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MAY 2004...

I could rave about the weather. I could go on about the Spring food fairs, or could even wax lyrical about the profusion of things to see and do which always comes hand-in-hand with the arrival of decent weather. But I won't. I'll rave about Tanks...

ABRAMS TANK

 The world's largest tank museum is in Bovington, about two hours' drive away from us in Dorset. They have twice-yearly Tankfests, which is when they wheel out dozens of tanks and put them through their paces for the crowds to gape at. The roar of tank engines, the clank of tank tracks, the whine of revolving turrets - THAT'S a crowd-pleaser! Who the hell needs football!?!

 

TIGER 1. The most famous German tank of World War II was the Panzer VI 'Tiger', and Bovington has just wrapped up years of restoration on what's now apparently the only functioning one in the world ( read about the project on the museum's Tiger pages here). This was the first time that a working  German Tiger had been seen in Europe for the last half-century. Amazing. I heard people in the crowds saying that they'd come over from the USA just for the occasion.

TIGER AND RUSSIAN t54

 

 
SHERMAN

SHERMAN. This American-built tank is probably the second-most well-known of the war. For the sake of balance, the nice people at Bovington naturally drove one out into the sunshine too. They then followed that up with a massive convoy of armour which kept me very happy for hours.

M16

 

 
PZKFW IV CREW

STILL CREW-SIN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. The crews who actually kept these monsters moving were generally togged up in the appropriate gear, and the tanks were naturally kitted out with all the right accessories, including cupola machine guns and the other things that keep us military-modellers happy as we look things over for authenticity. I took this pic as the Tiger was coming around to park next to the Panzer IV in the foreground which had just rolled to a stop in front of me. It was a unique experience to stand in front of the Tiger as it swung around and clanked directly towards where I was standing, its gun barrel pointing directly over my head. Not too many people have had that experience....or if they did, they're probably a lot flatter by now.

 

 
   

OUTGUNNED. It's not just for adults either. This kid was sitting on his Dad's shoulders and doing a real 'David and Goliath' thing by drawing a bead on every tank as it roared past him. Someone should have told him that he was outgunned. By a considerable margin. Still, he obviously had fun...

HE'LL SHOW 'EM!

 

 

 

 
ONE MORE STRANGE VEHICLE FOR THE DAY

REMAINS OF THE DAY. The last unusual vehicle of the day was actually reserved for the trip home - a Quad bike which ferried traffic around a detour as I was about half way back to Bristol.

Missed out on news for earlier this year? Catch up with a quick scan on our 2004 page here.

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