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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


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

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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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Field Marshal

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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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Field Marshal

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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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All,

Sorry to dredge up an old topic, but I have been catching up on previous posts that I had missed and have a bit to add about this one discussing Renault FT tanks that came to the USA after WWI.

 

There is an interesting photo in the Library of Congress:

REnault FT tanks in the USA

This is the link to the LOC website where you can download an even higher resolution TIF version of this image:

https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016891799/

 
These appear to be Renault tanks - not M1917s.  The photo is believed to date from 1922.
 
If you download the high resolution "TIF" files you can zoom in and read "C 331 US"  on the tail of 2 out of the 3 machines whose tails are visible.  This would appear to correspond to the 331st Light Tank Battalion of the US Army Tank Corps in France.  The 331st was one of three US light tank battalions to see combat, participating in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in November 1918. 

With regards to the location, Harris & Ewing, the photography studio credited for the photo, worked in Washington DC and Baltimore, Maryland. 

It is my GUESS that this photo was likely taken at Camp Holabird, Baltimore, Maryland.  It seems like a logical place for them to have ended up, and there are other early 1920s photos of M1917 and Liberty tanks being displayed there.  This was the US Army's first motor transport training center and was the location where mechanized units shipping out as part of the American Expeditionary Force received their vehicles.  The former fort is now an industrial park and city park.  These days there are no signs of any tanks in Google Maps aerial photos, but who knows what they may have pushed into the creek that runs through the site over the years...

It is likely that they were simply scrapped.  This may have happened in the 1920s or 30s, but in 1942 there was a concentrated effort to clear out the obsolete WWI tanks in Maryland.  Here is a 1942 photo:

tspa_0019369f.jpg

Is see several M1917s and cut up bits that seem to be from a Mark ? tank.  Can you Identify any specific types of tanks? Also, does anyone know what actually happened to the Renault FTs? 

 

United Iron & Metal still exists in Baltimore Maryland.  A recent aerial view shows their yard to be rather clean and small though,so I'd imagine the tank bits are long gone.  Of course they might have photos or even the odd souvenir turret serving as a doorstop. 

Also, if anyone lives in the area, that adjoining creek bank might be an interesting place to take a nature hike...

 

MarkV

 



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Legend

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I wish I could borrow somebody's time machine and rescue some of these vehicles. I promise to give the time machine back before I've even borrowed it.



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MLW


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That is a bad neighborhood and in Baltimore that is saying something.

Also, I will add, that the LOC photo of the FTs looks like Fort George G. Meade.



-- Edited by MLW on Monday 18th of January 2021 09:09:55 PM

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Colonel

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I believe the Canadians had FTs as a training tank at the start of WW2, did these come from the US, Were they FTs or the Six ton model.

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Legend

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They did come from the USA, and I am 99.9% certain they were M1917 not FT. There is one in Base Borden, and another in the War Museum.

Here's a wrongly captioned picture to prove it: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/second-world-war/faces-second-war/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=1321



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