Sunday 13 October 2013

Russian Renault

When the Russian Civil War broke out, Western superpowers had no desire to see a Communist state rise to power. As a result, the White Army was supplied with all of the newest weapons and vehicles left over from the First World War, including tanks. As the monarchists were defeated and interventionist forces driven out, a number of French and British tanks were captured. The value of an armoured vehicle was very clear, especially when combating the problem with bandits in various regions of the young Soviet Union, but the industry lacked experience to produce a brand new tank design. Captured British tanks were sent into service as is, but the French Renault FT-17s had a different fate. They were taken apart, examined, and modernized, giving birth to the first Soviet tank, nicknamed "Russian Renault".

"Short Appendix to the Report on the Manufacturing of the First Soviet Tank sent to V.I. Lenin

In the summer of 1919, two small Renault tanks were captured from the Whites. One of these was delivered to Sormovo for repairs.
In the fall of 1919, it was decided to produce 15 of these tanks, with the workload spread out as follows:
  • Izhor - armour
  • AMO - engine
  • Sormovo - controls
Blueprints for the chassis were developed by Sormovo, and blueprints for the engine by AMO, by January 1st, 1920.
Begin manufacturing in February of 1920.
Armour delivered to Sormovo in June.
Engine delivered to Sormovo in July.
The first tank was assembled in August of 1920.
Initial trials showed many defects and deficiencies in the design and manufacturing process. It took two months to correct them, September and October.
In November, the tank completed full trials.
Completion of the first tank is scheduled for December 15th.
Assembly of 4 tanks per month is planned, with the order being completed by March of 1920. 
The 15 tanks are to be constructed from October 1919 to March 1920. The time period will be spent as follows:
  • Preparation: 5 months
  • Production: 10 months
  • Correction and re-production: 3 months
  • Total: 18 months
On November 21st, it was established that the tank met all requirements and was a reliable combat unit.

Tank characteristics:
  • Combat mass: 7 tons
  • Dimensions (meters):
    • length (with tail): 4
    • width: 1.75
    • height: 2.25
  • Engine: 4 cylinder, 34 hp
  • Speed: 8.5 kph
  • Armament: one 37 mm Hotchkiss gun
  • Ammunition capacity: approximately 250 rounds
  • Crew: two 
Appendix to the technical documentation after vehicle trials
  • Engine: AMO, "Fiat" type
  • Power: 33.5-34.2 hp
  • Maximum speed: 7.5-7.7 kph
  • Gasoline capacity: 90 liters
  • Range: 60 km
  • Armour:
    • Vertical: 18 mm
    • Horizontal: 8 mm
  • Traversable obstacles:
    • Wall height: 600 mm
    • Trench width: 2000 mm
    • Water depth: 700 mm
    • Elevation angle: 41-44 degrees
The "Red Sormovo" factory built 15 vehicles, and gave each a name.
  1. Freedom fighter comrade Lenin
  2. Paris Commune
  3. Karl Marx
  4. Lev Trotskiy
  5. Lieutenant Schmidt
  6. Karl Liebknecht
  7. Red Fighter
  8. Red Star
  9. Proletariat
  10. Free Russia
  11. Black Seaman
  12. (without armament) Ilia Muromets
  13. (without armament) Storm
  14. Kerch
  15. Victory
The last of the 15 tanks was accepted into service by the Red Army in March of 1921. Aside from the 15 ordered tanks, tank #16 "Souvenir" was built swiftly and on time. The 16th tank was sent to V.I. Lenin."


  1. Nice. A small corection.
    you write:
    The first tank was assembled in August of 1930.
    but I think it should probably say
    The first tank was assembled in August of 1920.

  2. Some of the dates must be wrong

    -The first tank was assembled in August of 1930
    - Assembly of 4 tanks per month is planned, with the order being completed by March of 1929.