Panhard 201 (AM 40P), a failed game-changer

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caid’s suggestion #63

I would like to (re) make a suggestion, for a nice light tank for France. The AM 40P

A year and a half before the beginning of the Second World War, the Army Commission for Armaments was largely concerned about the vulnerability of the armored vehicles. the progress on the 25mm gun and other calibers made them believe the protection of their current tanks which was having a minimum of 40 and 60mm depending on their role, was maybe not yet immune to the tank’s gun. the reconnaissance vehicles were much more weakly armored. The main problem was that since 1918 such machines in France had not built to fight but slowly the automobile was getting to gain anti-tank capacity. it was on March 5, 1938, an official technical assignment was issued for a full modernization of the French armored vehicles of the next generation hoping to be tested in 1940 and produced in the following years.

Panhard, who built the AMD 35 was a huge success as a long-range reconnaissance proposed something interesting for France. The cavalry had 3 types of vehicles, the AMR which was created to observe discreetly the enemy, the AMC a vehicle designed to fight the enemy, and the AMD which was intended to carry out long-range reconnaissance in dangerous territory. What Panhard offered was a vehicle capable of doing all 3 roles at once. the AMP 40 or AM 40P as the class was not officially confirmed. the instant of having 3 vehicles in service and the older model for the same role, the cavalry could have a single-vehicle

Panhard developed a quite innovative concept of a vehicle named “voiture 201 special” or Panhard 201. the vehicle introduced a weird concept of an 8-wheel armored car with inner metal wheels normally designed for the tractor that could be retracted on the road and provide additional traction off-road. the vehicle had a reversible gearbox, heavy armor, an oscillatory turret, and a low profile as well as a 25mm gun that was known to penetrate side to side all the tanks that were in service in Germany. all that for a weight barely more than the AMD 35. this vehicle was just exceptional for the time it was designed.

the prototype was built in the autumn of 1939 and the trial was started in January 1940 as planned by the modernization. the prototype did fare extremely well, it seem there was no noticeable problem found in the design. this impressed the Army who found the prototype outperformed their requirement. the war going on and France not faring well in 1940, the army ordered the Panhard 201 to be produced as the AM 40P even before the test was finished. as no major issue was found with the machine. they were willing to risk finding out later there was an early issue with the vehicles. a large order of 600 vehicles was made right away which was kind of unrealistic considering how bad was turning the war.
the Germans advancing fast and deep in France, it was obvious the AM 40P would not be produced. the prototype was at risk of falling into German hands so it was moved to Morroco where the Germans were not yet capable of reaching it. the trial could continue there only it was impossible to keep the work. the French engineer hid the Panhard 201 in the desert where it was burry and forgotten (it could still be there today)
the legacy of the Panhard 201 was not forgotten by the French engineer who further developed the design and modernized it after WW2 which led to the development of the EBR which entered full-scale production in 1951 and was a huge success.

the armament consists of a 25mm SA35 gun, despite the small caliber, this gun is one of the most potent of the early French tank. the reload was fast and the projectile was very accurate, the gun penetrated quite well the enemy tanks it may encounter. only, it will also leave little damage. the projectile being much smaller than the usual tank’s gun, it will seldom take out more than one of the enemy’s crew at the time. the turret is an innovation in itself. is having a double rotation axe. it’s a weird form of oscillatory turret in which one allows a 360 rotation while the 2nd is on an angle that makes it capable of reaching a much higher elevation and depression than a usual vehicle.

the vehicle mobility will be rather good but not impressive in a way that would make it exceptional. the engine is a bit weak for his needs and weight. the inner weel is designed to give it the same off-road performance as a tracked vehicle without losing the high speed of a wheeled vehicle. this vehicle includes an invertible gearbox which gives it the same reverse speed as the forward speed. this gives it quite good mobility on the battlefield.

The protection is where this vehicle shines. it was simply very thick. the fuselage being 60mm all around makes it virtually immune to the tank’s weapons, a bit like the B1 bis. only it is still very light. this is thanks to the very compact vehicle who is allowing to reduce the weight of the armour. on the down side the crew is reduced to 2 men which is really the minimum crew a vehicle need to somewhat work properly



how do you even balance that? A ultra mobile kv1s with a 25mm gun. It’s going to be a nightmare to face if it’s added.

if you put it at 2.7 it will find people who will easily have more than 60mm of penetration and they will also be having difficulty to be penetrated by it. basically it’s like the H.39. not so great armament but good armour.
the crew is very small, a single good hit will take it out


Looks super fun! +1

Was waiting for this to get suggested. +1

are those 60mm plates, or 60mm los? Because if those are 60mm plates, you’ll have a problem penetrating it angled.

those are 60mm all over. i though it would only be on the front, but I found a document (which I lost in my archive) that state it was 60mm all over. once I find it back, I will show it around

so it’s going to be as tough, if not more than a kv1s. And it’s a light tank.

the armor is all this vehicle has.
to be honest, the mobility is good but not exceptional. it will also need to get up close to be effective and the gun is a bee sting compared to what the other tanks have at 2.7 or more. but it can still be fun to have. i will let Gaijin to find the proper BR for it. but I do not think it will be far from 2.7 to 3.3

But that doesnt really answer the question. Is it solid 60mm or something thinner with effective 60mm duo to angle?

60mm solide steel on all side. not LOS