ID numberRELAWM05039.001
Collection typeTechnology
TitleRenault FT-17 Light Tank
Object typeVehicle
Place madeFrance
Date made1918
Physical description
  • Steel
  • Wood
DescriptionLight, two man FT-17 tank with rivetted flat armoured plates. The vehicle has been painted in the French, three colour camouflage scheme of yellow, green and brown with a black outline. It has a fully rotating, manually operated, one man turret which has been fitted with an 8mm Hotchkiss, machine gun. There are split access hatches for the commander fitted in the rear of the turret. The commander either stands within the turret or can be seated on a canvas sling. There is a commanders cupola fitted to the roof of the turret. The driver sits on a cushion fitted to the floor of the vehicle and his entry point is through split hatches fitted into the front hull roof. The driver also has a hinging visor which can be raised to assist visability. Steering is by hand levers, brakes and clutch. The tracks are all steel and coil springs are fitted to the front sides of the vehicle which assist in keeping the tracks tensioned. The running gear consists of six return rollers and nine road wheels fitted to each side. The road wheels are mounted into three paired bogie sets and one triplet. This triplet bogie is the first bogie fitted and is next to the front idler wheel. The large front idler wheel is steel rimmed and made up from laminated timber segments. The steel drive sprocket is mounted at the rear. The four cylinder, liquid cooled petrol engine is fitted at the rear and develops thirty five horse power. It has a cone clutch and a four speed Renault gearbox with one reverse gear. The exhaust system is mounted on the starboard side towards the rear of the vehicle and consists of a cylindrical muffler and short piece of offset exhaust pipe.
SummaryThe French Renault FT-17 tank was the most successful tank design to emerge from the First World War. It is widely regarded as the first tank to display modern tank qualities such as a fully rotating, 360 degree turret, a commanders cupola, a seperate engine compartment to the crew compartment and the capability of fitting larger weapons and a future wireless set. It had very good cross country and vertical climbing performance. This FT-17 tank saw action on the Western front in 1918 and suffered some minor battle damage. At the end of the First World War it was transported to Australia as a thankyou gift from a grateful French Government.