M1917 Light Tank

The M1917 Light Tank was the first official tank for the US Army.

It was based on the French FT-17 Renault tank that the First Division used in September of 1918 at St. Mihiel. This American version never saw combat because of its late arrival in Europe. The basic design of the Renault, positioning the engine in the rear with the driver forward and a 360-degree moveable turret with armament, would be used for all future US tanks.

The tank was designed to accompany infantry units as they crossed “No Man’s Land.” The M1917 destroyed machine gun nests and barbed wire obstacles as infantrymen followed, taking advantage of newly opened breaches in enemy lines. It could cross a seven-foot trench and climb a three-foot vertical wall.

The M1917 continued as the standard US Army light tank until it was phased out in 1931.

Technical Data

Weight: 7.25 Tons
Crew: 2 – Commander/Gunner and Driver
Armament: Turret: 37mm main gun or .30-caliber machine gun
Armor Width: .25”-.60”
Engine: Buda HU Modified Liquid Cooled 4 Cylinder Inline Piston 42 hp
Speed: 5.5 mph
Number Produced: 952