Mechanical drawings direct from Uncle Sam?

What is the process/source for getting one's mitts on US Govt drawings - namely US Army obsolete/historic weapon designs? I've reached the
inescapable conclusion that some things I want to build no manufacturer will touch and as my CAD/CAM skills get better every day and the Holy Grail of home grown rapid prototyping draws closer and more affordable, I want to give scratch building a try.
This will be a few years down the road (I've got plenty of plastic to play with til then), but specifically I want to scratch build a Renault FT-17 in large R/C scale. I'd like to kick off the project by CADing it up soon. I've Googled my ass off and have turned up scant nothing in the form of a govt agency that handles such requests. I did find some guys that are reproducing drawings on a few things that interest them, like locomotives - but that's of little help, huh. AND I realize Uncle Sam may have zilch on the FT-17 and I'll have to move on to another subject for now.
I'll figure it out at the window. ;-)
So what inspired me? This guy and in particular his comment in the second paragraph.
http://www.vonabt.co.uk/models/Dora/DoraBuild.htm
AWESOME! Take the time to thumb thru all the pics. That's a craftsmen at work. IIRC, he built it in 4 mo.s and he doesn't appear to be a spring chicken. How's that for humble pie? Yeah me too.
A Renault FT-17 should be a piece of cake compared to this monster. I have collected all the line drawings the internet affords. One set of Russian drawings give a very good overall dimensioning/proportioning - I'd like to take it down further into the rivets if possible.
TIA
WmB
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The chances of finding drawings of a Renault tank in a US archive are probably close to zero. We probably simply bought them - like one of us would buy a buick at the local showroom. I doubt we sent P-39s to Russia complete with drawings.
But you could try to contact US document archives - there are multiple locations where old documents are stored - some in almost unopened boxes. There was an article about a guy who wanted to build a Lunar Module Guidance Computer like the one that flew. He found 120 boxes of engineering data in an archive in Texas and essentially had to dig through them himself. So you can try that route.
Some companies - the old Grumman being one have established history centers where they store old data - maybe Renault has one. Old WWII aircraft manuals and drawings going back to the 1930s - ink a vellum.
Next shot is someone who loves the Renault - climbed around one in a museum, made drawing and is willing to sell a CD.
After that one of the small model companies - like Imrie Risley have or had models and may have made drawings - from the real thing or pictures? This is how inaccuracies seep into the hobby.
Last recourse there's a good book "Model Design Blueprinting Handbook" that will help you turn photos into engineering drawings.
I can appreciate your plight here - I've been digging through sites and documents for the last few or more year's to try to detail the interior of a Heavy German Self propelled rail car. Much data has been lost - as an example we can no longer build Saturn rockets or Apollo CM Heat shields. The lines were shut down - and the data is gone.
Don't get discouraged - at least at the start - there are gems out there - just keep lookin - things appear now and then.
Hope this Helps
Val Kraut
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Thanks. That reinforces my hunch of what I'm up against. I'm thinking the answer is going to be all of the above - a multi prong attack.
On one hand, I'm going to start drawing as much as I can from existing available drawings. I can always update the 3D models if I come across better data. While that's in play I'll start running down any museums that may hold a FT-17 in the off chance they'd be way out in front of me on this and willing to help me avoid reinventing the wheel. At the very worst, I'll get some nice photos of a real one.
While I'm doing my best approximation of an FT-17 I'll just have to start tickling the bureaucracy to see what falls out. As far as the choice of the FT-17 - yeah I've been wanting to build one for some time, but the main focus really is to build an early tank that was crudely constructed more or less from simple 2D components. That way I figure it will mirror both my CAD skills and my scratch building skills perfectly. ;-)
I want the FT-17, but I'll slide over and pick another similar candidate if the drawings are easier to come by.
I'm going to try and resist working off existuing replicas, virtual or physical - for now.
Thanks,
WmB
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look up the one found in afghanistan that is at aberdeen undergoing restoration. they may sell photos and diags.
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WmB,
I believe there is an FT-17 down at the Coors Mueseum in Prince William County VA. Most of his stuff are runners, i vaguely remember talk about restoring it. You're outside B-more, right? The Washington Armor Club guys would know more. Or just contact the Museum
Here ya go:
http://www.vmmv.org /
Go to collection, US, it's the first one upper left.
Good luck.
Frank
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Hey that's look promising. Much thanks.
WmB
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Glad to help. The picture looks a bit better than when I saw it last, so I'm pretty sure they've worked on it some already.
Frank
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: : A Renault FT-17 should be a piece of cake compared to this monster. :     Did you want to build a FT-17, or the US copy? I doubt you will find plans in the US for a FT-17, but somewhere there are likely plans for the US 6 Tonner, which was an Anglicized FT-17 (since the FT-17 used that metric stuff). :-)
                            Bruce
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"I like bad!" Bruce Burden Austin, TX.
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It wouldn't matter. The French build is desirable from the stand point that the doughboys actually took them into battle, where the US version, IIRC, didn't make it overseas in time to see combat. Still, it's an important milestone being an American build and all so it's welcome on my shelf.
Ever the pragmatist, it occured to me today while looking at dozens of pictures of pre-1941 tanks that I'm considering as an alternative build to the FT-17, that tanks generally share a similar layout with other tanks of their era - if not in general. So I can pretty much begin 3D modelling a generic tank design that is either an approximation of the FT-17 or a completely unique design - because if I lay it out properly, I can always update it parametrically with any hard numbers I come across later.
And brother, when the thought hit me that I could just design my own tank from scratch, the desire to build a 72 ton M4A8E9 120mm Sherman Tiger Shredder put a small on my face like nothing else.
Or was that the 8 ton FT-17A1 armed with a French 75.... hmmm ;-)
WmB
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Will, I don't know if this will help you or not. Back in the day when I was looking for plans on an old Curtiss design, I sent a letter to the local Curtiss-Wright plant still in Buffalo (before they folded their tents) and asked about designs concerning the aircraft. They answered my letter with a very nice reply and informed me that all of their military designs were turned over to the participating agency (Army, Army Air Force, Air Force or Navy) upon completion of the contract. They then informed me that I should try the Information Office of that branch of the service for more help, suggesting that copies of said plans ~may~ be on file at some Records Branch or at one of the many military museums around the country. I never got to do that as "other things" crossed my path and I got distracted. Maybe their advice will help you.
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wrote:

Thanks - every bit helps. That confirms my thinking that as the design owner the govt would have been the repository for the original drawings. Especially in the era when the contractor was not necc. the designer, just the low bidder and/or better politically connected. OK, it's still like that today - but I mean back when it was real bad.

US Army here I come. God help me. ;-)
From my preliminary search I'm getting a sense that a museum is going to be a good place to start. How much they want to assist a model builder - who knows. I was kind of hoping to tap into the part of the govt bureaucracy that had caught up to the internet and the information age. Like the way you can pay a fee and receive drawings from Uncle Sammy to build a Wright Flyer. Ah, the telephone - so 20th century.
Thanks. Between setting up my 3D skeleton and cobbling together available reference mat'l I should have a fairly reasonable facsimile of the tank in a couple of months.
WmB
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WmB wrote:

This rings a bell: http://www.landships.freeservers.com/FT17_M1917.htm
Pat
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