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The terrifying tanks of All Quiet on the Western Front are French Saint-Chamonds

October 28, 2022

The terrifying and huge tanks featured in Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front are French tanks from Saint-Chamond, but there’s a catch.

World War I saw major European armies develop all sorts of new weapons, including mustard gas, warplanes and submarines, as well as innovations in field artillery, machine guns and grenades.

However, perhaps the most terrifying invention of the First World War was the tank; originally developed by the British before their French and German counterparts came to the battlefields of Western Europe.

In Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front, one group of these war machines is able to break through the German line – it’s the French tank Saint-Chamond.

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The French tank Saint-Chamond

All Quiet on the Western Front shows the devastating power and ferocity that military technology had achieved during the First World War; in the new Netflix film, which is best demonstrated by the French tank Saint-Chamond.

The Saint-Chamond was the second French tank to have fought during the First World War, with more than 400 units manufactured between April 1917 and July 1918.

However, by the technical definition of a heavily armored turreted vehicle, it is not actually a tank; although considered part of early tank development by historians and military engineers.

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Weighing 23 tons (50,700 pounds) and nearly 9 meters long (29.5 feet), this huge war machine needed eight well-trained soldiers to operate, but could still travel remarkably at 12 km per hour (7. 5 mph) – making it a devastating tool. for those who face him with small arms – as seen in the film.

The tank had a 75 mm (2.95 in) gun, which is essentially a French field artillery gun, with four additional 8 mm (0.31 in) Hotchkiss machine guns mounted on the front and sides ; the most heavily armed Allied tank of the First World War.

“Their valuable 75 mm (2.95 inches) and speed on roads and moderately flat terrain made them ideally suited as mobile assault guns, to deal with German batteries (Nahkampfbatterien). In the summer of 1918, the Allies were on the counter-offensive and the Saint Chamond found suitable open ground. They fought, sometimes with other tanks and American troops, until the armistice. – Tank Encyclopedia.

This meant that the Saint-Chamond was a horrible instrument for engaging both entrenched German positions with its nearly 180 degree field of effectiveness and in the later stages of the war when the fighting moved to more open ground.

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A French Saint-Chamond tank (Char Saint-Chamond) which was manufactured between 1917 and 1918 during World War IPhoto by: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

However, the tank had major and constant problems with navigating the changing terrain of the Western Front and despite what is shown in the new Netflix film, the majority of the units were never able to be used to their full extent until to the last battles of the First World War due to the conditions.

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Interestingly, a second iteration of the Saint-Chamond tried to fix the problem with its Holt tracks, but eventually the tank was replaced because by 1918 “the Saint-Chamond was considered obsolete”.

We also can’t talk about French WWI tanks without at least mentioning the now iconic Char 2C, a literal monster of a killing machine.

This super-heavy tank never saw combat on the battlefield, but was the largest tank ever made, weighing over 69 tons (152,000 pounds) with a length of 10.27 m (33.7 ft). ) and a width of 3 m (9.8 ft).

Initially sporting a 105 mm (4 in) gun, before being downsized to a 75 mm (2.9 in) gun, the Char 2C was capable of firing a 4 kg high explosive shell at 240 m/s – quite to destroy German bunkers and entrenched positions across the western front had even seen battles before the end of the war.

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French war zonePhoto by Thematic News Agency/Getty Images

If you want to research other WW1 tanks:

  • Mark I (British)
  • Mark IV (British)
  • Mark V (British)
  • Mark A Whippet (British)
  • Schneider CA1 (French)
  • Renault FT (French)
  • A7V (German)

By Tom Llewellyn – tom.llewellyn@grv.media

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