M201 6 volt & 24 volt


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Hotchkiss produced the M201 under licence from Willys and from1956 to mid 1960 this consisted of 6 volt jeeps which looked very similar to the wartime MB both externally and under the bonnet. A few differences can be spotted on the cover of the original sales brochure (above) including electrically operated wipers, the distinctive Hotchkiss steering wheel, solid rather than split combat rims, and no 'notch' in the  body tub above the instrumentation by OS. There is no start button on the dashboard, the jeep had a 'heel and toe' floor start just like the MB. Note; the wood blocks on the bonnet also the jeep had a WW2 style blackout light at the front not visible in this photo. A fire extinguisher was mounted on drivers' side fender.
 
Reference is made by J-G Jeudi & M Tararine in the book 'La Jeep' to the fact that body tubs were initially imported from the US leading to speculation that the first M201s may have had notches though there is no real evidence to support this and certainly it is missing from the jeep used for publicity. The tyres fitted on the jeep were Dunlop Track-Grip though the army favoured the traditional bar grip tread which was used in production.
 
 
The above illustration is taken from army manual MAT 3422/1 (1959) for the M201 6 volt jeep. I apologise for the quality but it is a definitive illustration of the engine bay layout of an early M201 and therefore not open to debate. Un-rebuilt examples of these early 6 volt jeeps are few and far between but I have seen a couple and the engine bay looks pretty much identical to the MB with the exception of data plates, labels, stampings etc which indicate the components are of French origin.
 
The following photos were supplied by Serge Mangione (M201 no. 02983) of some detail of an M201 6 volt. The jeep was rebuilt at La Maltournée in 1964 and has been fitted with a later Solex type carburettor.
 
 
 
 
Army manuals show the introduction of the M201 an evolution followed based on a number of technical improvements.
 
YEAR MODIFICATIONS From no.
1956 Improved clutch plate by Aubern 00121
1956 Modified jerrycan bracket 00751
1957 Adjustable steering link and improvements to strengthen gearbox & transfer box 01056
1957 Larger clutch plate by Ferodo 03406
1957 Further gearbox modifications 03538
1958 windscreen wiper improvements including switch being moved to the dashboard 04544
1960 24 volt model introduced to replace the 6 volt model 08829
1960 Modifications to body panels, aerial mountings, headlights with integral sidelights 10461
1960 Earthed exhaust pipe to reduce interference, new Jager speedometer and cable. 11257
1961 Improved oil filter housing 13393
 
The fact that there was a gradual evolution can make it difficult to pinpoint the introduction of some of the revised features e.g. photographic evidence suggests that the wood blocks on the bonnet were replaced by metal stays on the windshield during the production run of 6 volt vehicles i.e. pre 1960.
 
Arguably the greatest advance was made with the introduction of the M201 24 volt model although the exact point at which this happened during 1960 is also difficult to determine. From army manuals it would appear that the 24 volt model was approved in April 1959 and manufacture began in the mid 1960s. All jeeps up to Nº 6966 (covered by army manual MAT 3541 / CAT 4-584) were certainly 6 volt, Nº 08829 was certainly 6 volt and, according to Army manual MAT 3541, all jeeps after no. Nº 8961 were 24 volt.
 
 
 
In a way the revised 24 volt design with its dashboard mounted start button, instruments by Jaeger, aerial mounts on each rear corner, later style blackout light on the front wing etc. has become what everyone today instantly recognises as a 'Hotchkiss'. This is not just because about nineteen thousand of the 24 volt M201 model were made but because most of the original 6 volt Hotchkiss M201sl, ITM jeeps, and even some MBs & GPWs belonging to the army were all rebuilt to this standard during the 1960s and 1970s by ERGM at La Maltournée.   Although the aerial mountings are listed as a 1960 improvement a number of photographs used to illustrate the new model show a 24 volt jeep without these. It is possible that some of the stock photos like the one below  from a Satory exhibition guide were actually of a prototype produced by Hotchkiss.
 
 
Strangely, army manuals for the M201 24 volt used rebuilt jeeps for illustration purposes even though they would have actually contained a 'hotch-potch' of WW2 and Hotchkiss parts. The examples below are from MAT 2835.
 
 

The official data shows that, both empty and fully equipped, the 24 volt M201 was heavier than its predecessor.

M201 6volt dead weight (poids mort) 1112.7 kg
M201 6volt fully equipped (en ordre de marche) 1475.5 kg
M201 24 volt dead weight (poids mort) 1160 kg
M201 24 volt fully equipped (en ordre de marche) 1530 kg
 

STANDARD M201 24 VOLT MODEL SPECIFICATION

Unladen weight 1160 kg slightly heavier than equivalent MB / GPW / M201 6volt
Load capacity 370 kg quoted figure varies on other data plates
Towing capacity 453 kg again quoted figure varies on other data plates
Width 1.575 m same as MB / GPW
Length 3.372 m slightly longer due to rear aerial mount
Wheel-base 2.032 m same as MB / GPW
Max speed 95 km/h 105 km/h absolute max as with MB / GPW
Ground clearance 0.22 m  
Maximum gradient 66% 6% greater than Willys MB / Ford GPW
Approach angle 45 degrees same as MB / GPW
Departure angle 35 degrees same as MB / GPW
Fording depth 0.53 m without special preparation or modification
Engine capacity 2.199 litre same as MB / GPW
Compression ratio 6.48 : 1 same as MB / GPW but with reinforced cylinder head
Spark plug gap .045 - .055 mm ABG - 708 Screened - torque wrench setting 5 kg/m
Points gap .035 - .045 mm ABG-AL 4 D1A Screened waterproof distributor
Batteries 12V 45Ah Two connected in series for 24 volt system
Fuel tank capacity 56.78 litres Same as MB / GPW
Range 550 km Includes use of 20 litres of fuel in jerrycan
Cooling system capacity 11.5 litres Operating temperature 70 - 85 deg. C.
Recommended tyre pressure 2.1 Bar 2.1 kg / sq. cm (Bar) = 25 lb. / sq. inch

Obviously the weights and characteristics of ERGM modified models varied considerably. The SS10 launcher was probably both the longest at 3.52 metres and widest at 1.90 metres.

I am grateful to J-L Martin for providing copies of the various official data sheets used or referred to on this page.