FT17 armament

Discussion in '1940' started by LesCM19, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. LesCM19

    LesCM19 "...lets rock!"

    Have come across conflicting info as to wether any of the 37mm versions were used in the defence of France or if, having 'sold off' or transferred the remainder to North Africa & elsewhere there were only the MG variants left for the France campaign?
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Well Wikipedia says that all FT-17 in 1940 were with MG:

    Renault FT-17 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    FT 17 tanks were also used in the WW2, among others in Poland, Finland, France and Kingdom of Yugoslavia, although they were completely obsolete by then. In 1940 the French army still had eight battalions equipped with 63 FT 17s each and three independent companies with ten each, for a total organic strength of 534, all with machine guns.

    But on forum.axishistory.com you can find very detailed topic about FT-17:

    Axis History Forum • View topic - Ask the detail of the French FT-17 tank.

    and there stays that:

    TOTAL : 1297 FT17 tanks were still in service : 1062 tanks in France and 235 in the colonies. From the 1062 FT17 tanks in France, 462 were in combat units on 10th May 1940.

    These tank battalions are sacrificed to delay the Germans like the 33e BCC with its 63 Renault FT17 tanks on the Meuse River : 39 FT17c with a 37mm SA18 gun and 24 FT17m (with a 8mm Mle1914 Hotchkiss MG) or FT31 (with a 7.5mm Mle1931 MAC MG). Only the 39 FT17c have a gun able to engage a Panzer I or a Panzer II but they have to be generally < 25m to have a chance to knock out a Panzer III or a Panzer IV. This 37mm SA18 is the same in the FCM36, Renault R35 and most of the Hotchkiss H35 and H39 tanks. Conscious of the suicidal mission, these crews nonetheless went into the battle and 55 out of 63 FT17 tanks are destroyed. 110 out of the 132 men of the battalion are KIA on 15th May.
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Without checking the book I'm sure I've seen pictures in Blitzkrieg in the West with the 37mm.

  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Photographs of them with the 3.7 in German service do crop up, even through to war's end, which tells some part of the story. It's slightly uncertain evidence as to whether they were used as vehicles against the Germans though, as many machines were mothballed or installed in French fortifications prewar.

    My Copy of ATB's 'Blitzkrieg in the West' is with a friend at the moment, but might well have something on French use/deployment.

    'Captured French Tanks Under the German Flag' by Regenberg & Schiebert has a few shots of 37mm FT17s captured by the Germans in France. Some of them certainly look like battlefield captures.
    (Same book says 1830 3.7 equipped vehicles were made.)
    Capture/use is perhaps further confirmed by 100 3.7 turrets/tanks supplied for use in Channel coast fortifications in April '41. (the 3.7 was often removed completely for fortification work though, and replaced with an observation/MG plate).
    In May '41 another 20 tanks with 3.7s were shipped to Crete for local defence.
    Seems certain the above supplies were booty from the 1940 fighting, but I don't have more on whether they were captured in action or from stores.

    Neil Short's 'Tank Turret Fortifications' has a fair few pictures of FT17/37 turrets/vehicles sunk into assorted fortifications in France.

    The excellent France 1940 website may well be worth a shufti if you haven't looked already. It certainly has reference to FT17s in given units, but I haven't had a proper look to see if they specify which types anywhere.
    French Army Order of Battle, 10 May 1940


    Edit - sorry, cross-posted with the above 2 responses.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

  6. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Picture of French FT-17 with 37 mm gun from 29e BCC, 1940

  7. LesCM19

    LesCM19 "...lets rock!"

    Thanks, people, especially for the links & photos. Sol, I knew I had seen that picture & others somewhere before hence my chagrin at not being able to lob billiard balls at oncoming Panzers with them.
    Below is a shot you all have probably seen of one in preservation & also my attempts at painting the 6mm Navwar version. And yes I am not sure about the camo scheme for WW2 but I couldn't resist & it does look very pretty anyway.

    Attached Files:

  8. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Certainly some of the FT17s in North Africa DID have the 37mm gun; CMV did an article three years ago about the two encounters between colonial FT17s and Patton's M3 Stuart recce tanks...and the French watching their low-velocity old solid shot just bouncing off the Stuart's two inches of armour!...

    ...while the Americans merrily turned THEM into collanders :p
  9. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    And yes I am not sure about the camo scheme for WW2

    By the last three weeks of the campaign the French were attempting to ship even more FT17s out of the General Reserve to frontline units in an attempt to make up for combat losses. A LOT of the FT17s that had been put into Reserve years before were simply rusted-out hulks by then, and couldn't be got moving :mellow: So of the ones that were - I would assume a considerable part of their paint scheme was rust "coloured" :lol:

    As for their late-war use - IIRC weren't some FT17s used by the Germans in clearing out the Maquis revolt in central France in June 1944?
  10. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    ... And yes I am not sure about the camo scheme for WW2 ...

    Neither do I know what was camo scheme in France in 1940. But for me your model look really beautiful. Congrets

    Certainly some of the FT17s in North Africa DID have the 37mm gun

    FT-17 in Africa

    French Types



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