The Tank Museum is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles at Bovington Camp in Dorset, South West England.
Outside the entrance to the car park at the museum is an A22 Churchill Mark I.
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) Churchill was a British heavy infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, its ability to climb steep slopes, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war.
The origins of the design lay in the expectation that war in Europe might be fought under similar conditions to those of the First World War, and emphasised the ability to cross difficult ground. The Churchill was rushed into production to build up British defences against a possible German invasion. The first vehicles had flaws that had to be overcome before the Churchill was accepted for wide use. After several Marks had been built, a better armoured version, the Mark VII, entered service.
The Churchill was used by British and Commonwealth forces in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe. In addition, a few hundred were supplied to the USSR and used on the Eastern Front.
This A22 Churchill at the Tank Museum appears to have been completed as a Mark II but has since been altered to resemble a Mark I.
One of the games at the wargames show at Bovington that I did a good look at was this 15mm 1946 game complete with a range of alternate German and Allied tanks that were designed, but either were too late for action, or never got further than the drawing board. I have to admit I never got round to checking what actual models were represented on the table, but there were E-100 and E-50 tanks as well as Panther IIs.
This photograph shows a Sarissa Precision Factory. I really do like this model (and the huge one for 28mm too). Around it are finished and partly finished tanks of a variety of types.
A large tank on a railway wagon. The table also had a lot of HO 1/87th scale buildings that did not seem out of place on the table. There are a range of HO buildings that would be ideal for 15mm games, especially those of the industrial variety.
Here is another Sarissa Precision factory with a couple of JagdTigers outside. As with the other, it looks like the RAF has been busy trying to stem the production of these new German tanks.
Here is a overview of the table. There were TT scale trains, wagons and track (which are just about an appropriate scale for 15mm).
In the box to the side of the tables were 15mm models of the Black Prince, the Tortoise and Centurion Mk1 tanks.
All of these could be found (for real) in the Tank Museum itself.
One of the displays that I really liked on my recent visit to the Tank Museum was that of the Sherman tank used in the film, Fury.
April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered and outgunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.
A M4A3E8 Sherman was used by the film makers and Bovington have kept the Sherman tank as it was in the film, complete with weathering, props and the name Fury painted on the barrel of the main weapon.
TheM4A3E8 Sherman has much wider tracks than other Shermans and this makes the tank look much taller and bigger than other Sherman tanks.
Most of the film was shot in Oxfordshire (and not Germany). The German town used in the film was built completely from scratch, which isn’t too surprising considering what happens there.
It wasn’t just the Sherman that was used in the filming, the film crew also used Bovington’s working Tiger tank too.
really enjoyed the film and thought a powerful interpretation of the last few months of the war and the defiant last stand by the Germans despite knowing they faced eventual defeat, with the Americans wanting to finish quickly so they can go home. It has to be said that the end of the film leaves something to be desired, but remember this is Hollywood. I
Get Fury on Blu Ray from Amazon.
Download Fury from iTunes.
At the wargaming show at the Tank Museum I managed to get a pictures of the games on show, but to be honest was distracted by the tanks. One game which did catch my eye was this desert game in 20mm with a train.
This was a very nice looking game.
Didn’t really get the details on the sides in the game (and I think it was a World War One game).
I’ve never been to the wargaming show at the Tank Museum before and it has been many years since I last visited the actual museum, but this year I did manage to get down to Bovington.
There is something rather inspiring about visiting a gaming show amongst the many different kinds of tanks and armoured cars on show. It’s one thing to see a 15 mm Tortoise on the table in an 1947 game and then just on the other side of the museum is the real prototype.
I probably spent more time looking at the exhibits than looking at the games or shopping, but there are some great exhibits. Those first tanks from The Great War were those that impressed me the most.
These metal monsters designed in an era when they didn’t really know what they were doing and there was a lot of trial and error. The Mark IX reminds us that the APC is as old as the tank.
The exhibition is great because you can get right up and close to the tanks and you get a much better understanding of the strength but also the weaknesses of the armoured fighting vehicle. You can see how tall the Sherman was for example and why those flat sides were a real target for the panzerfaust armed Germans.
Having recently enjoyed the film Fury it was great to see the real star of that film, the M4A3E8 Sherman.
On the gaming front, there were some great games on display.
Lots of traders there too ready to take your money, though I went with some ideas of getting some Sarissa Precision models they weren’t in stock and no one had any Copplestone Castings, so in the end I got one of the new 4Ground The Chicago Way buildings and some 28mm Edwardian policemen.