Panhard M3 VTT/T 20-13: French R3 Wannabe

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Welcome to another suggestion for France. In this one we will be looking at the Panhard M3 VTT/T 20-13, a curious light vehicle.

The Panhard M3 VTT is a further development of Panhard’s very successful AML chassis. To complement the armored cars, Panhard designed an APC based on the same chassis and also using the same engine. This re-use of existing developments was very useful for production, spare parts and maintenance. The first prototype was finished in 1969 and serial production started in 1971. Just like the AML, the M3 VTT became a rather big hit on the export market, albeit not as large as the AML itself. In total more than 1100 units were produced and they were in service with 26 different nations. Naturally, a large number of variants of the vehicle popped up over time, the one we are looking at here is fitted with the T 20-13 turret. This version of the vehicle was meant as a light SPAA and infantry support vehicle. It was offered for export and seemingly only managed to convey one export customer: Sudan.

The changes required to turn the AML chassis into an APC were minor but did have an effect on the vehicle’s mobility. First of all the wheelbase was lengthened and the track increased. The hull was heavier than that of the standard AML, but the vehicle was still powered by the same 90 hp engine. This lead to some criticism that the vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio was sub-par for its class. Its top speed was unchanged though, and remained at 90 km/h. On top of that, the M3 was also amphibious with an in-water top speed of 4km/h.
The main armament of the vehicle consisted of a 20mm M621 autocannon, with a 7.62mm machine gun as coaxial armament. This 20mm cannon has a rate-of-fire of up to 740 rounds/minute and could fire a variety of different ammo types. This weapon system is already in game, and can be found on the French Gazelle helicopter. The AP rounds on this weapon have a maximum penetration of 40mm at 10 m distance in-game.

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2 Driver, Commander/Gunner/Loader
  • Length: 4.45 m
  • Height: 2.8 m (estimate)
  • Width: 2.4 m
  • Weight: at least 6100 kg
  • Engine: Panhard Model 4HD, providing 90 hp at 4700 rpm
  • Power-to-weight: less than 14.8 hp/t
  • Maximum forward speed: 90 km/h
  • Maximum reverse speed: 5.5 km/h
  • Maximum amphibious speed: 4 km/h

Armament

  • Main armament: 1x 20mm Giat M621 autocannon
  • Rate-of-fire: 740 rpm
  • Secondary armament: 1x 7.62mm machine gun

In-game
The Panhard M3 VTT/T 20-13 could serve as an early IFV or as SPAA in the French tree. The French SPAA tree could really do with some more additions and this vehicle would probably fit in quite well. Its playstyle can probably best be described as a worse R3 T20 FA-HS. Compared to the Italian vehicle, the M3 has worse mobility (its twice as heavy with the same engine power) and has worse penetration on its main armament. As such it can probably be placed at a lower BR. The high rate-of-fire (once again, not as good as the R3) of the main armament would make this vehicle exceedingly potent as a light SPAA. Other light vehicles can also be quickly decimated. This vehicle would as such be a great addition to the mid ranks of the French SPAA line, where it would seriously bolster the anti-aircraft capabilities of every lineup.

Sources

GlobalSecurity.org - Reliable Military News and Military Information
Panhard M3 | Weaponsystems.net
France 20 mm/90 GIAT M693 and 20 mm/73 GIAT M621 - NavWeaps
20mm Giat M621 | Weaponsystems.net

Giat/Panhard advertisement:

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I believe the AMX-10P would fill the 5.3/5.7 SPAA gap better (because of its historical significance) but this could be another good addition later.

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Cute! +1

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+1 Yes please give other nations speed demons!

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The AMX-10P and this vehicle would behave quite differently I think. This is a rather fast wheeled vehicle, akin to a worse R3, but the AMX-10P would be much closer to the SUB-I-II.
Neither of them would be a great gap filler at 5.3-5.7 either, multi-barreled spaa systems are much more effective and should be chosen over vehicles like the aforementioned 2 to patch that gap.

Actually, the second picture in your post is the Panhard M3 with the GIAT Toucan 1 turret which was sold to Morocco (2 or 3 of them, I believe, to provide point defence to their normal Panhard M3 troop transports).
These are the specs of the turret:

  • 20 mm autocanon (96 rounds stored in the single-feed system or 45 armor-piercing (AP) and 75 high-explosive (HE) rounds stored in the dual-feed magazines). The autocannon is either an M963 dual-feed or an M621 single-feed.
  • 7.62 AA52 MG (200 rounds in external boxed magazine)
  • four 80-mm smoke grenade launchers.
  • Armour: homogenous steel plates.

The turret brings the maximum height of the vehicle to 3800 mm and the total weight to 6498 kilos.

For this variant, you want the info in this document:
Full text of “DTIC ADA143158: Remotely Operated Automatic Cannon for Armored Vehicles.” (declassified info from the US military on the GIAT Toucan I turret)

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Huh curious, I always thought the T-20/13 was just a different designation for the Toucan I. It seems I was wrong then.

I want more fun vehicles for France.

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I might be wrong of course, as the sources are few and far between. But my understanding is that the Sudanese vehicles have an older model of turret. But it’s really hard to tell, frankly. In any case, the best documentation for the Toucan turret is the declassified US document I mentioned. I hope this helps.

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after finally having taken the time to look at this, I think you’re actually right. First image seems to have the same Toucan II turret that we find on the newly added AMX-10P, while both other images show the Toucan I. Once you realize what the differences are between the turrets, it becomes quite apparent.
Once again, thank you, I’ll figure out how to restructure the post accordingly now.

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I’m glad I was able to help.