Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Laffly light utility vehicles and trucks

V15T on display at Musée des Blindés

Laffly was a French manufacturer of trucks and utility vehicles.

S15R on display at Musée des Blindés.

Founded in 1849, the Laffly company began manufacturing utility vehicles in Billancourt in 1912.

Laffly V15T

From the mid-1930s and until World War II, the company also manufactured a range of offroad military vehicles such as the Laffly S15 and Laffly V15.

Laffly V15T

Probably best remembered today for its firetrucks, the Laffly company closed shop during the early 1950s.

Laffly S15


The Laffly S15 was a familty of all-terrain military vehicles from French manufacturer Laffly that shared the same six-wheel drive chassis. They were used by French forces during World War II.

Laffly S15

S15 Variants

The Laffly S15T was a light artillery tractor that was used to tow light field artillery pieces such as modernized variants of the 75 mm mle 1897 field gun and Canon de 105 court mle 1935 B howitzer.

A personnel carrier and reconnaissance vehicle based on the same chassis was designated as Laffly S15R. It had a different, lighter rear cab and a different transmission that allowed for higher road speed.

the Laffly S15TOE (théâtre d'opérations extérieures: overseas theatre of operations) was a scout car designed and built for service in French African colonies. The S15 chassis was preserved, but an armoured cabin protected the engine and crew, with a small turret that was armed with one single Reibel machine gun.

Laffly V15T towing a Pak40 75 mm anti tank gun.

Laffly S15

Type gun tractor
Place of origin France


Weight 2.85
Length 4.64
Width 1.85
Height 2.15
Crew 2 + 3 passengers
Armor none
Engine 4-cylinder, petrol, 2300 cc, 55 hp
Payload capacity 800 kg
Suspension front: coil springs, rear: leaf springs, independent wheels
Speed 72

Laffly V15T


The Laffly V15T was a French light 4WD artillery tractor used during World War II. It was used to tow the 25 mm SA anti-tank guns. A personnel carrier and reconnaissance vehicle based on the same chassis was designated as V15R. The Laffly company itself only manufactured the first batch of 100 V15s, the rest of the production being taken over by La Licorne company.

Laffly V15T

Laffly V15T

Type gun tractor
Place of origin France


Weight 2.6
Length 4.21
Width 1.85
Height 1.85
Crew 2 + 3 passengers
Armor none
Engine 4-cylinder, petrol, 2300 cc, 55hp
Payload capacity 700 kg
Suspension front: coil springs, rear: leaf springs, independent wheels
Speed 58

Laffly S15T

Laffly S35T fitted with crane.

Laffly S35

The Laffly S35 had been originally developped to tow the 155mm GPF, 155mm GPFT and 220mm C Mle1916 heavy mortar. Only 225 Laffly S35 had been delivered, 170 of them in the towing version with a winch. That means that the Somua MCL5 was still widely in use and that in the artillery units the heavy pieces were still mostly towed by vehicles like the Latil TARH2. All these wreckers should have been replaced by the huge Latil M4TX (8x8, 140 hp) but this one only rechaed the prototype level in 1940. The Latil M4TX could easily tow 100t, that is to say it could easily tow a B1bis tank with blocked or destroyed tracks.

Laffly S35T fitted with crane.

Laffly S35T

Weight : 8.05 t
Length : 5.5 m
Width : 2.35m
Engine : 6232cc - 100 hp
Maximum speed : 40 km/h

German armoured versions of Laffly trucks.

Laffly W15 TCC


The idea of mounting a 47mm Mle1937 AT gun on an all-terrain armored vehicle originated from general Keller (inspector of the French tank troops) on 30th October 1939. The aim is to increase the mobility compared to towed AT guns batteries. The usual practical range of the 47mm SA37 gun is around 1000 meters but a German tank could eventually cross this distance in about 2-3 minutes. It would therefore be a considerable advantage having an AT gun which could be ready to fire in a few seconds, fire several shells and then move quickly to a new position.

On 6th December 1939 the project is accepted and on 18th January the Laffly W15 T chassis is ready and is being armored to build the new tank destroyer. On 26th February 1940, a group of soldiers led by sous-lieutenant Balme is detached to the Laffly factory to participate to the last development stages.

The first off-road trials take place on 2nd March 1940 and the first firing tests are performed at Mont Valérien on 4th March 1940. The results are satisfying and the Laffly W15 TCC (CC = chasseur de chars = tank destroyer) is moved to Mailly camp by sous-lieutenant Balme for more complete trials on 12th March 1940. The tank destroyer is presented officially to high ranking officers including general Keller and general de Vauxcelles on 13th March 1940. The weather is really bad but deployment, camouflage, firing and fast moving exercises are performed successfully.

The prototype is then sent to Suippes camp in an armored division and is directed back to the factory on 16th April 1940 for several modifications. On 6th May an intercom system (laryngophones) is installed in the vehicle. This last modification is completed on 10th May but there are no specific orders about the production of the tank destroyer.

On 17th May, the quick advance of the Panzerdivisionen is the centre of the discussion between several high ranking officers and Mr Guérard from the Laffly factory. The production of a first batch of 50 Laffly W15 TCC tank destroyers is decided, the first vehicles will be delivered in 8 days and produced at a rate of 5 vehicles every 2 days. Finally 70 vehicles are produced and delivered in May and June 1940 but due to the emergency the production series is not fully armored like the first Laffly W15 TCC prototype.

Characteristics of the Laffly W15 TCC (CC = chasseur de chars = tank destroyer)

Weight : 4.96t
Crew : 3 men (an NCO, a gunner and a driver)
Maximum armor : 12-15mm
Maximum speed : 48 km/h (4 cylinders, 2300 cm3, 56 hp)
Armament : a 47mm SA37 L/53 AT gun (-13/+13° elevation and 60° traverse towards rear, 30 shells) and a FM 24/29 AAMG (1000 rounds) – the crew has also a Thompson SMG with 500 rounds among other miscellaneous small arms.

Only the first vehicle was completely armored, for the others, armored plates had been installed to protect the front part of the vehicle and two small other plates are added to enlarge the standard shield of the AT gun which is directed to the rear. Initially each tank destroyer should have carried 95 shells but due to the emergency less ammunition stores are installed and only 30 shells are carried. 70 Laffly W15 TCC are operational in May-June 1940 and see action against the German troops. They are issued to independent anti-tank batteries (BACA = batterie d'anti-chars automoteurs) including generally 5 tank destroyers. All these independent anti-tank batteries are engaged immediately with usually a training of only several hours but they will nonetheless give brilliant results. They were for example deployed at first in the area of Abbeville in May 1940 and gave outstanding results in June 1940 on the Loire River defenses but had little impact on the whole campaign. They proved to be very successful, lightly armored but fast and adapted to hit and run tactics.

Laffly S25T


108 artillery tractors were in service in 1940. Used to tow the 105mm L Schneider field guns.

weight : 5.50t (live/towed load 1.5t)
length : 4.85m
width : 2.10m
height : 2.50m
maximum speed : 40 km/h (4 cylinders, 3450 cm3, 60 hp at 2500 rpm)

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