Friday, August 28, 2009

RCW Equipment Series - The FT-17

Renault FT-17

An excellent light tank of the early stages of WWII (France, 1940), was also used in the Russian Civil War, and a number of other conflicts/theaters (Rif War 1925-27; Spanish Civil War 1936-39). The FT-17 originally came into service during the Great War, during 1917. Before the end of that conflict nearly 3,000 would see service.
This tank was used (evidently) by both sides (Red and White) during the civil war. Notably, the Bolshevik government had the Krasnoye Sormovo Factory reverse engineer a number of captured, burned-out FT-17s and produce the first soviet-built tank - a copy of the FT-17, named the "Freedom Fighter Comrade Lenin" (now housed at the Kubinka tank museum). The factory would go on to produce T-34s for the great patriotic war. A discussion of the technical details of the Russian Renault can be found at Skoblin's History Blog.The FT-17 was the first tank to appear in Russia during the Civil War. They arrived, in a shipment of 20 tanks, in the port of Odessa, in December of 1918, to support French and Greek troops fighting the Bolsheviks. In subsequent fighting, six of these initial 20 were lost to the Reds. From then on, the FT-17 would appear on both sides of the conflict. They continued to be supplied to allied troops fighting against the Reds. Most tanks supplied to the White generals were actually British tanks (Mark V Heavy, Mark A Medium, Mark B Medium). [See the excellent "Armored Units of the Russian Civil War" from Osprey Books, by D. Bullok and A. Deryabin for more details. A preview copy from Google Books is viewable here

Some very nice websites showing scale models of the FT-17 are here and here.

For wargaming, wonderful FT-17 models are made by MiniFigs and also QRF. I have the latter, and they were easy to assemble, and look good on the field of battle. I will try to take some pix next time they see action.


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