BZ's Bovington Tank Museum

Photo Gallery

Just got back from a trip to England, where I made a slight detour to visit the amazing Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset. The variety of tanks on display there just boggles the mind! Described as the greatest collection of armoured vehicles anywhere, the crown jewels had to be the King Tigers, Tiger I, and Panther tanks of WWII Germany. They even have an annual Tankfest event, where they run some of their tanks out on a course in front of the museum. Of course, the timing of my trip did not match that, so I had to 'settle' for the static versions. Still, I got to spend the whole day looking at tanks from the earliest WWI models, to the latest Challenger II MBT!
Nikon D300 w/ 18-105mm VR lens - Bernard Zee

The Bovington Tank Museum is located by Bovington Camp in Dorset, South West England. Bovington camp is used by the British Army for tank driving and repair training.

A Challenger MBT (minus much of the normal bolt on bits) guards the main museum entrance.

Inside, I decided to tour the building following the development of the tank path. The Mark I tank is shown in an exhibit which recreated the shock and awe impact of the first tanks on the trench warfare scene.

Further refinements came in the form of the Mark IV tank. Though tanks had the potential to break the stalemate of trench warfare, tactics of the time did not capitalize on the early localized breakthroughs that tanks helped to create. Their limited range, mobility, speed, and most of all reliability didn't help matters much either.

The Mark V tank had improved engine and gears, and had a better top speed.

This is a Light Tank Mark IIA that Britain developed in the early thirties.

If this looks very much like an early German WWII tank, there's a reason for it! The Germans were prevented by treaty to build tanks (yeah, well look how well that turned out) - so the German tank designer Joseph Vollmer worked in Sweden! This Swedish Stridsvagn M/40L tank is his design.

The tank used welded instead of riveted construction - which was progressive at that time. The tank turret has 2 machineguns beside the main canon.

The Independent Heavy Tank A1E1 was a prototype British tank made by Vickers-Armstrongs. It was a massive tank with 5 turrets. Like a land battleship, it was abandoned as too costly.

This odd looking vehicle is the L1E3 Light Amphibious Tank. Submitted for trails by Vickers, it was never produced.

Entering the war in 1944, the Hetzer Jagdpanzer 38(f) was a compact and effective tank killer.

Sporting a 75mm anti-tank gun, the Hetzer was often used in ambush situations and could kill nearly all allied tanks at long range.

Fully enclosing the crew offered good protection. But the gun had limited traverse, and the whole tank had to be turned to track the target. The inside of the tank was also very cramped with poor visibility, leading to slower rates of fire.

Scattered throughout the museum were these 'video games' which utilized actual (as far as I could tell) guns! This one used to be a Bren machinegun.

Here's another game using a Browning machine gun!

Stepping up on the tank destroyer scale, is this Jagdpanther, Sdkfz 173 - or Hunting Panther! Using the Panther tank chassis, mated with the hard hitting 88mm Pak43 gun.

The big 88mm gun allowed the Jagdpanther to destroy any allied tank, and the heavy sloped amour made them formidable opponents.

But like the Hetzer, the limited gun traverse meant the whole tank needed to turn to engage fast crossing targets.

Close up of the Hetzer with the Hunting Panther behind it.

Only towards the end of WWII did the U.S. field a tank that could go toe to toe with the German Tigers. This M-26 General Pershing was that tank!

Deployed to Europe in Jan, 1945, the M26 only saw limited combat before the war ended. The tank could have been developed an fielded much earlier, but there was a lack of vision on the U.S. army side - who thought that the existing Shermans were good enough. Of course, they failed to realize that the Germans and Russians had a tank race going on, and the good ole M4 Shermans had became almost obsolete before they even realized it!

Based on the Sherman chassis, the Ram Kangaroo was an improvised personnel carrier which could carry 8 infantrymen.

This cute little tracked vehicle was the Universal Carrier, or Bren Gun Carrier. It was mostly used for transporting personnel and equipment, or as a machine gun platform. With over 113,000 units built - it is the most produced armoured vehicle in history!

On the opposite size of the size spectrum, is this massive King Tiger tank. Officially called Panzer VI Model B, Sdkz 182 (for the purist), the tank was also called Royal Tiger, King Tiger, or Tiger II tank.

Just to provide some perspective, that guy with the hat was a tall dude - well over 6'3" - and he is dwarfed by the tank!

This tank was a prototype Tiger II fitted with an early style Porsche type turret. The Porsche turret can be identified by the curved front turret mantlet - which could act as a 'shot trap'. That is, a shell striking the lower part of the turret may end up being deflected down to the weaker part of the tank hull.

Closeup of the King Tiger's hull mounted machine gun.

Kind of tough to get a good picture with the turret turned to the side!

One last look at this King Tiger! It inspires awe even now, 65 or so years later.

The Museum had not one, but 2 King Tigers. This is the other King Tiger with the production Henschel turret. Note the flat front turret mantlet.

King Tigers were brutes weighing in at 68 tons, with a highly potent 88mm Kwk 43 L/71 gun.

This tank is also coated with a Zimmeritt - a sort of putty (that dried hard) meant to prevent magnetic mines from sticking to it. Magnetic mines were never much of a treat, though the Germans spent a lot of effort to counter it.

This particular tank was from the SS Panzer Battalion 101, which broke down near Beauvais and abandoned by its crew - then shot up by a Sherman. Note that the Sherman didn't really do all that much damage to it!

The King Tiger had a 690hp V-12 Maybach gasoline engine - which was the same engine used for in the much lighter Panther and Tiger tanks. King Tigers were therefore quite under-powered and not very maneuverable!

Most allied tanks had to try to flank the King Tiger in order to get a shot at the thinner side and rear armor. This was particularly tough as the Tigers were typically in a defensive posture.

Though a fearsome weapon, the King Tiger was plagued by transmission, engine, and suspension issues. Thing is, the tank broke down a lot.

The tank was an overmatch for anything the allies had on the Western front. It had a very lopsided kill to loss ratio - with most of the losses due to breakdowns, or just running out of fuel. Good thing Hitler had a fixation on these super-weapons. The allies would be hurt a lot more if Germany had concentrated instead on making more Panthers.

Here are a few more closeup shots of the King Tiger.

Hull machine gun + main gun.

I 'think' that's the driver's periscope.

You had to feel bad for the allied tank crews, who had to go against German Tiger and King Tiger tanks in these relatively venerable M4A1 Shermans.

Fairly reliable and easy to work on, the Sherman was everything the King Tiger was not. Unfortunately, the same statement applies to the gun and armor. Underpowered gun, and thin armor - the Shermans were easy pickings for the more powerful German tanks. Regular Shermans really weren't suited to fight it out with German tanks. The doctrine at that time was to use tank destroyers for tank to tank action. Sounds good on paper, but didn't work out too well in the field.

Here are some early Cruiser tanks.

The SdKfz 251 Armoured Personnel Carrier was used as Mechanized transport for the Stormtroopers. Also called a 3/4 track vehicle (not half track!).

This is a Daimler Armoured Car Mark I, which was used by the British in all theatres of war.

Another view of the early Cruiser Mark I tanks.

Cruiser tanks were intended to be fast and lightly armoured.

This Cruiser Tank RAM Mark II was built in Canada. If the tank's drive system looks familiar, it's because its based on the American M3 General Lee.

Though it looks familiar, the Cruiser Tank Mark V never saw any action.

I must have been in the tanks of Fail section, since this Infantry Tank A38 - Valiant, was labeled as 'One of the worst tanks ever built'! It went on to detail all the things that was wrong with it. Naturally, it did not enter production. :-)

The GMC DUKW was an 6 wheeled amphibious vehicle which was used extensively by the Allies during their invasion operations. They were used to collect supplies from ships out at sea, and carry them inland. Thus helping keep the invasion troops supplied.

One of the specialized vehicles developed to help clear mine fields was this Sherman V Crab.

The tanks engine turned the cylinder at the front. The attached chains would flail the ground and set off any land mines.

In operation, 3 tanks would flail side by side at 2 mph to clear a path through minefields. Another 2 tanks would provide supporting fire since the flailing tank could not use its guns. Dangerous work!

Here's the ubiquitous M9A1 Armoured half track. Used by the Allies for all sorts of things, from weapons carrier, ambulance, and command vehicle to personnel carrier.

This is the nifty little Chaffee M24 Light Tank.

Armed with a 75mm gun, it was still not powerful enough to fight German tanks. But it was a great improvement over the much smaller gun of earlier light tanks.

The M24 design endured past WWII, and the tank saw action in a variety of conflicts ranging from Korean War, Indo-China war, and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 (where they didn't stand much of a chance).

The M8 Greyhound Light Armoured Car was manufactured by the Ford, and used by U.S. and British troops for reconnaissance. With 6 wheel drive, it was fast and reliable.

The M8 had a 37mm M6 gun, and a coax .30 cal Browning machine gun.

The British thought it was too lightly armoured - especially the hull floor. As a workaround, they lined the floor with sand bags as a band-aid solution to landmines.

The M-10 Tank Destroyer was originally fitted with a 3 inch gun, which proved inadequate against later German armor. The British refitted many M-10s with the 17 pounder anti-tank gun - widely considered one of the best allied anti-tank guns of the war.

Thus equipped, the M-10 had a fighting chance against the heavier German tanks.

The Germans had a nifty 8 wheeled Heavy Armoured Car called the SdKfz 234/3. It had a short 75mm gun used for close support.

It had very good off road performance, as the suspension, steering, and engine were quite advanced for its day.

Used on the Russian front as a reconnaissance vehicle, the Luchs PzKfw II Ausf L was never built in large quantities.

It did have great speed, and excellent mobility though.

This is a LVT-4 Water Buffalo, which is armed with a Polsten 20mm cannon.

LVTs were of course, used during amphibious assaults. The LVT-4 had a large ramp door added to the rear, which allowed troops to exit from the rear.

Coming as a rude shock to the Germans, the Russian KV-1B Heavy Tank was more than a match for any German tank in 1941.

The slogan on the tank states 'From the women of Leningrad to the Front'.

The SU-76M was Light Mechanized Gun with a ZiS-3 76.2mm gun matted to a T-70 light tank chassis.

At the top of the tank destroyers is this Jagdtiger SdKfz 186. It was the biggest, baddest, armored fighting vehicle of WWII. Built on a lengthened King Tiger chassis, with super thick slopped superstructure, it was fitted with a monstrous 128mm gun.

The 128mm PaK 44 L/55 gun could kill any Allied tank even at long ranges.

The tank was severely overweight and underpowered though. Most were lost to mechanical breakdowns, and lack of fuel. Bigger is not necessarily better! (yeah, just keep saying that. :-)

Here's a wide view showing some later model allied tanks.

This exhibit has a Tetrarch Mark VII tank housed in the remnants of a Hamilcar Glider. A handful of these tanks were airlifted to battle on D-Day in support of the 6th Airborne Division.

The Panzerkampfwagen IV (typically called Panzer IV) D/H Medium tank was developed in the late 30s, and used extensively in WWII.

Originally designed for infantry support, it nevertheless found itself fighting other tanks. Thus the upgrade to a bigger 75mm KwK 40 L/43 anti-tank gun.

The Panzer IV was robust and reliable, and saw combat in all German theaters of operation.

This tank was so good it was the only model to remain in continuous production throughout the war, with over 8,800 units produced.

This is a Sturmgeschutz III (StuG III) 40 Ausf G self propelled gun. Originally intended as direct fire support for the infantry, the StuG III was modified and widely used as a tank destroyer later on.

This tank was the most widely produced German armoured vehicle of the war, with 9500 units built.

An interesting looking tank is this Churchill Mark III AVRE.
AVRE stood for Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers.

The Churchill tank has these unique looking tracks which remind me of an alligator tail.

Closeup of a Churchill Mark III turret, with a 290mm Mortar.

The stubby gun fires a high explosive demolition charge meant to destroy enemy fortifications.

An early US light tank was the M3A1 Stuart IV.

Stuarts were used in North Africa and Europe in the early part of the war, and were fairly reliable. Considered too lightly armed and armoured for combat in the later stages of the European war, the Stuarts proved to be more effective fighting in the jungle environments of the Pacific. Even so, they were replaced by Shermans in the later stages of the war.

The Crusader III was a sleek looking and fast tank, which fought in the desert campaigns early in the war.

It had an excellent Christie suspension system, and a powerful V12 engine. However, engine cooling problems made the tank unreliable in the desert environment.

The tank had a relatively small 40mm gun, which was obsolete by 1942.

Here's another example of the Stuart light tank.

Back end of the Stuart, showing a pan to catch the dripping oil. Cool to see that these are real vehicles, and that they are likely still operational!

Probably not widely recognized, this is a Humber Mark I Armoured Car.

This is a late model Valentine IX Infantry Tank, with a 75mm gun. Though not heavily armoured, it made its reputation on reliabilty.

Late in the war, the British introduced the Comet tank, which some consider the best all-around tank (certainly the best British tank) of the war.

The Comet tank had the excellent 17 pounder high velocity anti-tank gun, and was fairly reliable. Though they saw some action towards the end of the war, it did not have much effect on the war situation.

The M46 General Patton was introduced in the Korean War. It was basically a M26 Pershing with a stronger engine and some minor modifications.

A British Centurion Mark I. The start of a new generation of excellent British tanks.

This wall of tank canons showed the huge size differences (and power) between the biggest and smallest guns.

Moving on to another building, more modern tanks can be seen. Here's a Russian T-55A Instructional tank with 'cutaway' views.

The tank is fully operational, and the cutouts allow the crew to be observed during training by instructors.

Here's a view inside the T-55 turret. It's pretty cramped in there!

The Strv 103 S-Tank was an interesting tank design from Sweden. The land of Ikea came out with the revolutionary idea to have a fixed gun which is aimed by adjusting the suspension. The end result was a tank with a very low silhouette. The idea hasn't really caught on with the rest of the world though.

The Hagglund Infanterikanonvagn 91 (say that 10 times) was a tank destroyer design from Sweden.

This boxy looking creation is the TOG II, and is the heaviest tank in the Museum at 80 tons. Developed by the British before WWII, it was designed to fight in a trench warfare environment. Only 2 prototypes were built, and it never entered production.

Looking exactly like the Chieftain from which it was derived, the Khalid had an improved V12 diesel. Initially designed for export to Iran, the tank order was cancelled after the Iranian revolution.

The tank type was later picked up by Jordan and entered service there.

On a raised platform, many of the tanks in this building can be seen.

The near tank was an aluminum Chieftain.

A Conqueror and 2 Chieftains.

This is an American M103A2 heavy tank. It's huge 120mm gun was meant to engage Russian tanks at long distance. Thankfully, the cold war did not go hot - and the M103 never saw action.

M60A1 was a widely used US and NATO cold war tank. Though it had a stabilized gun, it was not good enough for it to fire accurately on the move.

A gaggle of middle aged tanks...

The Leopard 1 MBT sits in the middle of an armoured car and the M41 Bulldog.

The Leopard 1 tank focused on firepower and mobility. It had a British L7 105mm gun, and wonderful cross country performance unmatched.

Used by over a dozen countries worldwide, the Leopard 1 has mostly been phased out now.

The Spahpanzer Luchs (or Lynx) was a large 8 wheel amphibious armoured car.

The AMX-30 was the main French MBT of the 60s.

The T-55 tank was the most produced tank in history, with numbers estimated in the 86k to 100k range. The appearance of the Russian T-55 spurred the U.S. to develop the M60 as a counter.

The T-55 can still be seen in use around the world (in 3rd world countries).

Simple and reliable, the T-55 design stands up well over time. It has no chance though, when pitted against more modern MBT like the Abrams, Leopard IIs, and Challenger IIs!

The BTR-60 Armoured Personnel Carrier could carry 16 infantrymen. But having the soldiers mount or dismount by climbing over the top isn't such a great idea.

I didn't get the name, but thought it looked like a fun vehicle to tool around in!
Got a note from Allen Eriksen - who helped identify it as a M-548 ammo carrier. Thanks Allen!

The slightly odd looking BRDM-1 Scout Car was fully amphibious.

Thought I'd throw in an artsy shot.

The French took their AMX-13 tank, and modified it into the AMX-VCI Armoured Personnel Carrier.

The Panhard AML 60 Armoured Car was also a French design.

This is a Canadian Leopard C2 MBT.

The Canadians selected the base Leopard 1, and customized it to their standard.

See their Maple leaf emblem?

Canadian Leopard tanks were deployed to Kosovo, and recently to Afghanistan against the Taliban. The C2 tanks were later replaced with the much more advanced Leopard 2 tanks. The initial reason given for the change was degradation of crew performance due to lack of air conditioning - but that was later played down. Right...

The U.S. M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier was a common sight during the Vietnam war, and variants are still in use today.

This is a Swedish modified Centurion called Stridsvagn 104. It has since been replaced by the very capable Leopard 2 in the Swedish armed forces.

Here's another view of the M103A2 heavy tank and its huge canon.

Though both Chieftains, the left left is the more familiar looking type.

The Chieftain was the most advanced tank of its era. In 1966, it had the most powerful gun, and the heaviest armour of any tank in the world. Oddly enough, the tanks' trial by fire was during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 (used by the Iranians).

Here are some examples of projectiles penetrating armor. This shell 'almost' made it through the test armor.

On to another wing of the Museum, are displayed some recent desert veterans. This is a SU-100 self propelled assault gun, which was based on the chassis of the T-34 tank. This example was used by the Egyptian Army and captured at Port Said during Operation Musketeer in 1956.

The 100mm D-10S gun on the SU-100 can be fired like artillery or used in the anti-tank role. It was nicknamed 'Pizdets vsemu' ('F***ing end to anything') by the Soviet soldiers, and could defeat any German tank of the period! Introduced late in WWII, the SU-100 saw extensive use in the last year of the war.

Here's a shot showing the big long gun of the SU-100.

The Challenger I MBT was the primary tank that Britain used during the first Gulf War.

Of note is the special composite Chobham armour used (also used by the American M-1 Abrams), which gave it superior protection against HEAT rounds and kinetic energy penetrators.

Back view of a different Challenger tank. The tank performed really well during the first Gulf War, but is now superseded by Challenger 2 in British armoured regiments.

During the Gulf war, Challenger 1 tanks claimed 300 kills against Iraqi armor with no losses. The powerful L11A5 120mm rifled gun allowed the longest tank to tank kill in history - destroying an Iraqi tank at a range of 5.1km!

This is a Chinese copy of a Russian T62 captured in Iraq. The general assessment is that the tank was better built than the original Soviet prototypes.

Of course, this Iraqi tank looked a bit trashed from heavy use.

This Modified T-55 is another captured Iraqi tank. It's a Polish built T-55 with fitted with extra armour around the front and sides of the turret and hull.

The Warrior tracked armoured vehicle is still in use by the British and Kuwati Army. It has a 30mm Rarden cannon, and can carry 7 soldiers in addition to 3 crew.

As an interesting note, it has no firing ports in the hull for the troops - which is in line with the British philosophy that the APC is to carry troops under protection to the objective, where they need to disembark to fight!

Similar to the Bradley AFV, the Warrior uses Aluminium and applique armour.

This is a Sabre Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (CVR). It uses the 30mm Rarden turret from a Fox reconnaissance vehicle on a Scorpion hull. The combination was not successful and the vehicle withdrawn from service in 2004.

This Panhard AML 90 light armoured car is a bring-back from the Falklands war.

The AMX-13 is a French Light tank with interesting GIAT turret with 2 automatic 6 round revolver type magazine. It could fire 12 rounds quickly, but then had to retreat to reload (from the outside of the vehicle!).

A bit of trivia - the AMX-13 was named after its initial weight of 13 tons.

A United Nations colored Ferret Scout Car. The Ferret had 4 wheel drive, with run flat tires. Quite noisy for the crew though, as all the running gear was within the enclosed body with them!

This monstrous slef propelled gun was called the Tortoise. Aptly named I suppose, since it was too heavy and too slow for modern warfare!

The Tortoise was heavy at 78 tons, and carried the 32 pounder (94mm gun). Only 6 were produced.

This Ferret has a stronger bite in the form of a couple of Vigilant anti-tank missiles.

It's the MK 2/6 model used by the British and Abu Dhabi Army.

Looking very tough, it's the Saracen 'special water dispenser'... Really? Water dispenser? A very dainty term for water canon riot control armoured car!

There was a cutaway Centurion tank - actually split right down the middle - with a screen projection showing the tank driver's view during a simulated tank run.

Moving on to a different building (all connected by the way), are some immaculate tanks in 'The Tank Story' exhibit.

Little Willie was an early successful tank prototype the British developed to break the stalemate of trench warfare.

The Whippet was officially known as the Tank Medium, Mark A. It was a fast tank by WWI standards, but difficult to drive.

This is the Vickers-Armstrongs Mark E Tank, introduced in 1928. Not used by the British army, it was nevertheless a commercial success and sold all around the world - from South America to Japan. It went on to influence tank designs in many other countries (the Japanese WWII tanks do bear a strong resemblance to it).

An early WWII German tank, the Sd Kfz 121 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf F (or just Panzer II) tank was used for reconnaissance.

This example was captured by British forces in Tunisia in 1943.

The Tank Cruiser Mark III was the first in the long line of British tanks to use a Christie suspension. These tanks fought on in Western France in 1940 till the British Dunkirk evacuation.

This rough looking tank is the French Char B-1 Bis Heavy Tank. The tank saw extensive combat in the summer of 1940 against the Germans.

Here's a Sd Kfz 141/1 Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf L - or Panzer III for short. The Panzer IIIs were continuously uparmoured and upgunned till 1943. Though by 1942, it was cleary outclassed by the latest Soviet tanks.

Probably the tiniest tracked vehicle, the Sd Kfz 2/2 Kleines Kettenkraftrad was an odd looking motorcycle contraption. But the front pilot wheel was not really necessaryand could be removed since the vehichle steered by braking the track on one side or the other. These versatile vehicles were used as weapons carriers, cable layers, reconnaissance, and as light gun tractors.

The Matilda II was a great tank for the dessert, and had remarkable success in the North African campaign.

The tank had good armour protection against other tanks and anti-tank guns (but not against German 88s), but its gun was rather weak, and the tank a bit on the slow side. The tank was obsolete by 1942.

The M3 Medium tank had a 75mm gun in the hull and a small 37mm gun in the turret. M3s with a British design turret was called a Grant, and original American turret was called a Lee.

Widely considered the best German tank design of WWII, the Panther tank (this example was a Sd Kfz 171 Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf G) was a very balanced design.

The Panther was very fast, highly maneuverable, and had a wicked powerful and accurate high velocity 75mm gun.

On the downside, the Panther was typical of German over-engineering - which made it complicated and somewhat unreliable.

Still, it wasn't until years later that Allied tanks caught up with the Panther in terms of capability.

The front plate sloped armor had welded dovetail joints for increased strength.

Hey, Bosch still makes headlights (and washing machines and dishwashers)!

All the Panthers I've seen pictures of have this bucket on the rear...I have no idea what for!

Bovington Museum holds the distinction of having the only operational Tiger I tank in the world!

This is the Sd Kfz 181 Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf E, otherwise known as the Tiger I tank.

It has a powerful 88 KwK 36 gun, and 110mm of front turret armour.

The Tiger's formidable combination of killer gun and armor impervious to most allied tanks earned it a fearsome reputation on the battlefield.

Since surviving Tiger tanks are few and far between, I decided to overindulge in pictures of it! This is a close shot of its hull machine gun.

Unlike what happened in 'Saving Private Ryan', you couldn't just stick your machine gun into the driver's viewport to shoot the occupants. The viewport is pretty small, and covered by thick bullet proof glass.

The overlapping road wheels could trap mud and ice sufficiently to stop the big tank in bad conditions.

Tiger tanks tended to be finicky though. It was easy for the engine to catch fire, and the gearbox could break if subjected to too much stress. More tanks were probably lost through mechanical failure than direct combat.

This tank was the first Tiger to be captured by Allied forces. In a battle with British Churchill tanks in Tunisa, it knocked out 2 Churchill tanks, but a luck shot from another Churchill skipped off the gun mantlet and jammed the turret, wounding the commander. The crew subsequently abandoned the tank, and British forces recovered it the next day.

Looking a little forlorn with the engines removed for overhaul.

Would have loved to see it rolling about on the exerciese grounds!

One of the best tanks of WWII, the Soviet T-34 skillfully used sloped armour to increase the effective thickness of the hull, had excellent mobility, and was robust and simple to maintain. This example is an upgunned version using a larger 85mm gun.

The T-34 production continued well after WWII, and was supplied to at least 28 other countries.

The Crowmwell IV (Tank Cruiser Mark VII A27M) was quite the speedster, as it used a V12 engine derived from the Spitfire's Merlin. In the reconnaissance role, it was superb - but protection and firepower were not that great.

It didn't enter service until 1944, as it took 2 years to get rid of the major problems. Initially designed for a 57mm gun, it was upgunned to 75mm when it entered production.

With its powerful engine and Christie suspension, the Crowmwell speed and mobility helped keep the German defenses off balance during the dash for Antwerp.

A Daimler Mark II armoured car was also on display there. The Mark II saw service in all theatres of WWII, and proved to be quite popular.

The M4A4 Medium tank fitted with the British 17 Pounder gun was also known as the Sherman Firefly. Sherman Fireflys were in great demand, as the 17 pounder proved to be an excellent anti-tank gun - and could deal with the heavier German tanks.

Of course, although it had a bigger sting - it was still a Sherman, and thus very vulnerable to German tanks and anti-tank guns.

Although the British had the modified Sherman Firefly, the Americans did not adopt the idea (perhaps a case of the not-invented-here syndrome), and trudged on longer with the woefully inadequate medium velocity 75mm gun. Later Sherman easy-8s did have a better 76mm gun though those too were in short supply.

The M48 is one of a line of tanks called Patton.

An interesting design is the curved shape of the lower hull - which was designed to resist mine blasts.

M48 tanks proved very popular and was built in large numbers for U.S. and its allies. Further refinement of the design lead to the M60 tank.

The Churchill VII infantry tank was slow, but had an amazing ability to climb - which proved useful in Italy. The gun was not very powerful, but the armour was very thick - and the Churchill could take a lot of punishment.

Churchills can often be seen in war reels outfitted with the Crocodile flame thrower.

The original versions in 1940 proved very unreliable. Almost cancelled because of reliability problems, the tank was improved on and accepted after proving its worth in Tunisia.

A small number of flamethrowing and regular gun Churchill tanks went on to fight in Korea in 1950-51.

Looking like a tank with a bag on its head - the M4A2 Tank Medium Duplex Drive was designed to swim on D-Day. Sherman DDs had propellers for use in the water, and a huge canvas screen which is raised to provide buoyancy. They were somewhat successful, but many sank in the rough seas of D-Day.

The Centurion tank was a very successful post WWII main battle tank design which was used in more wars than any other Western tank. Perhaps the most famous use of the tank was by Isreal during the Battle of 'The Valley of Tears' on the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. There, around 100 Isreali Centurion tanks defeated the advance of 500 Syrian T-55 and T-62 tanks.

This is a Soviet T-62, which was a further development of the T-55. T-62s were used heavily by the Soviets in their war in Afghanistan.

The T-72M1 was a Soviet tank designed for export. T-72 tanks were used by Iraqi Republican Guards during the Gulf War, Syrians in Lebanon, various former Yugoslavia states, and by Chechnya.

The T-72 had a very low profile, which was achieved by the elimination of the loader and using an auto-loader instead. Ammunition was arranged round the turret like a carousel. This arrangement is very problematic, since T-72s have a tendency to pop the turret catastrophically when hit, as its own ammunition cooked off.

Overall battle record of the T-72M was poor, as it suffered terrible losses in battle against US M1A1 and British Challenger 1 tanks in the first Gulf War.

Here's the Chieftain tank, which is considered the world's first Main Battle Tank (MBT).

With a powerful 120mm gun, and heavy armour, the Chieftain was one of the most advanced tanks of its time.

It was designed to destroy enemy tanks as well as provide close direct support for infantry.

Although withdrawn from British service, it's still a very modern looking design!

The Saladin was 6 wheeled armoured car with a 76mm Gun, which was produced in the 50s. It saw service with the Kuwaiti Army in 1990, but was of course no match for Iraqi tanks.

This other European tank is the German Leopard 1.

Small and light, the Leopard prized speed and mobility over heavy armour and firepower. Even though adopted by many countries, the Leopard 1 has never seen combat; only peace keeping duties.

This is Britain's current MBT, the Challenger 2. Utilizing improved Chobham/Dorchester Armour, the Challenger 2 has superior protection.

The tank carries a rifled 120mm gun - which provides hard hitting accurate firepower. The main gun can be fired up to 8 rounds per minute by a well trained crew.

The Challenger 2 weighs in at 63 tons, and has a top speed of 37 mph.

The Challenger 2 ranks right up there with the M1A2 Abrams and Leopard 2 for the best tank ever. Which tank is the 'best' varies depending on who you talk to!

Saw this interesting knob with a caption that says "In case of Fire Twist this way and pull". Hmmmm I hope the fire suppression system would not knock out the crew!

Challenger 2 tanks saw combat in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. The tanks' combat record was excellent, and it proved to be tough and fairly resistant to RPGs and anti-tank missiles in close fighting urban environments.

So, having stayed till almost closing, it was time to say goodbye to the Tank Museum. My, what a place!

On the way out, I had to take a few more snaps. Here's a Churchill Mark IV outside the Museum.

No clue. Some kind of assault gun on a Centurian chassis?

A Centurian tank on a slight hill overlooking the street entrance to the Museum.

A Challenger tank at the entrance of a nearby camp.

Such a nice sunny day to be driving on the wrong side of the road! :-)