The Laffly S20TL (TL being short for "tracteur, châssis long") was a 6x6 truck intended primarily to transport the dragoon regiment belonging to the Cavalry's Light Mechanised Division (DLM).
When the French Cavalry decided to form the Light Mechanised Divisions (DLM) in 1932 a vehicle was required to transport the infantry (dragoons) supporting the tanks. Tenders were requested for a cross country truck capable of transporting the 10-man platoon.
Lorraine won this tender and started producing their Lorraine 28 4x6 truck.This was unpopular with the crews and proved unsatisfactory. To replace this, Laffly designed the S20TL, a 6x6 truck with much better cross country performance. Laffly delivered the first 140 in 1937.
During the 1930's Laffly produced a range of six-wheel-drive military vehicles, often collaborating with Hotchkiss who even provided the engines. All featured an additional set of small wheels in front and similar set suspended beneath the driver's cab to help the vehicle cross ditches and obstacles.
The basic truck was often known as the S20TL VDP (Voiture de Dragons Portés).
The Laffly was innovative in that the one design could transport all the different section types in the dragoon regiment. It had 20 storage boxes providing adequate room for all equipment. The S20TL could transport:
The truck was fitted with one or two machine-gun mounts for anti-aircraft use, which could be equipped with LMGs or MMGs. However no machine-guns were fitted, these being provided by the transported section.
The dragoon regiement (RDP) in the Light Mechanised Division (DLM) had 3 battalions (BDP) each equipped with 65 S20TL trucks; 21 in each dragoon squadron, 19 in the heavy weapons squadron and 4 in the command troop.
S20TL 25mm Anti-Tank
The 25mm anti-tank gun was very fragile and could not withstand prolonged towing by vehicles. The 3e BDP found a solution by carrying their anti-tank guns in their vehicles. This was quickly adopted by the other dragoon battalions. The guns could be mounted facing forward or backwards, however when the gun faced forward the windscreen had to be lowered. In 1938 Laffly produced 40 special vehicles with split windscreens that allowed the driver’s side to remain up with a forward facing gun.
The S20TL PC (PC being short for "poste de commandement", command post) had a radio command car body built onto the standard chassis. They were equipped with ER 26 ter radios with a range of 60km when stationary.
S20TL Citerne tout terrain
The S20TL Citerne tout terrain was a petrol tanker with cross-country mobility. Two different versions of the tank (1,450 litres and 1,900 litres) were built on the standard chassis. Only 39 were delivered.
The S20TL Colonies was a special version of the S20TL adapted for use in Africa; 16 were delivered in the spring of 1939.