Charron model 1905

The Charron model 1905 was considered the first modern armoured car. Although only a few units were built, the vehicle served as a predecessor for further developments.

In 1901 the three former cyclists Charron, Girardot and Voigt joined forces and founded the company CGV. Initially the company's focus was limited to the construction of civilian vehicles, but as early as 1902 the development of an armoured vehicle for the French military began.

The first prototype had an open cab with room for two people. Behind it was a 3 mm thick steel armoured hull. A 7.7 mm Hotchkiss M1902 machine gun was selected as armament. Since a shield was already mounted on the machine gun, the company decided not to build a turret to protect the shooter.

In 1903 the prototype was presented to the French military for the first time. However, the French military found the vehicle insufficient and refused to buy it.

With the help of a Russian designer, two further and improved prototypes were produced and also presented in 1904. This time the results were more positive and one of the vehicles was bought by the military and sent to Morocco. The second vehicle was bought by the original Russian customer and used in St. Petersburg against insurgents.



Charron model 1904


Charron model 1904



In 1905 the Georgian engineer and officer Nakashidze began to develop his own armoured car for the Russian army. In doing so, he oriented himself almost entirely to the French model. In contrast to the French model, his model was almost completely enclosed by steel plates. The plates had a thickness of 4 to 8 mm which increased the weight of the vehicle to 2.7 tons. Despite the weight, it managed a top speed of almost 50 kilometers per hour. After the presentation of the prototype, the Russian Ministry of Defence was willing to buy such vehicles, but there was no factory in Russia that could produce them.



The Russian design from 1905


The Russian design from 1905



After no suitable company could be found in Russia, the concept was handed over to the French company Charron. The principle of the complete armouring was retained, but 15 CV touring cars from 1906 were used as the vehicle. The engine as well as the driver's cabin and the loading area were now armoured throughout. For better operation of the machine gun, a turret was placed on the body so that the shooter could rotate 360 degrees and shoot in all directions.

In order to prevent a loss of the vehicle by a hit in the tires, these were filled with a liquid which enabled the driver to drive further 10 minutes even if the tire was hit.

Another innovation was the starting of the engine. If this had to be done by a crank on the engine until then, it could now be started from inside the vehicle.

During the 1906 autumn manoeuvre, the prototype was presented to the French military. They decided to buy several vehicles. Russia also had 12 vehicles built, which were to be delivered in 1908. On the way to Russia two of the vehicles disappeared while crossing the German Empire. It was assumed that the German military captured them for testing purposes.



A Charron model 1906 probably captured by Germany



In 1912 4 vehicles were delivered to the Ottoman Empire. But rebels could steal them and later Greece used them in the war against the decaying Ottoman Empire.



Charron model 1906 as export version for the Ottoman Empire



At the beginning of the First World War, the French army still had 4 vehicles. These were used for hunting German reconnaissance balloons. For testing a 75 mm anti-aircraft gun was mounted on one of the vehicles.

Altogether the vehicles were however too weak to be used effectively in the war. In addition, the company had already stopped production and switched back to civilian vehicles. Despite the discontinuation of production, the vehicle served other manufacturers such as Renault and Peugeot as a basis for the development of more modern armoured vehicles.



Charron model 1906 in 1914




Data sheet:

Designation: Charron model 1905
Manufacturing country: France
Introductory year: 1902 to 1906
Number of pieces: 20 pieces
Arming: 1 x 7,7 mm Hotchkiss M1902 Machine Gun
Maximum speed: ca. 45 Km/h
Engine: 4 cylinder CGV engine with 35 HP (26 kW)
Weight: 3 tons






You can find the right literature here:


The Encyclopedia of French Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles: 1914-1940

The Encyclopedia of French Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles: 1914-1940 Hardcover – September 19, 2014

France, alongside Britain, represents the birthplace of a new weapon that will revolutionize the art of war: the armored tank. And even before the appearance of this new piece of armament, it was in France around the turn of the twentieth century that we see the appearance of the first armored and combat vehicles.

In encyclopedic form, without forgetting any of the principal one hundred autos (tanks and armored cars) and their 200 variants and derivatives (troop transport, bridge layers, anti-mine tanks, etc..), This book offers a panorama absolutely full of all the vehicles that have succeeded or surrounded the Great War until the beginning of World War II.

A detailed though concise text concise, this work offers precise tables presenting all the specifications of the primary vehicles. With abundant illustrations (rare period photographs, sumptuous color profiles) this book an essential reference for both specialists and amateurs.

Click here!



Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World Wars I & II: Features 90 Landmark Vehicles from 1900-1945 with over 370 Archive Photographs

Armoured Fighting Vehicles of World Wars I & II: Features 90 Landmark Vehicles from 1900-1945 with over 370 Archive Photographs Paperback – September 21, 2007

Features 90 landmark vehicles from 1900-1945 shown in over 370 colour and black-and-white archive photographs

Click here!



French Tanks of World War I (New Vanguard)

French Tanks of World War I (New Vanguard) Paperback – December 21, 2010

This title examines the emergence of the first modern tank, the Renault FT. It is a little known fact that France fielded more tanks in World War I than any other army. However, France's early tanks suffered from poor mobility and armor compared to their contemporaries. Indeed, their initial use on the Chemin des Dames in 1917 was a bloody fiasco. In spite of initial set-backs, the French army redeemed its reputation with the Renault FT.

The Renault FT pioneered the modern tank design, with armament in a revolutionary central turret and the engine in the rear. More importantly, the Renault was designed to be cheap and easy to manufacture. Discover the history of the early French armor developments and their triumphant new design, the Renault FT, that helped to turn the tide of war in the favor of the Allies.

Click here!



Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War)

Armoured Warfare in the First World War (Images Of War) Paperback – March 17, 2017

A hundred years ago, on 15 September 1916, on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme, the tank made its debut on the battlefield. The first tanks were crude, unreliable, vulnerable weapons, but they changed the character of land warfare forever, and Anthony Tucker-Jones's photographic history of these pioneering armored vehicles is the ideal introduction to them.

In a selection of over 150 archive photographs he offers a fascinating insight into the difficult early days of this innovative new weapon, describing its technical history and its performance in combat. While the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 is often held up as the first large-scale tank battle, tanks had already served at Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, during the Nivelle offensive and the battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

His book shows that the development of the tank was fraught with technical obstacles and battlefield setbacks. It was invented by the British and the French at almost the same time to help break the deadlock of trench warfare, and the British deployed it first in 1916. Belatedly the Germans followed the British and French example. The initial designs were continuously refined during two years of intense warfare. Finding the right balance between power and weight, getting the armament right, and working out the best tactics for tanks on the battlefield was a tricky, often deadly business.

Click here!






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