The plan for today is to head to the Tank Museum at Bovington.
Day 52 Planned:
- An early train from Waterloo to Wool station
- The Tank Museum
- A latish train back to London
Day 52 Actual:
A quick early breakfast at the hotel followed by the Tube to Waterloo. Getting a ticket to Wool was easy enough, working out which platform it was on was a little dicier. I asked the staff and was told platform 11.
However platform 11 was displaying “no services here” on the monitors when I got there. However the monitors updated once the train arrived and I was onboard and on my way by about 8ish.
Train photography has been fairly hit or miss for me on this trip which often leaves me wondering why a shot worked, especially the stark imagery of this shot:
I caught a taxi from Wool station as a half hour walk seemed like a waste of time given that I was only here for the day. I think I got to the museum around 10:45 – 11ish.
The Tank Museum
The museum is fairly well curated, and I saw most of the exhibits in the recommended order. The ones I saw were:
- The Tank Story – a developmental history, includes Little Willie the first ever tank.
- The Trench Experience – mock ups of WWI trenches (from both sides) with the early British tanks
- Tank Men – story of early British tank crews, including at the Battle of Cambrai
- Warhorse to Horsepower – the transition from horses to mechanisation
- The Tiger Collection – exactly what it says on the tin.
- The Second World War collection – where all the weird shit is
- Tank Factory – looks at construction, includes a Centurion cut in half length ways so you can see how the crew are placed etc.
The ones I didn’t see:
- Fury the Exhibition – haven’t seen the movie, not really interested
- The Vehicle Conservation Centre – ran out of time
- Battlegroup Afghanistan – ran out of time
- The Arena – they weren’t running any tanks today.
Until I get round to curating them, I’ll probably let the photos speak for themselves (however see below). For tanks specifically I think the Tank Museum’s collection is better than the museum in Yekaterinburg, and certainly better curated. However the Tank Museum scope is much more tightly limited to tanks and armoured fighting vehicles so doesn’t come close to matching the breadth of the Yekaterinburg collection.
The other thing I should probably say is that the Bovington museum has a much better set of oddities and curios such as prototypes that (deservedly) never went into production or the TOG II. Interestingly the Museum has 2nd ever produced Sherman, and this is believed to the oldest remaining Sherman in the world.
The Tank Story
The Tank Story begins with Little Willie, the experimental vehicle built to test crossing trenches and determine whether wheels or tracks were best suited to the task:
This Mark II Medium Tank was an interesting look at the early between the wars tanks:
The Crusader really does have a distinctive turret shape:
The interest here is more for what this photo represents than of the photo itself:
The museum has a good representation of Hobart’s Funnies either as models or actual examples as shown above. This is an important part of tank history, at least with respect to the Normandy landings, so I was glad to see this aspect well covered.
Speaking of Sherman variants, here’s the Firefly with the bigger gun (TM):
The tank story section of the Museum extends into the post-war and cold war periods, for example with this Centurion, but doesn’t have an M1 Abrams:
As well as the Chieftains that eventually succeeded the Centurions:
The Trench Experience
The Trench Experience was reasonably well done as an attempt to get people to visualise life in the trenches as the tanks rolled over, but sometimes the suspension of disbelief was a little fragile:
The attention to detail though was quite impressive, particularly the mud:
(Albeit that even here there was occasionally awkwardly bright lighting)
Possibly the best image from this exhibit came whilst looking back at it from the Tank Men exhibit:
The Tank Men
The Tank Men exhibit was a mix of personal histories of the early tank crews along with an impressively varied collection of the early full track marks. The Mark IV, a Mark V as well as a Mark VIII and a Mark IX (the first armoured personnel carrier):
Warhorse to Horsepower
The Warhorse to Horsepower exhibition was OK…ish. There was a sense that this exhibit in particular was aimed at children, particularly with the wooden horse models that would talk at certain points. Still, I did like how this shot turned out:
The Tiger Collection
This was impressive if appallingly lit. I think this was the best shot I managed of the collection as a whole:
This video from the Tank Museum gives a better feel for the collection.
Although this shot of the Tiger I wasn’t too bad:
The Second World War Collection
As I said in the introduction, this is where all the weird shit was. 🙂 For example…
Not to mention the TOG II:
Occasionally British tank designers had an obsession with bigger and heavier that they couldn’t quite get to work properly. On which note the prototype for a bigger, heavier Churchill that never entered production:
Mind you the Germans had their own “Wait, what, they built that?” moments:
Now I’ll grant you that the Valentine Bridge Layers were necessary and useful beasties. They still look weird:
I had lunch at the museum, and the food in the cafe was decent and reasonably priced, which makes a pleasant change. The staff are very helpful, and cheerfully called up a taxi for me at about 4:10PM. I think this shot was taken whilst I was waiting for the taxi at the tank museum:
I must have because one of the next shots is this Churchill MK II outside the museum:
The taxi got me back to the Wool train station in time for the 16:45 to Waterloo. I also got some hopefully decent sunset(ish) photos whilst I was waiting for the train. I quite like this one:
The train back was made somewhat more entertaining by the guard who was very much a comedian when he let loose on the PA system.
The one problem I had with the Tank Museum is the lighting. In some places it was the flourescent lights, in others it was the banks of window, but either way I was constantly dealing with huge amounts of glare and reflection.
I started using the polarizing filter, and that helped some, but it’s going to remain an issue in the photos regardless. I’ll see what I can do with processing once I start curating them after the trip.
For example I’ve managed to crop the worst of it out of this T34 and Panther shot but even so:
And here are the photos for day 52. NB: These may be delayed due to there being 600+.