This is called a “Heavy Tank Mk V “Male””. It had a crew of 8 with a top speed of 7.4 kph. This particular vehicle took part in the battle of Amiens in August 1918, and was about as good as this particular style of tank was. It was armed with 2×6 pound (57mm) guns and 2 MG’s.
This slightly cutaway tank is a Mark II “Female”, and it is the last surviving Mk II. Tanks were classed by gender. A “Male” had two canons, while a “Female” had 4-5 machine guns. All these vehicles had large crews to man the weapons and drive the vehicle.
He did not survive his heroic act, but his vehicle lives on. Strangely enough there is another Whippett surviving in South Africa. It was in action during the Rand Revolt.
This particular one was donated to the Imperial War Museum after the war, and was then relocated to the Tank Museum in 1965.
One of the vehicles that seemed to have had a bit of a disastrous career was the “Light Mark VIB” which was not really meant to tackle much larger gunned vehicles. Yet it was a well constructed machine that performed in many theaters of the war. It was meant as a light reconnaissance vehicle, and was really undergunned and underarmoured. This particular vehicle was probably only used as a training tank.
The Carden Lloyd MkVI carrier was probably a way to build a universal carrier vehicle for use with infantry, This particular vehicle is mounting a Vickers machine gun and seems that it was operable from within the vehicle.
This particular vehicle was only partly completed by the end of the war and was finished by the British. It is considered to be a medium tank, and early versions suffered from a variety of teething troubles, but its powerful gun and precision optics made it a fearsome opponent,
Of course the Germans had to keep ahead of the game, faced with the excellent T34 on the Russian Front. One of the contenders they produced was the fearsome Jagdtiger or SdKfz 186.
Fortunately they were only produced in small numbers and it fielded a 17,8cm main gun. They would be able to dominate a battlefield if in action against other tanks, but against air power they were as vulnerable as everybody else. The vehicle was supposedly the largest and heaviest tracked vehicle to see action in World War 2, and is really a self propelled gun as opposed to a tank. This particular example was captured at the end of the war and probably never saw combat.
The King Tiger (SdKfz 182, Panzerkampfwagen VI Aus B Tiger II, Royal Tiger) was yet another fearsome vehicle that the Germans produced. Fielding the notorious 88mm gun and featuring sloped armour and a reputation based on the Tiger I, it saw action reasonably late in the war.
Like many other new designs it suffered from a number of teething troubles, and this particular vehicle has a Porsche/Krupp designed turret as opposed to the Henschell turret used on later versions. It is also the 3rd test vehicle produced and probably never saw action. More suited for a defensive role, they were too few in number to really make much of a difference.
The Russians produced two tanks that really stand out. The first being the KV-1, which were produced in considerable numbers during the war, It was not really designed to fight it out with another tank, but to support infantry. However, it was heavily armoured and could withstand a number of anti-tank weapons.
The model at the museum is a KV-1B, and was presented to the British Army School of Tank Technology in 1943 and later donated to the museum.
The ultimate Russian tank was the famous T34, and it was probably one of the best tanks ever produced, it is certainly one of the longest lived, some being in action as late as the 1980’s. South African troops captured a number of these in the Border War and they have a reputation for solid performance and reliability. The Germans were unprepared when they first encountered these and some of the German tanks mentioned in this page were built as a counter to this tank.
The 85mm gun that was used in later versions was a powerful weapon and the high speed and skilled use by commanders helped turn the tide in the tank battles on Russian soil. The vehicle in the museum is a much later version, having been captured in Korea in 1951.
The Axis produced many interesting vehicles, but sadly the Allies really ended up with thousands of Shermans that were built faster than they could be destroyed. Probably the best Sherman variant is the Firefly with its 17 pound gun. Like the T34, the Sherman soldiered on for many years after the war, some even serving with Israeli forces during the 6 Day War.
The British still seemed to struggle with producing really good tanks though, and after many early teething troubles managed to produce the Churchill; which became a very versatile vehicle and which had many interesting variants.
This particular MK VII came straight from the factory, and probably has a new tank smell about it. There is also a 1944 vintage MK II used as a gate guard at the museum.
And finally, probably the best tank the British built was the Comet, which entered service in 1945 and which was on a parr with the German Panther. These vehicles would form the backbone of the post war tank corps but were soon replaced by the excellent Centurion. Some even found their way to South Africa, and they were very reliable and popular vehicles.
That more or less concludes my look at the more “popular” tanks of that era, from here onwards there was no room for poor design or inadequate performance. The cold war enemy was a formidable one, and their equipment was top notch. Legions of old tanks became the backbone of smaller countries that could not develop their own machines, and some of the old ladies in this blog did end up in backwaters all around the world. Strangely enough very few Tigers managed to survive, and the museum has the only running Tiger in the world. Hopefully, one day I will get to have a close look at that fearsome machine, and that will have a blog page all of its own!