|Between 1923 and 1930, most of the activities of the Poles in the tank development field were concentrated on continuous attempts to improve the Renault FT tank. One of the first stages in this direction was by substituting a new design of laterally flexible tracks - designed by S. Kardaszewicz - which were composed of twelve steel cables fitted with steel grousers. Although the speed was increased to 12km/h (7.5mph), the Kardaszewicz tracks were not accepted and a similar rejection occurred to another design introduced by an officer of the 1st Tank Regiment. However, another track design by S. Kardaszewicz was accepted. This design used the more "classic" style of tracks as we know them today. The main appearance difference in his design was that the tracks had smaller links. This track reengineering allowed the tank to achieve speeds of 12/13km/h plus giving the machine a better ride. Some 65 tanks received this upgrade between 1925 and 1926. Another upgrade experiment was the decision to update the Renault FT armament by fitting it with a newly designed turret carrying both a 37mm gun and a coaxial 7.92mm Browning machine-gun. Only 6 of these turrets were made. Some other redesigns were to increase the performance to 13kmh. A small number of Renault FT tanks were rebuilt into specialized variants including a smoke producing tank and 6 radio command tanks (TSF).|
The Polish Army had 174 Renault tanks, 102* were serviceable at he outbreak of WW2. The Renault FT came in 3 variations: 8 mm Hotchkis machine gun, 37 mm Puteaux gun, and a radio equipped command version. In the 1930's the MG version of this tank was rearmed with the 7.92mm wz.25 MG Polish modification of the Hotchkiss.In mid-1939, there were 102 Renault FT tanks still in service. The 2nd Armored Battalion (the mobilization and training unit, not the 7-TP combat battalion) had 70 (including 12 trainers). The 1st and 2nd Armored Train Squadrons each had 16 used as "drezyna" escorts (tank propelled rail platforms).
September 1939 Combat Operations: Three Renault Tank
Companies, numbered 111, 112, and 113, with 15 each (45 total). Ten Armored Trains with
two FTs each (20 total). Some remained at Zurawicy after all units were mobilized, of
which 16 were employed in ad-hoc combat at Przemysl.
*Some sources state 104.
Late in the 1930's, Poland sold 64* tanks to Spain. Military sales were illegal to Spain in Poland, though the exact reason that they were illegal is not known to TANKS!. Though, most likely, that since the tanks were sold to the Republican side, they were sold in secret so as not to arrouse the newly resurgant Germans. In order to send these tanks, secret deals were made. The tanks were sold to Uruguay. Uruguay then sold the tanks to Spain. It is not known what state these tanks were in either. It is possible that they were worn out as most FT-17 were by this time. These transactions gave for the Polish Army money for the production of 7TP tanks. It is not known if these FT-17 were French made units or Polish made. There is some mention of a CWS-FT-17 being exported. CWS is the abbreviation for Centralnych Warsztatach Samochodowych, meaning "Central Workshops for Motor vehicles or "Central Truck Workshop." This is plant was located in Warsaw. All Polish combat tanks were French manufactured. CWS performed maintenance and depot level repair. The "Zelazny" (mild steel) tanks were built for use as training vehicles, only. They used spare French engines and components.The hulls and turrets were manufactured to French specs in all other respects. 27** CWS FT17 tanks were constructed. The CWS were built around 1925 - 27 with many being used for experiments.
* Some reports state "about 30", others state 90. It is believed that Poland, with the agreement of Uruguay, sent some of the tanks to China and to Yugoslavia.
** Other sources state 25.
Polish modifications of FT: CWS Ft-"Hanus" and Ft-"Czolg dymotworczy"(smoke tank - in English) was not produced in series. Only prototypes were built.
This transporter was powered by engine of FT tank once loaded. Transporter was built on the base of a Pierce truck undercarriage (without engine but with better ,stronger construction). Probably some Ft-17s were modified (by a little changing of their construction to make possible powering transporter by engines of FT tanks) First prototype of this transporter was built in 1933. This transporter could go only by good, hard roads and had terrible cross-country performance (but then, it was designed for road work).
Because of this and a top speed or 20km/h the program was cancelled after a few months. But similar transporters for TK/TKS tanks were better and were produced for the Polish Army.
The FT tank had a short range, low speed, and a low track life time before needing replacement. For these reasons, the Polish Army decided to order a trucks to transport FT (and also TK/TKS) tanks. Poles tested many types of trucks and selected following models for use: The Renault FU, The Pierce R8, The Saurer 5ton (could take two tanks), and the Ursus A. Others may have been used, but that information is unknown to TANKS!.