The Soviet, American, and German tank trees begin with tanks from the interwar years. The French tank tree has as its Tier I a venerable tank that was a true pioneer, back from the days when no one was all that sure of what a tank was and long before successful tank doctrines were properly thought through. The name of this tank is the RenaultFT, also known as the FT-17.
The wikipaedia article is actually really interesting. From it one learns that over three thousand of these vehicles were produced. They fought bravely in the Great War, there were many in the French Army at the start of World War 2, and some were even used by the Germans in the defence of Paris in 1944 (though as the article dryly notes, by then they were hopelessly out of date). One also learns this was the first tank to have that most iconic of tank characteristics – a fully rotating turret.
I have played two battles in the RenaultFT, and that has provided me with more than enough experience to elite it. It is not something that takes long in the very early tiers 🙂 . I did train the two crew to be 75% using credits, and fitted the tank out using removable equipment, which does give me an advantage over true new players. Though to be fair, experience is a greater advantage. I really liked me two games though, and it was very tempting to keep ahold of this tank. I will not, of course, but I can very easily see me occasionally reacquiring it and spending a few credits on the 75% crew just to have some fun.
A quick run down of the tank: it is a Tier I light tank, which means it is thinly armoured, fairly slow, with a weak gun. Fortunately that describes everything you will be meeting on the battlefield too, pretty much. The tank does have some strong sports though – it is small. This makes it very effective at hiding in bushes and in undulations in the ground. The turret is quite high up on the tank, meaning it is very possible to leave only a relatively small target for the enemy. The turret is also relatively forward, making peek-a-boo games around a corner somewhat easier when facing the Leichttraktor or T1 Cunningham.
One can, with a bit of helpful angling of armour, survive a few shells. Not many – but fortunately one’s opponents do not do all that much damage. Neither does the RenaultFT of course, so it is important to quickly decide whether to stick it out or retreat. Best tactic I had in these two matches was to position myself in a bush at the top of the slope. The bush successfully hid me until I was ready to fire, and if I attracted attention i could reverse quickly down the slope until the enemies got closer, shoot them again and then retreat further down the slope.
I am selling it now and acquiring the RenaultFT AC – the first French tank destroyer. I leave this tank though with fond memories of two fun matches.