Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Renault FT- 17

In 1916 the French army made the decision to refocus tank production on light, rather than medium, tanks. In July 1916, at the suggestion of Estienne, the French ordered an armored machinegun carrier from Renault, to weigh 6 tons and be capable of accompanying assaulting French infantry. The result was the Renault FT- 17, the prototype of which appeared at the end of 1916. Following trials in early 1917, the government placed an initial order for 1,000; later orders raised the total to some 4,000 of what would be the least expensive and simplest tank of the war. The two-man Renault was powered by a four-cylinder, 39-hp gasoline engine and could attain a speed of 5 mph. This was not deemed a problem as it was designed to move at the pace of advancing infantry. Its armor was a maximum thickness of 22mm, which could be penetrated by a high-powered rifle with armor-piercing ammunition. The Renault was of simple design, constructed of flat steel armored plates. It had a fully rotating turret, the world’s first. It mounted an 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun, later changed to a short 37mm (1.46-inch) Modèle 1916 “Trench Cannon” served by the tank commander in the turret. The second crew member was the driver. The tank had no chassis, the armored hull bearing the weight. The Renault’s rear “tail” assisted in trench-crossing.

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