Lorraine 37L

The first development from the TRC 37L was an armoured personnel carrier, the Voiture blindée de chasseurs portés 38L ("Armoured mounted infantry vehicle 38L"). Like the TRC 37L, this Lorraine 38L was equipped with an armoured tracked trailer. The total capacity was twelve men: the driver and one passenger in the driving compartment, four in the former cargo bay, and six in the trailer. To protect the infantry squad, high box-like armoured superstructures were built over both the bin and the trailer, with doors at their back. The loaded weight of the main vehicle was 7.7 tonnes. 
A total of 240 VBCP 38L vehicles were ordered, of which nine had been delivered on 1 September 1939 and around 150 by 25 June 1940. In view of the war threat, the order was made before the prototype could be tested. Of all participants in the Battle of France, the French army would thus be the only to employ a fully tracked APC. 

The vehicles were intended for the Bataillon de Chasseurs Portés, the (single) mechanised infantry battalion within the Division Cuirassée, or armoured division of the Infantry. 
On 10 May they had however not yet been allocated to these units, who still used half-tracks. During May the vehicles were hurriedly taken into use by the 5e BCP and 17e BCP of the 1re DCr and 2nd DCr respectively. The 4e DCr did not receive any.


An improved model, the VBCP 39L, was created by expanding the cargo bay to carry eight passengers, apart from the two crew members. This model had no trailer and a total capacity of ten persons; extra room was found by raising the upper deck — the passenger compartment was open-topped, and constructing a more forward sloped armour glacis, contiguous with the nose section; the type thus resembled postwar APCs. 

Some two hundred VBCP 39L vehicles were ordered, to replace the 38L on the production lines from the 241st vehicle onwards, but none had been delivered by June 1940, the manufacture remaining limited to a single prototype. Experimental and limited production models included tank destroyers armed with 47 mm SA 47 guns (Chasseur de Chars Lorraine) and command post vehicles; probably a Voiture de transmissions blindée sur TRC Lorraine 37 L ER prototype was produced.

In 1939 and 1940 the type had been mainly produced in the Lorraine factory at Lunéville. Early 1939 it was decided to erect a factory in a more southern location, less vulnerable to German bombing, at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. This Atelier de Bagnères had not made a single vehicle by the time of the armistice between France and Germany, but it was, like the other tractor-producing Fouga factory at Béziers, located in the unoccupied zone of Vichy France. 

Limited production continued after June 1940 for a total of about 150, although military models were not officially produced. Some of these vehicles had a shortened chassis, their suspension consisting of only two bogies per side. Lorraine tractors were ostensively fitted for use in forestry and construction; in reality they constituted a clandestine armoured fighting vehicle production as they could be easily rebuilt. 

The AMX factory secretly produced armoured bodies for these vehicles which were stockpiled. The type was called the Tracteur Lorraine 37 L 44. After the German occupation of the south of France in November 1942, many of these chassis were hidden. In the spring of 1944 the French resistance attacked the Bagnères factory on orders from London, the allies assuming it produced vehicles for Germany. 

                                                   soviet version

after El Alamein

To prevent further attacks the resistance was informed of and involved in the affair in the summer of 1944 by the promise to arm existing vehicles for their use. The first twenty of these were delivered in January 1945, after the liberation, and the factory continued modifying vehicles for the duration of the war at a rate of about twenty a month, often by fitting an armoured superstructure, armed with a light or heavy machine-gun, to the front or back of the chassis.

A considerable number of Lorraine tractors, about 360, fell into German hands. Due to its reliability, the type was well suited to the mobile tactics the Germans favoured in 1941 and 1942. They were first used as such, renamed the Lorraine Schlepper. 

As the Germans themselves had not produced a similar type, the Lorraine tractors filled a requirement for fully tracked supply vehicles as Gefechtsfeld-Versorgungsfahrzeug Lorraine 37L, or Munitionstransportkraftwagen auf Lorraine Schlepper. 
In July and August 1942, Major Alfred Becker directed the conversion of 170 of these vehicles into the 7.5 cm PaK40/1 auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine Schlepper (f) or Marder I, a 75 mm equipped self-propelled anti-tank gun. 

At the same time 106 were converted into self-propelled artillery: 94 into the 15 cm sFH13/1 (Sf) auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine Schlepper. 

and 12 into the 10.5 cm leFH18(Sf) auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine Schlepper. 

Also an artillery observation vehicle was provided: the Beobachtungswagen auf Lorraine Schlepper, thirty of which were produced. 

A single conversion entailed the fitting of a Soviet 122 mm howitzer: the 12.2 cm Kanone auf Geschuetzwagen Lorraine.

For a time it has also been assumed that a 47 mm tank destroyer conversion existed: the presumed "4.7cm Pak181 auf PanzerJäger Lorraine Schlepper (f)", based on preserved photographs that however in reality depicted the French Chasseur de Chars Lorraine mentioned above, an ad hoc conversion built in June 1940.

The Germans also employed the VBCP 38L as Lorraine 38L.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti

Any explosive ammunition or empty cores, you can put in this.