Big Bang Ricochet 030: France's VLRD Jeep

Reference - Military Vehicles
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Designer(s): Dana Jorgensen

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World War II marked the setting of the sun that shined over the French colonies around the globe, marking the coming of an imperial twilight that would be marked by violence, extremism, bloodshed, and atrocities. For much the the two decades following the end of World War II, the French government fought two major wars in a vain effort to recapture its former glory as a colonial power. The second of those wars, conducted in Algeria from 1954 to 1962, brought about bloody independence for that nation, a 1960 referendum that granted independence to about 80% of France's colonies, and the collapse of the French Fourth Republic government in 1958.

These wars were a hardship for the French military, fought with stockpiles of Allied war surplus equipment as well as scavenged German equipment. Though the economic climate was horrible with inflation spiralling out of control (the VLRB would cost $15,000 in today's US Dollars, cost 1.1 million Francs in 1952), the French military pushed for programs to develop its own military equipment to replace the rapidly depleting stocks of WW2 surplus. When people say the war in Iraq is like Vietnam, they are wrong. The war in Iraq is far like the war in Algeria.

The VLRD is one such vehicle, a "Super Jeep" produced by Delahaye, a reknowned French car manufacturer and casualty of the post-war economy. The VLRD was a cutting edge work of technology for its time, incorporating many new features that were not yet even standard in the civilian or commercial automotive markets yet. Along with its high price, the vehicle was also doomed by the soldiers who drove it, the frequent victim of deadly crashes that resulted from the hands of inexperienced drivers. Though the French military began rapidly replacing the VLRD with the Hotchkiss M201 after a mere four years of service, the VLRD would continue to see service and combat in Algeria until the end of the war.


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