For the Record: Patently Absurd Special: Return to France with Monsieur Boireaux
Authors: Vollketten, Souroy We are returning to the French part of the series with this article. France has a long and glorious military history and the first part clearly did not do justice to some of the wonderful inventions concocted to win the war and the single armoured train I posted needs further elaboration. A single individual in particular is the common denominator this time, so this is a ‘Special’ for just one man and his multiple designs. I’ve been posting some amusingly bad and some actually fairly decent tank designs from Patent archives, but sometimes you find something which warrants a segment all by itself. Even the armchair tank historian will have heard of the designer Monsieur Boireaux (sometimes spelled ‘Bouralt’or ‘Boiralt’). He came up with the wonderful ‘Boireaux machine’ back in 1915 as means to cross shell-shattered ground. It worked, but was hard to control and was unarmed. It was actually rather an ingenious, if not the most practical vehicle. After some time and digging, I found the patent for one of his armoured trains with some help from Souroy and here are the results. Behold, the Boireaux Device! This was not the end of Monsieur Boireaux’s endeavours however. This is his ‘armoured tank train’ concept from September 1917, featuring two St.Chamond tanks slaved together through double coupling with additional power unit of 350hp between them. The images show a 1/72 scale model of the 72 tonne concept. Photo credit: Souroy and ‘Histoire’ Magazine Oct.2013 Now, this is not the end of the story for Monsieur Boireaux, who continued with this concept in 1917 and gave us this tank again from his armoured train concept, this time using a 700hp engine with the M.1897 75mm gun. Armour is between 16 and 32mm and fully entrained in three sections, the weight is 125 to 130 tonnes. His armoured train concepts didn’t manage to make it in WW1, but he didn’t drop the idea and in June 1936, he designed an improved version as means of coupling multiple Somua S35 tanks, so that they could cross very wide obstacles and anti-tank trenches. Within that design was a bonus of a very heavy ‘fatter’ tank again using the central additional power unit concept. He also designed a novel track suspension system, where the front wheels can be lowered to improve traction: So putting them together you actually have a new French tank which could be used in game. And she is a real beauty. So there we go, one patent spawns a whole raft of interesting if perhaps a little optimistic tank designs by Monsieur Boireaux and by patent standards, his stuff is actually pretty good – so not in the ‘Absurd’ class in general, but they fit within the topic, so this special is really about two good designs, which could actually be used in game [Note that France is definitely not short of tanks for WoT already] and to show that sometimes those odd patents yield useful research. There will be more from France yet to come and those are less well thought out than this for sure. So Part V will be ‘back to Absurdity’.