One of my photos

What I did on my holidays – Tuesday morning

August 26th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Technology · No Comments · Technology

On Tuesday we went back to Bovington tank museum. Again.  It was my 4th visit to the place this year.  Its ironic really as I am basically anti-war, but I do like the hardware and both the kids want to join up when they are old enough.

There were a couple of reasons why we went back. Firstly Chrystal had not been there, and both the kids wanted to get volunteered for the tanks in action display.

During August the tank museum has these 45-minute displays called 'tanks in action' where they have some vehicles doing circuits of a field, showing off their capabilities, then they have a mock battle with a group of infantry who are selected from the audience at the beginning and trained up a bit during the early part of the display.  Last time we went we noticed where the volunteers had to go and made sure we stood there to be first in line.

There was suposed to be an age limit of 16, but both our two look a lot older than their 14 and 15 years so they got away with it. We were quite impressed that Chrystal already knew about pepperpotting as an infantry tactic, although not 100% sure that is the sort of thing 14-year-old girls ought to know.

Anyway, they managed to get volunteered, and were taken away in the back of an armoured personel carrrier, which really made their day.

Just to make it even better, the Royal Armoured Corps had a recruitment stall, and they brought along some of their current vehicles. They had a couple of smaller Scorpion-based tanks as a static display, but also a Challenger II tank which took part in the display alongside the usual Chieftan, Sherman, Leopard and Ferret.

The photo at the top is the Challenger II and it is not taken while it was moving – it actually stopped on top of the knife-edge hill perfectly balanced, which is apparently quite a tricky thing to do.

This was a real treat for Charlie as he had been raving about the Challenger II since the previous visit but had not seen one, let alone seen one driving around, letting off its smokescreen and generally looking very impressive indeed.

Before the display I took Chrystal around the museum. Jayne and Charlie had seen enough of it before, but I just could not resist another look at the mighty Tortoise and TOG2.  Chrystal was chuffed when I explained to her about rifling in gun barrels and how it is that rifles got their name.

Even though the Tortoise, TOG2, King Tiger, Jagdpanther and the rest of the heavy tanks are impressive for their sheer scale, I still find some of the smaller vehicles fascinating.

This one is a French Renault FT light tank. It was actually made in WW1 but continued to be used for ages afterwards in all sorts of places. I think that some of them turned up as late as the 1940s.

It was made in the Regie Renault at Billancourt which is what attracted me to it. I used to spend a lot of time in Paris, just around the corner from the Regie Renault, which is a factory on an island in the Seine near the end of the Metro line. The factory is quite a landmark in Paris and has now closed down and been regenerated, I believe, as a sort of artists colony.

There are a few other small tanks at Bovington: an Italian Mk13/40, an American M22 Locust and a British MkIIa amongst them, but none areanywhere near as tiny as the German Goliath tank, seen here with Chrystal standing next to it to show its scale.



The Goliath was obviously not a manned vehicle, but one which was to be filled with explosives and sent ahead to be remotely detonated – just like the radio controlled car in that Dirty Harry film with the pastiche of the Bullitt car chase.

Before we went we had to wait while Charlie queued up for a chance to go up and sit inside the Challenger II tank.  It was a bit of a drag for the rest of us, but it meant so much to him that we could not make him miss it. He loved it and was a little reluctant to get out afterwards.

I know I should be lecturing him on the evils of war and all that, but I know that I would have been just as keen at his age.

What with waiting for Charlie, and the display taking longer than usual because of the presence of the Challenger II we ended up staying at Bovington a bit longer than expected, but nobody was complaining. Its not Jayne's cup of tea but like most parents she can live vicariously through her children and loves to see them happy. 

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