So yesterday (that’s Friday 28th June 2019!) I went along to the first day of Tankfest over at the Bovington Tank Museum, down in blisteringly hot Dorset, England.
I’ve always been interested in military history, from the Romans right up to modern day and, thanks to video games like Medal of Honor and Blitzkrieg, World War 2 especially. We went along to see the world’s last operational Tiger I tank in action last year, so it seemed only fair to check out a few other death machines in action too. Below you can see some of them, both in (probably awful) pictures and some lovely, 60fps videos.
The rehearsals kicked off with a squad of British Army soldiers, demonstrating how they work alongside their Warrior APC to capture a machine gun post. There were lots of blanks fired, red smoke grenades used and it was pretty interesting to hear the soldiers shouting orders between themselves as they moved up on the enemy position.
Seeing the German Jagdpanther out for a test drive was excellent, the big heavy tank killer was really impressive. Sadly, however, it ran into some technical troubles and was benched for the rest of the day. Poor old thing!
The Tiger VI, or King Tiger, as it was named, was Germany’s super heavy tank toward the end of the war. Whilst pretty intimidating and massively powerful on paper, they were fairly notorious for breaking down and fuel shortages in the war’s final months for Germany de-clawed them toward the end.
The Cold War era tanks were truly impressive. Bigger and more powerful than their WW2 ancestors, they fortunately never got to have that big rumble they were built for. My favourite is probably the M60 or T72, just because I used to play a lot of Operation Flashpoint!
Bovington Tank Museum’s number one exhibit is this, Tiger 131, the last surviving operational tank of its kind. Feared by the Third Reich’s enemies, this powerful, heavily armoured beast was captured by a (very) lucky shot from an inferior Churchill tank, which jammed the turret and forced the crew to abandon it. The museum runs it once a year, for Tiger Day, which I went to last year. (It was awesome!)
I’ve never been so lucky as to see a T-34 in action before, so to see two of them rumbling around the parade ground was amazing! Look at those diesel fumes though!
Why is this dirty, diesel powered Russian beast my favourite tank of all time? Because of the story behind it, that’s why. It was the first tank to experiment with sloped armour designs (which could potentially deflect incoming shots) and later models, like this one, rocked a massive 85mm gun which was more than enough to take out most German tanks. They were also, on some fronts, built, filled with fuel and ammunition, given a crew and rolled straight from the factory into battle, now that’s efficiency!
The D-Day display featured all manner of Allied fighting machines from around the Operation Overlord period. Movie fans might be able to spot Brad Pitt’s old pal, Fury, which is a real Sherman gussied up to look its best for the movie.
I must admit, I don’t know a great deal about Japanese tanks from World War 2, but this little monster was the first I’d ever seen in person. I can now appreciate how tanks like the American Sherman, which were fairly mid field on the battlefields of Europe, absolutely dominated in the Pacific. Those poor little tanks never stood a chance!
The British Army’s current light vehicle, the Warrior, can really move at an impressive speed!
This is no real tank, though it is modeled on one which resides within the Museum’s Great War exhibition. It was built on an excavator chassis to feature in the 2011 Stephen Spielberg movie, War Horse (which is very good, by the way!) It looks almost identical to its’ real counterpart, except it’s a little bit shorter.
If you enjoyed this piece then I highly encourage you check out the Tank Museum’s website, https://www.tankmuseum.org and also their YouTube channel, which obviously contains better videos than the ones I got from my phone. Hey, maybe even pay it a visit in person, it’s got (literally) tons of armoured war machines to check out, loads of information and a really nice cafe and gift shop!