French Renault FT-17

The Renault FT or Automitrailleuse à chenilles Renault FT modèle 1917, inexactly known as the FT-17 or FT17, was a French light tank; it is among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history.

Renault FT-17

The FT was the first operational tank with an armament in a fully rotating turret, and its configuration with the turret on top, engine in the back and the driver in front became the conventional one, repeated in most tanks until today; at the time it was a revolutionary innovation.

Copies and derivative designs were manufactured in the United States (M1917 light tank), in Italy (Fiat 3000), and in the Soviet Union (T-18 tank).

France still had several thousand First World War Renault FT tanks in 1940. Over 500 of them were still in service in independent bataillons de chars de combat (BCC) tank battalions in the front lines. Although adequate for infantry support, they were totally outclassed by German tanks in a mobile battle.

It is one of my favourite tanks, I have always had a fondness for this little tank, probably as a result of making that Matchbox plastic kit of the Renault and the Char B1 when I was young.

There was a nice looking Renault FT-17 at the Bovington Tank Museum.

The tank appears to have been part of the Imperial War Museum collection after the First World War and arrived at the Tank Museum as part of an exchange of exhibits in 1965. The tail skid turned up about 20 years later, having been discovered in a store at IWM Duxford.

More photographs of the Renault FT-17 at Bovington.

As I am creating an Early War French army I got some of these little tanks for Flames of War.

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