The Tank Museum has launched a £20,000 fundraising campaign to bring the unusual FV4005 back to life in time for TANKFEST 2024.
The unique prototype was the result of a 1950s experiment to fit the biggest possible gun to a tank, dating from a time when the fear of war with the Soviet Union and their powerful IS-3 tanks dominated military thinking.
The 183mm gun, housed in a huge turret, remains the largest gun ever fitted to a tank. It fired a round that weighed 72.5kg and required two crew members to load it.
Technological developments rendered the concept obsolete, and it was abandoned in 1957.
It was given the name “SPUD” after the nickname of Harold Hamilton-Taylor, a World War Two veteran who had been part of the FV4005 trials and happened to be volunteering in the Museum workshops at the time the vehicle was placed in position.
The turret sat in The Tank Museum’s car park for around thirty years before it was reunited with a spare centurion hull and placed as a gate guard around 2008.
“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with World of Tanks and A W Hewes to restore the FV4005 and for visitors to see the tank’s debut at TANKFEST 2024,” said Head of Collections Chris van Schaardenburgh.
But its appearance in the World of Tanks video game made the quirky vehicle famous, creating fresh interest from a new generation of enthusiasts who have called on the Museum to restore the vehicle to running condition.
In a partnership with A W Hewes, the Museum aims to conserve and cosmetically restore the turret, reuniting it with an operational Centurion Mk 3 chassis.
World of Tanks has pledged £20,000 towards the project, which The Tank Museum hopes to match to cover the cost of the project, which will include the fabrication of missing parts and fittings.
The work will be undertaken by A W Hewes at their workshop in Leicestershire, and the hope is that it will be completed in time so that the FV4005 can be displayed in the arena at TANKFEST in June 2024.