The Leopard 1 is a main battle tank designed and produced by Porsche in West Germany that first entered service in 1965. Developed in an era when HEAT warheads were thought to make conventional heavy armour of limited value, the Leopard focused on firepower in the form of the German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun, and improved cross-country performance that was unmatched by other designs of the era.
This Leopard 1 was on display at the Tank Museum at Bovington.
This is a Standardpanzer Series-0, one of two pre-production Leopards supplied to Great Britain in exchange for two Chieftains.
Land Rovers have been used by military forces across the world and many different conversions have been tried and utilised. The most radical conversion of a Land Rover for military purposes was the Centaur half-track back in 1978. It was based on a Series III with a V8 engine and a shortened belt drive from the Alvis Scorpion light tank. A small number was manufactured, and they were used by Ghana, among others.
This video is from the Tank Museum at Bovington who have one in their collection, though I didn’t see it on my last visit there.
The Laird Centaur was the brainchild of Laird (Angelsey) Limited and was the result of intensive engineering development combining the Land Rover and the Alvis designed tracks of the FV101 Scorpion light tank. The Alvis Scorpion was developed to meet a British Army requirement for the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) or CVR(T).
In 1967, Alvis was awarded the contract to produce 30 CVR(T) prototypes. The Centaur made use of a shortened version of the tracks.
The proposed design offered unique advantages in both performance and cost-effectiveness. In addition maintencena nd spares, as well as support could have been based on existing arrangements and mechanisms in place to support Land Rovers and the CVR(T) family of armoured vehicles.
What was interesting were the proposed variants for customers and these were detailed in a pamphlet from Laird (Angelsey).
They included armoured versions that could be used as an APC, reconnaissance and as a command vehicle. Their pamphlet also had weaponised versions including the Milan AT system and even one with a 106mm gun!
It was extensively tested by the British Army, I quite like this winter version that you can see on Flickr.
It’s a Land Rover Centaur on trial in Norway with the British army in the early eighties and with a special projects registration.
Here is a video of that vehicle undergoing testing in Norway.
Half track vehicles likes the Centaur have some advantages, it is not difficult for someone who can drive a car to drive a half-track, which is a great advantage over fully tracked vehicles which often require more specialised training.
The main disadvantage is the increased maintenance to maintain track tension, and the reduced life span of the tracks. In addition they perform less well cross country than fully tracked vehicles and perform less well on roads that fully wheeled ones. As a result they are a compromise across both and these disadvantages usually outweigh the advantages. As a result you don’t really see many hard tracks now in modern military service.
The Laird Centaur makes for an interesting what if vehicle and, well that story is for another time…
This enormous tank presents an interesting contrast with contemporary British designs. American manufacturing techniques, using sophisticated machine tools, not only speeded up production but also ensured high reliability. Even so Britain insisted on modifications to the American design which resulted in a different turret but both types saw service with British forces. Those with the original turret were designated Lee, those with the British style turret were Grants.
The main asset of the tank, from the British point of view, was the 75mm gun which could fire high explosive and armour piercing ammunition. The former was the perfect answer to Rommel’s imaginative use of anti-tank guns and there is no doubt that Grant tanks were largely responsible for halting Rommel’s attack during the key battle of Alam Halfa.
For all that the Grant was a difficult tank to fight in. The low position of the main gun meant that it was impossible to conceal and the tank often had to swing round in order to bring this gun to bear. Riveted construction was also a serious liability by 1942 while the 37mm gun, in the turret, was all but useless.
Tanks of this type were first used in Western Desert in 1942. Mechanically reliable but soon superseded by Sherman.
Over at Duxford they have the one used by General Montgomery during the battle of El Alamein. The 37mm gun was replaced by a wooden dummy gun barrel to create more room in the turret for extra radio equipment.
The M3 Stuart, officially Light Tank, M3, was an American light tank of World War II. It was supplied to British and other Commonwealth forces under lend-lease prior to the entry of the U.S. into the war. Thereafter, it was used by U.S. and Allied forces until the end of the war.
Stuart tanks were the first to be supplied to Britain under the Lend-Lease scheme and they were very popular, even so none survived to join the original Tank Museum collection. This example was kindly supplied by the Brazilian Government and is displayed in recognition of the fact that Brazilian troops served with the Allies in Italy.
This PzKpfw III was on display in the Land Warfare Exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.
The Panzerkampfwagen III, commonly known as the Panzer III, was a medium tank developed in the 1930s by Germany, and was used extensively in World War II. The official German ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 141. It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside and support similar Panzer IV which was originally designed for infantry support. However, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, more powerful anti-tank guns were needed, and since the Panzer IV had more development potential with a larger turret ring, it was redesigned to mount the long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun. The Panzer III effectively swapped roles with the Panzer IV, as from 1942 the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 that was better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ceased in 1943. Nevertheless, the Panzer III’s capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun until the end of the war.
Going through my Flames of War collection and other models, I realise I don’t have a 15mm version of this tank.
The wheeled armoured scout car was the British Army’s principal reconnaissance vehicle from the beginning of World War II until the 1980s. Scout cars were small and much quieter than a tracked vehicle; units equipped with scout cars relied on stealth to obtain information, rather than fighting for it. The Daimler Dingo entered service with the British Army in 1939 and served until the middle 1960s as a reconnaissance and liaison vehicle used by armoured and infantry divisions. It was so versatile that a multitude of uses were found for it: medical officers used them to search for casualties in the battle field while one unit even issued a Dingo to its’ chaplain!
At the Bovington Tank Museum there are two Dingo Scout Cars.
Daimler Dingo Scout Car Mark II “Marauder”, it is displayed in desert camouflage in the markings of the 12th Lancers, 7th Armoured Division.
There is also a Daimler Dingo Scout Car Mark III, “Rebel”. This has the regimental markings of the Royal Tank Regiment.
The Daimler Scout Car, known in service as the “Dingo” (after the Australian wild dog), was a British light fast 4WD reconnaissance vehicle also used in the liaison role during the Second World War. In 1938 the British War Office issued a specification for a scouting vehicle. Out of three designs submitted by Alvis, BSA and Morris, the one by BSA was selected. The actual production was passed to Daimler, which was a vehicle manufacturer in the BSA group of companies. The vehicle was officially designated Daimler Scout Car, but became widely known as Dingo, which was the name of the competing Alvis prototype.
When I visited Duxford in March 2019 they had a StuG III on display.
This was a late model StuG III supplied to Finnish forces. Has Saukopf gun mantlet introduced February 1944. It is the only vehicle left carrying original ‘waffle pattern’ zimmerit.
The final and by far the most common of the StuG series. The Ausf. G used the hull of the Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. M. Upper superstructure was widened: welded boxes on either sides were abandoned. This new superstructure design increased its height to 2160mm. Backside wall of the fighting compartment got straightened, and ventilation fan on top of the superstructure was relocated to the back of fighting compartment. From March 1943, driver’s periscope was abandoned. From May 1943, side hull skirts (schurzen) were fitted to G models for added armor protection particularly against anti-tank rifles. Side skirts were retro-fitted to some Ausf. F/8 models, as they were be fitted to all front line StuGs and other tanks by June 1943 in preparation for the battle of Kursk. Mountings for side skirts proved inadequate, many were lost in the field. From March 1944, improved mounting was introduced, as a result side skirts are seen more often with late model Ausf G.
In December 2019 the StuG III was returned to the Tank Museum at Bovington.
Here David Willey discusses the Sturmgeschütz III Self-Propelled Assault Gun, better known as the StuG III, Germany’s most numerously produced fully tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicle of the Second World War.
The Kettenkrad SdKfz 2 started its life as a light tractor for airborne troops. The vehicle was designed to be delivered by Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, though not by parachute. The vehicle had the advantage of being the only gun tractor small enough to fit inside the hold of the Ju 52, and was the lightest mass-produced German military vehicle to use the complex Schachtellaufwerk overlapped and interleaved road wheels used on almost all German military half-tracked vehicles of World War II.
This Kettenkrad is on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.
The Panzer II was the common name for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II (abbreviated PzKpfw II). Although the vehicle had originally been designed as a stopgap while more advanced tanks were developed, it nonetheless went on to play an important role in the early years of World War II, during the Polish and French campaigns. By the end of 1942 it had been largely removed from front line service, and production of the tank itself ceased by 1943.
This one was on display at the Bovington Tank Museum.
When they first appeared, in 1936, the Panzer IIs were regarded as platoon commander’s tanks. They were also employed to give fire support to the Panzer I in combat with enemy tanks. However by 1940 they had been outclassed and were relegated to the reconnaissance role. This exhibit, an Ausfuhrung (or Model) F featured improved armour and was introduced in 1941.
This tank was captured by British forces in North Africa but it is shown in the markings of 1st Panzer Division at the time of the invasion of France in June 1940.
That was something I didn’t know until a few years ago that the German tanks in 1940 were painted grey and brown, I had always thought they were just grey. I personally blame Matchbox for this.
As recently as ten years ago the overwhelming consensus regarding early war German AFV paint schemes was that they were all painted in uniform overall panzer grey (Dunkelgrau – RAL 7021 – formerly RAL 46). However, in 2002 Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle published an article based on primary sources stating all German vehicles at the beginning of World War II were painted in a two tone camouflage scheme of panzer grey with one third of the vehicle painted in a disruptive pattern of dark brown (Dunkelbraun – RAL 7017 – formerly RAL 45). The order to move to an overall panzer grey scheme was not signed until the end of July 1940.
Back in 2011, I blogged about finding the 15mm Zveda plastic model kit.
Though you can buy a resin version of the Pz II I was plesantly surprised to find a plastic 1/100th scale kit of the Pz II in a model shop for just £1.25. Bargain!
Made my Zveda, a Russian firm… I did manage to pick up three of them. I am going to make them up as PzKpfw IIs for the Western Desert.
Note that the cover art of the box is all grey too… but by the time of the invasion of Russia, all German tanks were grey.
The Vickers Mk VIB Light Tank was a British WW2 light tank, crew of 3, powered by Meadows 6-cylinder petrol engine, armed with two machine guns.
This is the one at the Tank Museum in Bovington.
The Mk VI Light Tank was the sixth in the line of light tanks built by Vickers-Armstrongs for the British Army during the interwar period. The company had achieved a degree of standardization with their previous five models, and the Mark VI was identical in all but a few respects. The turret, which had been expanded in the Mk V to allow a three-man crew to operate the tank, was further expanded to give room in its rear for a wireless set.
The British Army lost 331 Mark VI light tanks in the Battle of France of 1940.
The Mk VIB was mechanically identical to the Mk VIA but with a few minor differences to make production simpler, including a one-piece armoured louvre over the radiator instead of a two-piece louvre, and a plain circular cupola instead of the faceted type.
The Mk VIB was also used in the North African campaign against the Italians late in 1940 with the 7th Armoured Division.
In A Very British Civil War scenario, you would expect to be using a fair amount of these tanks. When the Battle of France began in May 1940, the majority of the tanks possessed by the British Expeditionary Force were Mark VI variants.