musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: tank

Photo Essay: Tanks in the wild

When I got my new camera last year I needed to test drive (test fire?) it, and I grabbed some of my tank collection and headed out into the wild. Some of the results were really great. 

World War One battlefields were incredibly muddy and the early rhomboid shaped tanks battled with the terrain. They were more psychological weapons than anything else.

The real live example I photographed in Bovington Tank Museum in 2013. 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. 

I do have a soft spot for the M3 Stuart (aka “Honey”) this little one got somewhat off the beaten track and is waiting for nightfall so that it can move out. It did not want to meet up with the Tiger that  was hiding in the garden. This green Tiger one I picked up in Hong Kong in 2011. It is motorised in spite of it’s small size. 

and this Matilda was also en route to somewhere, although it really was more in use in the Western Desert as opposed to the local mud patch next to the river.

It may not have been the greatest tank around but they were good looking.  They even have one at Bovington.

You have to be very careful on some days that you do not bump into a T55 MBT hiding in the undergrowth. If this one looks familiar it is because it is. This model features the T55 that was in the James Bond movie: Golden Eye.

or even a T34 for that matter, although she may be quite handy against that Tiger I mentioned a bit earlier.

Of course some tracked vehicles try to outdo others, and this PzH 2000 (Panzerhaubitze 2000) 155mm self-propelled howitzer  would probably have a field day shelling Cheltenham or maybe Gloucester.

Fortunately it did not have any ammunition, and at that small scale the shell would have stung quite badly.

Since I took these pics in February last year, my tank collection has grown considerably, and at some point I will take them outside again, I now have 3 Tigers and that could prove to be quite an uneven battle for the Honey. Unfortunately since taking these images I have not been able to find my T55 so I expect it has gone to the big tank graveyard in the sky. On the other hand, I was able to take some more pics of more of my tank collection.

That M4A3 Sherman was just itching to slug it out with a Tiger, and I am going to put my money on the Tiger.

My M2 Grant MK1 also got an airing today, although it tried to avoid bumping into anything larger that it was.

What they didn’t know was that there were 3 Tigers heading in their direction.

The grey Tiger is radio controlled and it even has a recoil action when you “fire” the gun. When things dry out a bit I am going to take it out and try it on this muddy terrain.

This Leopard 1 also got an airing. But there was trouble looming behind it. I seem to think it is a T55, but it is unfortunately not marked.

Until next time when battle will recommence.

Update 04/04/2017:

Cats seem to understand tanks, especially homemade ones.

© DRW 2017. Created 05/02/2017 

Updated: 04/04/2017 — 07:18

A Honey of a Tank

A few years back, in 2011 I did the rounds of the usual haunts, hunting down plinthed and preserved tanks, there were three models that fell into my research, namely Crusaders, Shermans and M3 Stuarts. This post deal with one Stuart in particular.  I will not go into the history of these M3’s, suffice to say they were popularly referred to as “Honey’s”.

This vehicle I photographed in 2011 while visiting the Roll of Honour at the Cosy Corner MOTH Shellhole in Brakpan.

The history of this particular vehicle is not known, but it is likely that she was a gate guard at a former MOTH Shellhole somewhere in the Springs area and she is currently situated at Google Earth co-ordinates: -26.252307°,  28.446881°. This is a former park, but sadly it is more of the remains of a park. The tank when I photographed her was not a total wreck yet.

Those open doors at the back set off alarm bells in my mind when I saw her, sooner or later somebody was going to get in there and remove parts off her engine, assuming that it had not been done already.

Wind forward to 2017, and Joe Borain from Cosy Corner went to see whether she was still intact or not. rumours were that she was not looking good.  I will post the images more or less in the the same order as the “before (2011)” images.

As you can see, the engine compartment has had lots of attention from the scrap metal thieves.

It also appears as if the open viewing slits have been used to “post rubbish” into. It is only a matter of time before they get organised enough to go after her tracks and idlers. The scrap metal industry is not averse to assisting those who decide to remove steel from monuments and memorials. Remember, watched a whole collection of steam locomotives systematically stripped by illicit scrap thieves in 2010. Anything can happen.

What can be done? According to Joe site has been fenced, although he did manage to get in. And, a local garage was supposedly keeping an eye on her too. But, what really needs to happen is they need to weld the front viewing ports and rear engine doors shut. And ideally get her moved from the spot where she is now. Who does she belong to? probably the SANDF, and getting permission to move her will be quite a rigmarole. Springs city council were supposed to have renovated the derelict war memorial by mid 2015 and that too stalled so there is not much hope of help from them. But the way things are, one day that honey of a tank will be no more. 

© DRW 2017. Created 08/01/2016. 2017 Images are by Joe Borain and are used with permission.

Updated: 18/02/2017 — 12:52

Welland Steam and Country Rally (I)

This morning we headed off to the Welland Steam and Country Rally which is held at Woodside Farm, Welland, Worcestershire. The weather had been changeable lately, and there were periods of cloud and blue skies, but overall it was a great day.

Because of the amount of images I took (over 800) I have split this blog post into as 5 parts because there was a lot to see: ranging from scooters, vintage cars, traction engines, military vehicles, strange steam shovels, stationary engines, vintage trucks, and everything in between. I had no real priority though because it all went pear shaped when we arrived and I realised there was a lot on display.

[ This page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods

Regular followers of my blogs will know I have an eclectic taste in many things, so I did take a lot of pics. Some good, some bad.

The area where the rally was held was a large one, but then there were a lot of exhibits on display and a lot of people too. In fact there were quite a large number of dogs accompanying visitors, and that can be quite confusing.

For me there were a number of highlights, although not much would beat the steam shovel. 

This machine belched steam and smoke from a number of places as it grabbed bits of gravel from the pit and deposited it on the other side. There was just something about it that held you spellbound. I have never seen a steam powered version of one of these in action before and it was fantastic. I have video of it on my youtube channel.

Another machine that I was hoping to see in action was a 1901 Dubs steam engine with a crane mounted on it. I had first seen one of these at Chasewater Railway  but was curious to see one in action.

Unfortunately she never really worked, she just seemed to run backwards and forwards on a length of track and that was it. She is not an easy loco to photograph either, and this image was probably my best. 

There was another crane that I wanted to see in action, because there were remnants of one at Sanrasm North Site, but this crane did not have much of a  “wow!” factor. 

In this area they had a number of working machines powered by steam, and the crane was used to pick up logs to feed into a steam driven circular saw, I did look for the “damsel in distress” about to be rendered into messy bits by the saw but ‘ealth ‘n safety were having none of that.

and Scrumpy was just dog tired.

This area also had a makeshift navvy camp and it was interesting because as usual no work was being done. In fact the one item I really wanted to see doing something wasn’t doing anything! 

And here he is… 

Just waiting for me to turn my back so that he can rattle down the track while I am not looking. I was really hoping that this was some previously undiscovered narrow gauge loco, but it turns out that it is not, The builders plate identifies her as Wilbrighton Wagon Works Number 2, (2007) so she is really a newbuild and carries the name “Howard”.  I cannot find out too much about her as yet, but she tentatively seems to belong to the Statfold Barn Railway, Tamworth, in Staffordshire. I will have to do more reading about this one I am afraid.

Part of the attraction of the rally was the fun fair and the attendant Showmans Engines.  Most of the traction engines i have seem have been smaller versions, these were the fulll size machines and they were stunning. They had so many people swarming over them cleaning that it was difficult to get a clean shot of the machines.

There is a an overhang at the front of the machine and that is where the dynamo (generator?) is bolted onto that is run via a belt to the flywheel of the engine. 

110 Volts, 220 Amps. That is quite an impressive piece of kit! 

But then when you are running one of these you need all the power you can generate. 

Close to the fun fair was the Military Vehicle display which sucked me in as per usual. Although much to my dismay most of the equipment was of American origin. 

With the exception of this stunning Kübelwagen 

I have posted the military vehicles in a separate post but for now will leave you with a pic of a vehicle that does bring back memories of my own time in the SADF.

The Bullnose Bedford we knew as the “Vasbyt Bedford” and they were painted that ugly “Nutria” colour that the SADF used. I actually drove one of them in Jan Kemp Dorp and nearly demolished the only hairdresser and robots in the dorpie.

The arena was not too far away, and during the day they held a display of vintage cars and bikes, as well as military vehicles, small scale traction engines and of course full size traction engines. Some of these will all be dealt with separately.

Walking a bit further there there was a nice display of various vintage stationary engines/pumps/generators/ and similar machines.  They are odd machines to see because many are incredibly reliable and quite old. I always find it amusing how every now and they they emit a solitary “splut!”. I usually do not photograph these odd machines but they can be fascinating in their own right.

This 1929 Gardner 2 stroke reversible diesel engine was running and was one of a pair of engines that were used on board the motor yacht Cordelia II.  

While all this was going on, a number of giant calliope type machines were churning out a selection of oompah elevator music that impinged on the ear drums the moment you came with range.

The irritation factor of these things is huge, although I have to admit I am impressed that it can produce something almost recognisable as music, or should that be muzak?

Having done a circumnavigation of the site it was time to start watching out for when the arena events were happening. So far the vintage cars had been on display as had a selection of motor cycles. 

Next on the list was the smaller version engines. These I was was used to seeing because most of the rallies I had been to had featured the smaller versions. This rally had the fully size machines and some were really huge. But first…. 

and then…….

Followed by…..

I had secured myself a nice ringside rail to lean against (later upgraded to a chair) and could settle down to watch the parade.

My self imposed limit of pics on a page allows me to share some random images before we reach the end. 

[ This page ] [ Military Vehicles ] [ Cars and Trucks ] [ Traction Engines ] [ Odds and Sods ]

 

Random Stuff

 

 

To be continued

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 30/07/2016

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:08

Remember the Somme

The Battle of the Somme; a name to remember with sorrow because of the huge cost in human life. The campaign has long been picked part by historians and soldiers, and as always there are those who criticise the plan, the generals, the artillery, the weather, the Germans, the French and everything in between. Who is to blame? it is not my task to apportion blame, I am only here to remember those who never returned.

As with my Battle of Jutland post, I am using the Somme 100 toolkit provided by the Royal British Legion. I am afraid I could never explain the battle myself because I do not have the ability to describe such a monumental slaughter. Remember, I only photograph the graves. The Toolkit uses “The Battle of the Somme” From an original work for The Royal British Legion by Professor Sir Hew Strachan FRSE FRHistS. I am only going to reproduce excerpts from it.

The British folk memory of the Battle of the Somme is dominated by one moment: 7.30am on 01 July 1916. It was a bright summer’s day, the sun well up, and falling from the east on the backs of the German defenders and into the faces of the British. Officers sounded their whistles, and their men scrambled up ladders to get out of the trenches and into No Man’s Land. Sergeant R.H. Tawney, with the 22nd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment near Fricourt, recalled that:

“[We] lay down, waiting for the line to form up on each side of us. When it was ready, we went forward, not doubling, but at a walk. For we had 900 yards of rough ground to the trench, which was our first objective.”

By the day’s end 19,240 British soldiers had been killed and nearly twice that number wounded: the total of 57,470 casualties was and remains the highest suffered by the British Army in a single day. This single fact ensures that for most Britons the Battle of the Somme defines what they mean when they talk of the ‘tragedy’, the ‘waste’ and ‘futility’ of the First World War. Apart from the war’s opening and closing dates (for Britain 04 August 1914 and 11 November 1918), 01 July 1916 was the first day picked out for national observance when plans for the commemoration of the centenary were being drawn up.

On 01 July 2016, it will be 100 years since the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. This was one of the largest battles of the First World War fought by the British and the French against Germany. It took place on both banks of the River Somme in France, and is remembered as one of the most tragic episodes in human history. 

  • The Battle of the Somme is synonymous with the United Kingdom’s Remembrance of the First World War and the futility of trench warfare.
  • Fighting at the Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and lasted four and a half months.
  • In total, 60 nations from across the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25 kilometre front.
  • There were almost sixty thousand British and Imperial casualties on the first day of the battle, of which nearly twenty thousand were killed.
  • At the start of the battle, most of the British Army had been an inexperienced mass of volunteers.
  • Going over the top at the Somme was the first taste of battle for many men, as a large number were part of “Kitchener’s Volunteer Army” which was formed by Pals battalions, mainly recruited from the North of England. The Pals battalions were made up of groups of friends, team mates in sports clubs and colleagues, who had joined together expecting to fight together. The heavy losses in one battalion had a profound effect on Britain and were felt locally and nationally.
  • Of the approaching half a million British and Imperial casualties suffered in the 141 day-long battle, a third died. When the offensive finally came to a halt on 18 November 1916, the Battle of the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed. 
  • On 15 July the South African Brigade took Delville Wood, a thick tangle of trees, and held it against successive counter-attacks and under shellfire that shattered the forest. Of their original strength of 3,153, just 143 left the wood five days later.
  • 19,240 British soldiers had been killed by the end of the first day. It was and remains the highest suffered by the British Army in a single day. In comparison, the French Army had around 1,600 casualties and the German had 10,000–12,000 casualties.
  • The Battle of the Somme lasted 141 days (from 01 July – 18 November 1916).
  • 1,700,000 shells were fired on to the German lines by 1,600 pieces of British artillery during the eight-day preliminary bombardment.(est)
  • The first tank to engage in battle was designated D1, a British Mark I Male, during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916. 49 tanks of the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps of the British Army were sourced and were to reach Somme by September 1916. However, due to mechanical and other failures, only 36 of them participated at the Battle of the Somme.
  • 5 Miles was the furthest advance of any allied force during the whole battle.
  • During the Battle of the Somme, 51 Victoria Crosses were awarded – 17 of them were awarded posthumously.

The Battle of the Somme did not produce a ‘decisive victory’ of the sort that was alleged to have characterised earlier wars, but the Somme could be seen as a waypoint on the route to winning the war in 1918. Certainly the Somme redefined modern industrialised warfare, and was fought as a battle of attrition. Within the ‘battle’ of the Somme were scores of other battles – the battle of Albert, the battle of Flers-Courcelette, the battle of Ancre; by the standards of the previous century, the Somme was a war within a war.

“As day breaks through wind and rain we form a line on rough terrain, to face a foe we’ll never know, we will fall and die where poppies now grow. Remember us the chosen ones, the lads the dads and someone’s sons. Be not sad, just be glad, knowing we gave all we had. As you walk on our fields of doom, places where our bodies were strewn, we will gaze on you through heaven’s door and hope our words stay for evermore. When you leave save a tear, for here we stay year on year, the lads the dads and someone’s sons, the boys who fell before German guns.”

Dave Callaghan. Taken from the wall of remembrance at www.somme-battlefields.com

 

 
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 30/06/2016. Period images are sourced from the Somme 100 Toolkit of the Royal British Legion, and they originate from the Imperial War Museum.  Most of the text in this post is copied from that toolkit and Remembrance pack. Some images are from my own collection.
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:10

RAF Museum Cosford (2)

Continuing where we left off...
There are three aircraft that I deliberately did not include in the last page, and they probably deserve a page on their own, but space may require that I do have a page 3 after all. These aircraft are the famous “V Bombers” operated by the RAF during the Cold War.  These aircraft had a very interesting life, and I am glad that there are examples of all three around. These are amongst the legendary aircraft of the RAF.

Unfortunately there is no way to photograph the complete aircraft because of how they are housed, but I have tried to do my best to show these legends. 
 
Topping my list is my personal favourite: the Vickers Valiant,
  
For some reason I still think she was a very under-rated aircraft that has been overshadowed by the successes of her two sisters. They were retired in 1965, and I am glad this one (XD818) has survived, she is the only complete intact survivor of the Valiant fleet.
 
 
Painted in anti-flash white, she looks featureless and almost ghostly. If anything they were not as radical a design as the other two V Bombers.
 
  
  
The second  V Bomber of the fleet was the Handley Page Victor. And I will admit I was never really a fan of this aircraft because she really was almost Flash Gordonish with an very futuristic shape and profile. She was somewhat of a troubled lady to, but eventually fond her niche and was very successful in her tanker role. The example at Cosford is a Mk2 (XH672), and is the only surviving intact example.
  
The Victor unfortunately is almost impossible to see in her entirety, and if anything the museum need a large high viewing platform where you can see the whole aircraft properly, and of course to understand the beauty of her crescent wing and high tailplane.
 
 
Unfortunately there was no real way to see the whole of the aircraft in the space available. 
 
Probably the most famous of the V Bombers was the Avro Vulcan, and she is the stuff of legends, especially when it comes to long distance bombing missions. The Vulcan, is perched in a bit of a precarious position, but you do manage to get some sort of scale of her.
 
 
Make no mistakes, she is a big aeroplane, and she has become the poster girl of the V Bombers. There was one flying example left (XH558), but she has since been grounded, while a number of them have managed to secure a place in museums. Vulcan fans will always cite the famous Black Buck Raid on the Falklands Islands as an example of how effective a Vulcan could be, however, the reality is that without the Victors refueling the aircraft the raid would not have been possible.
  
The three V Bombers are legendary aircraft, and Cosford is the only place where you can see all three together.
 
Feeling somewhat shellshocked I headed down the stairs to visit some of the transport aircraft housed in that area of the hanger. There are a number of interesting aircraft down there, although the one that interested me the most was the Avro York, and she derives her lineage from the Lancaster. 
  
In the image below we can see the Handley Page Hastings, with a Dakota above and the wing of a Short Belfast dwarfing that East German iconic car; the Trabant.
 
 
The Short Belfast is anything by short, and only ten of them were produced. Enceladus (XR371) is the last of the aircraft produced.
 
The last aircraft exhibit that interested me was the Sikorsky MH-53M helicopter, but it was being used as a background to some sort of production and it was difficult to photograph from anywhere but the front or back.
 
There were a number of non aviation objects on display here, and the Trabant as mentioned above was one of them. Many were related to the Cold War theme of the display and while I do not have an interest in missiles I do appreciate vintage military vehicles.
Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank

Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank

Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle

Scorpion light reconnaissance vehicle

Alvis Saladin armoured car

Alvis Saladin armoured car

Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank

Soviet Bloc PT76 amphibian tank

Centurion MBT

Centurion MBT

And when all is done and dusted, we really need to call the fire brigade to clean up the mess.

Bedford mobile pump unit

Bedford mobile pump unit

That really wrapped up the Cold War Hanger, although I have to add in one last image of that most famous of transports, many of which are still flying today.

Douglas Dakota IV

It is strange to think that the venerable Dakota is still flying so long after most of the aircraft in this museum were removed from service. 
The next page will feature Hanger 1; which houses Transport and Training, The Engine collection and a host of other  items of interest.
 
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 29/03/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:38

Bovington Tank Museum (3+4)

Continuing with my visit to Bovington Tank Museum (1+2)

After World War 2 ended the world was literally awash with tanks, and many ended their days at the scrap heaps or as targets on ranges. The enemy tanks were dissected and many features would be copied and incorporated into local designs. Large amounts of surplus tanks went on to become the armoured corps of developing countries while some got enveloped in local wars. This post will deal with tanks of all shapes and sizes and colours and creeds. 

 
Starting with the French AMX13 which mounted a long gun in a small turret. The turret design is unique in that part of it is responsible for elevation and depression, while the other part is responsible for traversing. It also features an auto loader but was limited to carrying 12 rounds only. 
  
The American M46 General Patton was an improved version of the M26 Pershing, serving successfully in the Korean war, and probably for many years afterwards. This particular vehicle was supplied to Great Britain for evaluation purposes. The tiger face painted in the tank was hoped would frighten the enemy. 
  
The granddaddy of the famous Centurion tank is this Mk 1, this vehicle is a prototype and came it arrived too late to see any action. But it was the result of a successful design that would evolve into a solid, reliable and effective tank that is still in service today. 
  
Compare this vehicle to the Centurion MK 3 pictured below. These vehicles gave excellent service in the Korean War, and have served in many other theatres too. It was also a very successful export vehicle, and South Africa had a number of Centurions that were converted into the local variant called an “Olifant”. 
 
The Russians were never caught napping when it came to tank design, and one of the many successful designs was the T62 which debuted in 1965. This particular vehicle was captured during the Gulf War in 1991. By modern standards it is now a very dated design, but the large production run has meant that many survive in smaller countries all around the world.
  
This Challenger 1 MBT Mk 3 is a veteran of the Gulf War and was the first of a new generation of main battle tanks produced for the British Army. 
  
The German Leopard at the museum is an early pre-production model of what has become an extremely successful vehicle. The Leopard has undergone many evolutions in its overall design, and has been supplied to a number of countries. It is widely recognised as an extremely quick tank with impressive cross country performance. 
 
The British Chieftain tank was introduced in 1965 as the worlds first MBT, and has since been surpassed by the Challenger. A formidable vehicle, it would probably have born the brunt of a tank assault during the cold war. This example however was a former gate guard and has now retired to the museum. 
  
Opposing the Chieftain would have been the T72, and while a very good design it suffered from many flaws that were very evident during the Gulf War when it came up against British Challengers and American Abrams tanks. A number also served in Angola during the Border War and they suffered heavily at the hands of the fast moving Ratels with their 90mm guns. 
  
Concluding this blog post all that is left are the “funnies”. The experiments and odd vehicles that are inevitable when design is being considered and a prototype has to be built. Occasionally a funny does make into service and become a success. It will also feature the occasional wheeled vehicle from the museums vast collection. 
 
The museum has a wonderful collection of one-off’s, funnies, experiments and vehicles that should never have seen the light of day. Yet many of these oddities and peculiarities gave rise to much bigger and better things, and even mediocrity has its place in the greater scheme of things.
 
Probably the most impressive that I saw was the A39 Heavy Assault Tank, aka A39 Tortoise. It was a huge machine that proved totally impractical and which never saw action, even though it was designed during the war. Testing of the vehicle revealed that it was reliable, but its sheer size made transporting it extremely difficult, and it was too slow and unwieldy to be of any use. Fortunately it never went into production.
 
 
Another interesting vehicle is the TOG II, and it has the distinction of being the heaviest tank in the museum, weighing in at a hefty 80 tons. It also featured diesel electric propulsion as well as a host of other innovative features. Fortunately it did not enter service, but having seen how a heavy machine like this is hampered by its size you have to ask why the Tortoise as pictured above was ever tried in the first place. 
 
 
The Italians were not great tank designers, and it was always joked that they had more reverse than forward gears. This small tank is the Carro Veloce L3/33, and it is fitted with a flame thrower. Successfully used in places like Ethiopia against tribesmen it was a death trap when confronted by anything marginally better than itself. It had a two man crew and the pump used to spray the petrol was so weak that the tank had the ability to set fire to itself if driven too fast. 
 
  
In the background is the Rotatrailer which was like an all purpose fuel/ammunition/water carrier that could be towed behind a tank. It was not a great idea at all. For starters fuel was carried in the wheels, and these were easily damaged or leaked. And a lack of suspension jostled the contents so much that they ended up being  damaged.
 
The Stridsvagen 103 S (aka “S” Tank) was put into production for the Swedish Army. It does not have a turret which gives it a very low sillhouette. The gun is aimed by moving the tank or by raising or lowering the suspension. When it first appeared it was widely criticised, but by all accounts was actually a very successful machine.   
 
  
And on the subject of turretless tanks,  the Contentious was a British design that was more of a test bed for various ideas. It had limited traversing capabilities and was elevated or depressed by raising or lowering the suspension. It was never designed as a production model and this is probably the only one there is. 
 
  
This tracked landing vehicle is known as the Buffalo, and it was really designed to cross water carrying men or machines. It was unhandy machine on land, and had a low freeboard, but like the DUKW was an indispensable machine that performed what it was called upon to do. Used by both American and British forces it played a major part in a number of important battles. 
 
  
Everybody wants a Kettenkraftrad. This strange vehicle that seems to be a motorcycle that was swallowed by a tank, was actually a very sophisticated machine. It was intended to be used as a handy transportable vehicle that could be used as a carrier, communications vehicle, cable laying or reconnaissance. 
 
 
The Scorpion light tank (aka Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance) served successfully with British forces for a number of years. Lightweight, adaptable and well liked, it is also one of those vehicles that everybody dreams of owning. 
 
  
The one interesting item that the museum has is a Centurion tank that has been cut in half, and it is interesting to see the armour sizes of the turret areas.
 
  
Of course tanks are not the only vehicles to be seen at Bovington, and they have a good variety of armoured cars too. 
 
The BDRM-2 RKh was a Russian vehicle reconnaissance vehicle that also saw service during the Border War and was used in a number of Warsaw pact countries.  They were amphibious and have been in service for a number of years. This particular version was a chemical weapon reconnaissance vehicle and used to mark mined areas. 
 
 
 
Saladin Armoured Car

Saladin Armoured Car

 

Rolls Royce 1920 Pattern MKI

 

Humber MKI Armoured Car

Humber MKI Armoured Car

Marmon-Herrington MKVI Armoured Car

Marmon-Herrington MKVI Armoured Car

And that rather unsuccessful Marmon-Herrington concludes my trip to the Bovington Tank Museum. I have not shown everything I saw as there was so much to see. Neither can my photographs do justice to the preservation that has gone into these oldies. A number of these are in running condition too, and often appear on open days. It is a magnificent place and well worth the visit. If you don”t believe me then check out their website for more information on the museum and its exhibits.

DRW 2013-2017. Images recreated and  pages merged 15/04/2016

Updated: 13/12/2016 — 20:03

Preserved Tanks. Shuffling Shermans

The much loved Sherman is surprisingly scarce when it comes to gate guards and plinths. I saw my first plinthed one in Bethlehem and have had a beady eye out ever since.  Unfortunately there are so many variants of the M4A1 that positively identifying them is problematic unless one has all the information at hand.  The Sherman (aka “Tommy Cooker”) had one thing in its favour, they could build them faster than they could be broken! and the result is over 50000 units were built. My handy list says there are theoretically about 24 in South Africa, but I will be honest I never knew there were so many!

Special thanks to Michel van Loon, creator of the afregister.org website. A nonprofit organization that is trying to create a database with surviving armor from around the world. He was able to provide clarity on some of these Shermans in South Africa.

 
The first example in this page is the M4 Firefly in Bethlehem which is plinthed at the Springbok Redoubt Shellhole.  

Firefly in Bethlehem

There is also a Firefly and what I believe is an M4A2 variant of the Sherman at Pretoria Regiment.  The M4A2 had a 76mm gun instead of the standard 75mm, this example also has a different shaped turret to the run of the mill Sherman, but I am not a tank boffin so cannot provide much more information than that.  (Update: 14 June 2013, apparently this is an M4A1(76) )

Sherman Firefly at Pretoria Regiment. Image by Gavin Spowart

Sherman (76) at Pretoria Regt. Image by Gavin Spowart

I will do some reading and see whether I can provide more information on this variant of Sherman. The other two examples that I wish to mention are the Sherman Firefly at the National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold.

Sherman Firefly at the National Museum of Military History

 
As well as the Sherman that is on display in the one hall. The nice thing about her is that her hatches are open and you can see inside of her. 
 
She is probably the same variant as the Sherman at the Cosy Corner Shellhole in Brakpan, based on the gun and turret shape. This is as far as I know the standard M4A1 Sherman. (Update 14/06/2013, this is an M4(105))

Sherman at Cosy Corner Shellhole in Brakpan.

This is probably a Firefly variant, but I did not photograph its information sheet so can’t be too sure.

M4A1 at Dickie Fritz Shelhole in Edenvale.


(Update 14/06/2013. This is technically a Sherman that did not exist. It is an M4 Firefly hull with a 105mm turret on it)
It is evident though, that the many variants of Sherman out there can really be confusing, and when next I visit the War Museum I will see what the plaques associated with the two Shermans say. Hopefully I will be able to track down some of the others in and around Gauteng while I am about it, although they will probably just leave more questions than answers.
 
Clinton Evangelides sent me these pics of the Sherman on display at Sandstone near Ficksburg in the Free State.
 
While in the UK I visited Bovington Tank Museum and found a few more Shermans of interest.

 

This Sherman is designated M4A1, Sherman Mk 2, and is the first lend-lease Sherman and possibly one of the oldest Shermans to survive.

 


A rare swimming Sherman with its screen up.

 

A Sherman V “Crab” mine clearing tank (also known as a Flail). 

 
During the GWR Wartime Weekend, a former Sherman M4A4 rangewreck was also on display.
 
 
© DRW 2011-2017. Images recreated 18/03/2016, updated 16/05/2016
Updated: 07/12/2016 — 07:22

Preserved Tanks. A Clutch of Crusaders

Another tank that seems to dominate the gate guard and plinthed tank collection is the British Crusader MkII. Again I have no idea why there are so many around, it is possible that they were used for training duties and then became surplus to requirements. The MOTH seem to have been allocated a lot of them,  and in the area where I stay there are quite a few.  

Dardenelles Shellhole in Florida

 
Warriors Shellhole. Muldersdrift

Warriors Shellhole. Muldersdrift

My Favourite: Chilly Trench. Roodepoort

My Favourite: Chilly Trench. Roodepoort

The best preserved example is probably the one at the National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold.

National Museum of Miltary History

National Museum of Miltary History

And, there is a Crusader MkII at the Pretoria Regiment collection in Pretoria.
Pretoria Regiment Crusader. Image by Gavin Spowart 2008.

Pretoria Regiment Crusader. Image by Gavin Spowart 2008.

 
Another Crusader MkII is at Group 15 HQ in Thaba Tswane.

 


As at 2000, it appears as if 17 examples have survived in one form or another, however, with the closure of many MOTH shellholes, these vehicles may have ended up elsewhere, or their details have been lost.

Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset has on display a Crusader MKIII

 

© DRW 2011-2017. Images recreated 17/03/2016

Updated: 07/12/2016 — 07:23
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