today, we are starting new series of articles about the French tanks. In it, you will see some stuff, that was not (to my knowledge) published before, coming straight from the French archives. The author of these articles is Dr.Pikouz, the same person, that brought the photos of the Batchat 25t. The French created some wonderful and crazy stuff. Enjoy!
And now, Dr.Pikouz:
Every WoT player has at least once seen, driven, heard of or died to an ELC. But most WoT players only know one version of the tank, presented to us as the “ELC AMX”. Which is, I make a small digression here, a heresy, since the WoT model is an ELC AMX Bis chassis, fitted with a TC 910 turret (made by St-Chamond) and armed with a 90mm D915 gun.
The ELC project was born in 1955, with the French Ministry of Defence (MinDef) asking to develop “a powerful anti-tank weapon, mounted on a lightly, but completely armored tracked vehicle, discreet, and able to engage and destroy every type of enemy tank up to a distance of 1.000 meters, or even 1.500 meters”. Two companies presented a serious project:
- AMX, Atelier d’Issy-les-Moulineaux, Issy-les-Moulineaux Factory, producing the ELC AMX
- Ets Brunon-Vallette, Brunon-Vallette Company, aka Even-Brunon-Vallette, producing the ELC “Even”
Amongst the projects developed by Even, was this one, on which we will be focusing :
The Even products differed from those of AMX in two main points: an oscillating turret, and driver located in the hull. While AMX used a two-men “casemate” turret, Even used the technology already developed on well-known projects, such as the AMX-13, to develop tanks which, relatively to their size, could develop an amazing firepower, wrapped up in a fast and easily concealable vehicle. As such, 3 models were proposed by Even:
- 2 x 30 mm autocanons (Even 30, arbitrary name)
- 90 mm drum-loaded gun (Even 90, arbitrary name)
- 4 x 120 mm recoilless rifles (Even 120, arbitrary name), which interests us here
The Even chassis was also an original production, while AMX used elements from the Hotchkiss chenillette (light tracked vehicle) on the first prototype. The Even chassis had the following characteristics:
- 1.4 meters high x 1.9 m wide x 3.8 m long
- 5 tons, which made it able to be transported by air
- top speed was given at 75 kph on road, and 40 kph off-road
- it was equiped with a 125 bhp Panhard engine, giving it a 25 hp/ton ratio
The armor was kept at minimum, with the front plate at 10 mm, giving a 15 mm line-of-sight thickness. But this thickness was considered sufficient and tests showed, that the side of the vehicle could resist the explosion of a 105 mm HE shell 10 meters away, the floor being able to withstand an anti-personnel landmine. Such thickness would also be enough to protect the crew from infantry light weapons, up to the caliber of 7.62 mm.
The most interesting part of the ELC Even 120 was its armament. The mission of the vehicle was to act as an as discreet as possible tank destroyer, able to quickly destroy tanks (and eventually infantry) and then relocate, using its awesome mobility and low profile to stay undetected and thus alive. French MinDef specified, that the vehicle had to be able to use its weapon(s) without any preparation required, in every direction, while using every cover available. The weapons specifications were even more precise:
- penetration had to be of 250mm minimum, to allow the ELC to fight even Heavy Tanks
- the weapon had to be able to engage a 2m x 2m target at 1.000 m, and hit it with 80% probability on the first round, when the ELC was stationary, and fire 4 rounds in less than 30 seconds
- on movement, the vehicle had to be able to engage non-armored targets
Given those requirements, Even decided to use the biggest weapon they could fit on such a tiny vehicle, in the form of 4 Brandt recoilless rifles, 120 mm caliber, coupled with 2 co-axial 7.5 mm machine guns Mle 1952. Those recoilless rifles fired HEAT rounds with penetration estimated at 300 mm. The problem of the reload of the guns was solved by an interesting solution: the turret was rotated so that the driver could reload the guns without leaving his seat.
Another solution involved having the rear of the guns be able to separate from the rest of the barrel and rotate, allowing the gunner to reload himself the tubes, which could allow for instance to reload the guns while having the vehicle moving slowly on even ground, or being still able to move immediately if needed.
Another idea had the guns loaded in “artillery mode”, with the driver outside of the vehicle, allowing a much greater rate of fire
Even also considered a drum-loaded version of the vehicle. It reduced the numbers of guns to 2, but those were fed by a 5 rounds drum, with a rate of fire estimated at one round every 3-4 seconds. However, this idea was abandoned, because it increased the height of the vehicle to 1.6 meters, prevented reload under fire, increased the weight of the turret (reducing its manoeuverability), and increased the general vulnerability of the vehicle. But that would have been badass.
The vehicle was tested at the ETBS (Etablissement Technique de Bourges, Bourges Testing Grounds), where no major malfunctions were reported. However, the vehicle suffered initially from a general fragility, with some parts of the hull or the tracks breaking under strong constraints. The problem was fixed by adding reinforcements bars on the weakest points of the structure.
This particular version was however abandoned for reasons unclear, with the ELC Even 90 remaining as the Even version of an anti-tank ELC.