The Renault FT(picture heavy)

Author: Peter Kempf, Editor: Charlie Clelland
If the French made the worst tank of the war, they also made the very best one, the Renault FT, a quite revolutionary vehicle which set the shape and pattern for tanks of the future, even until today. It came out of a desire to give the standard tanks like the Schneider CA 1 a light partner, designed to be more more useful than the heavy tanks for the exploitation of breakthroughs. It was a joint semi-private project between the maverick father of the French tank weapon, General Estienne, and the french firm of Renault. After many bureaucratic delays the first prototypes were tested in early 1917, and proved to be an immediate success. It included a number of very innovative features, including a manually moved turret.

The turret made the employment of its armament much more flexible and effective, and the whole vehicle was considerably more agile and easy to drive than its heavier partners, yet better protected. Although the short length of the vehicle, rectified somewhat with the addition of the special tail, often made trench-crossing difficult, the track assembly with its large front wheel gave the tank good ability to climb high obstacles. It also proved easily adapted to form numerous variations (besides the basic variants, equipped with either one MG or one 37mm cannon), including a Signals and Command tank (TSF), a 75mm gun tank and a Fascine Carrier.

Both the French and the US used the FT during WW1, and the British and Canadian forces employed some, in the capacity of Liason Vehicle: they removed the weaponry and left the hole open, to enable the passenger a good view forward.

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