Three Renault MH vehicles left the final point of the Algerian railway, the city of Colon Bechar. Unlike its competitor, Citroen, which ran a race on half-tracked all-terrain vehicles in 1923, Louis Renault decided to conquer Africa on purely wheeled vehicles. For this purpose, cars were specially manufactured that had no analogues at that time.
The Renault MH multi-purpose vehicle was created on the basis of the Renault 10 HP serial passenger car. The main and decisive difference was the innovation: the three-axle car received not one, but two rear drive axles. As the press of that time wrote: “Renault was a pioneer in this field.”
Another important innovation was a two-speed transfer case with a reduction gear, paired with a standard three-speed gearbox. Interestingly, it was not located next to it, but further away – directly above the first rear axle. It made it possible, if necessary, to double the traction force on the drive wheels.
And one more thing: all the wheels of the car, including the front ones, had dual-pitch tires. This allowed a relatively light car with an open body to exert low specific pressure on the ground.
All of the above provided the vehicle with increased cross-country ability, including on sand and soft soils. And at worst, in front of one of the cars there was a self-pulling winch.
The curb weight of the Renault MH was 1500 kg, and the total weight was 2800 kg. The open tented body could accommodate 6 – 8 people.
The engine of the Renault MH car was located at the front, under a small hood, which received the nickname “coal scoop” for its original shape. The radiator, quite large in size, was located behind the hood. The water cooling system was still thermosiphon in the old fashioned way, that is, there was no water pump.
The working volume of four cylinders was 2.12, power – 26 liters. With. The car could reach speeds of up to 45 – 50 km/h and overcome inclines of 30 – 35%.
Let us return, however, to the January 1924 expedition. Its direct organizer was the directorate of the General Transatlantic Company. And there were six participants – it is interesting that among them, in addition to engineers and mechanics, there were two sons of General Estienne – Rene and George. Apparently, the general wanted to learn more about the use of these vehicles for military purposes.
The route ran through the Sahara Desert. Along the way there were sand dunes and rocky areas. The off-road conquerors drove day and night and a week later, on January 31, they arrived in the city of Burem. There was also a railway there, but this time it was a Nigerian one. After this, the cars drove through the Upper Niger Valley and again through the Sahara arrived in the capital of Algeria. The mileage exceeded 2 thousand km.
At the beginning of the next year, 1925, another run on Renault MH cars started. It was organized by the French military department and Marshal Franchet D'Espray was appointed its leader. This raid inspected French colonial troops in West Africa – from Oron to Dahomey and the Gulf of Guinea.
It is interesting that Captain Delingette separated from this run and drove a three-axle Renault MH across Africa from north to south – to Kapstadt (Cape Town) on the Cape of Good Hope. The run took 7.5 months and ran from the end of 1925 to July 1926. During the event, participants crossed 35 rivers and built or repaired 129 bridge crossings. The length of the route was 23 thousand km.