Presentation of a wooden mock-up of the Renault FT 17 tank

At the suggestion of General Estienne, who was in charge of special artillery for the French army, Louis Renault presented a wooden mock-up of the FT 17 tank to the Assault Artillery Advisory Committee run by General Mourret.

The general declared that the tank was too light and the centre of gravity too far to the rear. He thought it needed more work.

Rodolphe Ernst-Metzmaier, the engineer who designed the FT tank, in front of a full-scale model

The next day, a second lieutenant who did not hold Estienne in great esteem, wrote, “We saw a Renault mock-up in Billancourt. It’s just a charming Christmas toy. The driver and the gunner have absolutely no room to move. It’s a very elegant design, but I don’t see why all this metal is needed for just one machine gun which will probably be useless. I must say I have doubts about the common sense of General Estienne and his satellites. I have no faith in them.”

Renault explained that the weight and dimensions of his tank had been reduced so that a large number could be produced in a very short time.

For further information...

Book : Gilbert Hatry, Renault, « Usine de guerre », 1914/1918, Lafourcade, 1978

Source: Renault Histoire, all rights reserved.