Somua, an acronym for Société d’outillage mécanique et d’usinage d’artillerie, was a French company that manufactured machinery and vehicles. A subsidiary of Schneider-Creusot, Somua was based in Saint-Ouen, a suburb of Paris.
In 1930 Somua introduced several models of trucks equipped with advanced diesel engines, half cabins and three axles and with payloads from 10 to 13 tonnes. Somua also produced a lighter range with five to eight tonnes payload, equipped with gasoline engines. In 1936 Somua produced a railcar for PLM, the XS 1 to 11.
Arguably the most famous product in Somua’s history was its 20-ton World War II tank, the Somua S35 and the Somua S40. Furthermore, France’s first tank in 1916, the Schneider CA1, as well as later in 1918 some Renault FT tanks, were manufactured by Somua in their Saint-Ouen facility during World War I.
Somua’s production of trucks practically ceased between 1943 and 1946. However, in 1944 the company developed a truck under license from the Swedish Hesselman company. Named the JL 12 and equipped with a flex-fuel four cylinder engine, the vehicle did not impress the “Commission des plans de modernisation de l’automobile”, which decided in 1946 to merge Somua with Willème and Panhard to form a new company, the Générale française de l’automobile (GFA).