The Renault AMR 33 was a light cavalry tank designed for cross-country reconnaissance duties. It was an interim model and was quickly followed into production by the improved Renault AMR 35.
In 1931 the French Army defined three types of armoured vehicles for use with the cavalry. All three were defined as types of auto-mitraulleuse, or armoured cars, as the Infantry had command of tanks (chars), but two of the categories were always expected to result in fully tracked armoured vehicles. The middle of the three was the Auto-mitraulleuse de reconnaissance (AMR), a cross-country reconnaissance vehicle designed for close support of the motorised dragoons, and armed with machine guns.
In 1931 the Army placed an order for fifty Citroën AMR P28 half tracks. Louis Renault decided to design a privately funded fully tracked vehicle in an attempt to win some of the same business. The prototype was given the internal designation of Renault VM.
The VM was designed in 1932. It resembled the older Renault FT-17 light tank, with a narrow fuselage carried between thin Carden-Lloyd type tracks. The turret was carried towards the rear of the fuselage, and was made up of flat plates. It was armed with a single machine gun. The engine was carried on the right of the tank, with the fighting compartment on the left.
A mock-up was built in March 1932 and Renault then received an order for five pilot models. These were used to test out two different suspension systems - one with scissors suspension and one with leaf-spring suspension.
The type was then ordered into production as the Auto-mitrailleuse de Reconnaissance Renault, modèle 1933, although it is generally known as the Renault AMR 33. Forty five were ordered on 8 March 1933, and eventually 118 production vehicles were ordered.
The production version used the bell crank 'scissors' suspension, with four road wheels with rubber tyres on each side, connected at the top of the bell cranks by horizontal rubber springs. The AMR 33 was armed with a single 7.5mm machine gun, but it differed from the older FT-17 in one key aspect, with a much improved top road speed of 40.4mph. Visually the turret was mounted a little further than on the prototypes.
The AMR 33 suffered from a fragile suspension, and sometimes threw its tracks at high speeds. It was thus only ever seen as an interim model.
The AMR 33 was issued to cavalry and reconnaissance units, where it was seen as an improvement over the previous half tracks.
It was quickly followed into production by the more flexible Renault AMR 35.
Production: 118 production vehicles, 5 pilots
Hull Length: 11.5ft
Hull Width: 5.25ft
Engine: 84hp Reinstella 8-cylinder liquid cooled gasoline engine
Max Speed: 40.4mph
Armament: One 7.5mm machine gun