Sunday 23 July 2017

A VSF French Landship! - L'Eclair

I’ve now completed a French “Landship” superstructure which fits nicely on my generic hulls, here's a bit of 'historical' blurb to go with it, enjoy!

April 1877 saw another Great Power join the Landship club, namely France. The announcement didn't come as a surprise to the British Government as S.O.E. had kept the Cabinet abreast of these developments on the continent as their best agent Edward Bigger was on the job!

In early 1877 Emperor Napoleon III pressed his General Staff to equip his armies with a Super Armoured Wagon capable of exceeding the capabilities of every other countries Landships. Under pressure to deliver on the Emperor's request they turned to France's mastermind  of the time, Gustave Eiffel. They contracted him to design and present a prototype to them by the end of March 1877. 

Eiffel gladly accepted the charter and he went to work with enthusiasm. The design called for a vehicle with four heavy main guns, four light secondary guns and a higher speed than any of the other countries existing designs while matching their armour. The plan he came back to the General Staff surprised them. The enterprising Eiffel ensured he could meet their demanding timelines and specifications by organising a British manufacturer to supply the hull and drive train while to complete the Landship he designed an ingenious superstructure to be built by the industrious French industrialists.

He tinkered with the planners design to fulfill their requirements. He managed to deliver high speed without reducing armour by including only two large guns in the design thereby reducing the overall weight substantially. Then even though only using two large guns he proceeded to over deliver on the requested firepower! He achieved this by installing a high speed loading system allowing the 2 large guns to fire twice as fast as other countries Landships plus he included six instead of four planned lighter secondary guns. The turrets and command control tower were all cast as single parts to speed production. The control tower set high for a good field of view rested on a frame similar to his famous Paris landmark. The vehicle Eiffel delivered to the General Staff put the French at the forefront of Landship design! That said the machine was far from perfect! The control tower was cramped and had limited views also access to it was not completely protected the pilot having to enter from a floor hatch through the tower frame that supported it. Also importantly the large gun high speed loading device did jam occasionally,

The completed prototype, L'Eclair was launched in a public ceremony with the Emperor present on the 2nd of April 1877. A military exercise to display L'Eclairs full potential was held later in April and representatives from almost every other European nation attended. The Delegates were suitably impressed by the French machine and it wasn't long before many of the features from this promising French Landship were incorporated into other nations latest Landships designs.

Full production of French Landships commenced in May 1877. They were initially built on complete hulls purchased from Britain This was thought to be a bottleneck by the General Staff build as many units as soon as possible so quickly a deal was struck with the British supplier where the French began making their own hulls and drive trains under licence in France.

The delegates from almost every European country accepted the French invitation to see Le Eclair on display. In the photograph below taken by an official French Cameraman on the right in front of the wooden store house can be seen British, Russian, German and even an Ottoman official...

This photograph taken from the new St Dumair Airship captures the same scene from above...

Another view of the scene reveals Captain Darling was present, unusually he is sporting a scarlet tunic and spiked helmet and is caught in conversation with a French Captain of the Tirailleurs near front of Le Eclair...

In game terms L'Eclair will have a couple of special Landship Rules:
Its heavy guns take only one turn to reload (roll and on a one reloading takes 2 turns)
Plus two inches to full speed moves

Building L'Eclair was pretty simple as only a superstructure was required. I used some of my supply of sheet and tube styrene plus a pile of bits from my parts box. This build did include an op shop buy, recently I picked up two model Eiffel Towers for the princely sum of $1.00! Initially I planned to have machine guns mounted on top of the main turrets but when it came to construction it just didn't look right so was not done!

Below is a picture of the superstructure parts with one of the generic hulls...

 The parts all painted up and ready for assembly...

The finished product...the French Landship Le Eclair...with Captain Smith...

Blog Picture update only nine more posts to update then the Blog is back to normal!

Next time, even more Gallic stuff...


  1. Great work! This will keep Bismark awake at night, wondering if these French landships will pour through the Ardennes.

    1. Cheers Ben, Bismarck has his designers working on a a super super landship...or so I've heard!