughout the 1920s and 1930s. By the end of the 1930s they were largely obsolete, because their slow speed and high profile made them vulnerable to advances in anti-tank guns.

Nevertheless, during the French mobilisation of 1939, all ten were activated and put into their own unit, the 51st Bataillon de Chars de Combat. For propaganda, each tank had been named after one of the ancient regions of France, numbers 90-99 being named Poitou; ProvencePicardieAlsaceBretagneTouraineAnjouNormandie (named Lorraine in 1939); BerryChampagne respectively.

As their main value was in propaganda, the giants were kept carefully out of harm's way and did not participate in the September 1939 attack on the Siegfried Line. They were used instead for numerous morale-boosting movies, in which they were often shown climbing and crushing old French forts. To the public, they obtained the reputation of invincible super tanks, the imagined dimensions of which far surpassed the actual particulars.

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 92, named "Provence" (six photos above) 

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 92  named "Picardie” (photo above)

 

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 93 named "Alsace” (two photo above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 94 named "Bretagne" (photo above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 95 named "Touraine” (three photos above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 96 named "Anjou” (photo above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 97 named "Normandie” (eight photos above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 98 named "Berry” (four photos above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM, number 99 named "Champagne” (nine photos above)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), Luneville France 1940

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), Luneville France 1940

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), captured by germans

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), transport

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), rail transport

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), France 1940

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), front view

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), captured 1940

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), tank top view of the turret

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), tank side view

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown) and light R-35 on the training

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), captured by Germans

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), captured by Germans

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), damaged turret

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), damaged turret

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown)

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), captured by Germans 1940

Super heavy tank Char 2C FCM (number unknown), Troyes, France 1940 

Of course, the French commanders knew perfectly well that this reputation was undeserved. When the German Panzerdivisionen, in the execution of Operation Fall Rot, ripped apart the French lines after 10 June 1940, the decision was made to prevent the capture of the famous equipment. All were to be sent to the south by rail transport. On 15 June the railway was blocked by a burning fuel train, so it became incumbent to destroy the tanks by detonating charges. Later Goebbels and Göring claimed the tanks were hit by German dive bombers. This propaganda lie was to be repeated by many sources. One tank, the Champagne, was nevertheless captured more or less intact and brought to Berlin to be exhibited as a war trophy until disappearing in 1948.

Fuente: 

philthydirtyanimal (Youtube) | www.reddit.com | www.zona-militar.com/ | director.io/ | www.ebay.com | www.tanks-encyclopedia.com | www.avalanchepress.com | www.worldwarphotos.info | enrique262.tumblr.com | ww2history.ru | www.mmowg.net/super-heavy-tank-fcm-2c | wio.ru | gunter-spb.livejournal.com | galleryhip.com | engins-blindes.leforum.eu | panzerserra.blogspot.ca | Wikipedia
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