Friday 16 February 2024

JJ's on Tour - The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, (Part Two, WWII German, Post War Equipment, Small Arms and Uniforms).

This is Part Two of a two part post looking at the collection of the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum that I visited on the ninth leg of our Australia trip, after arriving a Cairns in late January early February 2023.

As with Part One, this is a long long post to allow me to give a comprehensive overview of this very impressive collection, that seems to be added to each and every month, so if WWII German and Cold War tanks and guns 'float your boat' I suggest making a brew or something stronger if it's your preference, and I hope enjoy the read and accompanying pictures.

Our route so far on our travels through Australia, starting down in Melbourne just before New Year 2023.
Map courtesy of

The link below will take you to Part One if you would like to follow things sequentially and where I have attached a link to the previous post in this series, entitled 'JJ's On Tour', which as a series covers our four month expedition across the Pacific Area October 2022 to February 2023.

JJ's on Tour - The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum (Part One, WWII British & Empire, Japanese, Soviet-Russian and US Equipment)

German WWII Vehicles & Guns

German Panzer 38T Light Tank 
The Panzerkampfwagen 38(t), originally known as the ČKD LT vz. 38, was a tank designed during the 1930s, which saw extensive service during World War II. 

Developed in Czechoslovakia by ČKD, the type was adopted by Nazi Germany following the annexation of Czechoslovakia. With the German Army and other Axis forces, the type saw service in the invasions of Poland, France and the USSR. Production ended in 1942, when its main armament was deemed inadequate. In all, over 1,400 Pz. 38(t)s were manufactured. The chassis of the Pz. 38(t) continued to be produced for the Marder III (1942–1944) with some of its components used in the later Jagdpanzer 38 (1944–1945) tank destroyer and its derivative vehicles.

The two-man turret was centrally located, and housed the tank's main armament, a 37 mm Skoda A7 gun with 90 rounds of ammunition. In addition, a 7.92 mm machine gun was in a ball mount to the right of the main gun. This machine gun could be trained on targets independently of the main gun, or coupled to the main gun for use as a conventional coaxial machine gun.

The driver was in the front right of the hull, with the radio operator seated to the driver's left. The radio operator manned the hull-mounted 7.92 mm machine gun in front in addition to operating the radio on his left.

In German service, a loader position was added to the turret by reducing the ammunition capacity by 18 rounds. All future Panzer 38(t) tanks were rebuilt according to this specification and those already in service were modified accordingly. The commander had to aim and fire the main gun in addition to his role as commander.

The engine was mounted in the rear of the hull and powered the tank through a transmission at the front of the hull with five forward gears and one reverse gear. The track ran under four rubber-tyred road wheels and back over a rear idler and two track return rollers. The wheels were mounted on a leaf-spring double-bogie mounted on two axles.

The museum have a short video, link below, showing this wonderful exhibit being started up and given a short drive in preparation for AusAmourfest.

German Panzer IV Ausführung D & Panzer III Ausführung J
The Panzerkampwagen IV Ausf. D was commonly known as the Panzer IV D and was the fourth version of the Panzer IV series and the first variant to be produced during the Second World War.

Two-hundred and forty-eight Panzer IV Auf D's were ordered in 1938, seeing just 232 built when production ended in about October 1940, which makes this a very beast indeed and such a thrill to see one this close up.

Built on the same dimensions as the previous models (Ausf. B and C) the D saw the reintroduction of the hull machine gun and the protruding drivers plate and changed the turret's internal gun mantlet to a 35 mm (1.38 in) thick external mantlet as opposed to 30mm on the Ausf C. 

As I was about to take a closer look at the Panzer III J, close alongside, my camera battery packed up, and Alex introduced himself and we began talking about the collection, and in my distractedness I later found I only had a partial view of the III J in the picture of the IV D above and so for completeness I have linked to the video walk around provided by mulligan64 on his YouTube Channel.

This vehicle was rebuilt from battlefield relics acquired on the Eastern Front and represents the most common type of the 13 variations of Panzer III.

German Panzer IV Ausführung E
The Panzer IV Ausführung E was introduced in October 1940, and was the fifth production model of the Panzer IV medium tank which would see a significant increase in armour carried by the tank compared to the Ausf D. 

This saw 30 millimetres (1.18 inches) of armour on the bow plate, while a 30-millimetre (1.18 inches) appliqué steel plate was added to the glacis as an interim measure. A new driver's visor, adopted from the Sturmgeschütz III was installed on the hull front plate. A new commander's cupola, adopted from the Panzer III Ausf. G, was relocated forward on the turret eliminating the bulge underneath the cupola. 

Older model Panzer IV tanks were retrofitted with these features when returned to the manufacturer for servicing, and up to 206 Ausf. Es were produced between October 1940 and April 1941.

The introduction of the Ausf E into service with the German Army in late 1940 allowed every medium tank company to reach a strength of ten Panzer IVs for the fighting in the Balkans, North Africa and at the start of the invasion of Russia.

This careful restoration has seen the uncovering and protection of the original paintwork and markings revealed during the rebuild in their original positions on the tank.

In 1941, the seventeen Panzer Divisions that took part in the invasion of Russia contained 438 Panzer IVs ranging from Ausf Bs to Fs.

The Ausf E remained in service until the last examples became unserviceable  or were destroyed in 1944.

This exhibit was acquired by the museum as a destroyed relic and has been restored in its current condition by the museum workshop.

German Panzer IV Ausführung G
On 26 May 1941, just before Operation Barbarossa, it was decided to improve the Panzer IV's main armament. 

In November 1941, the decision to up-gun the Panzer IV to the 50-millimetre (1.97 in) gun was dropped, and instead Krupp was contracted in a joint development to modify Rheinmetall's pending 75 mm (2.95 in) anti-tank gun design, later known as 7.5 cm Pak 40 L/46. Because the recoil length was too great for the tank's turret, the recoil mechanism and chamber were shortened. This resulted in the 75-millimetre (2.95 in) KwK 40 L/43. 

The Ausf. F tank that received the new, longer KwK 40 L/43 gun were temporarily named Ausf. F2.

When the new KwK 40 was loaded with the Pzgr. 39 armour-piercing shell, the new gun fired the AP shell at some 750 m/s (2,460 ft/s), a substantial 74% increase over the howitzer-like KwK 37 L/24 gun's 430 m/s (1,410 ft/s) muzzle velocity. Initially, the KwK 40 gun was mounted with a single-chamber, ball-shaped muzzle brake, which provided just under 50% of the recoil system's braking ability. Firing the Panzergranate 39, the KwK 40 L/43 could penetrate 77 mm (3.03 in) of steel armour at a range of 1,830 m (6,000 ft).

Panzer IV Ausf. G in the Russian winter

Three months after beginning production, the Panzer IV Ausf. F2 was fitted with an improved muzzle break and was renamed the Panzer IV Ausf. G, and during its production run rom March 1942 to June 1943, the Panzer IV Ausf. G went through further modifications, including another armour upgrade which consisted of a 30-millimetre (1.18 in) face-hardened appliqué steel plate welded (later bolted) to the glacis.

To simplify production, the vision ports on either side of the turret and the loader's forward vision port in the turret front were removed, while a rack for two spare road wheels was installed on the track guard on the left side of the hull. Complementing this, brackets for seven spare track links were added to the glacis plate.

This exhibit was acquired by the museum as a battlefield relic and has been restored in its current condition by the museum workshop.

German Panzer IV Ausführung J
The Panzer IV, Ausf. J was the final production version of the Panzer IV series of German tanks produced in World War II.

Despite addressing the mobility problems introduced by the previous Panzer IV, Ausf. H model, the introduction of the Panzer IV, Ausf. J, was considered a retrograde step by the Panzer units that used it.

With the urgent need to replace heavy battlefield losses resulted in the simplification of the manufacturing processes to speed up production at the cost of performance on the battlefield.

Modifications included:
  • The electric generator that powered the tank's turret traverse was removed, so the turret had to be rotated manually. 
  • The manual turret traversing mechanism was modified and fitted with a second gear which made hand-operation easier.
  • The resulting space from the removal of the generator was later used for the installation of an auxiliary 200-litre (53 US gal) fuel tank; road range was thereby increased to 320 km (200 miles).
  • The engine's radiator housing was simplified by changing the slanted sides to straight ones.
  • The number of return rollers was reduced from four to three.
  • The cylindrical muffler was replaced by two flame-suppressing mufflers.

This exhibit was acquired by the museum as a Eastern Front battlefield relic and has been restored in its current condition by the museum workshop, displaying the 'Thoma Schuzen' (wire mesh screens) that were designed to disrupt the trajectory of enemy anti-tank rounds to reduce their ability to effectively penetrate the side armour of the tank.

Again with regard to the unique collection of Panzer IV models, the museums has produced  an interesting video review of their collection, link below.

German Panther Ausführung A
Of course one of the star exhibits right next to the other one, seen below, immediately caught my attention on entering the display gallery, but in the spirit of delayed gratification only adding to the experience I resisted making an immediate beeline to this very special and rare tank.

The Panther was a German World War II medium tank designed to counter the Soviet T-34 medium tank and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV.

Unlike most German tanks the naming of Panther production variants did not follow alphabetical order: the initial variant, Panther "D" (Ausf. D), was followed by  the Ausf. A and then the Ausf. G variants.

Production of the Panther Ausf. D commenced in January 1943 and they first saw combat during the Battle of Kursk in July/August 1943. Initially there were significant technical problems that effected the reliability of the Panther because they had been rushed into service.

The improved version, the Panther Ausf. A, entered production in August 1943. The
 major modifications including a better turret with a new commander's cupola, increased turret traverse speed, a mounting bracket for an anti-aircraft MG34 on the cupola, and a ball mounted MG34 in the frontal plate.

As the war progressed there were a number of issues that impacted the tank's effectiveness. These included the bombing of production plants, increased shortages of material, and a lack of fuel and adequately trained crews.

Though officially classified as a medium tank, its weight is more like that of a heavy tank and its weight at 44.8 metric tons puts it roughly in the same category as the American M26 Pershing (41.7 tons), British Churchill (40.7 tons) and the Soviet IS-2 (46 tons) heavy tanks.

The Panther was the first German tank to have sloped armour which increased the effective thickness of the armour from 80mm (3.1 inches) to roughly 140mm (5.5 inches), effectively making the front of the tank impervious to enemy fire. However the sides of this tank were very vulnerable, ranging from only 40mm (1.6 inches) to 50mm (2 inches) of either barely sloped or completely flat armour. 

This exhibit was acquired from the UK and then underwent a full four-year restoration prior to arriving at the museum.

Research has identified that:
  • The hull and turret were fabricated by the Hermann Goring Steel Works in Linz, Austria, but the final factory it was assembled in is unknown.
  • The tank was probably used by the 12th SS Panzer Division in Normandy after the 1944 D-Day invasion.
  • Post-World War II the tank was refurbished by the AMX factory prior to service with the French Army.
  • This tank served with the French 501-503rd Regiment de Char de Combat before it was disposed of to the Saumur Tank Museum. (Now there lies a story about how this very very rare tank ended up being relocated from Saumur to Cairns, Australia).
  • The Panther was restored to its current condition by Axis Track Services in the UK.
You can follow the fascinating story of the completion of this restoration project in the video link below.

German Panther Ausführung D Glacis Plate
This Panther Ausführung D Glacis Plate was recovered from the battlefields on the Eastern Front and carries traces of Zimmerit anti-magnetic paste together with original paint and illustrates well one of the key changes between the Ausf. D and later Ausf. A seen above with the 'letter box' style of machine gun port seen here as opposed to the ball mount that replaced it.

German Tiger 1 Ausführung E
There are today only nine Tiger I tanks surviving in museums and private collections worldwide. As of 2021, Tiger 131 (captured during the North Africa Campaign) at the UK's Tank Museum is the only example restored to running order.

This amazing exhibit is the result of hours of painstaking work piecing together multiple parts of armour plating, much of which needed stress cutting and pressing back into shape before it could become an addition to the jigsaw puzzle of seeming scrap iron that has been transformed into perhaps the most famous or should that be infamous tanks of World War II, the Tiger heavy tank.

Parts of Tiger tanks are not easy to find these days and parts that have not been destroyed are even harder, and the fabrication of damaged existing parts has to be seen to be believed. The hull alone took a year of work to reconstruct. and it took five years to acquire all the parts necessary before the rebuild commenced in 2020.

Most of the tank came from one Tiger with other parts salvaged from other Tiger tanks to keep the fabrication of parts to a minimum.

Production of the Tiger I began in August 1942 at the factory of Henschel und Sohn in Kassel, initially at a rate of 25 per month and peaking in April 1944 at 104 per month. An official document of the time stated that the first Tiger I was completed on 4 August and 1,355 had been built by August 1944, when production ceased. Deployed Tiger I's peaked at 671 on 1 July 1944.

Tiger 131, an early model Tiger was captured by British troops in Tunisia in April 1943 and shipped back to the UK for evaluation, now the only running Tiger Tank in the world in the safe keeping of the Tank Museum, Bovington and the film star in Fury.

Eager to make use of his powerful new weapon, Hitler ordered the new tank into service months before it was planned to be phased in after the necessary time to deal with the teething problems that accompanied the introduction of a new vehicle.

An early production model Tiger tank in action near Leningrad, displaying the early model cupola.

A platoon of four Tigers went into action on 23rd September 1942 near Leningrad. Operating in swampy, forested terrain, their movement was largely confined to roads and tracks, making defence against them far easier. Many of these early models were plagued by problems with the transmission, which had difficulty handling the great weight of the vehicle if pushed too hard.

Early Tigers had a top speed of about 45 km/h (28 mph) over optimal terrain. This was not recommended for normal operation, and was discouraged in training. An engine governor was subsequently installed, capping the engine at 2,600 rpm and the Tiger's maximum speed to about 38 km/h (24 mph). Tiger crews report that typical march speed off-road was 10 km/h (6 mph). 

However, medium tanks of the time, such as the Sherman or T-34, had on average a top speed of about 45 km/h (28 mph). Thus, despite the Tiger being nearly twice as heavy, its speed was comparatively respectable. 

The average reliability of the Tiger tank in the second half of 1943 was similar to that of the Panther, 36%, compared to the 48% of the Panzer IV and the 65% of the StuG III. 

From May 1944 to March 1945, the reliability of the Tiger tank was comparable to the Panzer IV. With an average of 70%, the Tiger's operational availability on the Western Front, was better than 62% of Panthers. 

On the Eastern Front, 65% of Tigers were operationally available, compared to the 71% of Panzer IVs and 65% of Panthers.

The Tiger was originally designed to be an offensive breakthrough weapon, but by the time it went into action, the military situation had changed dramatically, and its main use was on the defensive, as a mobile anti-tank and infantry gun support weapon. 

Tactically, this also meant moving the Tiger units constantly to parry breakthroughs, causing excessive mechanical wear. As a result, Tiger battalions rarely entered combat at full strength.

The museum have put together a video presentation of the build process for their Tiger and is well worth watching to understand the skill and ingenuity required to build a Tiger tank from scraps of original parts - truly inspiring.

German Maybach HL 120 TRM Engine
During the Second World War, the Maybach Motorenbau Company produced the engines for most of Germany's tanks including the Panzer I, II, III and IV, the Tiger I and II whilst alsoi producing engines for half-tracks such as the Sd.Kfz 251 and 250 personnel carriers and prime movers like the Sd.Kfz 9.

The Maybach HL120 TRM was a 12 cylinder, liquid cooled petrol engine with an output of 330 hp or 220 kw and was used to power the Panzer III, IV (Ausf. C onwards) and the Hummel self propelled gun.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia and shows extensive battle damage caused by fire, explosions, and projectile impacts.

German Early Production Tiger Tank Turret Roof
This early model Tiger I turret roof and commander's cupola show the effects of a catastrophic internal explosion in the turret, likely either caused by being hit by enemy fire or the crew destroying the tank after mechanical failure had forced its abandonment and thus needing to avoid it falling into enemy hands.

Early production turret roofs, as revealed here, were only 30mm thick and left the tank vulnerable to artillery fire, with late production Tigers having a roof thickness increased to 60mm.

This exhibit was acquired from the Ukraine.

Arranged around the Tiger rebuild was a selection of other Tiger components not used for one reason or another, usually because of extensive damage, with better examples being used instead.

These unused parts are placed alongside the reconstructed vehicle to illustrate the armour thicknesses, and the various parts of the tank and are an excellent exhibit to better illustrate the protection afforded to Tiger crews.

As seen below and on the other reconstructed vehicles, discovered original paintwork and markings are carefully preserved amid the reconstructed camouflage paint and this also extends to original battle damage, with the rear armour around the engine deck below displaying a hit and splatter damage from a light armour piercing round that had nowhere to go when it hit the original Tiger.

It was great to see the Tiger, a relatively new addition to the display hall, and one to compare with those at Bovington and Saumur.

German Sturmgeschütz III Ausführung A
The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Germany's most-produced fully tracked armoured fighting vehicle during World War II, and second-most produced German armoured combat vehicle of any type after the Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track.

It was built on a slightly modified Panzer III chassis, replacing the turret with a fixed armoured superstructure mounting a more powerful gun. 

Initially intended as a mobile assault gun for direct-fire support for infantry, the StuG III was continually modified, and was employed successfully as a tank destroyer.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia and is the only StuG II Ausf. A of the 36 made in early 1940 known to exist.

Research indicates that it belonged to Sturmgeschutz Battery 660 and was lost as it attempted to cross the Shosha River in the Tula region of Russia.

Stugs of Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 192 displaying their Totenkopf emblem

The Totenkopf (death's head) emblem on the superstructure denotes it as belonging to Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 192 which was one of the units that took part in Operation Barbarossa and later saw action at the Battle of Smolensk and the Battle of Moscow.

German Sturmgeschütz III Ausführung F
Believed to be the only existing StuG Ausf. F and thought to have been operated by Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 244 in Stalingrad from November 1942 to February 1943, where the German 6th Army and this battalion were destroyed.

After the Germans encountered the Soviet KV-1 and T-34 tanks, the StuG was reequipped with a high-velocity 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/43 main gun (spring 1942) and in the autumn of 1942 with the slightly longer 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 gun. 

These high-velocity guns were the same as those mounted on the Panzer IV for anti-tank use. These versions were known as the 7.5 cm Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf.F, Ausf. F/8 and Ausf. G (Sd.Kfz.142/1).

Seen here are the additional 30 mm armour plates that were welded to the 50 mm frontal armour from June 1942, making the frontal armour 80 mm thick.

Firing armour-piercing Panzergranat-Patrone 39, the StuK 40 L/43 could penetrate 91 mm of armour inclined 30 degrees from vertical at 500 m, 82 mm at 1,000 m, 72 mm at 1,500 m, 63 mm at 2,000 m, allowing the Ausf. F to engage most Soviet armoured vehicles at normal combat ranges.

Below is the link to the museum's video featuring this particular vehicle.  

German Sturmhaubitze 42
The Sturmhaubitze 42 (StuH 42) was a World War II German self propelled gun built on the battle proven chassis of the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. F/8 and G assault guns.

The StuH 42was developed in 1942 and was designed to provide the Wehrmacht with effective combat support against infantry and infantry fortifications, but was also capable of performing an anti-tank role.

The StuH 42 saw extensive service with Sturmgeschütz detachments on both the Western and Eastern Fronts until the end of the war.

The barrel of the 10.5 cm L/28 howitzer was shorter, thicker and tapered more towards the muzzle than the muzzle of the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 gun found on the StuG III variants, allowing it to deliver a much larger quantity  of high explosive to the target.

In addition to 26 high explosive shells, a combat load for a StuH 42 also contained 10 hollow charge  anti-tank projectiles which could penetrate 90-100 mm of armour.

Later models of the StuH 42 did not have a muzzle break attached to the barrel, simply to streamline production.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia.

German Sturmgeschütz IV 
The Sturmgeschütz IV (StuG IV) (Sd.Kfz. 167) was a German assault gun variant of the Panzer IV used in the latter part of the Second World War. It was identical in role and concept to the highly successful StuG III assault gun variant of the Panzer III.

Initially they were intended as a mobile armoured gun platform, providing close fire support to the infantry to destroy bunkers, pillboxes and other entrenched positions. As the war progressed and the production of tanks was unable to keep up with the attrition number, they became a valued supplement to the Panzer forces on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.

The Sturmgeschütz IV resulted from Krupp's effort to supply an assault gun. As Krupp did not build Panzerkampfwagen IIIs, they used the Panzerkampfwagen IV chassis in combination with a slightly modified Sturmgeschütz III superstructure.

A StuG IV knocked out and abandoned in Normandy. I have a feeling that this is one of the StuG IV's operated by 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division during their failed counterattack on Carentan.

The gun mantlet of the StuG IV was known as the 'Saukopf' or 'pig snout' and modifications included Zimmerit paste as seen here, a shielded MG 34 on the roof and Schurzen spaced armour.

This exhibit was acquired as a battlefield relic from the Eastern Front and rebuilt to its current condition by the museum workshop. 

German Panzer IV/70 (V) "Jagdpanzer"
The Jagdpanzer IV/70 was a casemate-style turretless Jagdpanzer (tank destroyer, literally "hunting tank") developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III). 

Guderian objected against the needless, in his eyes, diversion of resources from Panzer IV tank production, as the StuG III was still more than adequate for its role.

The Jagdpanzer IV used a modified Panzer IV Ausf. H tank chassis, with 80mm sloped armour plates on the front replacing the tank's almost vertical 100 mm front hull plate.

Internally, the layout was changed to accommodate the new superstructure, moving the fuel tanks and ammunition racks. 

To make the manufacturing process as simple as possible, the superstructure was made from large, interlocking plates that were welded together.

Installing the much heavier Pak 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was nose-heavy, especially with the heavy frontal armour. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente ("Guderian's duck"). To prevent the rubber rims of the roadwheels being dislocated by the weight of the vehicle, some later versions had steel roadwheels installed on the front.

The final prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV was presented in December 1943 and production started in January 1944, with the Pak 39 L/48 armed variant staying in production until November. Production of the Pak 42 L/70 armed variants started in August and continued until March/April 1945.

The Jagdpanzer IV served in the anti-tank sections of Panzer and SS Panzer divisions. The vehicle fought against Western Allied forces in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, and Soviet tanks and troops on the Eastern Front. 

A well known picture of a Jagdpanzer IV/70 operating during the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944

It was very successful as a tank destroyer due to its low profile, accurate gun and good armour protection, but performed poorly when used out of role as a substitute for tanks or assault guns to support infantry.

This exhibit was rebuilt by the museum workshop using relics recovered from battlefields of the Eastern Front and sports the late war 'Ambush' camouflage scheme seen used during the German Bulge offensive codenamed Whact am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine).

German Jagdpanzer 38 (Sd.Kfz. 138/2) Hetzer ("baiter")
The Jagdpanzer 38 (Sd.Kfz. 138/2), commonly known as Hetzer, was a German light tank destroyer of the World War II based on a modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t) chassis.

The Jagdpanzer 38 was intended to be more cost effective than the much more ambitious Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger designs of the same period. Using a proven chassis, it avoided the mechanical problems of the larger armoured vehicles.

The Jagdpanzer 38 first entered service with the Heeres Panzerjäger-Abteilung 731 in July 1944, and saw continuous service until the end of the war.

The Jagdpanzer 38 was one of the lighter category of German tank destroyers that began with the Panzerjäger I, continued with the Marder series, and ended with the Jagdpanzer 38.

The Jagdpanzer 38 was one of the most common late-war German tank destroyers. It was available in relatively large numbers and was generally mechanically reliable. and had a remote-control machine gun mount that could be fired from within the vehicle.

The 75 mm Pak 39 L/48 gun of the Jagdpanzer 38 was a modified version of the 75 mm StuK 40 L/48 used in the StuG III and StuG IV assault guns. With this gun, the Jagdpanzer 38 was able to destroy nearly all Allied or Soviet tank types in service at long ranges (except heavy tanks), and its fully enclosed armour protection made it a safer vehicle to crew than the open-topped Marder II or Marder III series.

Its small size made it easier to conceal than larger vehicles. It was not intended for a mobile, meeting engagement or the typical Wehrmacht blitzkrieg style of warfare. It rather excelled when emplaced along pre-determined lines of sight where the enemy was expected to approach and when used in defensive positions to support a prepared ambush.

Its main failings were comparatively thin side armour, limited ammunition storage, poor gun traverse, and a poor internal layout that made operating the vehicle difficult, as well as leaf springs and drive wheels that were prone to failure due to the increased weight.

A Jagdpanzer 38 Hetzer knocked out in Prague, during the fighting in May 1945

The vehicle seen here was acquired from a collector in Luxembourg, and its history shows it was manufactured in 1945 and saw service in the defence of Prague where it sustained battle damage.

It was returned to the workshop for repair but never again saw active service, later being modified and used by the Swiss Army.

The vehicle underwent an 18-month restoration project by Axis Track Services in the UK to restore it to its 1945 condition before delivery to the museum in March 2015.

The museum video below demonstrates the original engine being started up as well as look inside the crew compartment.

German Jagdpather Tank Destroyer
The Jagdpanther (German: "hunting Panther"), Sd.Kfz. 173, was a Gereman tank destroyer built by Germany during World War II.

In October 1943 a full-size prototype built by Daimler-Benz was demonstrated to Hitler.

Jagdpanthers in Normandy in the summer of 1944

The Jagdpanther was armed with the long-barrelled 8.8 cm Pak 43/3 L/71 gun, similar to the main gun of the Tiger II ("King Tiger"). The gun was mounted in a central mantlet, giving it a limited traverse of twelve degrees to each side.

The Jagdpanther was preceded by two attempts at mounting an 8.8 cm gun as a self-propelled anti-tank weapon; the Ferdinand proved to be too heavy, and Nashorn lightly armoured and under-powered.

The Sd.Kfz. 184 Ferdinand 'Elefant' 

There were two main variants. The earlier G1 1944 model had a small welded main gun mantlet, one-piece Pak 43/3 gun, a modified Panther A engine deck, and had two vision openings for the driver. 

The Nashorn (Rhinoceros)

The G2 Jagdpanther used a Panther Ausf. G engine deck, a larger gun mantlet bolted externally, and a two-piece KwK 43/4 L/71 gun and a single vision opening for the driver.

A total of 415 Jagdpanthers were produced from January 1944 by three manufacturers: MIAG in Braunschweig produced 270 from January 1944 until the end of the war, Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) produced 112 from November 1944, Maschinenbau und Bahnbedarf (MBA) in Potsdam produced 37 vehicles from December 1944.

The last 'production' Jagdpanthers were produced at the factory just after the end of World War II by German staff under the supervision of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) during the American and British occupation of Germany. Nine Panthers and a dozen Jagdpanthers were produced, then shipped to England for evaluation.

This exhibit was rebuilt by the museum workshop from battlefield relics recovered from the Eastern Front and you can see a full length video of the rebuild in the video link below.

German Sd.Kfz. 251/9 Ausführung C Halftrack "Stummel"
The Sd.Kfz. 251/9 is a self propelled gun variant of a Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack and was one of the many improvisations the Wehrmacht made to the Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack family during the war.

The usual forward mounted machine gun of the Sd.Kfz. 251 was replaced with a short barrelled low velocity 75 mm L/24 howitzer, which was the same gun and mounting used on the StuG III's and Panzer IV's. 

From 1942 each Panzergrenadier Battalion was supported by a platoon of Sd.Kfz. 251/9's which gave them fast and effective fire support when other fully tracked assault guns were not readily available.

The Sd.Kfz. 251/9 was nicknamed "Stummel" ("stump") and committed in great numbers on the Eastern Front, but also saw extensive service against the Allies after the D-Day landing.

The Sd.Kfz. 251/9 has provision to carry 52 rounds, but many extra rounds were carried whenever it was possible, notably on the rifle racks and crammed in extra soft bags.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia.

German Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausführung D Halftrack Armoured Personnel Carrier
The Sd.Kfz. 251 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) half-track was an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport the Panzergrenadiers of the German mechanized infantry corps into battle. Sd.Kfz. 251s were the most widely produced German half-tracks of the war, with at least 15,252 vehicles and variants produced by various manufacturers. 

There were four main model modifications (Ausführung A through D), which formed the basis for at least 22 variants.

The initial idea was for a vehicle that could be used to transport a single squad of 10 panzer grenadiers to the battlefield protected from enemy small arms fire, and with some protection from artillery fire. The standard mounting of at least one MG 34 or MG 42 machine gun allowed the vehicle to provide suppressive fire support for the infantry squad once they had disembarked in battle.

The first two models (Ausf. A and B) were produced in small numbers from 1939. Ausf. A and B models can be identified by the structure of the nose armour, which comprised two trapezoidal armour panels. The B model, which began production in 1940, eliminated the fighting compartment's side vision slits. The C model, which started production in mid-1942, featured a simplified hexagonal-shaped forward armoured plate for the engine. Models A through C had rear doors that bulged out. The C model had a large production run, but was quite complex to build, involving many angled plates that gave reasonable protection from small arms fire. 

From early 1943, the D model was developed with the purpose of halving the number of angled body plates, simplifying the design and thus speeding up the production. D models can be easily recognized by their single piece sloping rear, with flat doors.

This Sd.Kfz. 251/1 D was acquired from the UK and research on its chassis number 548730 indicates that the vehicle was made by the Auto-Union factory in Chemnitz, Germany in early December 1944.

German Sd.Kfz. 251/22 Pak 40
The Sd.Kfz. 251/22 was a German World War II medium sized armoured fighting vehicle with a 7.5cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun mounted in the back.

They were heavily used as the German operations turned into defensive actions, from Italy to Normandy and the Eastern Front.

The range of the gun allowed the vehicle to be used in a relative safety from well camouflaged, pre-arranged positions.

In December 1944, Hitler gave this version of the Sd.Kfz. 251 top production priority and it is believed approximately 1200 of the vehicles were built using Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. D bodies.

The chassis was never designed to cope with the extra weight of the Pak 40 gun. This combined with the blast shock and recoil triggered many mechanical breakdowns and excessive structural fatigue.

The mount comprised to H shaped beams welded to the floor, on the middle of the rear compartment. The shield was modified with trimmed angles, and the platform was made of flat triangular plates holding in place the original gun cradle. Traverse was 18 to 19 degrees and elevation ranged from -3 to +22 degrees. 

The vehicle was stored with twenty rounds of HE and AP and usually the crew carried extra rounds in loose containers, stored wherever there was suitable space.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia.

Czech OT810 Armoured Personnel Carrier
The OT-810 Armoured Personnel Carrier is a variant of the World War II German Sd.Kfz. 251.

The Czech Army utilized captured and abandoned German Sd.Kfz. 251s for their post-war armed forces, with these left over vehicles eventually wearing out and the need for replacement vehicles arose for which the OT-810 was created as a replacement.

The OT-810 Tatra and Skoda, both of whom were involved in the original construction of Wehrmacht Sd.Kfz. 251s, and design started in 1952, stopping in 1954, but then recommencing in 1956 with an initial batch of ten vehicles produced between 1958-59.

In the end the vehicle was accepted into service under the OT-810 designation ('OT' means 'Obrneny Transporter' or 'Armoured Transporter').

The vehicle was not very popular, being hard to control and providing a cramped infantry compartment together with a difficult maintenance reputation causing it to be nicknamed "Hitlerova pomsta" or "Hitler's revenge".

At least 2,400 OT-810's were built and used by the Czech armed forces until well into the 1980s and would see the vehicle enclosed with an armoured roof over the troop compartment for better protection from shrapnel and exposure to radiation or gas. 

This exhibit was acquired in the UK and like many surviving OT-810s has been painted to resemble an 
Sd.Kfz. 251 for use in military re-enactment's.

German Sd.Kfz. 250/3 Ausführung A Halftrack (Radio Variant)
The Sd.Kfz. 250 family of vehicles was a series of light armoured half-tracks, adopted in 1939 to supplement the standard Sd.Kfz. 251 halftracks.

This vehicle is the early version of the Radio/Command variant and was used by battalion and higher level commanders.

The large 'bedframe' antenna was easy to spot at long range, making them more vulnerable to enemy fire.

Production of this early version stopped in October 1943 with some 4,200 built and the complex body-shape dropped in favour of a neue art (new version) with flattened crew compartment sides made from a single piece of armour. This greatly simplified manufacture but in both variants the level of protection was minimal - rifle-calibre small-arms fire and shell fragments would likely be stopped, but heavy machine guns, anti-tank rifles and virtually any form of artillery could perforate the Sd.Kfz. 250 even at long range.

The  unit markings on the vehicle are larger than the standard size usually found and replicate those for the tactical markings of an headquarters vehicle from the Medium Reconnaissance Company of the 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" (LSSH).

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia.

German Sd.Kfz. 250/8 Ausführung B Halftrack (7.5cm K51 Gun)
The Sd.Kfz. 250/8 support variant was armed with a 7.5cm KwK 37 L/24 gun as used in the early Panzer IVs and an MG 34.

The KwK 37 gun was later replaced by the slightly revised version under the designation 7.5cm K51 L/24.

The Sd.Kfz. 250/8 appeared for the first time in November 1943, but full production did not begin until March or April 1944 because of delays in the production of the K51 gun.

The small size of the vehicle and the size of the gun limited the crew to three men and only allowed for twenty rounds of 7.5cm ammunition to be carried.

To provide extra protection for the gun crew the normal front and side walls of the vehicle were raised with additional armour plates, however the installation of the gun and the added armour led to a significant upward shift of the centre of gravity which increased the likelihood of the vehicle overturning at speed or when traversing uneven ground.

The Sd.Kfz. 250/8 saw extensive action on the Eastern Front against the Russians and later against the Allies after the D-Day invasion, providing support to infantry units against fortified positions or light armoured vehicles in offensive and defensive operations.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia.

German Sd.Kfz. 250/3 Ausführung B Halftrack (Command Variant)
The Sd.Kfz. 250/3 Ausführung B Halftrack represents the later development of the Ausf. A illustrated previously sporting its 'bedframe' antenna.

It had fewer seats but was equipped with long range radio equipment and likewise with the Ausf. A used by Battalion and higher level commanders as personal command vehicles.

Discarding the 'bedframe' antenna made these vehicles less conspicuous and the previous arrangement was replaced with whip antenna instead.

This exhibit was made in 1943 by Demag and was recovered from a forest on the Russian/Finnish border near the town of Kemijarvi, an area of Finland occupied by the SS Nord Division during World War II.

The vehicle was restored by by Axis Track Services in the UK.

German Sd.Kfz. 11/1 Flak - Halftrack with Flak 38
The Sd.Kfz. 11 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug – special motor vehicle) was a German half-track that saw widespread use in World War II. Its main role was as a prime mover for medium towed guns ranging from the 3.7 cm FlaK 43 anti-aircraft gun up to the 10.5 cm leFH 18 field howitzer and it could carry eight troops in addition to towing a gun or trailer.

The later version of the Sd.Kfz. 11 was produced in 1944 was an anti aircraft vehicle using the armoured front superstructure of the Sd.Kfz. 251 and mounting a 2 cm Flak 38 gun.

The 2cm Flak 38 was mounted on an open flatbed and the mesh-like sides could fold out flat to allow the crew a wider platform  to stand on when operating the gun.

These vehicles saw extensive service on the Eastern and Western Fronts being used in the anti-aircraft role but also in a ground support one for the infantry and the Flak 38 gun was easily removed  to allow the vehicle to operate as a tow, troop carrier, supply carrier or field ambulance.

The vehicle was restored by by Axis Track Services in the UK, and is the only example of this vehicle known to still exist.

German Raupenschlepper Ost 7.5cm Pak 40
The World War II German Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO) was a tracked vehicle based on the Steyr 1500A light truck. It was developed after fighting on the Eastern Front identified the need for a fully tracked light weight transport vehicle capable of dealing with the mud and snow.

Only a few months after the RSO was introduced into service the development of an armed version began.

Initial designs were for the gun to be unloaded by a collapsible crane each time it was to be fired, however the Wehrmacht insisted on a gun that was permanently mounted on the vehicle.
An RSO truck towing a 105mm howitzer

The development was carried out by Steyr in 1942 and resulted in the RSO Pak40 which was armed with a 7.5cm Pak 40/4 gun that could traverse 360 degrees.

It had a lightly armoured cab and collapsible sides on the cargo deck to provide a fighting deck for the gun crew. The result was a lightweight, cheap to produce, and highly mobile infantry anti-tank weapon.

It is not known how many of this RSO variant were produced, but it is generally believed toi be less than a hundred.

Although the RSO Pak 40 provided improved mobility in the field it was not popular with the crews because:
  • It was  slow, noisy and the engine had a tendency to overheat in warm weather.
  • The lack of armour provided little protection for the crew.
  • The high silhouette made it difficult to conceal.
  • The small fighting platform made it difficult to work in an effective manner and,
  •  The floor lockers for ammunition storage was difficult to access when the weapon was in use.
The vehicle earned the nickname 'Rollender Sarg Ost', a play on the RSO abbreviation which translates to 'rolling coffin east' reflecting the thoughts of the soldiers who operated it.

The exhibit was acquired from a collector in Germany and if you would like to know more about the RSO Pak40 you can follow the link to the museum video.

German Volkswagen Type 82 
In 1937 German High Command identified the need for an inexpensive, light-weight military transport vehicle, that could be operated reliably both on and off-road, in extreme conditions.

Developmental testing by the military began after a presentation of the prototypes designated as Type 62 in November 1938. Despite lacking four wheel drive, the vehicle proved very competent at manoeuvring its way over rough terrain, even in a direct comparison with a contemporary standard German Army 4x4, and the project was given the green light for further development.

Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, the Type 62 prototype was further developed and in 1938 was known as the Type 82.

Full-scale production of the Type 82 Kübelwagen started in February 1940, as soon as the VW factories had become operational. No major changes took place before production ended in 1945, only small modifications were implemented, mostly eliminating unnecessary parts and reinforcing others which had proved unequal to the task.

When Volkswagen production ceased at the end of the war, 50,435 Kübelwagen vehicles had been produced, and the vehicle had proven to be surprisingly useful, reliable, and durable.

The production number also explains how ubiquitous the vehicle has become for portraying the German Army in any film about World War II.

German Volkswagen Type 166 Schwimmwagen
The Volkswagen Schwimmwagen (literally "swimming car") is a light four-wheel drive amphibious car, used extensively by German ground forces during the Second World War.

The first units to be equipped with the Schwimmwagen were the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front, followed by its issuing to Wehrmacht units in North Africa, and later on the Western and Italian Fronts, including Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger and Field Divisions.

The Schwimmwagen used the engine and mechanicals of the VW Type 86 four-wheel drive prototype of the Kübelwagen, also used for the Type 87 four-wheel drive 'Kübel/Beetle' Command Car. The Type 128 prototype, was based on the full-length Kübelwagen with a wheelbase of 2.40 m (7 ft 10 in).

Perhaps one of the most famous pictures of a Schwimmwagen in action was these SS men operating with Kampfgruppe Peiper during the early days of the Ardennes Offensive in 1944

All Schwimmwagens were four-wheel drive in first gear (and reverse gears on some models) only and had ZF self-locking differentials on the front and rear axles. 

As with the Kübelwagen, the Schwimmwagen had rear portal axles, which provided increased ground clearance, while at the same time reducing drive-line torque stresses with their gear reduction at the wheels. The Schwimmwagen had a top speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on land.

When crossing a body of water a screw propeller could be lowered down from the rear deck/engine cover. When in place a simple coupling provided drive straight from an extension of the engine's crankshaft. This meant that screw propulsion always drove forward. 

The Schwimmwagen had a top speed of 10 km/h (6 mph) in the water. For reversing in the water there was the choice of using the standard equipment paddle or running the land drive in reverse, allowing the wheel-rotation to slowly take the vehicle back. The front wheels doubled up as rudders, so steering was done with the steering wheel both on land and on water. The Schwimmwagen could also be steered by the passengers using the paddle(s).

A total of 15,584 Type 166 Schwimmwagen were produced from 1941 through 1944; 14,276 at Fallersleben and 1,308 by Porsche; the VW 166 is the most-produced amphibious car in history. Only 189 are known by the Schwimmwagen Registry to remain today, and only 13 have survived without restoration work.

German Steyr 1500A Light Truck
Production of the Steyr 1500A Light truck began in 1941. The 1500A saw extensive use throughout the rest of World War II with various branches and formations in the Wehrmacht, including the Waffen-SS and the Afrika Korps. 

Production ended after being cancelled in 1944, by which time Steyr had produced some 12,450 vehicles and Auto Union and Audi some 5,600, a total of 18,050 vehicles, many of which stayed in service until the end of the war.

There were two main variants of the 1500A, the first being the 1500A-1, which was a fully enclosed troop carrier with bench seats fitting to the load bed, and was ideal for transporting squads of troops.

The second variant was the command car version, designated the Kommandeurwagen Kfz 21. The command car version featured a radio transmitter and luxury interior and a fold-out roof. Some of the light truck bodies were also modified and used as field ambulances.

The 1500A was powered by a 85 hp, 8-cylinder air-cooled Steyr 3517cc OHV petrol engine, and had a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) on roads, and 45 km/h (28 mph) cross-country. The 1500A had a maximum range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) when travelling on roads, and 280 kilometers (175 miles) when travelling cross-country, and the total fuel capacity was 100 liters (22 gallons).

The light truck version of the 1500A required a crew of two. The passenger capacity varied depending on the type of vehicle. The troop carrier version could carry eight passengers and the command car version six.

The museum have produced an excellent video showing the restoration process required to bring this vehicle to the state I pictured it in during my visit.

German Zundapp Motorcycle and Sidecar
The Zündapp KS 750 is a World War II-era motorcycle and sidecar combination developed for the German Wehrmacht before and during the Second World War, by the German company Zündapp G.m.b.H. 

After entering service in 1941, over 18,000 were built through 1944, and deployed on all major German battlefronts, for use in a variety of roles. The KS 750 was an integral design, with the rear wheel and the sidecar wheel shaft driven, powered by a 751 cc (45.8 cu in), overhead valve, flat twin engine.

The series production started in the spring of 1941, and in eight years Zündapp produced 18,695 KS 750 in their Nuremberg factory.

German Kettenkrad SdKfz2 (Light Halftrack Gun Tractor)
The Sd.Kfz.2, better known as the Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 or Kettenkrad (Ketten = chains/tracks, and krad = the military abbreviation of the German word Kraftrad, the administrative German term for motorcycle), 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.

Steering the Kettenkrad was accomplished by turning the handlebars: Up to a certain point, only the front wheel would steer the vehicle. A motion of the handlebars beyond that point would engage the track brakes to help make turns sharper. It was also possible to run the vehicle without the front wheel installed and this was recommended in extreme off-road conditions where speed would be kept low.

Kettenkrad in Russia, Winter 1943/44.

Most Kettenkrads saw service on the Eastern Front, where they were used to lay communication cables, pull heavy loads and carry soldiers through the deep Russian mud.

Later in the war, Kettenkrads were used as runway tugs for aircraft, especially for the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, and sometimes the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber.

This exhibit was acquired from the UK.

German "Goliath" Light Charge Carrier
The 'Goliath'  Leichter Ladungsträger was a World War II remote controlled demolition vehicle.

Designed as single-use vehicles that were destroyed by the detonation of their warhead, they carried 60 or 100 kg (130 or 220 lb) of high explosives, depending on the model, and were intended to be used for multiple purposes, such as destroying tanks, disrupting dense infantry formations, and the demolition of buildings or bridges. 

During the invasion of France in 1940, the Germans discovered a prototype of a miniature tracked vehicle developed by the French vehicle designer Adolphe Kégresse. The Wehrmacht's ordnance office directed the  Borgward automotive company of Bremen, Germany to develop a similar vehicle for the purpose of carrying a minimum of 50 kg (110 lb) of explosives. 

The result was the electric powered Leichter Ladungsträger SdKfz. 302 which was capable of carrying 60 kg (130 lb) of explosives. 

Captured Goliath carriers on Utah Beach after the D-Day landings

The vehicle was steered remotely via a joystick control box. The control box was connected to the Goliath by a 650-metre (2,130 ft), long command cable connected to the rear of the vehicle. The cable transmitted power to the vehicle, controlled movement and steering and  the detonation of the explosives.

The second variant of Goliaths (SdKfz. 303) began development in April 1943 and was slightly larger and was powerd by a cheaper two-stroke Zundapp SZ7 petrol engine and its armour was increased from 6mm to 10mm with a increased capacity for 100kg (220 lb) of explosives.

From early 1942 Goliaths were used on all fronts where the Wehrmacht fought. They were mainly used by specialized Panzer and combat engineer units. Goliaths were used in Italy at Anzio in April 1944, and against the Polish resistance during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. A few Goliaths were also seen on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day, though most were rendered inoperative after artillery blasts severed their command cables.

Although a total of 7,564 Goliaths were produced, they were not considered a success due to the high production cost, their low speed (just above 6 kilometres per hour (3.7 mph)), poor ground clearance (just 11.4 cm (4.5 in)), their vulnerable control cable, and their thin armour which could not protect the vehicle from small-arms fire that alone any type of anti-tank weapon. The Goliath did help lay the foundation for post World War II advances in remote-controlled vehicle technologies.

This exhibit is an example of one of the early electric Goliaths and was a Western Front battlefield relic in a pretty poor state when the museum workshop set about restore it as seen here and with the remarkable process recorded in a series of videos in the link below.

German Hummel 15cm Self Propelled Gun 
The Hummel (German: "bumblebee") was a self-propelled gun based on the Geschützwagen III/IV chassis and armed with the 15 cm sFH 18/1 L/30 howitzer. It was used by the German Wehrmacht from early 1943 until the end of the war. 

The full name of the Hummel was Panzerfeldhaubitze 18M auf Geschützwagen III/IV (Sf) Hummel, Sd.Kfz. 165. 

The Hummel was developed to provide artillery support for the fast-moving Panzer Divisions. They could use direct fire mode at targets they could see or, more commonly, use indirect fire at targets plotted on a map.

The Hummel crew travelled in the open-top armour plated high silhouette compartment. Protection against the weather could be provided by canvass covers.

The first option considered was mounting a 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer on a Panzer III chassis, rejected in favour of the same gun on a Panzer IV chassis. Only one prototype was built before the third design mounting the more powerful 15 cm sFH 18 L/30 howitzer was adopted on the specially designed Geschützwagen III/IV, which combined elements of both the Panzer III (driving and steering system) and the Panzer IV chassis (suspension, and engine). The same chassis was also used for the Nashorn tank destroyer.

The engine was moved to the centre of the vehicle to make room for an open-topped lightly armoured fighting compartment at the rear housing the gun breech and crew. Late models had a slightly redesigned driver compartment and front superstructure offering more room to the radio operator and driver.

The German Army Wehrmacht and SS Panzer Divisions each had their own heavy self-propelled artillery battery as part of their Artillery Regiment battalion.

Each battery normally consisted of six Hummels supplied by one Munitionsträger Hummel armoured ammunition carrier.

A battery of Hummel howitzers in field position, Eastern Front, June – July 1943

In March 1943, the first batch of eight Hummel SPGs entered service, followed by another 46 in April. A fewmonths later they saw their first action during Operation Zitadelle (Citadel) in July 1943 on the Eastern Front.

As well as the Eastern Front, Hummels saw service in Greece, Italy and North West Europe until the end of the war, and a small number were captured by the Soviet forces and used against Axis forces in Hungary.

This exhibit was acquired as a destroyed relic and restored by the museum workshop.

German Pak 36 3.7cm Anti-Tank Gun
The Pak 36 (Panzerabwehrkanone 36) was a German anti-tank gun that fired a 3.7 cm calibre shell. It was the main anti-tank weapon of the Wehrmacht infantry units until mid-1941 when it was gradually replaced by the 5 cm  Pak 38 gun.

Design of a horse-drawn, 3.7 cm anti-tank gun (designated 3.7 cm Pak L/45) by Rheinmetall commenced in 1924 and the first guns were issued in 1928. By the early 1930s, it was apparent that horse-drawn artillery was obsolescent, and the gun was modified for motorized transport by substituting magnesium-alloy wheels and pneumatic tires for the original spoked wooden wheels. Re-designated the 3.7 cm Pak 35/36, it began to replace the 3.7 cm Pak L/45 in 1934 and first appeared in combat in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

The KwK 36 L/45 was the same gun, but used as the main armament on several tanks, most notably the early models of the Panzer III.

The Stielgranate 41 shaped charge.

In the 1940 Western Campaign, the Pak 36, was found to be inadequate against Allied tanks like the British Mk II Matilda, the French Char B1 and Somua S35, however the gun was still effective against the more common light tanks, such as the French Renault FT-17 and R35 which represented the majority of the armoured vehicles encountered during the Battle of France.

German soldiers with the 3.7 cm Pak 36 anti-tank gun in Belgium, May 1940.

During the initial phases of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Pak 36 could penetrate the armour of the majority of Soviet AFVs at ranges up to 1000 m from the front, with the notable exception of the T-28s and T-35s, which it could penetrate only at under 100 m. The Pak 36 could not penetrate the relatively thick armour of the T-34s and KV-1s.

Five German soldiers of the 89th Infantry Regiment with a 3.7 cm Pak 36 anti-tank gun on a Kharkov street during the First Battle of Kharkov in October 1941.

By late 1941 however, the widespread introduction of the T-34 on the Eastern Front made the Pak 36 obsolete, considering its poor performance against it, leading to it being nicknamed "Heeresanklopfgerät" ('army door-knocking device') by German anti-tank crews for its inability to affect the T-34 aside from notifying its presence by futilely bouncing rounds off its armour, regardless of the angle or distance.

The advantages of the Pak 36 were its relative ease of handling and mobility where it could be brought into action very rapidly by as few as two men (it weighed only 432 kg); its good quality optical aiming devices; that it was small and easy to conceal and that it had a very high rate of fire.

In 1943, the introduction of the Stielgranate 41 shaped charge meant that the Pak 36 could now penetrate any armour, although the low velocity of the projectile limited its range. The Pak 36s, together with the new shaped charges, were issued to Fallschirmjäger units and other light troops. The gun's low weight meant that it could be easily moved by hand, and this mobility made it ideal for their purpose.

As the Pak 36 was gradually replaced, many were removed from their carriages and added to SdKfz 251 halftracks to be used as light anti-armour support.

This exhibit was acquired from Germany.

German Pak 38 5cm Anti-Tank Gun
The 5 cm Pak 38 (L/60) (5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 38 (L/60)) was a German anti-tank gun of 50 mm calibre. It was developed in 1938 by Rheinmetall-Borsig AG as a successor to the 3.7 cm Pak 36, and was in turn followed by the 7.5 cm Pak 40.

The Pak 38 was first used by the German forces during the Second World War in April 1941. When the Germans faced Soviet tanks in 1941 during Operation Barbarossa the Pak 38 was one of the few guns capable of penetrating the 45 mm (1.8 in) sloped armour of the T-34. The gun was also equipped with Panzergranate 40 APCR shots with a hard tungsten carbide core, in an attempt to penetrate the armour of the heavier KV-1 tank. Although it was replaced by more powerful weapons, it remained a useful weapon and remained in service with the Wehrmacht until the end of the war.

The Pak 38 saw service in most campaigns the German forces participated in, including against Australian forces in North Africa.

The gun on display, soon after its capture, with an unknown Australian soldier.

Records held by the Australian War Memorial indicate that this gun was one of two Pak 38's captured intact by the 2/15 Battalion, 20th Brigade, 9th Division AIF during the Battle of El Alamein on the 28th-29th October 1942 and returned to Australia for proof trials, before becoming an army display gun and then later disposed of.

You can watch a video of the restoration of this special Australian memorial to the soldiers of the AIF that fought in North Africa in the link below.

German Pak 97/38 7.5cm Anti-Tank Gun
The Pak 97/38 (7.5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 97/38 and 7,5 cm Panzerjägerkanone 97/38) was a German anti-tank gun used by the Wehrmacht in World War II. The gun was a combination of the barrel from the French Canon de 75 modèle 1897 fitted with a Swiss Solothurn muzzle brake and mounted on the carriage of the German 5 cm Pak 38.

During the invasion of Poland and invasion of France the Wehrmacht captured thousands of 75 mm Model 1897 guns, built by the French arms manufacturer Schneider. These guns were adopted by the Germans as the 7.5 cm FK 97(p) and the 7.5 cm FK 231(f) and used in their original field artillery role.

Soon after the German invasion of the USSR in 1941, Wehrmacht units encountered the medium T-34 and the heavy KV Soviet tanks. The thick sloped armour of these vehicles gave them invulnerability against German towed 3.7 cm Pak 36 anti-tank guns. The situation led to requests for more powerful weapons that would be able to destroy them at normal combat ranges. Since Germany already had a suitable design, the 7.5 cm Pak 40, this weapon entered production and the first pieces were delivered in November 1941. However, until enough of these were manufactured, some expedient solution was required.

It was tempting to adopt the readily available French gun to the anti-tank role. In the original configuration, those guns were ill-suited for fighting tanks because of their relatively low muzzle velocity, limited traverse (only 6°), and lack of a suitable suspension (which resulted in a transport speed of just 10–12 km/h). 

It was decided to solve the traverse and mobility problems by mounting the 75 mm barrel on the modern split trail carriage of the 5 cm Pak 38 anti-tank gun. To soften the recoil, the barrel was fitted with a large muzzle brake. The gun was primarily intended to use HEAT shells as the armour penetration of this type of ammunition does not depend on velocity.

The Pak 97/38 reached the battlefield in the summer of 1942. Despite moderate effectiveness and a violent recoil, it remained in service until the end of the war. The scale of use can be illustrated by the ammunition used: 37,800 HEAT shells in 1942 and 371,600 in 1943. On 1 March 1945 the Wehrmacht possessed 145 Pak 97/38 and FK 231(f) guns, although only 14 were employed by frontline units.

Ten barrels with shields were experimentally mounted on the Soviet T-26 light tank chassis, resulting in vehicles designated the 7.5 cm Pak 97/38(f) auf Pz.740(r). These self-propelled guns served with the 3rd Company of the 563rd Anti-Tank Battalion before being replaced by the Marder III on 1 March 1944.

The Pak 97/38 was produced using captured barrels and could fire capture French and Polish ammunition. Together with light weight, good mobility and sufficient anti-armour performance with HEAT shells it was regarded as a decent anti-tank weapon.

It had shortcomings, particularly its low muzzle velocity. Although it did not affect the armour piercing characteristics of its HEAT ammunition, it meant insufficient performance when firing regular AP shells and - because of difficulties in hitting small mobile targets - its low effective range of about 500 metres (550 yards) even with HEAT.

This exhibit was acquired in Finland.

German Pak 40 Anti-Tank Gun
The 7.5 cm Pak 40 (7,5 cm Panzerabwehrkanone 40) was a German 75 millimetre anti-tank gun developed in 1939–1941 by Rheinmetall and used during the Second World War. The Pak 40 formed the backbone of German anti-tank guns for the later part of World War II.

Development of the Pak 40 began in 1939 with contracts being placed with Krupp and Rheinmetall to develop a 7.5 cm anti-tank gun. Priority of the project was initially low, but following the invasion of the USSR in 1941 and the unexpected appearance of heavily armoured Soviet tanks such as the T-34 and KV-1, it was given an increased priority. The first pre-production guns were delivered in November 1941.

In April 1942, the Wehrmacht had 44 guns in service; by 1943, the Pak 40 formed the bulk of German anti-tank artillery.

The Pak 40 was the standard German anti-tank gun until the end of the war, and was supplied by Germany to its allies. Some captured guns were used by the Soviet Red Army.

After the war, the Pak 40 remained in service in several European armies, including Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Norway, Hungary and Romania. About 23,500 Pak 40s were produced, and about 6,000 more were used to arm tank destroyers.

The weapon was effective against almost every Allied tank until the end of the war. The Pak 40 was much heavier than the 5 cm Pak 38; its decreased mobility meant that it was difficult or even impossible to move without an artillery tractor on boggy ground.

The Pak 40 was first used in Russia where it was needed to combat the newest Soviet tanks. It was designed to fire the same low-capacity APCBC, HE and HL projectiles which had been standardized for use in the long barrelled Kampfwagenkanone KwK 40 tank-mounted guns. In addition, there was an APCR shot (Panzergranate 40) for the Pak 40, a munition which - reliant on supplies of tungsten - eventually became very scarce.

This exhibit was acquired from Bulgaria.

German 15cm Nebelwerfer 41
The 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 was a six-tube rocket launcher mounted on a modified 3.7 cm anti-tank gun carriage. It was one of a series of nebelwerfers developed and used prior to and during World War II by the German Army.

The name Nebelwerfer is best translated as "smoke mortar" and it was given the name to mislead observers from the League of Nations into thinking that it was merely a device for creating a smoke screen and not a weapon to breach the Treaty of Versailles.

Like almost all German rocket designs, the Nebelwerfer 41 rockets were spin-stabilized to increase accuracy. The rocket had the motor and fuel cell at the front, and an exhaust ring with twenty-six holes that were drilled at a 14° angle about two thirds down the rocket and the explosives at the rear. The exhaust gasses from the burning propellant were expelled through the angled (venturi) holes causing the rocket to spin in flight after it left the barrel.

A 15 cm Nebelwerfer 41 launcher being reloaded

The explosives were contained at the rear of the rocket. This meant that the rocket would still be above the ground when it detonated which increased the blast and fragmentation effect of the exploding rocket.

The Nebelwerfer 41 was capable of firing high-explosive shells, incendiary projectiles chemical warfare rockets and smoke. The chemical warfare rockets were stockpiled but are said to have not been used operationally.

The barrels do not have the normal breech or firing mechanism that other weapons have. Each rocket was manually loaded into the lower end of the barrel, as seen above, and held in place by a locking clip. An electrical sparking device is then attached to each rocket and connected to a manually operated ERZ39 initiator which allowed the operator to fire the six rockets individually from 15 to 20 metres away to avoid the exhaust flames.

After firing, a long streak of smoke was visible from a considerable distance, leaving the Nebelwerfer vulnerable to counter-battery fire. It was therefore necessary to relocate the launcher and crew as soon as possible after firing.

Allied troops nicknamed it Screaming Mimi and Moaning Minnie due to its distinctive sound.

This exhibit was acquired as a battlefield relic from the Eastern Front and was restored to its current condition in the museum workshop.

German 7.5cm Le IG 18 (Light Infantry Gun)
In the aftermath of World War I, every military force immediately began to assess what they thought was most important to improve their arsenals for a future war. For Germany, one thing they felt was lacking was a light howitzer that could be incorporated into infantry units, mobile enough to remain with the front line units in an advance to provide easy and immediate supporting fire.

The Rheinmetall company designed the 7.5 cm Leichtes Infanteriegeschütz 18 (7.5 cm le.IG 18) in 1927, despite the terms of the 1918 Versailles Treaty prohibiting the Germans from developing new weapons; and to help deceive the League of Nations, the numerals 18 were incorporated into its official title to imply that the gun had been in production and service in 1918.

The 7.5 cm le.GebIG 18 fitted a 12-pound (6 kg) high-explosive shell out to 4,000 metres (4,375 yards) and was capable of both direct and indirect fire.

The mechanical operation of the gun is rather unusual for an artillery piece, with a fixed breech and a barrel which tips up from the muzzle for loading and ejection, not as it happens conveying any particular advantage, but also not incurring any particular weakness and proved quite satisfactory in practice.

There was a mountain gun variant, the 7.5 cm le.GebIG 18. that could be broken down into six to ten packs, the heaviest weighing 74.9 kg. These were typically assigned at two to each mountain battalion. Only six 7.5 cm le.IG 18F were manufactured in 1939.

There was an airborne gun variant, capable of being broken down into four 140 kg loads and had smaller wheels and no shield.

There was also an infantry support gun variant, known as the 7.5 cm Infanteriegeschütz L/13 and designed as a replacement for the le.IG 18, which could be broken into four to six loads. However, though prototypes were tested, the German army felt that it did not improve on the existing design sufficiently to merit introduction and the army stayed with the earlier gun.

This exhibit was acquired from Czechoslovakia as a battlefield relic and restored to its current condition by the museum workshop.

Czech Howitzer Model vz 14/19
The Skoda houfnice vz 14 ("Howitzer model 1914") and Skoda houfnice vz 14/19 ("Howitzer model 1914/1919") were 100 mm (3.93-inch) field howitzers made in Czechoslovakia by the Skoda works.

The vz 14/19 was an improved version of the vz 14 and was created in 1919 after World War I with a longer barrel offering greater range, and some versions had rubber tires so they could be pulled by trucks but most retained wooden spoked wheels so they could be pulled by mule teams. 

Germany captured a vz 14/19 when they conquered Poland and absorbed Czechoslovakia and later seized additional guns while fighting in Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece. 

Due to their age, the howitzers were relegated to second line service and incorporated into defensive lines and fortifications after 1942.

This exhibit was acquired from Belgium, and it was captured by the Germans during World War II, repainted and modified in a number of ways including being fitted with non-original shield, a muzzle break, a British 25-pounder firing platform, and Norwegian tyres.

German 10.5cm leFH 16 Howitzer 
The 10.5 cm leichte Feldhaubitze 16 (10.5 cm leFH 16) was a field howitzer used by Germany in World War I and World War II.

The was designed as a replacement for the old, standard light howitzer, the leFH 98/09. It had a longer barrel than the older gun, and also a new type of breech which needed one less movement in order to open. It fired the same ammunition as the older gun with one addition, the C-Geschloss (gas shell).

The shield provided minimum protection for the crew of six. A cut out on the left side of the shield provided limited forward vision for a gunner.

It shared the same carriage as the 7.7 cm FK 16 and was pulled by a team of horses or a vehicle. Its weight meant that it was not easy for the crew to move quickly.

Guns turned over to Belgium as reparations after World War I were taken into German Army service after the conquest of Belgium as the 10.5 cm leFH 327 (b) even though they were of German origin. They were usually deployed to areas where stocks of howitzers were limited.

The exhibit was a war trophy given to the town of Penrith, the Australian one, not the Welsh one, in New South Wales.

It is showing the years of neglect and exposure to the elements and is on the museum's list of exhibits to be restored at a future date.

German 10.5cm leFH 18 Howitzer 
The 10.5 cm leFH 18 (German: leichte Feldhaubitze "light field howitzer") was a German light howitzer used in World War II.

The 10.5 cm leFH 18 was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. Generally it did not equip independent artillery battalions until after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

Before 1938 the leFH 18 was exported to Hungary and Spain. Fifty-three were exported to Finland, where they were known as 105 H 33. One hundred and sixty-six were exported to Bulgaria in 1943 and 1944. One hundred and forty-two were purchased by Sweden between 1939 and 1942, designating it Haubits m/39.

It had a heavy, simple breech mechanism with a hydro-pneumatic recoils system. The 10.5cm leFH 18 had wood-spoked or pressed steel wheels. The former were only suitable for horse traction.

Initially it was not fitted with a muzzle break. In 1941 a muzzle break was fitted to allow longer range charges to be fired. This increased the range by about 1,800 yards and was known as the leFH 18M.

In March 1942 a requirement was issued for a lighter howitzer. This led to a second modification, known as the leFH 18/40. This modification consisted of mounting the barrel of an leFH 18M on the carriage of a 7.5cm Pak 40 anti-tank gun. The new carriage increased the rate of fire as well as making the howitzer lighter. Additionally a more efficient muzzle break was added, decreasing the recoil. Ballistically, the 10.5cm leFH 18M and the leFH 18/40 are identical.

This exhibit was acquired from Norway.

German 15cm sFH 18 Howitzer 
The 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 or sFH 18 (German: "heavy field howitzer, model 18"), was the basic German division-level heavy howitzer during the Second World War, serving alongside the smaller but more numerous 10.5 cm leFH 18.

Shortly after coming to power in the early 1930's, Adolf Hitler commenced a secret re-arming program designed to undermine the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which forbid Germany to rearm. The sFH 18 was disguised to look like the WWI artillery pieces that Germany had been allowed to keep. Although incorporating improvements it was generally outdated compared to the weapons it faced. It was the first artillery piece equipped with rocket assisted ammunition to increase range.

The gun originated with a contest between Rheinmetall and Krupp, both of whom entered several designs that were all considered unsatisfactory for one reason or another. In the end the army decided the solution was to combine the best features of both designs, using the Rheinmetall gun on a Krupp carriage.

The carriage was a relatively standard split-trail design with box legs. Spades were carried on the sides of the legs that could be mounted onto the ends for added stability. The sFH 18 had an unsprung axle and hard rubber tires and was designed for horse towing. Later versions had a two-wheel bogie which allowed it to be towed by a vehicle, but the lack of suspension made it unsuitable for towing at high speed.

The gun was officially introduced into service on 23 May 1935, and by the outbreak of war the Wehrmacht had about 1,353 of these guns in service. Production continued throughout the war, reaching a peak of 2,295 guns in 1944.

Against the Soviet Union, the sFH 18 lacked the range of the Red Army 122 mm and 152 mm ML-20 gun-howitzer, whose maximum range of 20.4 kilometres (22,300 yd) and17.3 kilometres (18,900 yd) allowed it to fire counter-battery against the sFH 18 with a 7 (7650 yd) and 4 kilometres (4,400 yd) advantage.

Several countries continued fielding the sFH 18 after the war in large numbers including Czechoslovakia, Portugal and many South American and Central American countries. Finland bought 48 sFH 18 howitzers from Germany in 1940 and designated them 150 H/40. These guns were modernized in 1988 as the 152 H 88, and they were used by the Finnish Army until 2007.

This exhibit was acquired from the UK.

German Flak 30 Anti-Aircraft Gun
The Flak 30 (Flugzeugabwehrkanone 30) and improved Flak 38 were 20 mm anti-aircraft guns used by various German forces throughout World War II. It was not only the primary German light anti-aircraft gun but by far the most numerously produced German artillery piece throughout the war. 

The original Flak 30 design was developed from the Solothurn ST-5 as a project for the Kriegsmarine, which produced the 20 mm C/30, and the C/30 became the primary shipborne light AA weapon and equipped a large variety of German ships.

Rheinmetall then started an adaptation of the C/30 for Army use, producing the 2 cm Flak 30. Generally similar to the C/30, the main areas of development were the mount, which was fairly compact, with set-up accomplished by dropping the gun off its two-wheeled trailer, and levelling the gun using hand cranks. The result was a triangular base that permitted fire in all directions.

The main problem with the design was the rate of fire of 120 RPM (rounds per minute) which was not particularly fast for a weapon of this calibre. Rheinmetall responded with the 2 cm Flak 38, which was otherwise similar but increased the rate of fire by 220 RPM and slightly lowered overall weight to 420 kg. The Flak 38 was accepted as the standard Army gun in 1939, and by the Kriegsmarine as the C/38.

German 2cm Flakvierling 38 Anti-Aircraft Gun
The improved Flak 38 20 mm anti-aircraft guns was produced in a variety of models, including the Flakvierling 38. The term vierling means literally 'quadruplet' and refers to a mounting carrying four guns.

The Flakvierling weapon consisted of quad-mounted 2 cm Flak 38 AA guns with collapsing seats, folding handles, and ammunition racks. The mount had a triangular base with a jack at each leg for levelling the gun. The tracker traversed and elevated the mount manually using two handwheels. The gun was fired by a set of two pedals, each of which fired two diametrically opposite barrels in either semi-automatic or automatic mode. The weapon could also be configured to fire single barrel, double barrel or side by side.

Each of the four guns had a separate magazine that held only 20 rounds. This meant that a maximum combined rate of fire of 1,400 rounds per minute was reduced practically to 800 rounds per minute for combat use – which would still require that an emptied magazine be replaced every six seconds, on each of the four guns. The effective vertical range was 2,200 metres. It was also used just as effectively against ground targets.

The Flakvierling four-autocannon anti-aircraft ordnance system, when not mounted into any self-propelled mount, was normally transported Sd. Ah. 52 trailer, and could be towed behind a variety of half-tracks or trucks, such as the Opel Blitz, Sd.Kfz. 251 and Sd.Kfz. 11.

Its versatility meant it could be mounted on half-tracks and tank hulls to produce mobile anti-aircraft vehicles, such as the Sd.Kfz. 7/1, and the Wirbelwind and the original Möbelwagen prototype both based on the Panzer IV tank. In Kriegsmarine use, it was fitted to U-boats and ships to provide short-range anti-aircraft defence, and was also employed in fixed installations around ports, harbours and other strategic naval targets. The Flakvierling was also a common fixture on trains.

This exhibit was acquired from Spain.

German 3.7cm Flak 36 Anti-Aircraft Gun
The 3.7 cm Flak 18/36/37 and 43 were a series of anti-aircraft guns produced by Nazi Germany that saw widespread service in the Second World War. The cannon was fully automatic and effective against aircraft flying at altitudes up to 4,200 m.

The cannon was produced in both towed and self-propelled versions. Having a flexible doctrine, the Germans used their anti-aircraft pieces in ground support roles as well; 37 mm calibre guns were no exception to that. With Germany's defeat, production ceased and, overall, 37 mm calibre anti-aircraft cannon fell into gradual disuse.

The original 37 mm gun was developed by Rheinmetall in 1935 as the 3.7 cm Flak 18. It had a barrel length of 57 calibres, which allowed 4,800 m (15,700 ft) maximum ceiling. The armour penetration was considerable when using dedicated ammunition, at 100 m distance it could penetrate 36 mm of a 60°-sloped armour, and at 800 m distance correspondingly 24 mm. It used a mechanical bolt for automatic fire, featuring a practical rate of fire of about 80 rounds per minute (rpm). The gun, when emplaced for combat, weighed 1,750 kg (3,860 lb), and complete for transport, including the wheeled mount, 3,560 kg (7,850 lb).

The Flak 18 was only produced in small numbers, and production had already ended in 1936. Development continued, focusing on replacement of the existing cumbersome dual-axle mount with a lighter single-axle one, resulting in a 3.7 cm Flak 36 that cut the complete weight to 1,550 kg (3,420 lb) in combat and 2,400 kg (5,300 lb) in transport. 

The gun's ballistic characteristics were not changed, although the practical rate of fire was raised to 120 rpm (180 rpm theoretical). A new, simplified sighting system introduced the next year produced the otherwise-identical 3.7 cm Flak 37. The Flak 36/37 were the most-produced variants of the weapon.

The 3.7 cm Flak 43 was a dramatic improvement over older models. A new gas-operated breech increased the practical firing rate to 150 RPM, while at the same time dropping in weight to 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) in combat, and 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) in transport.

It was also produced in a twin-gun mount, the 3.7 cm Flakzwilling 43, although this version was considered somewhat unwieldy and top-heavy.

This exhibit was acquired from the USA.

German 8.8cm Flak 18/36/37 Anti-Aircraft Gun
The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 was a German 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun, developed in the 1930s and was widely used by Germany throughout World War II, universally known as the "eight-eight" by the Allies. 

The name applies to a series of related guns, the first one officially called the 8.8 cm Flak 18, the improved 8.8 cm Flak 36, and later the 8.8 cm Flak 37. Flak is a contraction of German Flugabwehrkanone (also referred to as Fliegerabwehrkanone) meaning "aircraft-defence cannon", the original purpose of the weapon.

The versatile carriage allowed the 8.8 cm Flak to be fired in a limited anti-tank mode when still on its wheels; it could be completely emplaced in only two and a half minutes. Its successful use as an improvised anti-tank gun led to the development of a tank gun based upon it.

Prototype 88s were first produced in 1928. This early model, the Flak 18, used a single-piece barrel with a length of 56 calibres, leading to the commonly seen designation L/56.

8.8cm Flak 36 being emplaced, with both bogies already detached

The Flak 18 was mounted on a cruciform gun carriage. A simple-to-operate "semi-automatic" loading system ejected fired shells, allowing it to be reloaded by simply inserting a new shell into a tray. The gun would then fire and recoil; during the return stroke, the empty case would be thrown backward by levers, after which a cam would engage and recock the gun. This resulted in firing rates of 15 to 20 rounds a minute, which was better than similar weapons of the era. High explosive ammunition was used against aircraft and personnel, and armour-piercing and high-explosive anti-tank against tanks and other armoured vehicles.

The Flak 18 was available in small numbers when Germany intervened in the Spanish Civil War. It quickly proved to be the best anti-aircraft weapon then available. The flak detachment proved accurate and versatile in combat against mainly land targets, the high muzzle velocity and large calibre made it an excellent long-range anti-vehicle and anti-bunker weapon. Many improvements were identified as a result of use in the Spanish Civil War and were later incorporated into the Flak 36.

An 88 mm gun in a direct fire role, USSR, 1942

The German Condor Legion made extensive use of the 8.8 cm Flak 18 in the Spanish Civil War, where its usefulness as an anti-tank weapon and general artillery piece exceeded its role as an anti-aircraft gun. For the Battle of France in 1940, the army was supported by eighty-eights deployed in twenty-four mixed flak battalions.

During the North African campaign, Rommel made the most effective use of the weapon, as he lured tanks of the British Eighth Army into traps by baiting them with apparently retreating German panzers.

For the invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany deployed the 8.8 cm Flak in 51 mixed AA battalions.

The 8.8 cm Flak was arguably most effective in the flat and open terrain of Libya, Egypt and on the Eastern Front but were more limited in the topography of Italy and France.

This gun is a Flak 36 and was acquired from a dealer in Europe.

German 8cm Granatwerfer 34
The 8 cm Granatwerfer 34 (8 cm GrW 34) was the standard German infantry mortar throughout World War II, and was designed and developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig AG, being basically an upgraded version of the French Brandt mle 27/31 81mm mortar.

The GrW 34 mortar was an indirect fire weapon used for close fire support with a variety of ammunition and was relatively simple to operate.

The weapon was of conventional design and broke down into three loads (smooth bore barrel, bipod, baseplate) for transport by the mortar crew.

A mortar crew consisted of three members, the gunner who aimed the weapon, the assistant gunner who loaded the round at the command of the gunner, and the ammunition man prepared and handed over the ammunition to the assistant gunner.

After the gunner has aimed the mortar, the assistant gunner slides a purpose designed round, fins first, down the tube which is generally set at an angle of between 45 and 65 degrees to the ground with the higher angle used for shorter firing distances, on reaching the base, a fixed pin in the mortar detonates a propellant change (located at the axis of the fins); the resulting blast is channelled out via the holes in the shaft between the main body and the fins. As the gases from the detonation expand, they are prevented from further expansion by the walls of the mortar tube and the actual round itself. The path of least resistance is to move the round back up the tube.

The GrW 34 was noted for its accuracy and rapid rate of fire.

A four-man crew of Waffen-SS soldiers firing on Yugoslavian partisans, December 1943.

The maximum range was 2.4 km (1.5 miles), with the more important effective range being between 400-1,200 metres (440-1.310 yards).

German 12cm Granatwerfer 42
During World War II the Soviet M1938 mortars were captured and utilised by the Germans in large numbers on the Eastern Front, and in German use, the captured Soviet mortar was given the designation 12 cm Granatwerfer 378 (r).

Their impressive performance lead to the development of the 12cm Granatwerfer 42 (Grenade Thrower Model 42) by Germany during 1942. Its official designation was 12 cm GrW 42.

The GrW 42 remained in service until the end of the war and gave German infantry units a close support weapon with a heavier performance than the other mortars used in general service at the time.

The GrW 42 was the usual three part construction made up of a circular base plate like the previous Soviet design, the tube barrel and the supporting bi-pod. Because of the greater weight of the weapon (280 kilograms or 620 pounds) a two-wheeled axle was utilized, enabling the mortar to be towed into action. The axle could then be quickly removed before firing.

The exhibit was acquired from the UK.

German 80cm Railway Gun Shell Case
The World War II German 80cm railway gun owed its origin to a 1935 study initiated by the German Army High Command into what would be needed to penetrate the thickness of concrete in the newly completed forts of the French Maginot Line.

In early 1937 after preliminary work by Krupp AG, the leading German steelworks and armaments manufacturer, Hitler approved its manufacture in the hope the gun would be ready to demolish the Maginot Line defences by the spring of 1940.

The manufacture of the cannon proved harder than had been anticipated and it wasn't until 1941 that the first barrel was test fired. It was nearly a year later before the full gun was finally tested in the presence of Hitler.

The Krupp 80cm Kanone (E) Schwerer Gustav / Dora being readied for a test firing on 19 March 1943 at Rügenwalde, Germany in the presence of Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer. 

The first 80cm gun completed was given the name 'Schwere Gustav' in honour of its originator Gustav Krupp. According to the tradition of Krupp, no payment was made for the first weapon. The second gun named 'Dora', after the wife of the chief design engineer, was produced at a cost of seven million Reichsmark.

The first operational service of an 80cm gun was at the siege of Sevastopol in July 1942 where it successfully destroyed a number of fortifications. The gun was then sent to the besieged city of Leningrad, but before it could be set up the Russian offensive forced its withdrawal. It would next see service in 1944 when it fired approximately 30 shells during the Warsaw siege.

As the German war situation deteriorated the 80cm guns were withdrawn from the front line to Germany where they were destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of the Allies.

The 80cm shell case on display was located in Germany where it was being used as a water storage container.

German Portable Machine Gun Pillbox
In 1943 the German Army first used portable machine gun pill boxes (bunkers) in defensive positions against the Russians on the Eastern Front. The pill boxes were known by the nickname of 'Armoured Crabs' because of their appearance.

Their success on the Eastern Front lead them to be used in large numbers by the Germans in defensive positions in preparation for the D-Day Invasion and in the Italian Campaign.

When set up, multiple pill boxes were sighted together with interlocking fields of fire from other pill boxes because of their limited 60 degree arc of fire.

The 3 ton cast-steel pill boxes were 1.70m (5.6 ft) wide and had an overall height of 1.82m (6ft). When emplaced, less than 1 metre protruded above ground.

Entry into the pill box was through a small lockable trap door in the rear, and a small vent and two collapsible periscopes were mounted on the roof.

Armour thickness varied from 14cm (5.46 inches) at the level of the machine gun aperture, 9cm (3.51 inches) below the machine gun aperture, 4cm (1.56 inches) on the sides and rear and 1cm (0.39 inches) on the lower section and floor.

For transportation purposes, the pill boxes were mounted on wheels in an inverted position and then towed behind a truck or tractor. Once a strategic position was identified, a suitable sized hole would be excavated, and the pill box would then be flipped over into the hole resulting in the entire lower section and part of the upper section being buried, with only the machine gun aperture, the rear entry hatch, and the part of the roof with the two periscopes and the vent left exposed, with the remainder concealed by dirt, rocks, or other materials found on the battlefield.

An MG-42 or MG-34 machine gun was mounted on a semi-circular grooved bracket which was secured to the walls of the pill box. The mounting allowed a 60-degree horizontal traverse with the limited elevation controlled by a small handle to the left of the machine gun.

Under combat conditions the gunner had a limited field of vision through the forward aperture, and the observer looked through one of the periscopes to observe and direct the gunners fire, with enough ammunition for five to ten hours of fire.

Frontal protection against rifle, grenade and artillery fire was by means of an iron slit cover which was manipulated by hand to cover the machine gun aperture. There was enough room inside for the two crew to sit comfortably and move around to a limited extent, and a small heating stove was incorporated together with the ventilating apparatus operated by a foot pedal which provide sufficient airflow when all the vents were closed.

This exhibit was once part of the Gustav Line which was one of a series of German WWII military fortifications defending the Western section of Italy.

German Partieadler (Eagle of the Party)

German Bits & Pieces
As any casual reading of the exhibits presented in this and the previous post will demonstrate, together with the series of video presentations produced by the museum and linked to here, the collection of exhibits has been built around the acquiring of multiple battlefield relics over several years to eventually allow a complete vehicle of gun to be reconstructed from those salvaged pieces, together with fabricated parts where original items were either inaccessible or too badly damaged to be usable.

This collection of parts points to the work necessary to be able to recreate the many rare vehicles seen in this presentation and the damage displayed indicating why they were rejected or perhaps held for another build project with the hope of salvaging what are very rare pieces of scrap metal in the 21st century.

French Renault UE Chenillette
The Renault UE Chenillette (small tracked vehicle) or tractor blindé (armoured tractor) as Renault preferred to call it, was a light tracked carrier and prime mover produced by France between 1932 and 1940 to tow artillery guns and ammunition supplies.

It had a small cargo carrying capacity of about 350 kg but could also tow a tracked trailer, a close copy of the British type, and known as the Renault UK which was capable of carrying 600 kg.

The vehicles were lightly armoured to provide protection to the crew only. To reduce the overall height of the vehicle the crew drove with their heads above the roofline and to protect their heads two hemispherical armoured hoods (calottes) were fitted. The hoods had vision slits, but to improve the field of vision, the front section of these hoods can like a visor be pivoted backwards.
After the surrender of France in 1940, about 3000 UE and UE2s were captured by the German Wehrmacht. Most were employed as tractors to tow the 37 mm, 50 mm and, ultimately, 75 mm and 76.2 mm anti-tank guns. A small number were armed with machine guns, anti-tank guns and rocket artillery.

Soldiers of the US 101st Airborne Division with a captured Renault UE in Normandy, June 1944.

This exhibit was acquired from France.

Post World War II Vehicles & Guns
As a child of the 1960's I grew up in the shadow of the threat of nuclear annihilation and the annual Soviet parades of military hardware trooped through Moscow every May 9th and featured on the evening news in those years of stand-off between the two super powers of the Soviet Union and the Western Allies lead by the United States.

When the Berlin Wall came down on the 9th November 1989, and covered in my post looking at our trip to the German capital back in 2019, I well remember the sense of relief back then, that it seemed the dark days of nuclear obliteration and the years of massive military expenditure were over, and we could all look forward to lower taxes and the ones collected being spent on more important priorities other than military hardware. 

Fast forward to today and with an expansionist leader in Russia, bent on restoring the old Imperial Czarist borders that has led to a war in Ukraine, all that Cold War military hardware is now getting a chance to show what it can do in a full on major land war and these seeming museum pieces are now very much contemporary weapons on video reports from the front all over YouTube.

I remember a passing interest in wargaming the Cold War back in the 1980's, playing several 'what if' scenarios with friends using the WRG Modern rules and Heroic & Ross and Skytrex 1:300 models to recreate ranks of Soviet T72's and BMP's rolling through the Fulda Gap up against Chieftan MBTs and FV434 APC's, but my primary interest has always been in the WWII era and my collections reflect that focus.

However the memories of youth and the no doubt new focus generated in this era of late twentieth century military hardware by today's conflict keeps alive a passing interest reflected in the pictures presented here of the museum's collection of Soviet and Western weapons, by no means a full presentation, but capturing rather my own interest and I hope illustrating what a comprehensive collection is here to be seen.

British Churchill 6.5 Inch AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers)
The Churchill 6.5-inch Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) was a post-WWII conversion of the Churchill VII infantry tank.

The AVRE had the Mk. VII's  75mm gun replaced with a 6.6-inch (165mm) L9A1 demolition gun which fired a 64-lb (29kg) plastic-explosives filled round used for demolishing emplacements and obstacles.

A bracket was fitted to the tank to carry large fascine bundles used to fill in ditches and trenches.

The crew were drawn from the Royal Engineers, except for the driver who came from the Royal Armoured Corps. 

The Churchill AVRE was in service from 1954 until 1963 when the Centurion AVRE replaced it, armed with the same gun.

A Churchill AVRE with fascine on a tilt-forward cradle. This particular example is a post-WW2 AVRE on the MK VII chassis.

This exhibit was acquired from the Littlefield Collection in California in 2014.

British Centurion Main Battle Tank
The Centurion, introduced in 1945, was the primary British main battle tank of the post-World War II period. Introduced was a successful tank design, with upgrades for many decades and the chassis was also adapted for several other roles.

Development of the Centurion began in 1943 with manufacture beginning in January 1945 withs, six prototypes arriving in Belgium less than a month after the war in Europe had ended in May 1945. It entered combat with the British Army in the Korean War in 1950 in support of the UN forces.

In 1967, Australian M113 armoured personnel carriers commenced operations in South Vietnam. Although they successfully conducted combat operations in their areas of operations, reports from the field stated that they were unable to force their way through dense jungle limiting their offensive actions against enemy forces.

The Australian government, decided to send a squadron of Australian Centurion tanks to South Vietnam. The 20-pdr armed Australian Centurions of 'C' Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment landed in South Vietnam on 24 February 1968, and were headquartered at Nui Dat.

Originally deployed as 26 Centurion tanks, after three and a half years of combat operations, 58 Centurions had served in country; 42 had suffered battle damage of which six were beyond repair.

Each Centurion in Vietnam normally carried a basic load of 62 rounds of 20 pounder shells, 4,000 rounds of .50 cal and 9,000 rounds of .30 cal machine gun ammunition for the tank commander's machine gun as well as the two coaxial machine guns. They were equipped with petrol engines, which necessitated the use of an extra externally mounted 100-imperial-gallon (450 L) fuel tank, which was attached to the vehicle's rear.

This exhibit did not see service in Vietnam but was one of 60 Centurion tanks purchased in 1950 as a Mark 3 with a 17-pounder gun, upgraded to a 20-pounder in the late 1950's and reclassified as a Mark 5.

British Chieftain Main Battle Tank
The Chieftain FV4201 was the main battle tank (MBT) of the United Kingdom during the 1960s, 1970's and 1980s and at its introduction in 1966 was one of the most advanced tanks of its era, having the most powerful main gun, and most effective armour of any tank in the world. The Chieftain also introduced a supine (retiring backwards) driver position, enabling a heavily sloped hull with reduced height and it remained in service until replaced with Challenger 1.

Like its European competitors, the Chieftain found a large export market in the Middle East, but unlike the Centurion, it was not adopted by any other NATO or Commonwealth country. The first model was introduced in 1967. Chieftains were supplied to at least six countries, including Iran, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan.

An agreement for sales to Israel and local production was cancelled by the British Government in 1969, despite considerable Israeli technical and tactical input into the development of the tank, especially the capacity to operate successfully in desert environments, and the provision for the tank to make good use of hull-down to maximum effect in the final design. This experience spurred the creation of the indigenous Israeli Merkava.

The largest foreign sale was to Iran, who, at the recommendation of General Tal, took delivery of 707 Mk-3P and Mk-5P (the letter P standing for Persia), as well as 187 FV4030-1, 41 ARV and 14 AVLB before the 1979 revolution. Further planned deliveries of the more capable FV4030-2 (Shir 1) and FV4030-3 (Shir 2) series were cancelled at that point.

The tank was used heavily during the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–88 with mixed results, engine break downs being a common issue. Chieftains participated in the biggest tank battle of the war in early 1981. Iran lost 200 Chieftain and M60A1 tanks in battle. In return Iraq lost 50 T-62 tanks.

Kuwaiti Chieftains participated in the Gulf War of 1990.

In 2000, Carolyn got me a tank and AFV driving experience up on Salisbury Plain for a fortieth birthday present with Juniper Leisure, during which, in company with the boys Tom and Will, I got to drive the mighty Chieftain.

I think the smile pretty well sums up the day we had which was gloriously sunny for September and Tom must have enjoyed it as he opted to have a go himself when he turned eighteen, and we got him the added fun of driving over an old car, which I have a video of somewhere.

I think Will captured what a Chieftain is all about, even if he was only four at the time - don't mess!!

British FV433 Abbot Self Propelled Gun
FV433, 105mm, Field Artillery, Self-Propelled "Abbot" is the self-propelled artillery variant of the British Army FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), using much of the chassis of the FV430 but with a fully rotating turret at the rear housing the 105 mm gun and given the vehicle designation of FV433.

Its correct designation was "Gun Equipment 105mm L109 (Abbot)". "L109" was little used, probably to avoid confusion with the 155 mm M109 howitzer that entered UK service at about the same time. The name "Abbot" continued the Second World War style of naming self-propelled artillery after ecclesiastical titles. The FV433 used a different configuration of power pack from other vehicles in the FV430 series.

A completely new ammunition family, comprising shells, fuses and cartridges, was designed for Abbot's designated "105 mm Field" ("105 mm Fd"). It uses
 electrical instead of percussion primers, and compared to the US M1 type ammunition has longer shells.

The widely used US M1 type round was called "105 mm How" in UK service. The 105 mm Fd ammunition came in two marks, both separate loading (shell and cartridge loaded separately). 

The 105mm Fd Mark 1, was used initially, and had a UK-produced 105 mm How shell, mostly US pattern fuses and reduced charge 105 mm Fd cartridges with their electrical primers (105mm M1 uses percussion primers). 

The Mark 2 adopted a new projectile design, including an improved lethality HE shell (heavier with more HE) and full charge cartridges. Its shell types include HE, Smoke, Coloured Marker (Red and Orange), Illuminating, and HESH for direct fire against enemy armoured vehicles. Direct Action, Controlled Variable Time (CVT) and Mechanical Time (MT) fuses were available for HE and Coloured Marker shells.

Maximum range with 105 mm Fd Mark 1 ammunition was 15 km, the Mark 2 gave 17.4 km. Maximum rate of fire was 6–8 rounds per minute with 40 rounds carried in the vehicle.

Yours Truly having fun giving the Abbot a little run.

The Abbot was able to swim across water, using a flotation screen fixed around the hull, raised to provide buoyancy. The action of the tracks was sufficient to drive it forward at about 3 knots (5.6 km/h). Each Abbot was supported by an amphibious Stalwart High Mobility Load Carrier with additional ammunition.

The Abbot was replaced by the AS-90 self-propelled gun in the mid-1990s.

British Saracen Armoured Personnel Carrier
The FV603 Saracen is a six-wheeled armoured personnel carrier designed and produced by Alvis and used by the British Army. 

Growing up in the UK in the 1970's this vehicle became a familiar sight on British TV news as it was often used to help police 'the troubles' in Northern Ireland as rioters came out onto the streets of places like Belfast and Londonderry.

The FV603 Saracen was the armoured personnel carrier of Alvis's FV600 series. Besides the driver and commander, a squad of eight soldiers plus a troop commander could be carried. Most models carried a small turret on the roof, carrying a Browning .30 machine gun. A .303 Bren gun could be mounted on an anti-aircraft ring-mount accessed through a roof hatch and there were ports on the sides through which troops could fire.

As a member of the FV 600 series, it shared a similar chassis to the FV601 Saladin armoured car. The chassis, suspension and  final drive remained similar, but the engine, transmission and braking systems varied significantly.

Saracen was produced before Saladin because of the urgent need for a personnel carrier to serve in the Malayan Emergency, entering production in 1952.

The Saracen was produced both with and without turrets fitted.

British FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier
The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant in the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s, it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield. At its peak in the 1980s, almost 2,500 vehicles were in use.

Although the FV432 was to have been phased out of service in favour of newer vehicles such as the Warrior and CVR(T), they were upgraded to extend their service because of the Army's need for additional armoured vehicles in the Afghan and Iraqi theatres.

The improvements took the form of an engine upgrade, a new steering unit and a new braking system, as well as improvement in armour protection to a level similar to that of the Warrior., with the intention that the FV432s would free up the Warrior vehicles for provision of reserve firepower status and/or rotation out of theatre.

Production started in 1962 by GKN Sankey and ended in 1971, after constructing approximately 3,000 vehicles.

The FV432 is of all-steel construction with a conventional tracked design chassis with the engine at the front and the driving position to the right. Directly behind the driver's position is the vehicle commander's hatch. There is a large round opening in the passenger compartment roof, which has a split hatch, and a side-hinged door in the rear for loading and unloading. The passenger compartment has five seats on either side – these fold up to provide a flat cargo space.

And yes, to make the trio, I can include the FV432 on my AFV driving CV.

The museum exhibit was acquired from the UK.

British FV103 Spartan Armoured Personnel Carrier
FV103 Spartan is a British Army tracked armoured personnel carrier and was developed during the 1970s as the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) version of the British Army's Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) family of armoured fighting vehicles, entering service in 1978.

As the APC variant of the CVR(T) family, the FV103 has been used by small specialized groups such as mortar fire controller teams, anti aircraft teams and also reconnaissance teams. The vehicle can carry seven personnel, in a combination of three crew members and four passengers or two crew members and five passengers.

An anti-tank variant of the FV103 was produced, named the FV120 Spartan MCT (Spartan with MILAN Compact Turret) was also used by the British Army. It had a two-man turret, and was equipped with two MILAN Anti-Tank Light Infantry Missiles in launch positions with eleven more carried internally. 

By mid-2009 the Spartan had been replaced by the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicles.

British FV434 Armoured Repair Vehicle
The FV434 is the Armoured Repair Vehicle variant of the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Introduced in the 1960s it is operated by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME). 

The FV434's primary role is to repair disabled and damaged vehicles, but it also has a limited recovery capability. It is fitted with a crane (capable of lifting up to 3 tons) to assist its work in repairing armoured and un-armoured vehicles. The FV434 is capable of changing other FV430 series power packs, however, it is unable to handle the power pack the British Army's Challenger 2 main battle tank - this is done by Challenger armoured recovery vehicle in forward areas and soft skin repair vehicles in base areas.

In addition to the crane, the FV434 is fitted with a fold-away work bench to the rear of the vehicle. Like its personnel carrier version, it is capable of amphibious operations with the aid of a flotation screen. Once in the water, it is propelled by its tracks at up to 5.6 km/h. It is crewed by four soldiers: commander, driver and two fitters.

This exhibit is used as a day to day work-horse around the museum and was acquired from the UK.

British Sabre Reconnaissance Vehicle
The Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), is a family of armoured fighting vehicles in service with the British Army and others throughout the world. They are small, highly mobile, air-transportable armoured vehicles and were designed to replace the Alvis Saladin armoured car.

The Sabre is a variation of the CVR(T) featuring the turret from a wheeled Fox Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle mounted on the hull of an FV101 Scorpion.

The combination of the Fox turret and Scorpion chassis was not successful, and Sabre was withdrawn from British Army service in 2004.

This exhibit was acquired from the UK.

British Daimler Ferret Scout Car Mk II
The Ferret armoured car, also commonly called the Ferret scout car, is a British armoured fighting vehicle designed and built for reconnaissance purposes. The Ferret was produced between 1952 and 1971 in the UK company Daimler. It was widely used by regiments in the British Army, as well as Commonwealth countries throughout the period.

The Ferret was developed in 1949 as a result of a British Army's need to obtain a replacement model for its Second World War light armoured vehicles. Due to the success of their Reconnaissance Scout Car, the Dingo, Daimler was employed to design and manufacture the Ferret.

The Ferret shared many similar design features with the Dingo and Canadian Ford Lynx, but featured a larger fighting compartment and an optional small machine gun turret. It was built from an all monocoque steel body, making the vehicle lower but also making the drive extremely noisy inside as the running gear was within the enclosed body with the crew. Four wheel drive was incorporated together with run-flat tyres. The turret, though not fitted to all models, carried a single machine gun. Six forward-firing grenade launchers fitted to the hull (three on each side) could carry smoke grenades.

A total of 4,409 Ferrets, including 16 sub-models under various Mark numbers, were produced between 1952 and 1971. It is possible to upgrade the engine using the more powerful FB60 version from the Austin Princess 4-Litre-R; this upgrade providing a 55 bhp over the standard B60 engine.

British Fox Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle
The FV721 Fox Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Wheeled) (CVR(W)) was a 4 × 4 armoured car manufactured deployed by the British Army as a replacement for the Ferret scout car and the Saladin armoured car. The Fox was introduced into service in May 1975 and withdrawn from service 1993–94.

It had a crew of three and had a low profile rotating turret armed with a 30 mm L21 RARDEN cannon, which was manually fed with three-round clips; 99 rounds were carried. A coaxial L37A2 7.62 mm machine gun was mounted with 2,600 rounds. The weapons were not stabilised. This turret was also equipped with a set of two 4-barrelled smoke dischargers.

The vehicle had a combat weight of 6.75 tonnes and was designed to be air-portable. The Fox had aluminium armour and was fitted with a flotation screen. It lacked protection against nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Powered by a Jaguar 4.2-litre 6-cylinder petrol engine, the Fox was one of the fastest vehicles of its type.

The Fox was typically attached to armoured and mechanised infantry battalions. The use of high mobility light vehicles such as the Fox would provide the ability to outflank heavier armoured divisions. This also potentially enabled the Fox to act as a scout and a vehicle that could engage similar light vehicles. The Fox's all-welded aluminium armour on the hull and turret protected against medium gun fire and artillery splinters, bud did not protect the vehicle from heavy (.50.calibre) machine gun fire.

British Saladin Armoured Car
The FV601 Saladin is a six-wheeled armoured car built by Alvis and fitted with a 76mm gun.
Used extensively by the British Army, it replaced the AEC Armoured Car that had been in service since World War II.

The Saladin was widely used by the Sultan of Oman's armed forces throughout the Dhofar conflict, and saw extensive action during the period 1971 to 1976. Often crewed by British servicemen (loan soldiers) and Omani servicemen, the Sultan's Armoured Car Squadron consisted of an estimated 36 Saladins. They saw extensive action supporting troops from the British SAS, Oman Firqa, Oman regulars, and Iranian forces in their war with the Adoo. Many vehicles were mined and repaired, and after the end of the war in 1976 the Saladin remained in service until the early 1980s.

Fifteen Saladin's were supplied to the Australian Army in the early 1960's and were only used for training. Many ex-Australian Saladin's remained turretless because of the fitting of Saladin turrets ono M113 carriers to make the Fire Support Vehicle (M113-A1-FSV) used in the Vietnam conflict.

US M47 Patton Medium Tank
The M47 Patton is an American tank, the second American tank to be named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates of tanks in battle. It was a further development of the M46 Patton Tank.

The M47 was the U.S. Army's and Marine Corps' primary tank, intended to replace the M46  Patton and M4 Sherman medium tanks. The M47 was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, both SEATO and NATO countries, and was the only Patton series tank that never saw combat while in US service. Although roughly similar to the M48s and M60s they were completely new tank designs. The M47 was the last US tank to have a bow-mounted machine gun in the hull.

After fighting erupted in Korea, the Army decided that it needed the new tank earlier than planned. It was deemed that there was not enough time to finish the development of the T42 and to fix various problems that were likely to emerge in a new design. The final decision was to produce another interim solution, with the turret of the T42 mounted on the existing M46 hull. The composite tank, developed by the Detroit Arsenal, was named the M47 Patton and entered production in 1951.

The first M47s were not fielded to the 1st and 2nd Armoured Divisions until summer 1952. Standardized in May 1952, the M47 Patton's production ran until November 1953; Detroit built 5,481 tanks, and American Locomotive Company (Alco) produced 3,095, for a total production run of 8,576 M47 Pattons.

US Army M47s remaining in storage were expended as targets in the 1970's.

This exhibit was acquired from the Netherlands.

US M41 Walker Bulldog Light Tank
The M41 Walker Bulldog 
was an American light tank developed to replace M24 Chaffee light tank. Initially it nicknamed 'Little Bulldog', then renamed 'Walker Bulldog' after General Walton Walker, who was killed in a Jeep accident in Korea in 1950. 

The development of the M41 light tank began in 1947. The key requirement for increased anti-tank capabilities was achieved by installing a long 76-mm gun with an improved sighting system. Production started in 1951 at Cadillac's Cleveland Tank Plant. By 1953 the M41 Walker Bulldog had completely replaced the M24 Chaffee in the United States Army.

The M41 was an agile and well-armed vehicle however it was noisy, had a high fuel consumption rate, and its weight limited its ability to be transported by air.

By March 1952 over 900 M41s had already been manufactured. These entered service too late to take part in the Korean War,
 though some may have been shipped out to US forces in that region just as the fighting ended.

In 1964, the decision was made to replace the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Chaffee light tanks with the M41. The first M41A3s arrived in January 1965 equipping five ARVN tank squadrons by the end of the year. The M41 proved extremely popular with South Vietnamese tank crews, who were generally of smaller stature than their American counterparts and did not experience the same discomfort operating within the tank's limited interior space. By 1973, over 200 M41 light tanks remained in service with the ARVN.

South Vietnamese M41 tanks during a training operation.

With the introduction of increasingly well-armoured Soviet main battle tanks, the M41 was no longer perceived as powerful enough for frontline service, and it was replaced by the much lighter and more heavily armed Sheridan during the late 1960s. Most second-hand US M41s were refurbished and subsequently sold or donated to US allies abroad, namely Brazil, Japan, and South Vietnam.

This exhibit was acquired from New Zealand.

Soviet-Russian T-54/55 Medium Tank
The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tanks introduced in the years following the Second World War. The first T-54 prototype was completed by the end of 1945 and from the late 1950s, the T-54 eventually became the main tank for armoured units of the Soviet Army and armies of the Warsaw Pact

Additionally T-54s and T-55s have been involved in many of the world's armed conflicts since their introduction in the second half of the 20th century and are the most-produced tank in history with estimated production numbers for the series ranging from 96,500 to 100,000.

Production of the initial series of T-54s began slowly as 1,490 modifications were made. The Red Army received a tank that was superior to World War II designs and theoretically better than the newest tanks of potential opponents. The 100 mm gun fired BR-412 series full-calibre APHE ammunition, which had superior penetration ability when compared to the T-34 that it replaced.

The T-54/55 is mechanically simple and robust. They are very simple to operate compared to Western tanks, and do not require a high level of training or education in their crewmen. The tanks have good mobility thanks to their relatively light weight (which permits easy transport by rail or flatbed truck and allows crossing of lighter bridges), wide tracks (which give lower ground pressure and hence good mobility on soft ground), a good cold-weather start-up system and a snorkel that allows river crossings.

By 1950s standards the T-54 was excellent, packing considerable firepower and armour protection in a reliable design whilst also being smaller and lighter than contemporary NATO designs. However at the time the T-54 lacked effective sub-calibre ammunition and was reliant on HEAT rounds for anti-tank ammunition until the 1960s. This and the fact that the T-54 had a simple fire-control system meant that the T-54 was inaccurate at longer ranges.

The T-54/55 and the T-62 were the two most common tanks in Soviet inventory and in the mid-1970s the two tank types together comprised approximately 85% of the Soviet Army's tanks.

If you would like to know more about this very important Cold War Soviet Tank, just follow the link above to a short video presentation featuring their 65 year-old veteran exhibit.

Soviet-Russian T-72 Main Battle Tank
The T-72 is a Soviet second-generation main battle tank that entered production in 1970. It was one of the most widely produced post-World War II tanks, second only to the T54/55 family, and the basic design has also been further developed as the T-90.

About 25,000 T-72 tanks have been built and it was the most common tank used by the Warsaw Pact from the 1970s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was also exported to other countries, such as Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yugoslavia, as well as being copied elsewhere, both with and without licenses.

Like all Soviet-legacy tanks, the T-72's design has traded off interior space in return for a very small silhouette and efficient use of armour, to the point of replacing the fourth crewman with a mechanical loader.

The way that the unused rounds are stored in the autoloader system has been exposed as a flaw, as observers have noted that penetrating hits can easily set off a chain reaction that detonates all of the ammunition. The result is the turret is blown off resulting in a so-called "jack-in-the-box" explosion. This vulnerability was first observed during the Gulf War and has again been exposed in the recent war in Ukraine.

The T-72 is equipped with the 125 mm (4.9 in) 2A46 series main gun, a significantly larger (20-mm larger) calibre than the standard 105 mm (4.1 in) gun found in contemporary Western MBTs, and still slightly larger than the 120 mm/L44 found in many modern Western MBTs. As is typical of Soviet tanks, the gun can fire anti-tank guided missiles, and standard main gun ammunition, including HEAT and APFSDS rounds.

The Russian Federation had over 10,000 T-72 tanks in use, including around 2,000 in active service and another 8,000 in reserve (mostly T-72Bs). The T-72 has been used by the Russian Army in the fighting during the First and Second Chechen Wars, the Russo-Georgian War, and the Russo-Ukrainian War. The T-72 has been used by over 40 countries worldwide.

This exhibit is a T-72 M1 acquired from the Czech Republic, and you can learn more about the history of this tank in the link to the museum video above.

Soviet-Russian 2S1 Self Propelled Gun
The 2S1 is a Soviet self-propelled howitzer based on the chassis of a MT-LB APC, mounting a 122 mm 2A18 howitzer. In the Russian Army it is commonly known as Gvozdika (Russian: "Carnation"). 

The 2S1 is fully amphibious with very little preparation, and once afloat is propelled by its tracks. A variety of wider track are available to allow the 2S1 to operate in snow or swamp conditions.

The 2S1 uses a 122 mm howitzer based on the towed D-30 howitzer. The gun is equipped with a power rammer, a double-baffle muzzle brake and a fume extractor. It is capable of firing HE (high explosive), leaflet, HE/RAP, armour-piercing HE, flechette and chemical rounds. It is NBC protected and has infrared night-vision capability.

This exhibit was acquired from Switzerland.

Soviet-Russian 2S7 Pion Self Propelled Gun
The 2S7 Pion ("peony") or Malka is a Soviet self-propelled, 203 mm gun. The 2S7 Pion was identified for the first time by NATO forces in 1975 and was named M-1975 by NATO. Its design is based on a T-80 chassis, carrying an externally mounted 2A44 203 mm gun on the hull rear.

It takes the crew about six minutes to set up and five minutes to dismantle. The vehicle carries four 203 mm projectiles for immediate use. The gun is capable of firing nuclear ammunition. The gun has a range of 37,500 metres (23.3 mi), but this can be extended to 55,500 metres (34.5 mi) by using a rocket-assisted projectile. The Pion has been the most powerful conventional artillery piece since entering service in 1983.

One interesting feature of the Pion is the firing alarm. Because the blast of the weapon firing is so powerful – it can physically incapacitate an unprepared soldier or crew member near it from concussive force – the Pion is equipped with an audible firing alarm that emits a series of short warning tones for approximately five seconds prior to the charge being fired.

2S7 Pion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine firing

This exhibit was acquired from the Littlefield Collection in California in 2014 and you can find out more about Pion in the link to the museum video below.

Soviet-Russian S-75 Dvina Surface to Air Missile
The S-75 Dvina (Russian: С-75; NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) is a Soviet-designed, high-altitude air defence system, built around a command guided surface-to-air missile. Since its first deployment in 1957 it has became one of the most widely deployed air defence systems in history.

In the early 1950's the Soviets initiated the development of improved air defence systems to replace the World War II-vintage gun defences in response to the development by the United States of high altitude planes with nuclear strike capability.

This program focused on producing a missile which could bring down a large, non-manoeuvring, high-altitude aircraft. As such it did not need to be highly manoeuvrable, merely fast and able to resist aircraft counter-measures.

Wide-scale deployment started in 1957, with various upgrades following over the next few years. The S-75 was never meant to replace the S-25 Berkut surface-to-air missile sites around Moscow, but it did replace high-altitude anti-aircraft guns, such as the 130 mm KS-30 and 100 mm KS-19. Between mid-1958 and 1964, U.S. intelligence assets located more than 600 S-75 sites in the USSR. These sites tended to cluster around population centres, industrial complexes, and government control centres. A ring of sites was also located around likely bomber routes into the Soviet heartland. When deployment of the S-75 was ended in the mid-1960s, there were approximately 1,000 operational sites across Russia.

While the shooting down of Francis Gary Powers' U-2 in 1960 is the first publicized success for the S-75, the first aircraft shot down by the S-75 was a Taiwanese Martin RB-57D Canberra high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. In this case the aircraft was hit by a Chinese-operated S-75 site near Beijing on October 7, 1959.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, a U-2 piloted by USAF Major Rudolf Anderson was shot down over Cuba by an S-75 in October 1962.

In 1965, North Vietnam asked for assistance against American airpower, since their own air-defence system lacked the ability to shoot down aircraft flying at high altitude. After some discussion it was agreed to supply the PAVN with the S-75. The decision was not made lightly, because it greatly increased the chances that one would fall into US hands for study.

North Vietnamese S-75 missile prepare to fire at American aircraft

Soviet Air Defence Forces started to replace the S-75 with the vastly superior S-300 system in the 1980s. The S-75 remains in widespread service throughout the world, with some level of operational ability in 35 countries.
This exhibit was acquired from Bulgaria and you can find out more about it in the link below.

Soviet-Russian Light Artillery Tractor (AT-L 49) & 122mm Howitzer M1938 (M30)
The Artilleriyskiy Tyagach Lyogkiy, or AT-L, meaning light artillery tractor was a Soviet Cold War era artillery tractor.

An artillery tractor, also referred to as a gun tractor, is a specialised tractor or vehicle used to tow artillery pieces of varying weights and calibres. The first artillery tractors were designed prior to the outbreak of World War I, often based on agricultural machines such as the Holt tractor.. Such vehicles allowed the tactical use of heavier guns to supplement the light horse drawn field guns.

The AT-L was basically a major conversion of a wheeled vehicle, being fully tracked and capable of carrying two tons of supplies or pull a light artillery piece. It was manufactured from 1949 to 1958 and was widely used across the Communist nations, being exported to Vietnam, Egypt and Syria. It had a 135hp  two stroke diesel engine capable of 65 kph (40mph).

The 122 mm howitzer M1938 (M-30) was a Soviet 121.92 mm (4.8 inch) howitzer. The weapon was developed in the late 1930s, and was in production from 1939 to 1955. The M-30 saw action in World War II, mainly as a divisional artillery piece of the Red Army (RKKA). Post World War II the M-30 saw combat in numerous conflicts of the mid-to late twentieth century in the service of other countries' armies, notably in the Middle East.

M-30 howitzers were primarily employed for indirect fire against enemy personnel. They were also used against field fortifications, for clearing minefields and for breaching barbed wire. Their HE-fragmentation shells presented a danger to armoured vehicles. Fragments created by the explosion could penetrate up to 20 mm of armour. The shells could also damage chassis, sights or other elements of heavier armoured vehicles.

For self-defense against enemy tanks a HEAT shell was developed in 1943. Before 1943, crews were required to rely on the high-explosive action of their regular ammunition, with some degree of success. According to a German report from 1943, even a Tiger was once heavily damaged by SU-122 assault guns firing high-explosive shells.

M-30 howitzers were towed by a variety of means, from horses, oxen and both Soviet and American-produced Lend-Lease trucks (such as the Dodge WC series and Studebaker US6s) and STZ-5 and Ya-12 purpose-built artillery tractors, and occasionally manhandled by the Soviet artillerymen themselves.

The gun was eventually replaced by the 122-mm howitzer D-30 after the latter was adopted for service in 1960.

Both the AT-L and the M1938 were acquired from Bulgaria.

Soviet-Russian BMP-1 (Infantry Fighting Vehicle)
The BMP-1 is a Soviet amphibious infantry fighting vehicle. BMP stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pyekhoty, meaning "infantry fighting vehicle. The BMP-1 was the first mass-produced infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era in the 1960's when the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare was likely.

The BMP was a combination of the properties of an armoured personnel carrier (APC) and a light tank. It increased infantry squad mobility, providing fire support to them, and allowed the infantry to operate from the relative safety of its armoured, radiation-shielded interior in contaminated areas and to fight alongside it in uncontaminated areas.

The BMP went into service with the Soviet Army in 1966, and between then until 1982 went through a process of continuous development and upgrading, including the armaments, chassis, engine and transmission.

The main changes to the armaments were the replacement of the largely ineffective 9M14M  Malyutka ATGM with the more reliable, longer ranged and more powerful 9P135M or 9P135m-1 ATGM launcher.

The BMP-1 is still currently being used in the ongoing 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine by both Russian and Ukrainian forces due to its wide availability compared to the much more modern but less produced BMP-3. 

This exhibit was acquired from Germany and you can check out the link below to the museum video covering the BMP-1.

French Panhard AML-245 Light Armoured Car, Model 60 Variant
The Panhard AML (Auto Mitrailleuse Légère, or "Light Machine Gun Car") is a fast, long range, and relatively cheap first-generation armoured car with 4×4 reconnaissance capability. 

In 1956 the French Ministry of Defence commissioned a replacement for the Daimler Ferret scout car, and the Panhard AML 245 was developed as a private venture by the Société de Constructions Panhard et Levassor, a military subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën, and entered service in 1961.

As with much post-war hardware based on the experience of subsequent colonial theatres, the AML was recognized for its outstanding ruggedness, dependability, firepower-to-weight ratio, and adaptability to the numerous minor conflicts waged since 1945.

Since 1959, AMLs have been marketed on up to five continents; several variants remained in continuous production for half a century. They have been operated by fifty-four national governments, and other entities worldwide, seeing regular combat including use in Angola, Iraq, and the Falkland Islands.

This exhibit was acquired from Ireland and was previously used by the Irish Defence Forces.
For four decades the Irish AML 60's were used as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the last were retired from service in 2013.

German Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank
The Leopard (or Leopard I) is a main battle tank that was designed and produced in West Germany, first entering service in 1965.

The design started as a collaborative project during the 1950s between West Germany and France, and later joined by Italy, but the partnership ended shortly after and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, with production starting in 1965. In total, 6485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants.

The Leopard quickly became a standard of many European armies, and eventually served as the main battle tank in over a dozen countries worldwide. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 was completely phased out in 2003 and the Leopard 2 MBTs have taken over the MBT role.

The Leopard 1 has a conventional layout shared with numerous other post-World War II tanks, with the driver's compartment located in the front fighting compartment with a rotating turret in the centre in which the commander and gunner are seated in the right half of the turret and access their positions from a single-piece hatch in turret roof, on the right side, while the loader takes the left half and is provided with his own rear-opening hatch; and an engine compartment in the rear of the hull, separated from the crew compartment with a fireproof bulkhead.

Bundeswehr Leopard 1 in 1967

The armament consists of a licensed UK Royal Ordnance Factory, 105 mm L7A3 rifled main gun which was not stabilized on the first production series, and two MG 1 (later replaced with the MG3) machine guns: one is installed co-axial with the main gun (1,250 rounds are carried for it), while a second, anti-aircraft machine gun, is mounted on a skate rail above the gunner's hatch. The main gun uses NATO-standard 105 mm ammunition, with the majority of the loadout (42 rounds) stored in an ammunition magazine inside of the hull, to the left of the driver's station, 3 rounds are kept in a ready rack in front of the hull magazine—for immediate use—and another 15 rounds are racked inside the turret, for a total of 60 rounds carried onboard.

This exhibit was acquired from Poland.

German Flakpanzer Gephard
The Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard ("anti-aircraft-gun tank 'Cheetah'", better known as the Flakpanzer Gepard) is an all-weather-capable German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG). It was developed in the 1960s, fielded in the 1970s, and has been upgraded several times with the latest electronics. 

In Germany, the Gepard was phased out in late 2010 and replaced by the Wiesel 2 Ozelot Leichtes Flugabwehrsystem (LeFlaSys) with four FIM-92 Stinger or LFK NG missile launchers; however the 
Gepard has since been widely used in combat in the Russo-Ukrainian War, mostly to shoot down drones.

The Gepard utilizes two Oerlikon GDF, 90 calibres (3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)) long, with a muzzle velocity of 1,440 m/s (4,700 ft/s) (FAPDS (Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) rounds), giving an effective range of 5.5 km (3.4 mi). The ammunition is 35×228mm calibre.

The KDA autocannon has a dual belt feed for two different ammunition types; the usual loading per gun is 320 AA rounds fed from inside the turret and 20 AP rounds fed from a small outlying storage. The 40 armour-piercing rounds are normally fired singly with the guns alternating; they are also intended for self defence against light armoured ground targets. Each gun has a firing rate of 550 rounds/min.

Australian Leopard AS1 Main Battle Tank
The Australian variant, the Leopard AS1, entered service with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 1976 and were operated by the 1st Armoured Regiment based in Puckpunyal and later in Darwin until 2007.

Numerous modifications were required for Australian service, which included:
  • Reinforced engine bay floor.
  • Cobelda fire suppression system
  • Additional sensors for air temperature, atmospheric pressure and wind direction.
  • Therman barrel jacket with modified clamping bands.
  • Machine guns modified to fire Australian ball and tracer ammunition.
  • Additional internal and external brackets for storage of equipment such as tool boxes, F1 machine gun and ammunition boxes.
  • Panoramic zoom telescope for commander and turret telescope for gunner.
  • Electro hydraulic gun/turret drive system with weapons stabilisation and coupled to the ballistic computer.
The Leopard AS1tanks served for over thirty years before being replaced by the US made Abrams in 2007.

The exhibit is on loan from the Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum, Puckpunyal.

Australian Land Rover 106mm Recoilless Rifle
The idea of modifying a Land Rover to mount a 106mm recoilless rifle was developed by the Australian Army in 1960. The initial vehicle underwent trials in 1962 at the Armoured Centre, 

From 1963 onwards various RAEME Workshops undertook the modifications of 69 existing Land Rovers Series 88's, 24 existing Series 2 vehicles, and 45 brand new Series 2A Land Rovers. The converted vehicles were used to equip the anti-tank units of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and later the anti-armour platoon of infantry regiments. The modified vehicles were known as 'Gunbuggies' or 'Sport Cars'.

Six of the 'Gunbuggies' saw service in the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army units that operated in the Australian field of operations did not have tanks and so the 106mm recoilless rifles were dismounted and used for base protection, while the vehicles were re-fitted with M60 machine guns and used as convoy escorts.

The last vehicles were withdrawn in the 1990's after thirty years of service.

Fury Film Stars - Tiger Stunt Double and Sherman Interior Set.
I remember going to see Fury when it came out in the cinemas back in 2014 and enjoying the portrayal of a US Army M4A3E8 Sherman tank crew in the final days of World War II as they embarked on a deadly mission behind enemy lines.

I also well remember the hype that accompanied its release around the fact that it featured the only remaining Tiger tank in running order, namely Tiger 131 lovingly maintained by the Tank Museum in Bovington UK, as well as also featuring their M4A3E8 suitably adorned for its movie star role as the tank 'Fury'.

I've attached a link below to the Tank Museum's video recounting the preparation for their two vehicles and the nervous apprehension of effectively using their priceless Tiger tank as a film prop, and the relief when it was packed up on to its transporter after the film crew had compiled what would become an epic sequence of tank battle as the Shermans went toe to toe with the German behemoth which looked spectacular on the big screen and certainly got the adrenalin running.

The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum is home to several other props from that film including the 'mock Tiger' seen below that was used as a stand in for the more dramatic manoeuvres performed to avoid any strain on the running gear of Tiger 131 and at a casual glance, certainly with a bit of CGI magic, the replica is quite impressive.

The other impressive aspect of the film was the intimate scenes recreated within the Sherman tank, as the crew were filmed performing their various roles in the most tense and dramatic moments.

Room inside a real Sherman turret is very limited and so it meant that it was not possible to have the camera and the actors and film crew inside a real turret, and so to overcome the problem, a 30% larger scale replica of the interior of a Sherman tank was built from steel, fibreglass, MDF and plywood and incorporated:
  • A hydraulic, pneumatic and mechanical motion system that safely replicated the motion inside a moving tank for the action sequences and the traversing of the turret.
  • A special effect system that replicated the firing of a machine gun and the main gun, whch produced smoke to coincide with their firing.
  • A computer system that choregraphed the motions and sounds within the tank during the actions scenes.

Military Memorabilia and Small Arms.
One aspect that I really enjoy when visiting military museum collections are seeing the items that reflect the personal story of individuals that participated in specific campaigns or actions together with items directly relating to those historic events, something I have featured here on the blog when visiting British Regimental and National museums at home and something I was keen to see during my time in Australia, looking specifically for those Australian items and stories that I was less likely to encounter at home.

British forces were not involved in the Vietnam conflict unlike the Australians, touched on in the accounts of some of the vehicles seen in the collection and so it was interesting to see items reflecting the Australian experience of that war.

Below are items relating to Corporal William (Bill) Garlick of the 2/40th Battalion of the 2nd AIF recruited almost entirely in Tasmania.

In December 1941 Bill was deployed along with his battalion to the Dutch Timor as part of 'Sparrow Force' to guard an airfield at Penfui, with himself attached to Head Quarters Company, 4th Platoon, (Armoured Carriers).

The Japanese attack on Dutch Timor began on the 20th February 1942 with amphibious and parachute forces and Sparrow Force conducted a three day fighting withdrawal that in the face of lack of food, water and ammunition, together with a Japanese force closing in on their rear, saw them force to surrender, with the surviving members of the 2/40th facing a harrowing time as prisoners of the Japanese and dispersed throughout Japan's conquered territory.

Bill Garlick was one of the lucky ones, surviving a torpedo attack on the prisoner transport ship Tamahoko Maru by the US submarine Tang, whilst being transported to Japan in June 1944, that saw only 72 of the 267 Australian POW's surviving the sinking.

The flag and medal collection relating to Trooper Peter 'Jock' Grandison, Royal Tank Regiment, 4th Armoured Brigade has an interesting tale behind them related on the information board below entitled 'First to the Bottom of the Rhine'.

Finally in the lower gallery the museum houses a fine collection of World War II small arms and items of uniform and kit from some of the combatants involved that compliments the armour and artillery collection by reminding the visitor that in the end it still comes down to the 'Queen of the Battlefield' otherwise known as the 'Poor Bloody Infantry' to go in and occupy the ground, often in the face of the enemy, once the other arms have supported them onto the position.

I have to say how impressive the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum collection is and what an amazing job they are doing in returning to a remarkable state of restoration through refabrication and repair some incredibly rare vehicles and guns, always conscious about retaining historical scars of battle and authentic paintwork to inform future generations about how they might have appeared on the battlefield and the weapons that most likely caused their destruction.

If you care to follow the video links attached and go to the museums YouTube Channel you can see this amazing restoration work being done which is adding to the collection with a continuous schedule of new restorations.

Thankyou to the staff who were very welcoming and I would encourage anyone with a similar interest and the opportunity to visit.



  1. Thanks for this fantastic tour of the museum at Cairns!!

    1. Hi and thank you. These trips are always more fun when you get to share them with other like minds. Cheers JJ

  2. Beautifully put together JJ. I thought for a second that the Pion was actually being fired from the grounds of the museum as it looked vaguely like Australian scrub, and thought to myself that they really do go all in, until I read the caption. Great pictures and very informative.

    1. Hi Lawrence,
      Thank you and yes the Pion is quite a stunning piece of kit when you first encounter it, whether it's firing or not, although I'm glad it was static on the day I visited! It's so flipping big I was almost stood on the opposite side of the hangar to get the chassis and the gun all in the view finder.


  3. Thanks for such a comprehensive report, it must've been quite an task.
    But what a fantastic museum, how did all this armour get round to the far side of the world - so jealous.

    1. Hi Rob, thank you, and yes both posts have occupied a bit of time during January and February, but I think this rather unique collection deserved the effort and I certainly enjoyed my time there, so was keen to encourage others to go and see it if the opportunity presented.

      I would also recommend watching the video's put out by the AA&AM to see how they recreate many of these AFV's from bits of several vehicles recovered over time until enough is there to fabricate the rest, they really are the ultimate scratch builds!