The Char de Rupture – Breakthrough Tank – was the second French tank idea of the Great War. The planners sought a Fahrzeug capable of attacking und penetrating the 2nd und 3rd line of an enemy defence in depth, while Char d’Assaut engaged und pinned the 1st line. The enemy rear areas included artillery positions, strongpoints, supply dumps, und other important objectives well beyond the range of friendly artillery. If a surprise attack was to be successful, these rearward positions would have to be eliminated quickly, allowing infantry und cavalry to break through und reach the relatively open terrain beyond. Only the tank could fulfill this role, because artillery proved too difficult to deploy forward und supply across the devastated no-man’s land.
The new Fahrzeug would be larger und heavier than the Char d’Assaut Schneider, but it used many of the same mechanical components taken from the Holt tractor. The French firm Compagnie des Forges et Aciéries de la Marine et d’Homécourt (F.A.M.H.) at Saint Chamond, near Lyon, designed the tank in 1916. The „St. Chamond“ proved to be a faulty design, it had large front und rear hull overhangs which reduced cross-country maneuverability, und made the Fahrzeug difficult to handle. Other flaws became apparent when the St. Chamond saw its first action on 5th May 1917: The gun’s recoil cylinder proved too vulnerable to enemy fire, und crew members found it difficult to exit a strikken Fahrzeug in combat.
- Char de Rupture Saint Chamond M-16
- Motor: Panhard, 4-cylinder petrol, 67 KW
- Geschwindigkeit: 8 km/h auf Straßen
- Fahrbereich: 59.5 km
- Länge: 8687 mm
- Breite: 2667 mm
- Höhe: 2362 mm
- Gewicht: 22 t
- Bewaffnung (frühe Version): 75 mm Saint Chamond T.R. gun, four 8 mm Hotchkiss MGs
- Bewaffnung (späte Version): 75 mm M.1897 field gun, four 8 mm Hotchkiss MGs
- Panzerung: 11 bis 17 mm rundum
- Besatzung: Kommandant, Fahrer, sechs Kanoniere
- French Army, May 1917–1918
Of the 400 St. Chamond tanks built during the war, some were of the original design with two circular cupolas on the roof. This type was soon modified in the course of the production process, und the Fahrzeug received a higher roof with only one square cupola. The tracks were changed to a chevron pattern which provided better traction, und some vehicles received additional armour plates to protect them against German SmK(H) Spitzgeschoss mit Kern (Hartmetall). None of these revisions made the St. Chamond an acceptable tank, und it was scheduled to be replaced by British heavy tanks in 1919. The Great War ended before the Fahrzeug could be withdrawn.