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Old 07-22-2009, 02:22 PM
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Default Berliet CBA Truck

The Berliet CBA is now a vehicle only known by experts, but it was actually one of the most important ones of WW1, being a sort of Great War-parallell to the GMC, GAZ AA or Opel Blitz of WW2. The Company that made the CBA Truck started in 1894 when Marius Berliet started experimenting with gasoline engines and built a first, primitive car. In 1906 came Berliet's first real commercial truck, a chain-drive 2-tonne cab-over-engine machine, which was soon followed by other models. When WW1 started Berliet had just added a new 6-tonner truck to the range: this was the Berliet CBA.


The Berliet CBA followed the rather modern earlier designs of the Company, in that it featured a four-cylinder gasoline engine (25 HP, with a honeycomb radiator) with a chain drive, and steel chassis frame, instead of of wood. It had a four-speed gearbox, solid rubber tires and a bumper in front of the radiator. It could load some 3.5 tons and had a maximum speed of 30km/h.


Berliet offered the CBA to the Army, who accepted it as a sort of standard truck. It soon proved to be a very reliable and functional vehicle. For example, in the endless truck convoys that via the so called Sacred Road supplied the French forces fighting the grim battle of Verdun in 1916, the majority were actually Berliet CBAs. The success of the CBA was not just due to the performance of the vehicle, but just as much to the fact that the firm of Berliet was such a modern and effective manufacturer: in 1915 Berliet set up the Worlds first real Assembly Belt-type of production line. This led both to the price per unit being lowered (for the first time making motor transport as cheap as horse transport), and the production rate being very high: every day 40 new CBAs rolled out of the factory, and at the end of the war 25.000 trucks had been delivered to the armed services. It was used all through the 20-ies and 30-ies and during the first years of WW2. (In Poland Ursus made a copy of the CBA.)
Berliet CBA Walk-Around

This beautifully restored Berliet CBA can be seen in the Battle Museum in Fleury on the Verdun Battlefield:


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