French wheel tank Panhard M8
The famous French company Panhard, which has a rich history. The company was founded in France in the late XIX century - in 1886 year. Panar was one of the first companies in the world to manufacture cars for sale. At the same time, Panhard became famous not so much for its civilian products, as for fighting vehicles, which were created for the needs of the French army. The company that still exists today specializes exclusively in the production of light tactical and military vehicles, producing equipment for the military and the police.
Throughout its history, the company “Panhard” has created a huge number of intelligence armored vehicles, which left a serious imprint in history and have been used by several generations of crews. As a supplier of armored vehicles for the French army, the company has been operating since the First World War. One of the most successful armored cars of the World War II period is the armored car. Panhard 178 / AMD 35. By the successful post-war developments include a family of cannon armored vehicles Panhard EBR, which could be armed with 75-mm and 90-mm guns. In addition, the company supplied the French army with wheeled armored personnel carriers, communication vehicles, reconnaissance armored cars and multifunctional vehicles that were used in many theaters of operations, including during the colonial wars, which were led by France in the second half of the 20th century.
It is not surprising that at the end of the 1960-ies it was Panar’s company that was the first to respond to the call of the French military to create a new wheeled armored vehicle with powerful cannon armament capable, if necessary, to effectively deal with enemy tanks. Already in 1970, Panhard engineers created a “wheeled tank”, designated Panhard M8, in the same year it was introduced to the French military, and in 1971, the international premiere of the new product took place. New heavy armored car was shown at the exhibition, which today is known as Eurosatory.
In its chassis, the new combat vehicle was unified with the M2 BTR. However, the weapons were significantly enhanced. The 105-mm cannon with a rather impressive muzzle brake was installed in a fairly large-sized turret, the capabilities of this gun were sufficient to fight most of the tanks of those years (in terms of its ballistic characteristics, this gun was absolutely typical of all Western main battle tanks of that time period).
The main feature of the “wheeled tank” was to be the chassis, it was a unique undercarriage with a controlled hydropneumatic suspension. True, unlike the Panhard EBR armored car, which was also eight-wheeled, there were its own features. At the gun armored car Panhard EBR for driving on paved roads, only extreme wheel pairs were used. The front and rear pairs of wheels were equipped with regular tires with pneumatic chambers, while the two middle pairs of wheels were metal and had developed lugs. When driving on the highway, the car relied only on the wheels of the external axles, while the aluminum wheels of the internal axles were lowered only when moving off-road. This solution increased the patency of the armored car and reduced the specific pressure on the ground.
In turn, Panhard M8 could move normally on all 8 wheels on any terrain, including roads. In turn, the wheels of the middle axles, if necessary, on the contrary, did not rise like a Panhard EBR, but went down, raising the front and rear pairs of wheels above the ground. This solution designers had their own advantages. Raising the armored car to the wheels of the internal axes increased the capabilities of the “wheeled tank” to overcome various vertical obstacles, achieved the best output of the combat vehicle from the water (and it was floating), and it was possible to turn around almost in place (“by tank”).
The total combat weight of the vehicle was 12,8 tons, of which exactly 4 tons were on the tower with weapons. On the Panhard M8 was installed 8-cylinder diesel engine Hispano-Suiza HS115, which developed the power of the 250 HP. This engine can be found on various models of French armored vehicles, including tracked BMX AMX-10P. This engine provided the Panhard M8 wheeled tank with a maximum travel speed of 75 km / h when driving on a highway; on the water, the combat vehicle could reach speeds of up to 8 km / h. Cruising on the highway was up to 1000 km.
For some reason, the French military abandoned this armored vehicle. Perhaps they were frightened off by a complicated chassis, and perhaps it simply gave way to its direct competitors. One way or another, the French did not abandon the idea of creating a heavy wheeled armored car with strong cannon armament. Already in 1976, the massive wheeled armored car AMX-10RC was launched into mass production in France, which is often also classified as a wheeled tank. Serial production of these armored vehicles with the 6x6 wheel formula, armed with the powerful F105 2 rifled gun, was carried out up to the 1994 year. The combat vehicle managed to take part in the war in the Persian Gulf, as well as in a number of peacekeeping operations, it is still in service with the French army, and the age of wheeled tanks itself is far from over.
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