Rare World War I tank on loan from The Collings Foundation on display at the Museum of American Armor

The most influential tank design in a century is one hundred years old

Through the cooperation of the Collings Foundation, The Museum of American Armor at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, Old Bethpage, New York, is presenting a rare World War I tank whose design continues to influence modern armor some 100 years after its introduction on the battlefield. The effort is being underwritten, in part, by Stop & Shop Supermarkets, PSEG Long Island, and Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

The tank, an M1917, is a copy of the French designed FT light tank whose production included a fully rotating turret equipped with a gun. Its design also included a crew compartment in the front, engine compartment at the back, and tank treads along the side, a standard tank layout that continues today.

The M1917 is thought to be the oldest surviving American tank and is part of the extensive armor collection of The Collings Foundation, now in the midst of constructing what will be a multimillion dollar, world class educational museum at their Stow, Massachusetts campus. Within an interactive setting, it will feature hundreds of tanks and military vehicles that have made history. The Museum of American Armor and The Collings Foundation are members of the Northeast Military Museum Alliance whose mission includes sharing exhibits and educational programs.

Dr. Libby O’Connell, History Channel Chief Historian Emeritus and Chairperson of the NYC World War I Centennial Commission, said, “This vintage tank is a powerful reminder that the people, places and events that took place a century ago continue to shape our world today. World War I needs to be studied and understood so that we can understand our 21st Century society and the geopolitical forces that continue to impact us. That journey of discovery starts with displays such as this.”

Rob Collings, Chief Executive Officer of The Collings Foundation, stated, “We are pleased to have this powerful window on World War I available for public display on Long Island where Camp Upton trained tens of thousands of Doughboys before they left for France. That connection alone should allow educators to start a conversation with students regarding this seminal conflict that set borders, reinvented American society and set the stage for an even more horrible conflagration some twenty years later.”

Historians report that over 3,000 Renault FT tanks were built by France in the closing months of World War I. Another 950 were built under license in the United States (the M1917), but did not enter combat. The Museum of American Armor intends to operate several historic tanks in formation with the Collings owned tank during the time the World War I vehicle is on loan. Those dates will be announced shortly.

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children (5-12), seniors (60+) handicapped, volunteer firefighters (firefighters need to show ID).

For more information go to www.museumofamericanarmor.org or friend them on Facebook.