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Post Info TOPIC: First American tanks


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First American tanks
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While going through my Signal Corps photos of the St. Chamond, I found two photos of the first US tanks at the Langres tank center. According to a May 1918 AEF report, the tank numbers were 159, 271, 288, 238, 359, 365, 373, 375, 378, and 382. Presumably, these are the Renault numbers painted on the left hull side over the tracks, not the French army matricule painted on the suspension side plate. This is the only shot I know of one of the classic "char d'instruction" with the mild steel turret, matricule 66040 (maybe Renault # 159?)

R1.jpg

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Here's another of the Langres training tanks, this time No. 373; matricule 66316

Renault FT b

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General

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Bonjour Steve,

The orders, for these first training "mild steel" tanks, were given in February 1918 (note n° 520/AS Ministère de la Guerre/Direction de l'Artillerie/Sous-Direction de l'Artillerie d'Assaut du 28 Février 1918.
It was five Renault FT with gun and Five with machine-gun arived in Langres cnetral station Mars 25th, 1918.

The next 15 Renault arrived in Langres on June 15th, 1918. I don't know if it is these tanks were also training tanking (probably yes).
(note n° 2422/AS/Direction de l'Artillerie/Sous-Direction de l'Artillerie d'Assaut du 15 Juin 1918).

For French Renault FT the number on the suspension side plate were given by the "Service des Matériels Automobiles" in Chalais-Meudon depot. It was a control center for tanks coming from factories.

With this number it is possible to know the factory.
                          - Renault n° 66xxx - 67xxx - 68xxx
                          - Schneider/Somua n° 69xxx
                          - Delaunay-Belleville n° 70xxx
                          - Berliet n° 73xxx

This number is a part of the factory number and, for exemple, the Renault FT n° 0001 for Renault is the 66001 et the number 2000, the number 68000.

All the training models in mild steel were built by Renault.
                           - Renault n° 0001 à 2000.
                           - Schneider/Somua n° 3001 à 3601
                           - Delaunay-Belleville n° 4001 à 4281
                           - Berliet n° 2001 à 2801

Renault FT n° 66316 is the 316th tank coming for Renault factory.
Renault FT n° 67316 is the 1316th tank coming for Renault factory.
Renault FT n° 68316 is the 2316th tank coming for Renault factory.

Number 373 is an American tactical number. On the same place, on some French Renault, is also possible to see an other matricule number with 4 numbers or 1 letter and 3 numbers. It's probably the chassis factory's number. For instance, it's not very clear for this kind of matricule number. . . .

I only knew the first photo, and I have, for instance, not found document given all the French numbers from Renault FT given to US Tank Corps - Michel



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Michel:
I have never found a complete list of the Renault in the AEF. I found scattered numbers in the unit files many years ago. One of the few lists was described as "the second batch of FT tanks shipped to the US Army in August 1918. They are all in the 67400 series (M= MG, c=cannon)
67406m, 23m, 28m, 29m, 31m, 32m, 34m, 36m, 37m, 38m, 39m, 41m, 48c, 49m, 50m, 55m, 56m, 58c, 60c, 64c, 65c.

Here a Frenct Renault of AS 349 or 350, 17 BCL, 506 Regt. on 26 Sep 1918 at Vadeliencourt railroad station. This is part of a larger photo of a train of French Renault FT. It has the style of marking you mentioned


Ren FT X2

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Here's another example of the "fancy" style number on the hull side and the matricule on the suspension side. Except this isn't an AEF tank.

FT X1

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Bonsoir Steve,

The name is not "Vadeliencourt" but "Vadelaincourt". This village is South of Blercourt.

This Renault Unit is the 17th BCL (AS 349 - AS 350 - AS 351) from 506° RAS.
This Battalion was a reinforcement given to 505° RAS.
The HQ of 505° RAS was in Blercourt.

This photo is interesting for the 4 tank's sleighs, on the flatbed, just rear the tank. I have not found the number of sleighs were given by tank's unit.

The date of this photo is not good ! It was on September 25th (not 26). The train was only in stand-by in Vandelaincourt station. During the night (25-26 September) the tanks were getting off in Dombasle-en-Argonne station. The rear base of this Battalion was north of Dombasle-en-Argonne, in Hesse forest.

For the first photo, it's perhaps in Cercottes (near Orléans) but I am not sure.
There is also a St Chamond's photo done on the same place.

Michel


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Excellent photos and info!

As a former tanker, I find the photo with the soldier oiling the track to be interesting. It would make a neat addition to a diorama of an FT.

Regards All!

Ron

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Poniatowski


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Bonsoir,

The Renault FT n° 73259 on train at Vadelaincourt was a tank from AS 350. It was a reserve tank from the 2nd Coy. ("As de treffle" in a square).
This tank was destroyed on October 4th near Cierges ( 49°18'43"N and 5°4'56"E - 1,7 km North-Aest from Gesnes.

AS 350 Coy was fighting with 32° US ID (125° IR from 64° Brigade).
Three others tanks were destroyed on the same point by antitank gun (73248 - 73220 - 73246).

- For Ron,

A member of Poniatowski family was fighting in the Artillerie d'Assaut. It was Charles Casimir Poniatowski. Canonnier de 2°Cl from Groupe AS 39 in training at Cercottes.
He go to Fontaibleau Artillery school on July 20th, 1917 (Cours des Elèves-Aspirant)

At the end of the war (Summer 1919) he was in Poland with the 1th Poland Tank Regiment.

Michel

-- Edited by Tanker on Monday 5th of October 2009 05:41:17 PM

-- Edited by Tanker on Monday 5th of October 2009 05:42:20 PM

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Michel,

Thanks for the information! I wish I could trace my family history past the US, but haven't been too successful yet. However, it's good to know 'tanking' goes pretty far back with the family name!

Ron

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Poniatowski


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Michel:
No markings, but a nice photo from the Signal Corps series identified in the caption as Chaudon, 20 July 1918

Renault FT Chaudon

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Here's another French Renault, identified in the caption as 337th Co, 13th Battalion, 505e Regt, Rampont, Meuse, 10 Oct 18

FT Rampont

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Bonjour Steve,

The first photo, near Chaudun, in July 1918 is perhaps :
           - a tank from 502° RAS destroyed in June 1918 during AS 305 fights 
             with the 4° RTM (51° French DI)
           - a tank from 501° RAS destroyed in July 1918.
It's difficult without markings.

I have a problem with the second one. (Always for Signal caption !).
If date, sector and unit are good, I am not sure that the village is Rampont.

Rampont is South of Blercourt, and the 505° Regiment was, from October 7 to 10, North of "Bois de Fays" (Just South of Jouy-en-Argonne).

On October 10th :
  - the 13th Battalion took train at Dombasle-en-Argonne to go back to Champlieu. 
  - the 14th Battalion was waiting its trains in Dombasle-en-Argonne.
  - The last Battalion (15th) took train on October 12 th.

All Regiment is arrived in Champlieu for October 13th, 1918.

For me this photo was probably done, North of "Bois de Fays", in Front of Jouy-en-Argonne.
However, it's not impossible that one (or some tanks) were sent near Rampont for a meeting to American troops between October 7th and 10th.

This kind of village never change in France ! I probably found the answer with a little futur travel in this two villages . . . .

Michel

P.S. Tank number is 73xxx (perhaps 73826).






-- Edited by Tanker on Tuesday 6th of October 2009 04:57:56 PM

-- Edited by Tanker on Tuesday 6th of October 2009 04:59:10 PM

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Michel:
The Signal Corps photographs are notoriously poor for proper spelling of locations (also the World War II photos). Here's one of several more from the 10 Oct 18 series. This one identifies the location as Montfaucon, Rampont with 337 Co, 13 Bn, 505 Regt.

Another FT

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Here's another 10 Oct 18 photo from the same series, also ID as 337 Co, 13 Bn, 505 Regt. at Montfaucon, Rampont

Yet another FT

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Another one from the 10 Oct 18 series, this time a nice image of a char signal/TSF

Renault TSF

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Bonjour Steve,

For the first photo; it is Rampont.
You can found an other view of the same village, in this very good French postcards website.

http://images-00.delcampe-static.net/img_large/auction/000/053/550/155_001.jpg

There is many very good old French postcards on Delcampe's website.

In 17 th BCL JMO it is explained that some tanks were in waiting position in the Artillery supply depot near Vadelaincourt station.
It's probably for this reason that tank's photos were done in these villages in October. Rampont is not far away from Vadelincourt.

The second photo is done in the same valley. It's possible to see some wooden "baraques Adrian" in the back. All sector was full of military wooden Barracks.

I don't known unit's number for the Renault TSF.

Michel

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Michel:
As always, your comments are most informative.

Getting back to the subject of transport skids, here's an OK (not great) shot of an American Renault FT towing a skid. Unfortunately, no caption on the copy I found.

US FT

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Another French Renault FT, identified as being in St. Mihiel, 5 October 1918.

St Mihiel

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Some more French Renault FT identified as being Juvigny, 29 August 1918 supporting US 32nd Infantry.

Juvigny

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Steve,
Thank you SO much for posting these! I have been able to identify a few images in my collection from the specifics you have posted here. It is very much appreciated.

John A-G

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Bonsoir Steve,

The French Renault FT used by American Army during St Mihiel's attack was also from 505th RAS.
I don't explain this tank in this sector on October. Perhaps a repaired tank from these fights in St Mihiel, going back its unit.

On Juvigny, with 32° US infantry Division, 2 tanks Coys, coming from 5th BCL (502th RAS), were used. It was :
- AS 313 from Cne Billy, for 126th US Infantry Regiment (Col. Westnedge)
- AS 315 from Cne de Boyne, for 125th US Infantry Regiment (Lt Col Heckel)

On August 28th, 1918, these 2 tanks Coys was far aways from their fighting zone :
        - AS 313, North of Ouilly (in the valley going to the ferme La Forêt).
        - AS 315, North of Ouilly (400 m South of the the farm).

It was about 8 km from the front line. The attack on Juvigny begun at 5 h 25. 
The tank attack , on Juvigny plain, was hidden by smoke shells.

This photo was probably done after the attack in the valley south of Juvigny.

It was a very hard fight for these two units :
              - 9 Renault FT destroyed for AS 313 (4 all around destroyed)
              - 6 Renault FT destroyed for AS 315 (2 all around destroyed)
The Battalion lost 45 men (Killed, wounded and MIA)

It was also the first attack with tanks for this US Division. The only instruction on tanks, done by the Division, was a conference by a French tank's Officer from 502th RAS, done to some 32th Division's Officers on 28 th evening . . . .

Michel



-- Edited by Tanker on Thursday 8th of October 2009 06:13:03 PM

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On the American Renault, the number under the turret (2230), is probably the original French chassis number and not the american tactical number, who is only (I believe) a three figures number.

About photo in Saint-Mihiel. This town was already a big town with sidewalks.
There is no sidewalks on this photo. Perhaps a suburban part of the town or an old district.
Ther is a grass slope on right. Perhaps an other village . . . . .

The second Renault from Juvigny wear an ace in the triangle. It's the third Coy of th Battalion : AS 315. And it's impossible to read the name on its turret.

-- Edited by Tanker on Thursday 8th of October 2009 07:58:38 PM

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Hi very interesting thread with some great pics, one question though is that a fake gun in the Renault FT towing the sled.....

Cheersconfuse

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Bonjour,

Yes, it's probably not an Hotchkiss machine-gun.

In August 1918, some of the Renault FT, given by the French Army, were delivered without machine-gun.
It's, perhaps, a fake wooden machine-gun . . . done until better !

I don't known if this tank is one the ten training tank (in mild steel) given in March 1918. (5 Renault FT gun and 5 Renault FT machine-gun). If the French Army don't given quickly the missing machine-guns for a lot of war tanks, the Tank Corps , perhaps used the ones, coming from training tanks.

So, this tank is perhaps :
                      - a training tank with a fake machine gun, 
                      - a war tank with a fake machine gun,
                      - a war tank with an undknown model of machine gun  . . . . 

                      - a falsify photo . . . . . ?

There is also something in front of the cupola that I don't identified.
Interesting photo with a lot of questions !

Michel

-- Edited by Tanker on Friday 9th of October 2009 02:06:52 PM

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You guys have sharp eyes! Now that you mention it, the photograph does look 'doctored'. The outline of the tank itself looks a lot like it was cut and pasted either in photoshop or by a skilled dark-room technician... it doesn't take any skill to cut and paste in photoshop! My students and I do it all the time in class for projects, posters and such LOL.

Very interesting indeed and I agree, great pictures!

Ron

-- Edited by Poniatowski on Saturday 10th of October 2009 01:57:56 PM

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Poniatowski


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A bit more... to me it looks like the background doesn't go with the foreground, but the wooden weapon does.

Somebody with a lot of talent could've masked the tank / ground and 'dodged' the clouds in.

Again, interesting photo.

Ron

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Hello Gentlemen,

I am studying at this moment the final outcome of the Renault FT light tanks that were issued in 1918, by the French Ministère de l'Armement, to the US Tank Corps, AEF.

In another discussion (Mystery American Renault), James H. wrote : " ...The Americans took over 200 Renaults to the USA after the War... "

Is this figure of 200 an exact one, or a rounded-off one ?

In my records, I list a total of 231 FT tanks handed over by France to the United States, including the first among them, sent across the Atlantic in October 1917, for industrial purpose (preparing production in the USA).

Any idea of the final fate of the 30 or so (231 - 1 - 200) remaining AEF-service Renault FTs ?

- destroyed or too badly damaged in combat ?

- scrapped before the return of the US forces home ?

- sold, for further use by any European power ?

- given back to France ? This is actually the tricky point to me.

Any detailed information will be highly appreciated.

With thanks in advance.

François



-- Edited by françois vauvillier on Friday 4th of November 2011 08:42:57 AM

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According to Michel's fine research, this FT, number 73345, was made by Berliet. Am curious as to any details about its fate. From these snapshots, it doesn't appear to be too favorable!
John



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Colonel

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This tank has the number 919 and immatricule number 66160 (Renault).



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This is a photo of 66040 (char d'instruction tank?) taken in the US at Camp Colt, ca. June 17, 1918, and [mis-]identifed as "D. Eisenhower, commander of the camp, and Lieut. Owes, in charge of tanks, on one of  the camp tanks." 

165-WW-313A-074a.jpg165-WW-313A-074b.jpg165-WW-313A-074c.jpg165-WW-313A-074d.jpg



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Another view of 66040 at Camp Colt, June 1918

165-WW-313A-075a.jpg165-WW-313A-075b.jpg165-WW-313A-075c.jpg



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Another view of 66040 [mis-]dentified as an "American built tank ready to start drilling." 

What I found most interesting--through over-enhancing the light information in the scan--the number "66040" appears to have been painted on the nose of the FT as well. 

165-WW-313A-076a.jpg165-WW-313A-076b.jpg

 

 



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