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FT-17 file photo [7961]


ManufacturerRenault S.A.
Primary RoleLight Tank


ww2dbaseThe FT 17 light tanks were designed by Rodolphe Ernst-Metzmaier of the French manufacturing firm Renault in the few months of 1917. Early production models suffered from radiator fan belt and cooling system problems, but the 2,697 tanks delivered before the end of WW1 became some of the most advanced tanks of the period as the first tanks with fully rotating turrets and other modern characteristics. 514 of them were delivered to the United States and three to Italy for use in WW1; the French Army operated about 2,600-3,000 units. During the inter-war years, they were widely exported; countries purchasing them included Poland, Finland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Spain, China, Japan, and several others. They participated in many major conflicts such as the Russian Civil War, Polish-Soviet War, the Chinese Civil War, and the Spanish Civil War. When WW2 began, they were still in service in Poland, Finland, France, and Yugoslavia. When Germany invaded France in 1940, eight battalions and three independent companies operated a total of 534 FT 17 light tanks, with at least 1,000 units kept in reserve (some of which were assigned to newly-formed tank crews during the invasion). These near-obsolete tanks fought alongside of modern French tanks, and when France capitulated, 1,704 FT 17 light tanks were captured by the German forces; the German Army placed about 100 units into service for airfield defense and assigned about 650 units to occupation forces across Europe.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2009


MachineryOne Renault 4-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 39hp
SuspensionVertical springs
Armament1x37mm machine gun or 1x7.92mm machine gun
Length5.00 m
Width1.47 m
Height2.14 m
Weight6.5 t
Speed7 km/h
Range65 km


American crew of a FT-17 light tank, northwest of Verdun, France, 1918FT-17 light tank crossing a trench near Saint Michel, France, 1914-1918
See all 11 photographs of FT-17 Light Tank

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
5 Nov 2009 11:43:22 AM

By the end of World War I the French built
over 3,000 Renault FT-17's. Production was
continued and other countries bought the tank
However, by the start of World War II, the
French had 2,500 FT's at the time of the German invasion.
The Renaults were antiquated, and stood no
chance against the German Panzer's. Many were
lost in one-sided battles.
The Germans captured large numbers and used
them for security duties,others were rebuilt as ammunition and supply carriers, other's
rebuilt into one-of-a kind vehicles.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
27 Jul 2013 07:00:19 AM

In 1941, as a result of Hitler's order to send armour to the Channel Islands, Field Marshal von Witzleben despatched twenty Renault FT-17/18 tanks to the garrison. The largest islands of Guernsey and Jersey received eight tanks each with four others being shipped to Alderney. When Absteilung 213 arrived in the Channel Islands in March 1942 the Renaults were handed over to the infantry for airfield defence use. By the end of 1944 only two remained serviceable. The others having been cannibalised for parts after which the immobilised tanks were turned into static airfield pillboxes.

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FT-17 Light Tank Photo Gallery
American crew of a FT-17 light tank, northwest of Verdun, France, 1918FT-17 light tank crossing a trench near Saint Michel, France, 1914-1918
See all 11 photographs of FT-17 Light Tank

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