Sunday, November 15, 2015

the 20th Balloon Company, WW1 observation blimp and tow truck... the truck is a Latil, and the winch engine on the back is a De Dion

found on

The Latil trucks/tractors were originally made to tow 155mm guns, but they were retrofitted to accept heavy-duty winches to support the observation balloons used by the 20th Balloon Company. The Latil company would later be absorbed into Renault.

Only 50 of these trucks were made specifically for the AEF during WWI. They were outfitted with Cachot power winches (seen in the rear of the head image) to retract the balloons after observation was achieved.

fascinating moment in vehicle history, those heavyweight rims, solid rubber tires, and hot air balloon basket under a blimp


  1. Anonymous1:18 PM

    The truck is a LATIL. I found some relevant info on a site called 'portraits of war'. From looking at the radiator mounted in the back, the V8 winding engine is a De Dion.

  2. French Latil 4T 4x4.

  3. Great photograph. My great uncle was in the balloon corps during WW1 and I have some old and faded photos that he left me. He also left me a brand new 1956 Chevy when I was just 16. He died of a heart attack just after leaving the dealership and parking in front of his apartment. Okay, back to the photos. The photos are a mixed bag. Some are of the balloons and others shoow the results of war on the cities of Belgium. They are not as sharp and detailed as the photos you have. My granddaughter is working on restoring them in her high school photo class.

    1. Wow! Will you share them with us when she is finished? Also, could I post about her working on them, at a high school photo class? That would be awesome to let my other readers know that a high schooler is in a photo class, and working on her grand dad's -great uncles - WW1 photos! Seriously! That is a newsworthy story, and I recommend you also get your local newspaper to do a story on her, and the photos, if she won't mind the publicity. Not many high schoolers make the newspapers for cool stuff, and it might be something awesome for her in starting a portfolio for college, or whatever may come. But please keep me in mind if you'll share those photos, other guys like you and me will enjoy them!

  4. Anonymous3:50 PM

    Nice post! Thanks for linking to my site - I appreciate it. I've backlinked to you on my Latil blogpost :)