Delaunay-Belleville Anti-tank Weapon
Today, I stumbled across this amazing piece of footage purporting to show a ‘Fusil Delaunay-Belleville “antichar ” 20mm’. Dating from 1918, the short film appears to show a live fire function test of a large calibre, tripod-mounted weapon. A very trusting assistant single feeds in each cartridge while the gunner (who has good trigger discipline) fires the weapon. The footage appears to have been taken from a short film of a demonstration of weapons to members of the Commission of the Directorate of Inventions in 1918.
Delaunay-Belleville refers to the company, rather than a designer, that developed the gun. Delaunay-Belleville were a French automobile manufacturer before the war who became a contractor producing Berthier rifles. Towards the end of the war they began to work on a dedicated anti-tank gun. The company working alongside
Atelier de Puteaux (APX) developed a 20x115mmSR anti-tank round which aimed to have a muzzle velocity of 800m/s and penetrate 16mm of steel plate at 300m. This was to be fed into the gun with a specially designed copper belt.
Still from the film showing the Delaunay-Belleville Anti-tank Weapon
I wasn’t able to find a great deal about the weapon but we can learn quite a bit from the footage. We can see that the weapon fired from an open bolt, fed from the left and ejected to the right and appears to be semi-automatic (quite possibly select fire). There is a compensator at the muzzle and the recoil of the barrel indicates the weapon works on the long recoil principle. The tripod appears to be the same as that used by the St. Étienne Mle 1907.
Following the end of World War One development of the project slowed and
Delaunay-Belleville sought to return to their pre-war automotive work. By mid-1919 the project had ground to a halt and attention was turned to a new anti-tank project centred around a 13.5mm round.
The French 20 mm Delaunay-Belleville Machine Gun and its Cartridg, IAA Journal #441 (January/February, 2005), P. Regenstreif, (source)
Anti-Tank Machine Gun, CNC, (source)