Eleven explorers and their canine conquered the Sahara


Originally of the final century, the Sahara desert was seen as an insurmountable pure barrier that even a railway line couldn’t overcome. Andre Citroën’s entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit, nevertheless, was on the coronary heart of a incredible crossing that linked Algeria with French Sudan, as we speak’s Mali, an journey that lasted 21 days and coated 3,200 kilometers.

The Citroën Caravan left Touggourt, on the gates of the Sahara, on December 17, 1922, and arrived in Timbuktu on January 7, 1923, crossing the Sahara from north to south. Eleven intrepid explorers in automobiles that turned referred to as the “golden scarabs” crossed the nice desert in three weeks, whereas it had beforehand taken six months in camel caravans. Initially, the return journey was not deliberate, however given the success of the operation and the reliability of the automobiles, the staff requested André Citroën for permission to return to Algeria by the identical route, thus doubling the achievement, which was nicely acquired by the person who idealized it .the expedition. Twice they cross the driest area of the Sahara, with none indicators of life or civilization, particularly the gloomy Tenere, which a long time later shall be an actual terror for the Paris-Dakar pilots. For all these causes, the Touggourt-Tombuctu-Touggourt voyage was a unprecedented epic on the time, and gained higher significance as the primary main exploratory voyage accompanied by the world press, with common newspaper bulletins and radio and telegraph broadcasts to Paris. The success of this primary crossing was the fruits of a number of makes an attempt to beat the Sahara by automobile and airplane, made between 1910 and 1921. Throughout this era, courageous drivers and aviators tried unsuccessfully to cross the Nice Erg and the Tanezrouft, some dying on this journey.

Encourage Dakar

To beat the desert, 5 equivalent fashions had been constructed on the premise of the Citroën B2 K1, which was an actual technical problem. The physique is of the torpedo kind, has a four-cylinder engine with 10 hp, a six-speed gearbox as an alternative of the unique three, and reaches as much as 45 km/h. They had been 3.6 m lengthy and 1.4 m broad and had been geared up with the infinite chain mechanism on the rear axle invented by Adolf Kegrese – this was the important thing to success. These unusual automobiles may journey over any kind of terrain and had been loaded on runways utilized by airplanes on the time.

The Sahara desert is among the hottest and driest on this planet and has a major temperature vary; throughout the day the temperature reaches 50 levels, and at night time it drops to minus 10 levels. As well as, there are very sturdy winds that create sandstorms and make visibility troublesome. This was all that the caravan needed to face with out indicators, with no street guide and with out assistance from navigation programs, which earned André Citroën the next remark: «(…) because of them a long-lasting work was constructed, a piece that may proceed to offers outcomes, even after its disappearance. And for them that is an important factor: the builders will die, however the temple is constructed». The phrases of the founding father of the French model had been prophetic. This journey of desert exploration proved to be the inspiration of all races in trendy historical past, particularly the Paris-Dakar, a legendary race conceived by one other French dreamer, Thierry Sabin.

The success of Citroën struck the pleasure of Renault, who responded a yr later with an expedition that linked Touggourt with Tozeur, in one other crossing of the Sahara. He lined up with three Renault MHs with three axles and 6 wheels and an influence of 10 hp. For automobile producers, conquering the desert has turn into a serious picture problem. French duel within the coronary heart of Africa, so dwell the roaring 20s.

Half jeep, half tank

Going again to the unique journey, Georges-Marie Haardt, director of the Citroën factories, led the expedition and had the assistance of Louis Audouin-Dubreuil, an in-depth data of the area. They had been accompanied by 5 skilled mechanics, a geographer accountable for taking photographs, and a cook dinner. The staff was joined by the canine Flossie, who was the mascot of the expedition and who will need to have impressed Hervé to create Milou, Tintin’s companion in journey.

The automobile used has confirmed itself in civilian and navy situations and hundreds of kilometers of exams had been carried out earlier than shifting on to the expedition. Contemplating the traits and period of the journey, the vehicles had an aluminum field within the again to retailer meals, instruments, spare components, the tent they spent the night time in and even ammunition. Sure, there have been three vehicles geared up with plane machine weapons to make sure the protection of the caravan.

The adventurers left Tugurt within the presence of the Governor-Basic of Algiers and resolutely entered the desert. For the primary time, a small automobile group ventured into the Sahara, defying the risks of the desert and placing the mechanics to the take a look at, crossing spectacular dunes, valleys and plains. A eager sense of orientation was elementary to the success of the expedition, it was very straightforward to get misplaced within the vastness of the Sahara, placing your life in danger. The desert is unforgiving. They remained continuously alert within the face of unfamiliar conditions and confirmed nice braveness and willpower in addition to a lot endurance as they needed to help automobiles, arrange and take down tents and decide the way in which utilizing rudimentary navigational instruments. New Yr’s Eve was spent with a provide staff and there was no scarcity of champagne to have fun ushering in 1923. Because the expedition progressed, the situations modified. Dunes gave solution to steppes and forests, and new cultures and habits had been found. On their manner via Ouargla they had been greeted with a feast by the natives. As ordinary on particular events, the adventurers had been welcomed in Timbuktu by the commander of the area and by a crowd curious and excited to see the explorers and their nice machines. The expedition was profitable and it was time to return to the place to begin. The street to the center of Africa was opened with the collaboration of Citroën.


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