The USA entered the First World War on the side of the Entente Powers in April, 1917, without any tanks of her own. The following month, in the light of a report into British and French tank theories and operations, the American Expeditionary Forces’ commander-in-chief, Gen. John Pershing, decided that both light and heavy tanks were essential for the conduct of the war and should be acquired as soon as possible.
A joint Anglo-American programme was set up to develop a new type of heavy tank similar to those then in use by the British. It was, though, expected that sizeable quantities of tanks would not be available until April of 1918. The Inter-Allied Tank Commission decided that, because of the wartime demands on French industry, the quickest way to supply the American forces with sufficient armour was to manufacture the Renault FT light tank in the USA. Some heavy tanks would also be supplied by Great Britain.
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