M201 CAMOUFLAGE NET HOLDERS

One short-fall in the design of the wartime jeep was a general lack of decent sized storage facilities. To overcome this the French army designed a range of 'accessories' that made the vehicle more practical for a wider range of uses. An example of this was the need for a camouflage net holder. Nets are quite large and bulky even when rolled / folded up and the only obvious place to carry it is draped across the bonnet in front of the windshield.

The French Army solution was to design a shelf-like bracket constructed of fairly substantial steel. This was fitted onto the same studs that are used to secure the spare wheel and disc that retains it. Canvas straps fitted to loops on the tray were then used to hold the camouflage net in place. This accessory is referred to in the document 492/AU dated 24.02.64 'Transport du filet de camouflage synthé­tique garni modèle 1962 n°1' 3-4-5.

Whilst being a fairly effective design it had two major down sides. It was quite heavy and made removing the spare wheel more difficult. In addition to this the overhang meant that the clearance between a trailer complete with spare tyre was much reduced and it was easy for the two to make contact during a sharp right turn! A further problem was that missile launchers and the 106mm porte-canon models had the spare wheel mounted on the side of the jeep making this bracket impractical to use. A variation of the same model is referred to in the document 493/AU dated 28.03.64 'Transport de filet de camouflage synthé-tique garni Mle 1962, n°1 sur VLTT 1/4 T aménagés pour le transport de canon de 106-SR' 2-3-4-5.

A rather different solution was later introduced with the ENTAC launcher in mind and is referred to in document 700/AU dated 11.02.69 'Support de filet de camouflage pour VLTT ENTAC' 2-3-4-5. These were also used later with the MILAN launcher. For these vehicles a box-like tray was designed that mounted between the main chassis side members behind the front bumper.It was held in place by a self-tapping screw into the chassis on each side and further three screws securing it to a wooden block set into the bumper at the front. The block was almost identical to the original WW2 design used to strengthen the bumper but slightly thinner so as to finish flush with the rear edge of the bumper. Two loops were fitted to the bottom of the tray with straps to secure the net and a channel section from front to rear ensured that a starting handle could be used without becoming entangled with the net.

I recently came across another accessory which, like the rear mounted camo net holder was designed to be fitted behind the spare wheel. The equipment was removed from a radio jeep that had remained in service until quite recently judging by the bags being fitted with synthetic webbing straps and PLC style clips.

A third bag on a separate frame was mounted on the side of the jeep between the front mudguard and driver's step. I am grateful to Eric BESSON in France for identifying them for me as "E.C.R." which stands for "écran de camouflage rapide".

This was introduced to French military vehicles on wheels in about 1990. It is a kind of hiding system; each bag contains a brown and green net. A regular truck has got 5 bags, a 4x4 usually 3 bags. Some M201 jeeps were retro-fitted with E.C.R. before demob, some were not, depending on the military regiment they belonged to. The modification is known as FT 11316 dated 02 / 03/ 1990 and referred to in the MAT 1001 page A -2-2 6.

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