With just six weeks to go until TANKFEST 2018, The Tank Museum has announced a line-up of special guest tanks that will be taking part in arena displays.
“At TANKFEST we are proud to be able to display what is the greatest display of historic moving armour in the world,” said Tank Museum Curator David Willey. “We aren’t able to run everything in our collection – and therefore we are fortunate to be able to bring in some ‘guest stars’ to treat the audience and keep the show fresh.”
These will feature alongside The Tank Museums own enviable collection of armour – which will include “Fury” from the film of the same name, a newly restored Second World War Matilda II, Valentine and Comet.
Plus the British Army are returning to display a range of Theatre Entry Standard vehicles – foremost among them the Challenger 2 MBT.
This year’s guests include a variety of rarities, some appearing at TANKFEST for the first time and others being displayed in the UK for the first time ever.
Tickets are available– but selling fast – from tankfest.org.
SPECIAL GUEST 1: IS-3M –The Belgian Royal Military Museum
This enormous cold-war relic has never been seen in the UK before – and will get plenty of attention as it takes to the arena for the first time at TANKFEST. The Soviet Union put the IS-3 into production in early 1945 and its first public appearance took place during the Victory Parade in Berlin in September 1945 – forcing the US to produce the M103 (which will also be running at TANKFEST) and the British to produce the Conqueror.
SPECIAL GUEST 2: FT17 x2 – The Weald Foundation
“The biggest restoration challenge we have ever faced” is how the Director of the Weald Foundation has described our second special guest, which will be arriving at TANKFEST fresh from his restoration workshop. The Weald foundation, famous for its German vehicle collection, has acquired and restored two of the iconic French First World War FT-17 tanks. Running examples are now very rare, and this will be the first time an example of the two man tank has been seen in action at The Tank Museum – 100 years on from leaving the Renault assembly line in Paris.
SPECIAL GUEST 3: Churchill Mk3 – The Churchill Trust
Britain built over 5000 Churchill’s during the Second World War, however The Tank Museum has always been without a running Churchill gun tank… until now. The Tank Museum has just now concluded a long term loan agreement with the Churchill trust which will see this Churchill Mark III joined by a Churchill IV and VII – two will feature in the Museum’s Second World War exhibitions and one will become part of the Museum’s running fleet.
SPECIAL GUEST 4: Leopard II – The Historic Collection of the Royal Netherlands Army
The Tank Museum is extremely fortunate to welcome back a fine running example of the modern German build Main Battle tank, the Leopard II. With first class mobility and speed, the Leopard II is the tank of choice for many NATO nations – but there aren’t many places you can see it in action beside the British Challenger 2 without having to fear for your safety! The Leopard II is another example of The Tank Museums excellent working relationship with its colleagues in the Royal Netherland Military Museum (SP) who have also loaned the ‘Tank Back to the Future’ exhibition which opened at Easter.
SPECIAL GUEST 5: Marder III & Stug III – Mr Jon Phillips.
Jon Phillips is a tank collector and restorer who came very close to parting company with his prized German Second World War Marder and Sturmgeschutz III this year. TANKFEST visitors will be delighted that he chose to hold on to them, as neither features in The Tank Museum’s collection. Both vehicles were painstakingly restored from wartime wrecks and are making their TANKFEST arena debut this year having delighted crowds at other venues last summer.
If that’s not all, organisers are promising to announce one more special guest before the end of the month.
20,000 visitors are expected to descend on The Tank Museum in Dorset for the three day event at the end of June to enjoy live tank displays, living history and explore The Tank Museums unique collection – which for a limited time still includes The Tiger Tank Collection, complete with the on-loan Elefant.