In 1915, the French Schneider company purchased two American Holt crawler tractors. The 45 hp model (the "Baby Holt"), fitted with mock-up armour covering the engine and driver’s position was first demonstrated to General Petain. In 1916 a new vehicle based on the Holt tractor was designed. The front of the vehicle was shaped like a boat’s bow with a barbed-wire cutting beam attached to it. The rear of the vehicle contained two doors, allowing the crew to enter and exit. The engine was located at the left front, next to the driver. 90 rounds of ammunition for the main gun were carried.
The Char Schneider, as it was called, first saw action on 16 April, 1917, at Chemin des Dames. Of a total of 132 Schneider tanks employed, 57 were destroyed, and many were damaged beyond repair. Many losses were due to exploding fuel tanks, which were located next to the hull MG positions. Other noticeable flaws involved inadequate armour, poor ventilation, and lack of egress on the left side. Later improvements included additional armour plating to protect the crew against German “K” type armour-piercing bullets. About 400 Schneider tanks were built, but the vehicle proved unsatisfactory, and it was to be replaced by tanks of British design, had the War not ended in 1918.
- Char d’Assaut Schneider CA1
- Length: 6.32 m
- Width: 2.05 m
- Height: 2.30 m
- Weight: 14.6 t
- Armour: 11.5 mm maximum
- Armament: 75 mm howitzer, 8 mm MG in each side of hull.
- Road Speed: 7.5 km/h
- Range: 48 km
The Schneider is a nice addition to have in one’s collection, especially since the major injection kit companies do not produce many vehicles of this period.
Metal 1:72 scale kit consisting of 16 parts. Instructions, which include a photograph of the parts, are included.
The completed kit comes out feeling quite heavy, it seems very rugged, and suitable for tabletop wargaming.
The fit was not 100%, and I had to figure out the best sequence of assembly in order to make the gaps least noticable. It wasn’t until after the tracks were attached that I noticed the vehicle was slightly tilted downward on the left front side.
Parts are at times bulky, and probably oversized, i.e the MGs and the wire-cutting beam seem to be too thick. The beam should probably have a sharper leading edge, so purists will want to file down or replace this part.
- French Army, Western Front 1917–1918
- Unarmed supply carrier version
- Char d’assaut Schneider CA2 with turret-mounted 47 mm gun; prototype only.
The Char Schneider is a valuable vehicle for collectors and wargamers interested in World War One. Tanks of the period had attractive camouflage patterns and markings that are easy to reproduce in miniature.