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1918 Van Dorn Six-ton Tank M1917

1918 Van Dorn Six-ton Tank M1917 in The War of the Worlds, Movie, 1953 IMDB

Class: Others, Military armored vehicle — Model origin: FR — Built in: US

1918 Van Dorn Six-ton Tank M1917

[*] Background vehicle

Comments about this vehicle

AuthorMessage

wrenchhead US

2006-02-15 00:50

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Could't resist uploading this.

Junkman UK

2006-02-15 01:33

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Renault FT-17

Alexander DE

2006-02-15 11:29

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Thanks for the picture, nice to see it!

The tank is based on the Renault FT-17 but a licence built M1917 from the USA.

Details:
In France the FT-17 was produced by Renault (1850), Berliet (800), SOMUA(600), Delauney-Belleville (280). This includes all variants.

The first Renaults had a cast iron turret, later versions came with a rounded steel turret, known as Berliet turret, and an octagonal turret like the one in this picture. I cannot say who of the four makers produced the octagonal turret.

The US Army was supplied with French FT-17 tanks when they entered the European war theatre in 1917/18. They had obtained the licence to build their own, but none were ready before the ceasefire.

All 952 US versions had, as far as I know, the octagonal turret and were first delivered in October 1918. They were produced by 'Van Dorn Iron Works', 'Maxwell Motor Co.', and 'C.L. Best Co.' and called 'six-ton special tractor model 1917', later changed to 'Six-ton Tank M1917'. Some modification were made, like switching from metric to imperial measurement. Most noticible are the triangular plates on either side of the driver, just under the turret. The French FT-17 used rectangular plates.

One rather strange feature is the gun. It looks like a fake, but I think it is a kind of shield.
This picture show the tank with exactly this 'gun' barrel:
Link to "rctankcombat.com"
The size of the tube is in the region of 150 mm, which is by far too large for this vehicle. The US version was equipped with either a 37mm Gun M1916 or a .30cal M1919 MG. As far as I know the US built tanks use a gun shield under which either the gun or the MG could be installed.
I assume that the original gun was removed before the vehicle was demobbed and only the shield can be seen now.

As it is difficult to decide who of the three manufactureres made the tank in this picture, I will, with your consent, simply chose the first in the list. So we have a 'Van Dorn Six-ton Tank M1917' (1918).










sixcyl FR

2006-02-15 17:45

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very intersting historical comments Alexander.

wrenchhead US

2006-02-16 03:26

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Alexander, I enjoyed your comments. I agree that the gun looks like a fake or a shield. It would not seem that the tube length or its wall thickness is sufficient for a gun of that caliber. In addition it does not seem that there is any provision for recoil.

-- Last edit: 2006-02-16 03:47:11

JamesH EN

2011-01-25 19:58

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Some misconceptions here. The tank is, indeed, a M1917, modelled on the Renault FT but with some differences, one being that the exhaust was on the left of the M1917 and the right on the FT. (BTW, whatever else you might read, the Renault was called simply "FT", no 17 or 18 involved, honestly.)

The shield on the gun is correct - a U.S. modification to give the gunner more protection from bullets and "splash" (molten lead), but the gun seems to be a dummy.

I don't remember this in 'War of the Worlds'. Plenty of Shermans, since it was set in the present day, but the M1917 was taken out of service in 1932. M1917s were used in a lot of films (For Whom The Bell Tolls in particular) and in inter-war movies to represent a Renault. You'll notice the Tank in the photo is on what looks very much like a WWI battlefield, not Washington D.C. I suspect the vehicle appeared in a silent movie made sometime in the 1920s.

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