This visit came after our stay in Weymouth and I’ve said this before, that myself and the boys love this place, it sits not to far from Dorchester and for us its a couple of hours away. Here the boys put into practice their school history lessons and take back more intricate knowledge than they wouldn’t get in class. And me, well I just love taking them to places like these and seeing some well restored machines. I’ve said before that there are hundreds of tanks to see here alongside some other items and all of them are brilliant. We last came about 18 months ago, wearing masks and some parts weren’t open. None of that this time and we enjoyed it even more as a result. One part that was open this time was the Vehicle Conservation Centre, this is open for about an hour in the afternoon and we lucked in and got inside on the balcony for a look. The guide was bombarded with questions from my boys, rarest tanks, most expensive tank, tanks that still drive etc etc. If you’re wondering the answer is over £2million, although there are some that don’t have a price as it can’t be calculated due to the fact they are the only one of its type left. Its a great day out and the boys already want to come back.
The first section of the museum takes you from the first tank through to modern day tanks. The natural place to start is with Little Willie, 1915 and William Foster & Co design this, the worlds first tank. Almost as fast as it was working than a newer better version was produced to cross the trenches in WW1, but this is the first. You can see myself and my youngest reflected in the glass
A Panzer II from WW2, likely to have seen action around 1941 in Tunisia and possibly in 1940 in France as the markings match the 1st Armormed Panzer division when this version was built, this whole section of the museum has lots of information boards about the Blitzkrieg and the allies retreat to Dunkirk
The Char B1, a French tank and one of the most heavily armed and armoured tanks at the start of WW2, they were slow and used a lot of fuel however as Germany advanced these were captured and used by Germany against the allied forces
The Tiger I and one of the most famous tanks around and a fearsome tank in WW2, whether it be in Russia, North Africa or Europe is heavy armour at the front was impervious to allied shells and its gun penetrated almost everything it hit. The boys by the tank legend
The Sherman Firefly, probably the best all round tank in WW2
M48 Patton tank. An American tank from used in the 1950s
Chieftain tank, classed as a main battle tank and used by Britain for 20 years into the early 1990s
A Tiger II, again like its predecessor this tank had formidable armour and firepower, overpowering the allied forces, however the small number produced (in the 400s) meant it struggled to restrain the allied advances in 1944
Nearing the end of the war the Germans produced some truly fearsome tanks, this is a Jagdpanther, notice there is no turret on this one hence the larger gun. Built and used in 1943 onwards this was a tank destroyer and used defensively to begin with. It required the driver to move the tank to point at the target rather than the more common swivel turret
After leaving the initial tank story area (photos up to the Chieftain tank above), you then pass through a WW1 trench section which is really clever and shows how tanks were built to cross the trenches in the world wars. Tanks named inventively Mark 5, 6, 7 and onwards are on display before you come to a section with lots and lots of tanks from differing eras including the Tiger II and Jadgpanther above, next was a café and section about Afghanistan, plus this area of 5 tanks a Conqueror on the left, then a Chieftain, and a Churchill in the middle.
One of the last tanks you see in the exhibition before seeing the factory exhibitions and gaming zones. This Jagdtiger is a 1945 heavy tracked tank, nothing could destroy this tank, allied tanks and guns included, the heaviest tank in WW2. It inflicted major damage on advancing allied forces even though only 85 were built. It was brilliantly coated in Zimmerit, a special paste to stop magnetic charges and bombs sticking to it
The final photo is of the Conservation Centre, over 100 tanks in here, some used on exhibition days, others on the right in the photo owned by the MOD as used to look for design ideas on new equipment. Apparently a few days before we were stood in here the defence secretary for Angola had been it to look at these MOD tanks, remarking that the museum had more tanks in this warehouse than his country had! Its a fantastic memorial here at the tank museum to those who have served in these regiments, plenty of the exhibitions concentrate on the people who designed and drove these pieces of equipment through many wars. The trench section is especially clever, there’s a section for the horses of the wars alongside tanks of many differing countries including Japan and Italy. We will be back