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M1917 Renault FT-17 6 Ton Special Tractor

The US accepted an order to build 1,200 Renault FT-17 light tanks. The American-built 6 -ton M1917 light tank was a copy of the French Renault. It had a maximum speed of 5.5 miles per hour and could travel 30 miles on its 30-gallon fuel capacity. The French Renault light tank and the British Mark VIII heavy tank used by the AEF Tank Corps and by the Experimental Mechanized Force contained severe technical limitations. With maximum speeds of less than 6 mph, these tanks were hardly able to keep up with the infantry when crossing a shell-holed battlefield. When separated from the infantry, the tanks were vulnerable to energy heavy weapons and could not communicate with supporting artillery. These technical limitations, as well as numerous mechanical problems, justifiably confined the World War I tank to an infantry support role.

Before tanks were a part of the Army, this tank helped the U.S. in many campaigns in Europe during the war. On loan from the French government, Gen. George Patton, then a captain serving under Gen. John Pershing, was one of the first to learn how to operate this type of tank.

Only about 5,000 of these tanks were made and the design and capabilities proved invaluable to many different countries in Europe. Their design boasted the first tank with a full traverse 360-degree rotating turret. It is a light vehicle, which weighs approximately 7,000 pounds. A two-man crew - a driver and a gunner, operate the vehicle. The modern configuration of the tank is still used in tanks today; the driver sits in the front and the engine is in the rear.

There are only four or five of these tanks left in existence. The Fort George G. Meade Museum is known for its extensive collection of World War I exhibits and artifacts. This is partly because the installation was founded as Camp Meade in 1917 during the height of the "war to end all wars." The museum's prized possession is a World War I Renault FT-17 battle tank nicknamed the "Five of Hearts." The tank was brought back from the war, restored completely and now sits in a place of honor inside the museum.

Remnants of other countries lie ruin covering the Afghanistan landscape. Many countries have passed through this land in their efforts of domination, each leaving something behind. Many of the items are being used, while most litter the sides of the road and decorate various junkyards. There is one particular item of interest for the United States. It is a French Renault FT/17 tank, found in December 2002 by armor officer Maj. Robert Redding. Now that the tanks were found, they have to get to the states. The first step was getting permission from Afghanistan. Redding went to Afghanistan's Deputy Minister of Defense General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum was also the commander of northern Afghanistan. He was more than willing. He considered this as a gift for what the US has done for this country. Dostum allowed one of the two tanks to be taken out of Afghanistan. With the help of Delbarre and historians from the 326th Military History Detachment, a reserve unit from Columbus, Ohio, the best tank was chosen.




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