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Post Info TOPIC: Renault FTs in USA, or not.


Legend

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Renault FTs in USA, or not.
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It has long been accepted that 109 or so FTs were taken to the USA after the war. In the past, I've long been suspicious of that claim, on the grounds that production of the M1917, with its improvements over the FT, was beginning to take off, so there was no need for used and inferior FTs. Steve Zaloga told me the figure was more or less correct, and that the USA's attitude was that they had paid for the FTs, so they were taking them back home. "Parsimonious" was the excellent word he used.

However, Pascal Danjou's new book says the following:

"The 231 (FTs) delivered to the Americans formed a special category becaues they were all intended for combat on French battlefields. When the war ended, these armoured vehicles remained on French territory because by then American industry was producing it own tanks, including the Six Ton tank (sic) . . . Transporting the French-produced FTs to America, at considerable cost, did not therefore make sense." (p.7)

"The French Army would deliver 231 FT tanks to the Expeditionary Force which was to fight on French soil. None of these tanks would be transported to the United States, as in the interim the Americans had begun its (sic) tank production." (p.43)

And yet there are some genuine FTs in the US.

So who's right? What's the real story?



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Captain

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Sorry, but Danjou is simply wrong. I finally found the main collection of Ordnance documents dealing with US tanks in the WWI period at NARA, and have been going through it slowly. Last week, I found one of the reports on the Six-Ton Tank program (undated, but roughly 1920) which indicated that the current holdings of Six-Ton Tanks in the US Army were 1,050 US manufactured Six Ton Tanks (526 with MG, 374 with 37mm, 50 radio tanks) and 213 "French built Six Ton Tanks" (92 with MG and 121 with 37mm guns). I have also been going through some of the period photos and attached here is one showing a bunch of Renault FT on a dock in the US after their delivery from France on April 7, 1919.

I have also found documents about a program to re-equip the French built tanks with US machine guns, as well as photos of Renault FT in the US.

I suspect that the reason there is so little information on the Renault FT in the US Army is that they went almost immediately into storage. I have a variety of reports on US Army operational tank strength in the early 1920s, and the total number of deployed tanks was usually around 500 which could be accommodated using the newly built Six-Ton Tanks. There are some documents at NARA on the whole issue of tanks in storage, so I'll have to take a look through those some time. Renault shipment.jpg



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Legend

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Wow. As Mr Norman Voles of Gravesend said, "This is where my claim falls to the ground."

That rather takes the shine off M. Danjou's book.

But at least it's great news that the documentation has come to light. I hope you'll share what turns up.



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MLW


Lieutenant-Colonel

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Very nice photograph. Does the caption or accompanying document state which port that is?

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Regards, Marc

Digital History Archive



Captain

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Sadly, no identification of the port. The photo was taken by Underwood & Underwood, but they had offices all over the US.



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General

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Bonsoir James and Steve,

There is no ace, painted on the turrets.

So, it was probably some FT from the the third US tank Battalion, given to the American Army in November 1918.

72 Renault (36 FT with 37 mm and 36 FT with 8 mm and no FT TSF) was sent in Langres between 11 and 15 November 1918.

The American Army bought also 56 "remorques pour transport de tank", sent to the 302 Tank Center in Langres.

It's well written " achat de remorques pour transport de tanks" in the document (from 1st November 1918).

It was for the first and second american tank battalion.

237 Renault FT (gun and machine gun) was given to the American Army.

The 14 "FT instruction" (en acier doux) was sent back to the French Army.

Bonne soirée - Michel

 

 



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Corporal

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they appear to be load on to barges. so they may not be at their final port



-- Edited by Red truck on Monday 24th of July 2017 12:00:22 AM

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General

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Two american Six Tons model 1917, mixed with these FT.

First one on left and the other in the middle (right side of the tank)



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