Little Wars Home France40 Home

Laffly W15 TCC
Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun


The Laffly W15T (T being short for tracteur) was a 6x6 artillery tractor use to tow the 47 SA 37 anti-tank gun. After the start of the war, it was realised that a self-propelled mount for the 47mm mle 37 anti-tank gun was required. In a quick but rather desperate response, the W15T chassis was coupled with the 47 SA 37 as the Laffly W15TCC (CC being short for chasseur de chars, tank hunter). I have chosen to use the literal translation "tank hunter" rather than its americanized form "tank destroyer".   

The prototype was fully armoured but because of the urgent need, the production versions of these only had armoured protection for the cab an extended gun-shield. They proved very successful in combat.

Fully armoured prototype


Laffly-Hotchkiss vehicles included cars, ambulances, tankers, carriers, and prime movers and were more often than not designed by Laffly but with Hotchkiss engines and often manufactured by both companies. Almost all the larger military vehicles (including the W15T) featured a set of small front wheels and another set suspended beneath the driver's cab to help the vehicle overcome obstacles.

In October 1939 the need for a self-propelled anti-tank gun became clear and Gereral Keller, the Inspector General of French Tanks proposed the idea of mounting the 47mm mle 37 anti-tank gun on an armoured cross-country chassis. On 6th December 1939 the project was excepted and the Laffly W15T 6x6 all-terrain truck truck chassis was chosen. The cab was fully armoured and an armoured box on the bed of the truck enclosed the gun. The 12-15mm gave reasonable protection to the crew and was comparible with the armour on the equivalent German weapon; the self propelled 4,7cm PaK(t) on the PanzerJager I. The first off-road trials of the fully armoured prototype took place on 2nd March 1940 followed by firing tests on the 4th. Trials were successfully completed on 12th March and the following day the W15TCC tank hunter was accepted by the army. On 6th May an intercom system was installed using throat microphones.

On 17th May the fast advance of the Panzer Divisions preciptated and order for 50 vehicles, because of the urgency it was decided to reduce the armour. It was neccessary to get them to front in time to make a difference, regardless of how well they were protected. The cab was only partially armoured and included an armoured windscreen which could be lifted when not in combat to make driving easier. Instead of boxing in the gun, it recieved an enlarged gun-shield to protect the crew. Again 12-15mm plate was used. The first vehicles were delived on 25th May, only 8 days later. They were then produced at a rate of five vehicles every two days, a total of 70 vehicles being delivered to the army.

Production model with partilly armoured cab and enlarged gun-shield.


The 47mm anti tank gun had a practical range against tanks of 1,000m, a distance an enemy tank could cross in only a few minutes.A self propelled gun would have a considerable advantage over the towed gun in that it could be in position and ready to fire in only a few seconds, fire a number of shots, and then move quickly to a new firing position. The W15TCC, although lightly armoured, was fast and proved very good at these hit and run tactics.

Had these vehicles been developed sooner and deployed more widely, it is not unreasonable to believe that the French would have been far better able to cope with the Panzer Divisions slicing through Northern France.

W15TCC by by Pithead Miniatures.

54th BACA 11th RA

The 54th BACA 11th RA under the command of sous-lieutenant (Sub-Lieutenant) Brussaux recieved its five W15TCC tank hunters on 29th May 1940. As quickly as 5th June, the tank hunter platoon is in action deployed on the Belloy heights near Abbeville on the River Somme. That evening, about 20 German light tanks are spotted on the road to Abbeville and the French open fire with their 47mm guns at a range of 2,000m. Two German tanks are immediately knocked out and catch fire. A futher two tanks are reported knocked-out and immobilized. 

On 6th June, the 54th BACA is deployed to block the Abbeville road down which 50 enemy tanks are seen advancing. The first W15TCC destroys three advancing Panzer IV tanks and then retires drawing the pursuing Germans into an ambush by two supporting W15TCCs. These open fire and a further 6 tanks are destroyed and 4 others knocked-out and immobilized. The Germans advance on foot and are driven off by the defensive fire from the French crew's Thompson submachineguns.

The German Panzers retire and decide to bypass this resistance and leave it to the folllow-up troops to mop-up. The senior officer present, commandant (Major) Decoux of the 7th Dragoons reported 18 tanks knocked-out but sous-lieutenant Brussaux only saw 9 burning and 4 knocked-out. The French lost one W15TCC due to mechanical breakdown which was then destroyed by its crew. They had no other casualties.

On 7th June the platoon is in Campaux. The AA and Services platoons are ordered to retire to Saint-Aubin. The Hotchkiss 25mm AA guns are towed by trucks even though they have a good anti-tank capability they cannot keep up with the W15TCCs hit and run tactics. Although these hit and run tactics are not the prescribed doctrine, they seem to be working. The tank hunters operate in pairs 10-15km in front of the French main line of restistance. The W15TCCs open fire at the advancing Germans, inflict as much damage as quickly as possible, and then retire to avoid being encircled. 

Enemy tanks are reported north of Campaux and the platoon is split into two pairs. Two W15TCCs under sous-lieutenant Brussaux watch the Gournay road and the remaining two under adjudant (Warrant Officer) Marchal  watch the Hernemont and Gournay roads. 

Sous-lieutenant Brussaux with the help of a supporting infantry company spots the advancing Panzer IVs. He opens fire from ambush at a range of only 100m and destroys all three tanks. Brussaux's second tank hunter had problems with its guns traverse and retires. Brussaux's remaining vehicle is sonn afterwards surrounded by 30 German armoured cars. He opens fire, two burn and three are knocked-out causing the Germens to decide that discretion is the better part of valor and retreat. AT close of play, with no enemy armour in sight, Brussaux retires as planned.

Using a supporting armoured-car as a decoy, adjudant Marchal lured the German tanks into an ambush by the two tank hunters. These open fire with their 47mm guns and destroy two tanks and knock-out a third before retiring as planned.

The 54th BACA reunites at Versailles where it joins the 7th Régiment de Cuirassiers. Brussaux had hoped to repair his vehicles at the Laffly factory, but there was no time, so with only two fully-operational tank hunters the 54th BACA moves to Vannes where it joins capitaine Etienne's company of 9 W15TCCs.

Finally on June 12th, they are encircled by the advancing Germans, and after attepting to break out over the River Loire they scuttle their vehicles and flee on foot.

During its eight-day fight the 54th BACA destroyed 28 tanks and 5 armoured cars.


The Laffly W15TCC were issued to the mobile anti-tank batteries (BACA). 

The mobile anti-tank batteries (BACA) had one anti-tank platoon and one anti-aircraft platoon. A battery had 3 officers, 21 NCOs and 64 men and was organised as follows:

  • Tank Hunter platoon
    • 1 Laffly V15R all-terrain liaison vehicle 
    • 5 Laffly W15 TCC 
    • 3 Unic TU1 tractors with 3 mle1937 infantry trailers carrying 200 47mm AP [1]
    • 2 motorcycles
  • 25mm AA platoon
    • 3 25mm Mle1939 Hotchkiss AA guns (these could be used against both air and ground targets) [2]
    • 3 Laffly W15 T (towing the gun and carrying ammunition and the crew)
    • 1 Laffly W15 T (recovery/extra ammuntion)
    • 1 5 tonne ammunition lorry with 3200 25mm rounds
    • 1 liaison vehicle (Peugeot 402 car?)
    • 2 trucks
    • 2 motorcycles
    • 1 bicycle (transported on a truck during movements)
  • Service platoon
    • 1 Laffly S25 T (recovery vehicle) 
    • 2 trucks 
    • 2 lorries  
    • 1 field kitchen (towed)
  1. Some sources say 2
  2. Some sources say 4

10th May 1940

When the Germans's attacked the French army had no BACA formed. They were administratively, but not operationally, part of the 11th RA. They were created after the German invasion as follows:

May 1940:

  • 51st BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC (part of 4th DCR) 
  • 52nd BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC (part of 4th DCR) 
  • 53rd BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC (part of 2nd DCR) 
  • 54th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • 55th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC (renumbered 11/77e on 5th June)
June 1940:
  • 56th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • 57th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC (part of 3rd DCR)
  • 58th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • 59th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • 60th BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • 61st BACA 11th RA: 5 W15TCC 
  • Centre d'Organisation de l'Artillerie (COA) Nemours: 6 W15TCC 
  • Group Vannes: 9 W15TCC 

Technical Data

Laffly W15 TCC
Manufacturer Laffly (1940)
Quantity May 1940: 70
Physical Characteristics
Weight 48.8 tons, 4.96 tonnes, 4,960kg
Length 4.50 m (14' 9")
Width 1.90 m (6' 3")
Height 1.80 m (5' 11")
Main 47mm SA37 anti-tank gun
Secondary 7.5mm FM 24/29 machine-gun on an anti-aircraft mount
Thompson SMG
Elevation -13° to +13°
Traverse 60° to the rear
Ammunition Main: 30 AP (plus 120 shells in Unic TU1 tractors)
Secondary: 1000 MG plus 500 SMG
Armour thickness and angle from verticle
Driver's Cab 12-15mm
Extended Gun-Shield 12-15mm
Engine Hotchkiss 680 2.3 litre, 4 cylinder, petrol, 65 HP
Speed (Road) 48 km/h (30 mph)
Speed (Cross-Country) 34 km/h (21 mph)
Range (Road)  
Range (Cross-Country)  
Crew 4: Driver, Commander (NCO), Gunner, Machine Gunner
Radio None
Other nations