Char Renault FT17 Prototype

This French Renault FT 17 Tank can be found at the Tank Museum, Bovington, Dorest, BH20 6JG, England. Their website is tankmuseum.org. The French word "Char" translated means tank. The number 17 was added to the name of the tank after the war. It signified the date the tank entered French Military Service.

Surviving French WW1 Renault FT-17 Tank

WW1 French Renault FT 17 Tank prototype in pale blue livery. Notice the brass Renault manufacture's plate on the side.

This version of the World War One French Renault FT tank was the most numerous. It was fitted with a Hotchkiss 8mm M1914 machine gun in a fully 360° revolving turret. It was meant as an infantry support weapon. It was not designed to fight other tanks. Some of the 3,000 FT tanks produced were fitted with a 37mm Puteaux SA18 short-barreled gun but the majority only carried machine guns.

These tanks were still in use by the French Army during the German invasion of 1940. The only real improvement was the fitting of a 7.5mm Reibel machine gun in 1931. This tank had no chance when it had to face German Panzer II and III tanks in combat. The Belgium army had a number of Renault FT 17 tanks when the Germans invaded in 1940 but kept them in storage. They never saw action.

Surviving French WW1 Renault FT-17 Tank

WW1 French Renault FT 17 Tank prototype in black livery

The two man Renault FT 17 on display at the Tank Museum, Bovington does not have an engine and has recently been repainted with a black livery. It still has the Renault manufacture's brass plate on the side but there is no serial number. This vehicle was one of the prototypes built in early 1917. It was given to the British Imperial War Museum in London after WW1. It was transferred to the Tank Museum in Bovington in 1965.

Surviving French WW1 Renault FT-17 Tank

Renault FT 17 Tank turret armed with a Hotchkiss 8mm M1914 machine gun

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