Includes one Renault FT-17 (MG) or Renault FT17 (37mm light tank.
The most innovative tank design fielded by the French was the Renault FT-17. This light tank was small and relatively mobile, and was the first tank design to house its weapon in a fully rotating turret, which would heavily influence the design of later tanks.
The FT-17 was a huge departure from previous designs as it was much smaller than the CA.1 and the Saint Chamond, and featured a two man crew. It also had the first rotating turret that enabled the Commander/Gunner to fire its 37mm gun or Hotchkiss machine-gun 360 degrees, allowing them to engage any target nearby. Using a car engine, these super light tanks were only able to move at 10 kph (6 mph), and were designed to be used in mass formations working with the infantry to eliminate enemy pockets of resistance. Other nations adopted the FT-17, and it became the standard tank used by the Americans during the war. By the end of the war, the French had built almost 3000 FT-17s and continued production of the tank with very little modification until the 1930’s.
Designed by Evan Allen Painted by Aaron Mathie
The Renault FT-17 (37mm) Tank The Renault FT-17 (MG) Tank
The first French heavy tank, the Schneider CA.1, weighed about 12.6 tons and was armed with a short 75mm cannon and two Hotchkiss machine-guns. The 60hp Schneider gasoline engine of the CA.1 gave the tank a top speed of 8.1kmph (5 mph); however, it normally moved at 2-3kmph due to the difficulty of driving it. While not the best-designed French tank of the war, the CA.1 was used until the final battles in 1918.
It was first delivered to the front in September 1916 and first went into action in an attack outside Barry au Bac, on the Aisne River, on 16 April 1917 (part of the Chemin des Dames offensive). While it had its drawbacks, like all the early tank designs, it has supported the French well.
Weighing in at 23 tones, the Saint Chamond was armed with a full size 75mm gun located in the front of the vehicle, with four Hotchkiss machine-guns located on the sides. The eight man crew had to squeeze into the hull of the tank which was only a little bigger than the six-man CA.1. While its power plant could move the vehicle at 12 kph, its extended overhanging front hull tended to drive into the ground leaving the Saint Chamond bogged down in the rough terrain of the front lines. France produced about 400 of the Saint Chamond tanks during the war and used them alongside their other designs until the armistice in 1918.
From 1917 to 1918 the Char Saint-Chamond participated in 375 different actions, and at the end of the war only 72 of the original 400 were still left in service. Despite design flaws, the French heavy tanks gave good support to the Poilu on the attack.
Entering into this war, our 75mm mle 1897 was the world’s best artillery piece; and four years of war have only improved its reputation. This gun, known for its quick fire, can bombard German positions anywhere on the front and pin down the Boche until they close in.
The 7.62cm Krupp infantry gun has outstanding accuracy and is lightweight, making it a favourite among the crews that use it. It gives German infantry a weapon capable of destroying the targets that heavy artillery misses or attacking enemy tanks. This makes it a very versatile and essential part of an assault.
The armies of this Great War rely heavily on artillery to help prepare the enemy for an assault or to break up enemy attacks. The 7.7cm FK96 n.A. is a versatile field gun used all across the front. Its light weight makes it a very mobile gun compared to its competitors.
With a variety of shells available, ranging from anti-tank to shrapnel rounds, this gun can be employed successfully in different combat situations. This gives commanders a valuable tool in both offensive and defensive operations.
The 7.7cm FK96 n.A. is relatively light enough to be useful as a rapid-response anti-tank detachment. Held just behind the lines in reserve, these guns could be called up to meet British tanks. The gun is powerful and remains the best way to take out a tank permanently, but it can also be used to knock out enemy bunkers or gun positions.
The Germans began exploring the possibility of developing their own armoured vehicles soon after the first encounter with British tanks in September 1916. However, the process was slow and clearly had lower priority than the British and French efforts.
The A7V committee oversaw development of a German-designed tank, and by the end of October 1916 they had developed the specifications for the tank. The initial design and plans were completed by December 1916, but were revised in February 1917 to incorporate the updated specification of 30mm of frontal armour plate.
The resulting A7V tank was a 24’ by 10’ (7.3m x 3m) box with two track units slung beneath the fighting compartment. Armour thickness was 30mm on the front, 15mm on the sides, and 20mm on the rear. Armament consisted of one 5.7cm Maxim-Nordenfelt gun facing front and a total of six Maxim machine guns arrayed around the sides and rear.
Two 100hp four-cylinder engines powered the tank giving the vehicle a reasonable power to weight ratio for the time. The caterpillar track system of the A7V also had one key advantage over its Allied contemporaries-the A7V utilized a spring loaded suspension system rather than the crude un-sprung systems found on Allied tanks. This gave the A7V a speed of roughly 8 mph on flat ground, making the German heavy tank roughly as quick as the British Whippet or nearly twice as fast as the Mark IV.
As with all early tanks, the A7V had its share of problems. The engines tended to overheat and were difficult to start, the gearboxes were fragile, the tracks were weak, and even the armour plate had severe variations in strength and thickness. The A7V required a crew of 18 to operate properly, though 12 members of the crew were responsible for the six machine guns in two man teams. Trench-crossing ability and ground clearance were inferior to many of the Allied tanks resulting in the A7V frequently bogging down in soft terrain.
The MG08 (or Maschinengewehr 08) was the standard machine-gun of the German Army during the First World War. Adapted from Hiram Maxim’s 1884 design, the MG08 (designating the year of it’s adopted i.e. 1908) fired the 7.92x57mm round at the rate of up to 400 rounds per minute.
Feed by 250-round ammunition belts, any prolonged periods of sustained fire meant the gun would rapidly overheat. To prevent this, the barrel was surrounded by a water jacket which contained one gallon (3.78 litres) of water.
When deployed, the gun was fired from a sled mount that could be transported around the battlefield either on a man’s shoulders or via a cart. However, the total weight of the weapon system (gun, sled mount and water) was a whopping 69kg (152lbs) without taking ammunition into account severely limited its mobility.
Includes two 3.7cm taK teams, three 7.6cm Minenwerfer mortar teams, two Granatewerfer mortar teams
With British tanks on the prowl, the German army has developed several weapons to deal with them. One of these is the relatively light-weight 3.7cm TaK gun, built by Rheinmetall. It has the ability to penetrate enemy tanks’ armour and knock them out. It’s low profile also makes it suitable to move across no-man’s-land to support the infantry.
Infantry alone lack the firepower to dig out enemy troops and fortifications. To address this problem the German army employs the Minenwerfer (mine-thrower or mortar). Its high explosive shells are essential for knocking out enemy strong points. When British tanks are about, the Minenwerfer can be used to combat these beasts in an anti-tank role.
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