Armored car (1914)
France - around 50 built
About Renault armoured cars in ww1Back in 1905, Renault was already a pioneer in automotive and a rapidly-growing industry. Long situated at Boulogne-Billancourt, in a subburb of Paris, the company founded by Louis Renault already tried itself in 1909 with a Hotchkiss, shield-protected machine-gun carrying vehicle prior to the war, that attracted limited interest by the military, perhaps inspired by the 1908 Charron, Girardot & Voigt. However, shortly after the start of the war, along with Hotchkiss, Schneider, De Dion Bouton, Panhard Levassor, Gasnier, Archer and Latil and Peugeot, Renault presented in 1914 its own model, intended for AA purposes. It was followed the next year by a completely rebuilt model similar to the Peugeot, along with the conversion of former mle 1914. Also, Renault produced a lorry armed with a 47 mm "autocanon Renault" for the motorized marine infantry.
Renault Autoblindée 1914This first model was accepted and built in fifty units until early 1915, as 4x2 AA vehicles with an open air rear compartment, armed with a single 8 mm St Etienne light machine gun. It was relatively lightly armoured, between 4 to 6 mm with vertical plates, a closed driving compartment (with a single wide armoured shutter), and a rear open compartment, large enough for two operators (loader and gunner). Access for all crew was from this open compartment. The machine gun was protected by a large frontal shield, with a mounting providing full vertical manual elevation (90°) and traverse. It has ammunition supplied in 8 mm/24 cartridge strips. This model had a ground clearance of 24 cm (9.5 in), 3.35 m wheelbase (132 in), with a 4x2 front steering with manual transmission, and a Renault water cooled petrol engine. The axles rested on leaf spring suspensions.
Wartime useAlthough a hundred were originally ordered, only 50 were built, before it was discovered their limitations. The AA mount, and rate of fire and range were not sufficient for their intended rôle, and the armour too light to protect against schrapnells and machine-gun rounds while the open compartment left the crew vulnerable. But moreover rear drive sorely missed in the light of actions. In 1916, all 50 were taken over to be rebuilt as the mle 1915 standard, which resembled the Peugeot armoured car, with a short barrel 37 mm under mask or Hotchkiss LMG.
|Renault AC 1914 specifications|
|Dimensions||4.572 x 1.676 x 1.689 m (180 x 66 x 66 in)|
|Total weight||3 tons estimated|
|Crew||3-4 (driver, commander, gunner/loader)|
|Propulsion||4-cyl Gas. Renault wc 35 bhp (26 kW)|
|Top speed (road)||45 km/h (28 mph)|
|Range||Around 100 km (62 mi)|
|Armament||1 St Etienne M1907 machine gun|
|Armor||4 to 6 mm (0.16 to 0.22 in)|
|Total production||50 in 1914|
Links about the Renault Mle 1914David Haugh\'s French ACs (pdf)
Early WWI armored cars (in French)
Renault automitrailleuse modele 1914.
Renault mle 1914. Credits blindes-français.net
Renault Armoured Car model 1915 (wikipedia). The mle 1914 was rebuilt to this standard