From the ships of the Royal Navy we next turned our attention to the ‘land ships’ developed since 1917 and headed off in the direction of the Bovington Tank Museum.
Yet again this is a very well presented museum and collection, and is well worth a visit if you’re in the general (southern) area. While the museum space is packed with over 150 tanks, armoured cars and other military vehicles from the First World War through to the first Gulf War, there’s plenty of room to wander around each of the vehicles to get a good look at them, and in some cases (e.g. the WW1 tanks) you can even walk through them to get a feel for the cramped interiors that tank crews have had to put up with since they were first designed.
The collection at Bovington is certainly impressive in both size and scope. While there’s a good collection of the tanks that many people would be king to see such as the Sherman, Churchill, Tiger, King Tiger, Centurion, Panzer and so on, there’s also a number of different vehicles which are also quite interesting – the Thornycroft Concrete Moving Pillbox, a small Italian tracked flamethrower, a WW2 Japanese tank and many others.
One of the highlights of a trip to the Tank Museum at the right time of the year is to see them running some of their vehicles in their outdoor arena. During our visit we were treated to seeing the museums replica WW1 tank (originally built for the Steven Speilberg move ‘War Horse’) rattle around at it’s top speed of 3mph. Thereafter we were treated to noisey and loud demonstrations by several tracked scout and personnel carriers, and then the Centurion and Leopard tanks. Having a chance to see these big battle tanks of the Cold War era running up close is great and it certainly compliments the static exhibits inside the museum — it makes it a lot easier to get a sense of what each of the older tanks must have looked and sounded like in their day.
Once again Bovington is one of the museums that offers a twelve month entry ticket, and so there’s no doubt that I’ll be back here again during the summer of 2015 to take a look at all those vehicles that I didn’t get a chance to see in detail during this (first) visit. Highly recommended for anyone even vaguely interested in military vehicles, tracked or otherwise.