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Submitted on
March 2, 2012
Image Size
793 KB
Submitted with


75 (who?)
French Mech by Rob-Cavanna French Mech by Rob-Cavanna
Head: 7.5 mm Reibel machine gun
Right Hand: 75 mm howitzer
Left hand: 47 mm cannon + 7.5 mm MG combo weapon.

Crew: 4

When the French designed Charlemagne first appeared in the mid 1930s, it could easily be considered the most powerful specimen of walking armor in the world. Like the Char B-1 Bis, with which it shared both a myriad of mechanical components and factory space, the Charlemagne was very advanced for its era. During the Invasion of France, even the Pzf IV Seigmund, Germany’s best walking panzer of the time, had little hope against the much heavier armed and armored Charlemagne. France’s precious few defending Charlemagnes instead fell prey to other forces, such as artillery, and dive bombers, as much as native issues like poor tactical usage and insufficiently trained crews. Regrettably, the average French Military Commander’s understanding of rapid armored warfare was lacking enough with regard to conventional tanks, let alone something so cutting edge and tactically nuanced as a walking one.

Only in retrospect to the early years of WWII does the origin of the Charlemagne raise eyebrows among the Allies. Had the new technology been more in the international spotlight before the outbreak of war, perhaps then the Allies would have detected a major conspiracy which directly fueled the Nazi war machine, essentially jump-starting Germany’s own Pzf (panzer zu fuss) program. Hitler’s boisterous proclamations that the technology of walking armor was Germanic in origin, is mostly truthful. But the 3rd Reich’s sudden manifestation of armored colossus in 1939 would never have happened without the pioneering of France’s (then) superior arms industry that culminated in the Charlemagne weapon platform.

Though it would have been better to ask in 1939, the question remains, “If walking tanks are a German born concept, how could the French produce something like the Charlemagne before Germany unveiled its first pygmy Pzfs, of half the size and complexity?” The simple answer is that the tech was intentionally leaked by German sources to France. The next question then, is why should they? Why would Germany share plans for a war-changing weapon with a potential enemy?

Knowing that they had very limited resources post WWI, German war industry leaders agreed it would be best to see what happened when a country w/ much stronger assets had exposure to their secret blueprints. Let someone else bear the burden of developing a brand new technology from scratch! Difficult issues like power transmission to the legs, control interfaces, and articulate joint functionality were all resolved by French ingenuity and capital. As evidenced by the well-intentioned but ill-conceived Maginot line, France had a penchant for sinking huge sums into wild military ideas –desperate to ensure peace and security in the wake of the horrific First World War.

While France exhausted crucial time and massive resources developing a machine whose tactical statistics would be rendered obsolete just a few years later by Blitzkrieg tactics, Germany went back to basics and adapted the French breakthroughs to much smaller simpler mechs that could travel farther over land, and even be transported by larger vehicles with relative ease. What later came to be regarded as the Pygmy Pzfs, in the shadow of their much larger offspring. From the start, Germany’s greatest asset in this furtive arms race was its intellectual foresight for the new machine’s proper tactical usage and ultimate potential. In the beginning of Pzf development, Germany was less concerned with creating the perfect weapon from the outset, and more focused on the proper large-scale uses of such a weapon. Strategic application was the thing. Perfecting individual models would come later, after German industry had some time to rebuild. Training and advanced logistics of unit movement could be honed while their machines could yet not. Hence German Pzfs started small, while their creators dreamed big, and crews trained hard… under theoretical military doctrine hardly newer to the world than their curious bipedal mounts.

Though it was a revelation of new technology back in the 1930s, even then, the Charlemagne wasn’t without sizeable flaws -the worst of these being not just low tactical mobility, but also inferior strategic mobility. Not only was the vehicle ponderously slow, but it also suffered from very limited range. Short range means the frequent need to refuel, hobbling operational ability. Like its ally Britain, France’s early approach to armor design was mired in World War I style thinking, what more progressive tacticians would refer to as “trench mind”. Charlemagne was never designed for deep penetrating maneuvers, it was instead conceived more for defense rather than offense.

Although most of the Charlemagne's early tech solutions were abandoned in favor of more efficient and economical innovations, it's basic design DNA can still be detected in all successive mechs of WWII. Though never produced in sufficient numbers (or properly deployed ‘en masse’) to make a significant impact on France's military performance in the early war years, the Charlemagne is nevertheless the unsung Grandfather to all other WWII mecha.

Out of retirement:

When Hamilton’s squad of "AWOL Allies" [link] find themselves in France at the spearhead of the Allied invasion, elements of the French resistance assist them in liberating a hidden stash of Charlemagnes stored in a secret bunker beneath the Maginot line, unused and still waiting for a frontal attack that never happened. They're old and outdated, but as an unofficial rogue unit, the gang will take whatever they can get. If unassigned to a combat unit, one could always sell such vintage war materiel on the thriving black market, or exchange them for more modern options.

Optimally, with some effort on the part of experienced engineers, the Charlemagne could be upgraded with modern equipment and components (both being engineering for universal fittings) to create a machine that remains respectably capable on the battlefields of 1945, against all but the heaviest monsters. In which case, the rare specimens are certainly no worse if not outright superior to the massively produced Big Joe and Kirov, being still slower than both, but remaining the best armored in its class.


Texture from: [link] [link]

For additional info and schematics: [link]
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Acidpond Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013
so does it have a drop guns and surrender button jk really nice art
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2013
Note to self: French mechs are supermagnets for surrendering jokes... 

I'd better get used to it. Thanks for the compliment though. :D  
Aerasett Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2012
Concerning persons denigrating armored French, I can remember just a small detail: B1-bis, 75H & 47AT, 1935 - M3 Lee, 75H & 37AT, 1941, and very American has been conceived to sherman from French plan.

The Charlemagne is present you with his arms standarts, but he could receive a certain number of different guns and probably more suited to the following the war (North Africa, Middle East & Indochina for FFL and do not forget more than the German one had much use Beute)


25 SA35
37 SA38
47 SA35
75 ABS39 (H)
APX 75 (H)
90 AA (FCM F1
90 SA Mle 45

Machine gun

Reibel 7.5
Hotchkiss Mle30 02.13

47 Miss 37-39
75 SA Mle 39

20 HS 404
25 Mle 38 - 39 - 40
37 Mle 30 Marine
75 Mle 32 - 39 Mle
90 Mle 26-30 (equal the 88 Flak 18)
90 Miss CA 39

Different cannon and howitzer 105
and finally, it is the Belgian tanks were equipped Caon pointing backwards.
spyderrock48 Featured By Owner May 25, 2012
It's french, so obviously it has no real use in combat, but it looks cool! haha
ballisticCow Featured By Owner May 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Love this. The retro look is really menacing, especially with the high contrast, almost blood red background. Very cool!
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
Thank you very much, Millie!

In my research I found a nicely designed website w/ a cool Maginot Line silhouette and thought, 'yep, that's how I'm gonna bullshit the background!'
Came close to doing a more neutral sky color, but ultimately opted for the punchy red. :P
ballisticCow Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
LoL! I am glad you went with the punchy red, looks wicked. :D
tylero79 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012  Student General Artist
So, it runs away from battle?
Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012
VERY cool work as always guys! And I can see why the design would be able to stand up on the battlefield. Multiple sloped armor surfaces, extra shields on the hip rotors (a GREAT ideal unless you want to be face down in the mud. I think it would be most vulnerable from the side, since you could get an oblique hit there fairly easily. (no sloped armor) From the front, the hip joint and groin area would be the most vulnerable, but, on a moving target in hedgrows and woods, those areas would be bears to actually get a direct hit on. Especially at long range. On the other hand, these boys would have a hard time in open terrain with the flat surfaces in the front. I also like the top loading cannon. Very practical for a machine of this type.

And I LOVE the feet! These things would have great traction on just about any terrain except quick sand or bogs. All in all, a very strong design. With more sloped armor and a heavier main gun it would probably be a match for almost anything of it's era.

Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012
It's very much a mech-ified version of the Char B-1 Bis. The upper hull (chest) shares all the same angles and construction style as the front of a B-1. And similarly, the sides are just flat as a wall. My earlier sketches had more sloping angles, but I pulled it back to be more in keeping w/ primitive tank design.
The chunky waist and neck rings are like the one under a B-1's turret.

straight up passing the sloped component ideas to a Russian mech instead.
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