NATO Convoy
Convoi OTAN
 

My thanks go to Jean-Louis Martin for solving the mystery of the black panel for chalk markings that sometimes appeared on either side of the hood of M201's in service. They were actually to record convoy details as defined by Nato in STANAG 2154. In this a convoy is defined as a group of vehicles moving under a single column commander over the same route at the same time. In the case of French army vehicles these panels were used to display this information in two different ways:

To display the 'Numéro de movement' for movements within French territories under French command. The unique code for a convoy consisted of six coded digits made up as follows:
First two digits -

the military command under which the convoy moved.
Second two digits -

the day of the month on which the movement was due to commence.
Last two digits -

indicated the vehicle's position in the order of vehicles forming the convoy.

Example: 04 -12 - 03 would indicate the third vehicle in a convoy on the 12th day of the month under the 4th Regional Command. The command digits could indicate Military region, Army, Army Corps, Division etc.

To display the 'Numéro de série d'identification (NATO Movement Credit number) in the case of movements in NATO territories under NATO command the coding was as follows:
 
First two digits -

the day of the month on which the movement was due to commence.
Two letters to indicate the country (FR for France) followed by one or two more letters to indicate the command Last two digits -

indicated the vehicle's position in the order of vehicles forming the convoy.

Example: 03 - FRD - 08 would indicate the eighth vehicle in a French NATO convoy due to commence movement on the 3rd day of the month under 'D' command.

Although a fair number of M201s were sold at auction bearing NATO tactical markings I did not actually see any with the convoy panels. Only a few photos have turned up showing the panels and few of these actually show them in use so it would seem fair to assume that the system was not widely used, possibly only for certain NATO exercises.

The illustration shows an M201 fitted with RASURA radar equipment for battlefield surveillance on display at Satory (Paris) photographed at Satory in 1979 by Jean-Michel Boniface.

 

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