The Renault FT (often known as the FT-17) was the first tank to have its armament inside a fully rotating turret.
The FT was a radically different design to previous British and French tanks. Rather than a large, heavy vehicle, the concept behind it was for a small and light tank that would be more manoeuvrable, harder to hit and could be fielded in large numbers.
The tank was built by the French car company Renault. It has many features that you can still see on modern tanks; a fully rotating turret, the driver at the front and the engine and gearbox at the back. Thousands of these tanks were ordered, but most were not finished until after the war and they ended up being exported all over the world.
The Tank Museum’s Renault FT
This Renault is one of the prototypes built in 1917. It was given to the Imperial War Museum after the war, then came to the Tank Museum in 1965. The tail skid turned up about 20 years later, having been discovered in a store at IWM Duxford. The NON PROTEGE plate on the front indicates that the hull is unarmoured, fabricated from mild steel; 150 of these were produced and equipped with a cast turret mounting an 8mm Hotchkiss machine-gun, they were used for training.