Renault FT 17 Light Tank

Last updated on February 17th, 2019 at 09:49 pm

France’s Renault FT 17 light tank formed the basis of a number of different tanks produced by other countries, including the United States, Russia and Italy.

The design of America’s Ford 6 Ton Tank was based on that of the Renault FT 17.  Russia’s first tank, the KS (Krasnoye Sormovo) was a copy of the FT 17.

The FT 17, which was designed by Louis Renault, was the first tank in the world to have a fully rotating turret.

The French wanted the FT17 to be used to support the infantry.

Early versions of the Renault FT 17 had a 0.315 inch (8mm) Hotchkiss machine gun.  Later on, a 0.295 inch (75 mm) machinegun was mounted in its place.

A two man crew, consisting of a driver and a commander/gunner, operated the FT 17, which had a 35 horsepower Renault engine and vertical coil suspension.

Production of the FT 17 began in March 1917.  The FT 17 first saw combat at the ForĂȘt de Retz on May 31, 1918.

America, Russia and Great Britain used the FT 17.

American soldiers on a Renault FT 17  light tank in France during World War IThe United States’ 344th and 345th light tank battalions, who were led by Lieutenant Colonel George S. Patton, used Renault FT 17s during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in September 1918.  The tanks that were used by American forces had a 1.46 inch (37mm) gun in the turret as well as machine gun in the hull.

FT 17s, with the guns removed, were used as command and liaison vehicles by the British.

In 1918, Russian’s imperial government purchased 100 FT 17s. Many of these were eventually seized by the Bolsheviks. Later on, Russia obtained some more FT 17s when a small British force that was in Russia withdrew and left their FT 17s behind.

Some FT 17s were used by the Vichy French in North Africa as late as November 1942, during Operation Torch.

FT 17s were also used by the Germans in 1944.


Renault FT 17 Light


Active: 1917
Crew: 2
Weight: 6.5 tons (6,604 kg)
Length: 13ft 5in (4.09m)
Height: 7ft (2.13m)
Width: 5ft 7in (1.70m)
Weapons: Main – 0.315in (8mm) machinegun or 1.46in (37mm) gun
Armor Maximum – 0.87in (22mm)
Engine: Renault 4 cylinder gaslone, 35hp
Speed: 4.8mph (7.7kph)
Range: 21.7 miles (35 km)