Friday, 6 December 2013

Bovington Tank Museum (3)

Continuing with my visit to Bovington tank Museum (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. 

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