Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer

HAWKs Tankfest Tour (part 3, Tankfest Preview Day)

After breakfast in the hotel we headed for Bovington.  Friday was “preview day.”  Tankfest is officially Saturday, but getting there on Friday allowed us to see the museum and all the additional vendors brought in for the day.  Since most of the people were out watching the tanks drive around the track, the museum was pretty empty most of the day, which was great.

Approaching the Tank Museum

I took over 500 pictures on Friday, but I’ve only included 25 or so in this blog post.  That isn’t really enough time to even hit the highlights.  Suffice to say, it was a great day.  We took our time, read all the signs, had a chance to talk to some of the reenactors, and just immerse ourselves in the development of tanks.  It is really cool to see in person tanks you have only seen in pictures.  It really gives you a sense of scale.  The small tanks are really small, and the large tanks are really large.  The magnitude of the differences really hits home when you get to see them in person, stand next to them, and touch them.

WWI Mk. IV tank

The initial exhibit traces the development of tanks in WWI.  I think we spent more than 90 minutes in just this section of the museum.

German machine-gun in the WWI trench display

A British tank approaches the trenches

Don, Eric, and me ready for action

Another view of this Mark IV tank

This is a Mark VIII, I think. It could hold 30 fully-equipped soldiers and is the first armored personnel carrier

The HAWKs Tankfest Expeditionary Force

Fascines atop a WWI tank

In many cases, there were glass windows cut into the WWI tanks so you could look inside them.  In other cases you could walk through them.

After the WWI exhibit, you enter the Hall of Tigers, dedicated to Tiger Tanks.

I found this sign particularly interesting. As the Tiger tank was so iconic, it is interesting just how few there were of them.

Me in front of a Tiger I tank in the Hall of Tigers

After the Hall of Tigers, we entered the WWII floor.  Again, I took over 500 photos, but I am only including a few.  It is very difficult to imagine the size of the museum and all the really investing vehicles on display.

An M5 Stuart light tank in the big display room

An M3 Stuart light tank

A German Stug. III

German Panzer II L

PzKfz 234/3

A duplex drive (DD) Sherman tank in the Hall of Tanks. You can see the Sherman through the window they have cut into the canvas skirt.

A French Char B

A Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go tank

A British Cruiser Mark V tank

A cutaway view of a British tank lets you see just how crowded a tank can be.

Then we entered my favorite part of the museum, the Hall of Tanks.  This traces the early development of the tank (on the left) through the Cold War (on the right).  There are a number of displays that allow you to view archival footage of many of the vehicles.  Note that despite this being Tankfest weekend, the crowds were low inside the museum.

A ball tank in the sci-fi tank exhibit

The model fortress in the sci-fi tank display

One of the interesting displays what was not here last year is a display of tank concepts throughout history.  There were probably 30 on display, but I only provide pictures of two here.

A French, Char-B on display.

A French FT-17 on display

Me next to a WWI tank

A German A7V reproduction ready to roll onto the field

There are a number of visiting, refurbished or reproduction tanks on the display, including those pictured.  Most of these are supposed to be driving around the track on Saturday.

There were a number of re-enactment groups set up around the periphery.  Some of the groups were very happy to interact with you.  Others seemed somewhat standoffish.

I have two of these for gaming, but this is the only time I have seen an airborne armored jeep in person.

Some weapons on display with the 29th infantry. You don’t often see some of these weapons.

An Army war correspondent

A group representing the 101st Airborne

A German “squeeze bore” gun in one of the reenactment group areas

The “barn.” As with most museums, a fair number of the artifacts cannot be put on display. For Tankfest this additional storage area was open to the public.

An thus ended our first day at Tankfest.  After an uneventful ride back to Poole, we had dinner in a local gastropub, watched a couple episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, and went to bed relatively early.


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