SAu 40 - The Ugly Duckling
The SAu 40 is a prototype French SPG, constructed at the dawn of the Second World War with the intent to equip light mechanized divisions of the French army. War Thunder tankers will see the SAu 40 on the battlefields of War Thunder in the upcoming 1.75 update!
The SAu 40 self-propelled gun was developed by the SOMUA company between 1935 and 1937 as part of the same order the French cavalry placed for the S35 tank.
The two tanks combined were intended to equip light mechanized divisions of the French army and support the larger “battle tanks” (chars de bataille). The vehicle inherited the S35’s characteristic chassis with a redesigned front section of the hull to accommodate the 75mm APX cannon. In addition, the rotating turret on top of the fighting compartment was redesigned to a commander’s cupola and moved to the side of the vehicle, but the turret’s 47mm cannon was replaced with a single 7.5mm machine gun.
The body of the SAu 40 was ready by 1937, but it couldn’t be immediately completed. Because the cannon was not yet ready to be installed on the chassis, SOMUA engineers had to wait nearly 2 years before the cannon was finally made available. It wasn’t until 1939 that the fully assembled prototype was completed, and orders for mass production were received in October of the same year.
Whether or not any additional vehicles other than the prototype were built or if the vehicle took part in active fighting is unknown.
In War Thunder, the SAu 40 will reinforce the early ranks of the upcoming French ground forces tree by providing tankers with a reliable (if a bit strange looking) tank destroyer platform.
Being built on the basis of the SOMUA S35 medium tank, the SAu 40 inherited almost exactly the same internal layout and armour protection as the vehicle upon which it was based. With 40mm of steel plating protecting the modules and crew on the inside, the SAu 40 (like its older brother) has enough armour to survive several direct hits from low-ranking AT guns. And with a skilled driver who can capitalize on attacking from optimal angles, the SAu 40’s cannon are quite potent.
Despite trading in a top-mounted turret AT cannon for a commander’s cupola and a single 7.5 machine gun, the SAu 40 actually gained weight. The reshaped hull and the added weight of the gun increased its weight to 24 tons. Because the vehicle did not receive any changes to its powerplant, the top speed it could reach dropped accordingly to a maximum speed of 37 km/h.
While the SAu 40 does not excel in mobility or protection, the 75mm cannon is quite powerful. Tankers underestimating its power quickly realize their mistake when it punches a gaping hole in the side of their tank, and it’s effective especially in close-quarter engagements. The armor-piercing round packed full with high explosive filler possesses can easily penetrate the armor of most low rank vehicles and cause lethal damage.
However, because the SAu 40 is still very susceptible to getting outflanked by enemy vehicles, be sure to have your flanks covered by allied vehicles or solid objects, and don’t push too far into enemy lines on your own.
The SAu 40 heads to the War Thunder battlefields as part of the brand new French ground forces research tree, coming with update 1.75 “La Résistance"!