History of the French FT-17 Light Tank
In September 1916, when World War I was in full swing, the British introduced the first tank to the battle field, launching a new era of mechanized warfare. France had developed a few trials but these vehicles proved very early on to be unsatisfactory. Colonel Jean Batiste Eugene Estienne, who is known as the father of French tanks, proposed to develop a light tank with good passing ability. The tank could also be used by infantry troops as a support vehicle. After a difficult start, battling the French Government and the Renault Company, Estienne finally received the approval for testing. The first prototype was unveiled in January 1917. After testing it was designated “Type M.17.M FT”, better known as FT-17. Many modifications in turret and armament followed and finally the FT-17 received its battle field baptism on May 31st 1918 in Retz. A US tank unit, led by George S. Patton first used the FT-17’s in the battle of Saint Mihiel between 12 and 16 September 1918. Later in October 1918, the US Army received its first 6-ton M-1917 light tank, the first US build tank and copy of the FT-17.
By the outbreak of WWII, 500 FT-17 tanks were still available to French frontline units. After the capitulation of France, the Germans captured plenty of tanks and some were modified for their specific role. Most were used for airfield defense or patrol in occupied territory. Today a few still exist in museums all over the world.
Meng’s release of the FT-17 once again raises the bar in excellence. The way the company executes its kits is nothing less than extravagant. The rendition of the plastic, the composition of the instruction sheet and the sheer quality overall make Meng stand its own. The box contains 9 sprues with plastic parts, including separate tracks; one small decal sheet and one fret with photo etch parts. It also comes with some hardware (coils and bolts for suspension).
Fit is absolutely flawless. The kit comes in a beige tan plastic and features fully detailed driver’s compartment, extremely extensive suspension detail, un-ditching tail, separate tracks, separate open driver hatches, detailed gun and Hotchkiss gun assembly, supplemental tripod for Hotchkiss gun and complete diorama base for display. The latter is also very detailed and depicts a scene from trench warfare.
Instruction sheet is very well rendered with 2 extra pages of history about the FT-17. It also includes two full color pages for references. Decal sheet provides the modeler three choices; 2nd Platoon, 1st Company, 344th Tank Brigade, US Army, Verdun,Oct.1918 and Tank Unit, Northeastern frontier, National Revolutionary Army, China 1929.
Needless to say if you are into WWI modeling, this kit is a must have and an absolute asset to your collection. Meng did an outstanding job in providing once more a job well done! The Meng Ft-17 French Light Tank is available for purchase now in our store.