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A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Renault FT 17 french light tank with dozer blade - case report

Mesdames et Messieurs!!
       A long, long time ago, I found this picture in the Internet and always I wanted to reproduce this small girl with dozer blade. 
A Renault R35  pulling a FT dozer from the top of  truck.
      I confess that as the little tank dozer was open, turretless, I had laziness in doing the whole interior. Since the only option on the market was the old RPM kit (35062) Char Canon FT17 without any interior detail, I put the project in the line...
My old kit: RPM (35062) Char Canon FT 17
       But with the advent of the excellent Meng's kit, the French FT 17 (TS 008) with interior ... Wow. The excuses are over. It's time to research and start the new work.
Excellent Meng kit (TS 008) French FT 17
      Let's go!!
      The Renault FT, frequently referred to in post-World War I literature as the "FT-17" or "FT17", was a French light tank that was among the most revolutionary and influential tank designs in history. The FT was the first production tank to have its armament within a fully rotating turret. The Renault FT's configuration – crew compartment at the front, engine compartment at the back, and main armament in a revolving turret – became and remains the standard tank layout. As such, historians of armoured warfare have called the Renault FT the world's first modern tank.
      Over 3,000 Renault FT tanks were manufactured by French industry, most of them during the year 1918. Another 950 of an almost identical licensed copy of the FT (the M1917) were made in the United States, but not in time to enter combat.
M1917 tank at the Canadian War Museum
      The FT was designed and produced by the Société des Automobiles Renault (Renault Automobile Company), one of France's major manufacturers of motor vehicles then and now.
      It is thought possible that Louis Renault began working on the idea as early as 21 December 1915, after a visit from Colonel J.B.E. Estienne. 
Colonel J.B.E. Estienne
      Estienne had drawn up plans for a tracked armoured vehicle based on the Holt caterpillar tractor, and, with permission from General Joffre, approached Renault as a possible manufacturer. 
Holt tracked tractor
      Renault declined, saying that his company was operating at full capacity producing war materiel and that he had no experience of tracked vehicles. Estienne took his plans to the Schneider company, where they became France's first operational tank, the Schneider CA.
Tank Schneider CA, in his environment: lots of mud !!
      At a later, chance meeting with Renault on 16 July 1916, Estienne asked him to reconsider, which he did. The speed with which the project then progressed to the mock-up stage has led to the theory that Renault had been working on the idea for some time.
      Louis Renault himself conceived the new tank's overall design and set its basic specifications. He imposed a realistic limit to the FT's projected weight, which could not exceed 7 tons. 
Louis Renault (1877-1944)
      Louis Renault was unconvinced that a sufficient power-to-weight ratio could be achieved with the production engines available at the time to give sufficient mobility to the heavy tank types requested by the military. Renault's most talented industrial designer, Rodolphe Ernst-Metzmaier, generated the FT's detailed execution plans. Charles-Edmond Serre, a long time associate of Louis Renault, organized and supervised the new tank's mass production. The FT's tracks were kept automatically under tension to prevent derailments, while a rounded tail piece facilitated the crossing of trenches.
FT tank suspension
      Because the engine had been designed to function normally under any slant, very steep slopes could be negotiated by the Renault FT without loss of power. 
FT engine Renault 4-cyl, 4.5 litre, 39 HP.
      Effective internal ventilation was provided by the engine's radiator fan, which drew its air through the front crew compartment of the tank and forced it out through the rear engine's compartment. See the engine running in the video below:

      Renault's design was technically far more advanced than the other two French tanks at the time, namely the Schneider CA1 (1916) and the heavy Saint-Chamond (1917). Nevertheless, Renault encountered some early difficulties in getting his proposal fully supported by the head of the French tank arm, Colonel (later General) Jean Baptiste Eugène Estienne. After the first British use of heavy tanks on 15 September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, the French military still pondered whether a large number of light tanks would be preferable to a smaller number of superheavy tanks (the later Char 2C). However, on 27 November 1916, Estienne had sent to the French Commander in Chief a personal memorandum proposing the immediate adoption and mass manufacture of a light tank based on the specifications of the Renault prototype. 
Renault FT prototype
      After receiving two large government orders for the FT tank, one in April 1917 and the other in June 1917, Renault was at last able to proceed. 
Renault FT prototype
Notice the commander cupola (casted in the turret)
and Louis Renault himself driving the tank
      However, his design remained in competition with the superheavy Char 2C until the end of the war. The prototype was refined during the second half of 1917, but the Renault FT remained plagued by radiator fan belt problems throughout the war. Only 84 were produced in 1917, but 2,697 were delivered to the French army before the Armistice.

      About half of all FTs were manufactured in Renault's factory at Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris, with the remainder subcontracted to other concerns. Of the original order for 3,530, Renault accounted for 1,850 (52 per cent), Berliet 800 (23 per cent), SOMUA (a subsidiary of Schneider & Cie) 600 (17 per cent), and Delaunay-Belleville 280 (8 per cent). When the order was increased to 7,820 in 1918, production was distributed in roughly the same proportion. Louis Renault agreed to waive royalties for all French manufacturers of the FT.
Renault plant building FT's
      The first turret designed for the FT was a circular, cast steel version almost identical to that of the prototype. It was designed to carry only the Hotchkiss 8mm machine gun
Cast turret with Hotchkiss 8mm MG of FT light tank

FT 17 early model - Notice the cast turret for MG
and the Pierce Arrow truck 5 ton as tank carrier
May, 1917.
      In April 1917 Estienne decided for tactical reasons that some vehicles should be capable of carrying a small cannon. The 37mm Puteaux gun was chosen, and attempts were made to produce a cast steel turret capable of accommodating it, but they were unsuccessful. 
37mm Puteaux gun
      The first 150 FTs were for training only, and made of non-hardened steel plus the first model of turret. Meanwhile, the Berliet Company had produced a new design, a octogonal turret of riveted plate, which was simpler to produce than the early cast steel turret. It was given the name "omnibus", since it could easily be adapted to mount either the Hotchkiss machine gun or the Puteaux 37mm with its telescopic sight. This turret was fitted to production models in large numbers.
      In 1918 Forges et aciéries Paul Girod produced a successful circular turret which was mostly cast with some rolled parts. The Girod turret was also an "omnibus" design. 
Ft 17's with Girod turrets showing the omnibus concept:
One with MG Hotchkiss and another with 37mm gun
    Girod supplied it to all the companies producing the FT, and in the later stages of the war it became more commonplace than the Berliet octogonal turret. The turret sat on a circular ball-bearing race, and could easily be rotated by the gunner/commander or be locked in position with a handbrake.
Girod cast/rolled turret with 37mm gun
Panzerserra and FT 17 with Girod turret
Musée de l'Armée - Invalides - Paris
Service history
        The Renault FT was widely used by French forces in 1918 and by the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) on the Western Front in the later stages of World War I.
      The battlefield debut of the Renault FT occurred on 31 May 1918 east of the Forest of Retz, east of Chaudun, between Ploisy and Chazelles, during the Second Battle of the Marne. This engagement, with 30 FTs, successfully broke up a German advance, but in the absence of infantry support, the vehicles later withdrew. From then on, gradually increasing numbers of FTs were deployed, together with smaller numbers of the older Schneider CA1 and Saint-Chamond tanks. 
FT light tanks snorting in open field, crawling to the action
      As the war had become a war of movement during the summer of 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive, the lighter FTs were often transported on heavy trucks and special trailers rather than by rail on flat cars. Estienne had initially proposed to overwhelm the enemy defences using a "swarm" of light tanks, a tactic that was eventually successfully implemented. Beginning in late 1917, the Entente allies were attempting to outproduce the Central Powers in all respects, including artillery, tanks, and chemical weapons. Consequently a goal was set of manufacturing 12,260 Renault FT tanks (including 4,440 of the American version) before the end of 1919.
Very retouched photo of FT 17 tanks entering a destroyed French village in 1917.
FT 17 in a pause in the Battle of Arras
Canadian Army - 1918.
      After the end of World War I, Renault FTs were exported to many countries (Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, Iran, Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Yugoslavia). Renault FT tanks were used by most nations having armoured forces, generally as their prominent tank type. The tanks were used in many later conflicts, such as the Russian Civil War, Polish-Soviet War, Chinese Civil War, Rif War, Spanish Civil War, and Estonian War of Independence. On 5 February 1920 Estonia purchased nine vehicles from France.
Brazilian FT 17  GUARARAPES (finely restored) saluting an Army parade
Notice the Girod turret with 37mm puteaux gun
The tank no use the trench tail
      Renault FT tanks were also fielded in limited numbers during World War II, in Poland, Finland, France, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, although they were already obsolete. In 1940, the French Army still had eight battalions, each equipped with 63 FTs, as well as three independent companies, each with 10, for a total organic strength of 534, all equipped with machine guns. These were put to use after most of the modern equipment was lost in earlier battles.
FT 17  LE TIGRE with Girod turret/ 8mm Hotchkiss MG
Still in use in 1940
Captured FT 17 in france, in German hands,
watching french citizens
France- 1940.
      Many smaller units assembled after the start of World War II also used the Renault FT. This usage gave rise to the popular myth that the French had no modern equipment at all; in fact, they had more modern tanks than the Germans. The French suffered from tactical and strategic weaknesses rather than from equipment deficiencies. When the best French units were cut off by the German drive to the English Channel, the complete French materiel reserve was sent to the front as an expediency measure; this included 575 FTs. Earlier, 115 sections of FTs had been formed for airbase defence. 
Last stand of  FT 17 with octogonal turret and 37mm gun.
France - 1940
      The Wehrmacht captured 1,704 FTs. They used about 100 for airfield defence and about 650 for patrolling occupied Europe. The German designation for FT 17 was Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730 (f)
Repairing the stubborn engine of a Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730 (f)
New owners, new markings.
Panzerkampfwagen 17R 730 (f) WHITE 112
      Some were used by the Germans in 1944 for street-fighting in Paris, but by this time they were hopelessly out of date. Vichy France used Renault FTs against Allied invasion forces during Operation Torch in Morocco and Algeria. The French tanks, however, were no match for the newly arrived American M4 Sherman and M3 Stuart tanks.
Soldiers of the American 2nd AD acquainted with the trophies: light tanks Renault FT-17
captured in Morocco (city of Safi). November 1942.
      The FT was the ancestor of a long line of French tanks: the FT Kégresse, the NC1, the NC2, the Char D1, and the Char D2. The Italians produced the FIAT 3000, a moderately close copy of the FT, as their standard tank.
      The Soviet Red Army captured 14 burnt-out Renaults from White Russian forces and rebuilt them at the Krasnoye Sormovo Factory in 1920. Nearly 15 exact copies, called "Russki Renoe", were produced in 1920–1922, but they never used in battle because of many technical problems. In 1928–1931, the first completely Soviet-designed tank was the T-18, a derivative of the Renault with sprung suspension.

      Much confusion surrounds the name of this tank. It is sometimes stated that the letters FT stand for the French terms faible tonnage (low tonnage), faible taille (small size), franchisseur de tranchées (trench crosser), or force terrestre (land force). None is correct. Nor was it named the FT 17 or FT-17; nor was there an FT18.

      All new Renault projects were given a two-letter product code for internal use, and the next one available was 'FT'. The prototype was at first referred to as the automitrailleuse à chenilles Renault FT modèle 1917. Automitrailleuse à chenilles means "armoured car [lit: motorized machine gun] with tracks." By this stage of the War, automitrailleuse was the standard word for an armoured car, but by the time the FT was designed there were two other types of French tank in existence and the term char d'assaut (from the French char - a cart or wagon, and assaut; attack or assault), soon shortened to char, had at the insistence of Colonel Estienne, already been adopted by the French and was in common use. Once orders for the vehicle had been secured it was the practice at Renault to refer to it as the "FT". The vehicle was originally intended to carry a machine-gun, and was therefore described as a char mitrailleur - mitrailleur (from mitraille; grapeshot) had by this time come to mean "machine-gunner".

      Many sources, predominantly English language accounts, refer to the FT as the "FT 17" or "FT-17." This term is not contemporary, and appears to have arisen post World War One. In Estienne's biography, his granddaughter states, "It is also referred to as the FT 17: the number 17 was added after the war in history books, since it was always referred to at Renault as the FT." Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Malmassari (French tank officer and Doctor of History) states, "The Renault tank never carried the name FT 17 during the First World War, although the initials F.T. seem to appear in August 1917. Some confusion might also have been caused by the fact that the American version of the vehicle, produced in the USA under licence from Renault, was designated the M1917.
American Light Tank M1917
      When it was decided to equip the FTs with either cannon or machine-guns, the cannon version was designated char canon (cannon tank) and the latter, in accordance with French grammar, renamed char mitrailleuse (machine-gun tank).

      It is frequently claimed that some of these tanks were designated FT 18. Reasons given for the claim include: it distinguished tanks produced in 1918 from those of 1917; it was applied to FTs armed with cannon as opposed to those with machine-guns; it distinguished FTs with a cast, rounded turret from those with a octogonal one; it referred to the 18 horsepower engine; it indicated a version to which various modifications had been made.
FT User Manual Cover
Note the nomenclature of the time:
      However, Renault records make no distinction between 1917 and 1918 output; the decision to arm FTs with a 37mm gun was made in April 1917, before any tanks had been manufactured; because of various production difficulties and design requirements, a range of turret types were produced by several manufacturers, but they were all fitted to the basic FT body without any distinguishing reference; all FTs had the same model 18 hp engine. The Renault manual of April 1918 is entitled RENAULT CHAR D'ASSAUT 18 HP, and the illustrations are of the machine-gun version. The official designation was not changed until the 1930s, when the FT was fitted with a Model 1931 machine-gun and renamed the FT31. By this time, the French Army was equipped with several other Renault models and it had become necessary to distinguish between the various types.

  • Char canon: an FT with a 37 mm Puteaux SA18 short-barreled gun – about 3/5 of tanks ordered, about 1/3 of tanks actually produced 
  • Char mitrailleuse: an FT with an 8 mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun – about 2/5 of tanks ordered, about 3/5 of tanks produced 
  • FT 75 BS: a self propelled gun with a short barreled Blockhaus Schneider 75mm gun – at least 39 tanks were produced 
  • Char signal or TSF: a command tank with a radio. "TSF" stands for télégraphie sans fil ("wireless"). No armament, three-men crew, 300 ordered, at least 188 produced 
  • FT modifié 31: upgraded tanks with 7.5 mm Reibel machine gun. This modification started in 1931 on the 1580 chars mitrailleurs still in French stocks; all the metropolitan guntanks were (at least officially) scrapped to build utility vehicles on their chassis and the guns used to equip the R 35. This version was sometimes referred to as the "FT 31", though this was not the official name.

  • Type 79 Ko-Gata: Thirteen modified units imported by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1919, armed with either the 37 mm Puteaux SA18 cannon or machine guns; used in combat in the Manchurian Incident and subsequently for training

  • M1917 – US-built copy. 950 built, 374 of which were gun tanks and fifty of which were radio tanks. During World War II the Canadian Army purchased 236 redundant M1917s for training purposes. 
  • Russkiy Reno: the "Russian Renault", the first Soviet tank, produced at Krasnoye Sormovo. A close copy. 17 units were produced. Also known as "Tank M". This tank had a mixed armament in the turret: a 37mm cannon in the front and a machine gun on the right side of the tower.
  • Renault FT CWS: the Renault FT CWS or Zelazny ("mild steel") tanks were built in Poland for use as training vehicles only (Polish combat tanks were French manufactured). These tanks used spare French engines and components. The hulls and turrets were manufactured to French specifications in all other respects. Around 27 CWS FT tanks were built. CWS is the abbreviation for Centralne Warsztaty Samochodowe (translated as "Central Workshops for Motor vehicles" or "Central Truck Workshop"), a plant in Warsaw which performed maintenance and depot level repair.
  • Renault M26/27: a development of the FT with a different suspension and Kégresse rubber tracks; a number were used in Yugoslavia and five in Poland.
  • FIAT 3000 : an Italian derivation. Armed with cannons and MGs

  • T-18 : A Soviet derivation from FIAT 3000 with sprung suspension. 

  • Polish gas tank : A Polish modification built in the Wojskowy Instytut Gazowy ("Military Gas Institute") and tested on the Rembertów proving ground on 5 July 1926. Instead of a turret, the tank had twin gas cylinders. It was designed to create smoke screens, but could also be used for chemical attacks. Only one was produced. Also designed FT-17 z Fumatorami.
  • Renault FT AC: A plan to convert France's obsolete FTs in to Tank Destroyers. The tank never left the drawing board. It was designed to have a Canon de 25mm Anti-Tank gun.

  • Renault FT tank craneAn unknown number of converted tanks with machine guns and cannons. An "A" shaped jib is fitted in the front portion of the vehicle with limited load lifting capability. Dismountable device, which could be adapted in any available vehicle.

  • Renault FT tank dozer: In 1936, ten tanks were transformed into buldozers tanks, with a hydraulic blade in front of the hull, with two pivoting arms on the rear wheel axle. Two windows hinged in front of the blade allowed a better view of the driver. The tanks was turretless.


Renault  FT  french  light  tank
TypeLight tank
Place of origin                                            France
Weight7.2 tons
Length5.00 m
Width1.74 m
Height2.14 m
Crew2 (commander, driver)

Armor8 to 22 mm
Puteaux SA 1918 37 mm gun or 8 mm Hotchkiss machine gun
EngineRenault 4-cyl, 4.5 litre
35 HP
Transmission sliding gear, 4 speed forward, 1 reverse
Suspensioncoil and leaf springs, with bogies and rollers.
Fuel capacity 95 liters
60 km 
Speed7.5 km/h - 20 km/h

The FT buldozer tank:
      For my project, I redraw the blueprint of FT light tank:
FT dozer with trench tail

FT dozer without trench tail
      And colect some pics and data:

The inscription in the figure above:
Property of FeldbauAMT - Equipment n.18 - Lille
Feldbauamt was a Field Construction Bureau for the Luftwaffe.
there was an airstrip in Lille - France.
Thanks to my friend Dennis Loep, for the translation.

Building the kit:
      As I said before, I will use the amazing kit from MENG: the French FT 17 (TS 008) with interior.
MENG (TS 008) FT 17 Light tank
            First of all, I put my 3 view drawing in 1/35 scale. A scale blueprint facilitates (and much ...) the conversion and scratch work ...
testing the drawing size. the FT 17 is a Brazilian version of this amazing tank
(article of this little girl, soon...)

       I do not intend to build my tank with engine covers open . The engine is beautiful and very detailed, but the open covers remind me of a ladybug preparing to take off .... 
Tower to the Commander: cleared for takeoff !!!

     So I will not include the engine in my assembly. It may seem heretical, but I prefer it. The engine will be saved for future uses or projects.
       So I'll make two copies of the portion of the engine that runs through the engine firewall: One for the MENG kit and one for the PRM kit. Preparing the "master":
The front of engine being prepared to be reproduced...

The front engine in his base...

Making the form...
       For reproduction of this part, I will use a reversible hydrocolloid dental duplicator. It is a reusable material, excellent for fast and faithful reproductions. The material is thermo-activated and allows fine copies of small and delicate details. The only flaw is that it is extremely fragile.
The reproduction of the part...

Dental acrylic used as resin...

The new part!!!

The engine is fantastic, but I hate "open" kits...
Painting the interior...

      With the hulls ok, it's  suspension time. I'll build the MENG kit first, because the dozer is all in scratch... And I need the suspensions in the place to do that...
       The MENG kit comes with steel springs for sponsons and suspensions. Great intention, but I think that a thickness of steel wire is very thin. The kit springs looks fragile and does not match the actual tank.
The actual suspension spring... Notice the thickness of the spring wire.

Comparisom between MENG's spring with Panzerserra's

Sponson new spring

Suspension new spring...
IMHO, much better!!!

The dozer girl on your own feet for the first time !!!

The kit and the blueprint...
      Now, the true fun begins: scratch time of the dozer blade and its components !!!
Cutting the blade in plasticard of 2mm
The dimensions are in milimeters!

Cutting the main arms in Plastruct!!

Testing the blade and the arms...
      The blade is very curved, but I'm waiting for the plastic to settle. If necessary, heat it in hot water and reposition it with some ease ...

In position!!

Bird view...
       Preparing the lateral guides of the arms. As the sponsons have thickness differences in this region, making a compensating piece. The guides should be perfectly vertical.
The compensating piece, making with L shape Plastruct

The vertical guide in position. The overall shape
will be cutted in time...
Compare with the actual part in the insert

So good!!
Do not miss the MG ammunition drums on the inner left wall of the tank.
My girl will be armed with a rocking machine gun.
       Now, it's time to scratch the "lifting" arms of the blade:

"Lifting" arms of the blade done...

The pivot pins on the hull

And the lifting arms in position.
All parts are moveable, to permit the building...

Testing the arms with tracks. Fits ok!!

Internal reinforcements of the blade...

Making the pivot pins of the secondary lifting arms

Pivots done

The blade and arms in positions...

       Now, it's time to scratch the "castle" of the hydraulic piston blade lift. The "castle" stands on top of the lift arms
The castle under construction...


In position. Notice the movement of the blade...
In rest...

...and rising...


       And now, the scratch of the hydraulic piston. It is situated in the snout of the tank, between the legs of the driver. It passes through the driver's access doors and features a longitudinal movement to accompany the displacement of the castle.
The hydraulic piston in position.
Notice the blueprint...

It fits perfectly...

The hydraulic piston in internal view...

The hydraulic piston in the castle.
      Now, replacing the provisional pivot pins by permanent ones:

      Well...Let's scratch the hydraulic pump and reservoir oil for the blade. See the blueprint below:
The hydraulic parts and lines. scratch time!!

Pump: from my spare parts box
reservoir: scratch...

In place...

Hydraulic pump: AEC Matador spare part (transmission...)
Notice the cardan axle for power and hydraulic lines made with cooper wire

I'll remove the ammo drums.
I did not like this option. Lots of "imagination" ...
      Returning to the blade:
The inferior "lip" of blade.
A necessary reinforcement...

Skis supporting blade ...

And, finally, the vision flaps and accessories....

The chassis and the blade ready for painting...
   Vallejo white primer. Notice the left side of the chassis: the ammo drums gone. New details for the interior of the tank:

White primer

Red oxide primer for the blade...

       And a profile to guide the colors and markings. Based in MENG's drawing:

Tracks in position...

First steps of blade painting...
         Decal time, now !!!
FT 17 dozer - 4th Platoon - 1st Company
29th Battalion - France, May, 1940.

The dozer in place...

Almost done...

      And the french girl was ready: Renault FT 17 french light tank with dozer blade - 4th Platoon - 1st Company - 29th Battalion - France, May, 1940.
FT 17 french light tank with dozer blade
4th Platoon - 1st Company
29th Battalion - France, May, 1940.

FT 17 dozer - left side

FT 17 dozer - right side

FT 17 dozer with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

M10 dozer and FT 17 dozer
two allied girls engineers  with different sizes...

M10 and FT 17 dozers

Renault FT 17 french light tank with dozer blade.

Fin du projet !!
Nous vous remercions de l'attention !!!
See you soon, Tankers!!