Bovington Tank Museum

This is an amazing place … full of all sorts of Tanks and Armoured Vehicles, some of them quite rare (even to the point of being unique).

Matilda equipped with a Canal Defence Light

As some of you may know things were pretty desperate in Oz in 1942 – it was feared that the Japanese would actually invade Australia (we didn’t know at the time how limited their shipping capacity was … or the politicians running around like headless chooks didn’t … and that the idea of an actual serious invasion was a pipe dream) … and the UK and the US (who either didn’t care or were better informed about Japanese capabilities) weren’t interested in supplying us with modern war materiel such as combat aircraft and armoured vehicles.

For aircraft, we produced the Boomerang, which is relatively widely known, but less well known is that we produced a small number of tanks of modern design … but they never went into full production because the Yanks eventually supplied us with Stuarts which we used in New Guinea and Grants which were mostly used in Australia. The Brits supplied us with some Matildas, which were also used in New Guinea as well as for home defence.

A Sentinel, the Australian Cruiser Mk 1 … one of only a half a dozen or so of the small number of prototypes which survived the war.
Another view of the Sentinel
A Tiger 1 with a T-34/76 of the Finnish Army (captured from the Soviets and later gifted to Bovington)
Panther and JagdPanther

The Museum also has a Canadian Kangaroo, a conversion of the Canadian Ram tank (which married a modified M3 Grant hull, no sponson, with an indigenous turret with a 2 pdr gun) which was never actually fielded in combat as a tank. There were other ‘variants’ of APC idea fielded by the Canadians (and the Brits) based on Sextons/Priests (SP Guns based on a Sherman chassis) with their guns removed or converted Shermans. The one below is a genuine Ram chassis!

Kangaroo APC
French Char-B1 Heavy Tank
Little Willie the first prototype armoured vehicle and the precursor to the Tank

Just a few days before I was there they’d had a ‘Tankfest’ weekend with some of their tanks put through their paces on the field outside … including the museum’s famous Tiger 301, which is one of the few Tigers still running … and you can see the track marks on the floor from where she was returned to the display hall.

The museum’s running Tiger 301
Italian Flamethrower tankette – a really terrible design. The armoured (lightly) fuel trailer supplied fuel through a hose that ran through the lightly armoured ‘cockpit’ and the underpowered engine was supposed to run the pressure pump that squirted the fuel.

Can you say ‘flaming coffin’ …

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