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The construction of the first tanks during the World War I led to the emergence of a completely new category: heavy transport. For the first time, trucks were used to transport armored machines by the French.

Trench warfare turned out to be very bloody. Already in September 1914, the British officer Ernst Swinton reported that in the tranches a thousand of soldiers were killed daily. A younger officer usually managed to perform his duty three weeks on the front line before getting killed or seriously wounded.

Swinton, in his reports to the Minister of War, Lord Kitchener, demanded that armored fighting vehicles be used. The army ignored his idea, but the navy put it forward. And in late 1914, on the initiative of Winston Churchill, the Royal Naval Air Squadron was established.

This slightly misleading name described an entity mainly composed of civil technicians whose task was to solve specific technical problems, such as creating small airships, hot air balloons and observation kites, underwater warfare, including depth charge etc. The squadron prepared a vehicle capable of overcoming trenches. The works were supported by Winston Churchill and Lloyd George despite the negative opinion of the army which considered the idea as not wise. Churchill spent 70 thousand pounds belonging to the navy for the studies of “land vessels”.

The French tanks were taken to the frontline by heavy transport

Three years later after the British, the Renault constructors took off and introduced a serious innovation compared to the British structure: they placed armament in a rotating turret. In the same year, Renault tank, marked as FT-17, was included in the military list and was used in combat on the last day of May 1918. It could take two people equipped with a 37-millimeter gun or an 8-millimeter machine gun.

Konstruktorzy Renault zaprojektowali nie tylko czołg, ale i samochód do jego przewożenia. Zwraca uwagę przekładnia planetarna tylnej osi.
Konstruktorzy Renault zaprojektowali nie tylko czołg, ale i samochód do jego przewożenia. Zwraca uwagę przekładnia planetarna tylnej osi.
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The Renault constructors designed not only the tank but also a vehicle for transporting it.

The tanks Renault FT-17 were so light (they weighted some 7 tonnes) that they could be transported by trucks. After the war, Poland bought as many as 10 Renault FU trucks with the loading capacity of 7.5 tonnes, which, together with a single-axle trailer, could take two tanks. And the new type of heavy transport was born.

In the next episode of the History of Transport in Trans.INFO: How transport services were developed after the World War I.

Previous articles in the series:

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