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RenaultFT17
Renault FT
Country of origin

France

In service(s)

1917–1949

Designed

1916

Type

Light tank

Weight

6.5 tonnes (6.4 long tons; 7.2 short tons)

Length

5.00 m (16 ft 5 in)

Width

1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)

Height

2.14 m (7 ft 0 in)

Crew

2 (commander, driver)

Armour

8 to 22 mm (0.31 to 0.87 in)

Armament

1 x Puteaux SA 1918 37mm gun or 1 x 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun

Engine

Renault 4-cyl, 4.5 litre, thermo-siphon water-cooled; Gasoline (petrol) pump; Engine oil pump; Zenith preset carburettor; Magneto ignition

Operational range

60 km (37 mi)

The Renault FT ("FT-17" or "FT17") was a French light tank that was among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history. It has been called "the world's first modern tank."

DevelopmentEdit

The light tank concept was not one that felt natural to military strategists, despite the fact that it was easier to produce en masse. This was the gamble of Louis Renault, whom, with the unwavering support of Col. Estienne, directly called for the acceptance of his ideas from the commander in chief, Joffre, but he was then rebuffed by the minister of the armaments and production, Albert Thomas. The latter only agreed for a single prototype. More so, when production got approved in December 1916, confirmed again in February 1917, the order was postponed due to priority being given to artillery tractors instead.

It was officially accepted in May 1917, when Pétain replaced Nivelle, but, still, the reluctant director of Motor Services, general Mourret, was not replaced before September by Louis Loucheur, who finally gave the green light. In the meantime, the prototype delivered in January 1917 performed first trials at Renault’s Billancourt factory, before being sent to the Artillerie spéciale proving grounds at Champlieu for corrections. Although performing according to plans, it was later met with skepticism by the commission officers present at Marly on 22 April. Some asked for better ventilation, a wider turret and hull, or to raise the ammunition capacity to a staggering 10,000 cartridges! Still, the project had the enthusiastic support of the Consultative Committee of the assault artillery, and General Pétain’s arrival on the scene seemed to unlock the situation. He was sold on Estienne’s ideas, but for different reasons: He saw these as a morale-booster for simple soldiers. Helater ordered that all the trucks carrying these tanks to the frontline had this mention written in large characters on their back plate: “Le meilleur ami de l’infanterie” (“infantry’s best friend”).

DesignEdit

The light tank concept was not one that felt natural to military strategists, despite the fact that it was easier to produce en masse. This was the gamble of Louis Renault, whom, with the unwavering support of Col. Estienne, directly called for the acceptance of his ideas from the commander in chief, Joffre, but he was then rebuffed by the minister of the armaments and production, Albert Thomas. The latter only agreed for a single prototype. More so, when production got approved in December 1916, confirmed again in February 1917, the order was postponed due to priority being given to artillery tractors instead.

It was officially accepted in May 1917, when Pétain replaced Nivelle, but, still, the reluctant director of Motor Services, general Mourret, was not replaced before September by Louis Loucheur, who finally gave the green light. In the meantime, the prototype delivered in January 1917 performed first trials at Renault’s Billancourt factory, before being sent to the Artillerie spéciale proving grounds at Champlieu for corrections. Although performing according to plans, it was later met with skepticism by the commission officers present at Marly on 22 April. Some asked for better ventilation, a wider turret and hull, or to raise the ammunition capacity to a staggering 10,000 cartridges! Still, the project had the enthusiastic support of the Consultative Committee of the assault artillery, and General Pétain’s arrival on the scene seemed to unlock the situation. He was sold on Estienne’s ideas, but for different reasons: He saw these as a morale-booster for simple soldiers. Helater ordered that all the trucks carrying these tanks to the frontline had this mention written in large characters on their back plate: “Le meilleur ami de l’infanterie” (“infantry’s best friend”).

Combat UsageEdit

The vehicle entered service in 1917, with 3,177 vehicles manufactured by the end of World War I and 3,800 vehicles produced in total. At the beginning of World War II, a total of 1,560 vehicles were in service.

VariantsEdit

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