To celebrate TANKMAS 2020, The Tank Museum asked participating museums which tanks were on their Christmas wishlist and why.
The Tank Museum couldn’t have gotten through 2020 without its supporters. To thank you all for standing by us during this truly awful year, we partnered with World of Tanks and tank museums from around the world, to bring you TANKMAS 2020: a bumper prize-filled Christmas live stream to the comfort of your home. In celebration of this event – The Tank Museum also asked participating tank museums to answer this question: ‘Which tank would be on your Christmas list and why?’ Of course we couldn’t ask our partner museums without also asking some well-known faces from The Tank Museum’s team too!
So what did they choose we hear you ask?
We are going to ask for a truly huge present, the biggest French tank of all time, the FCM 2C: 70 tons. 10.27m long, 3.8m high and with a crew of 12 to operate it, it was truly colossal. It was developed during the First World War, but the conflict ended before these steel monsters could enter mass production. Only 10 examples were manufactured and delivered by 1921. At the time the FC M2C was very up to date. It was still in service with the French Army at the beginning of the Second World War, but the German advance was too quick and the FC M2C tanks were stopped during their advance to the front and destroyed by their crews. Sadly, all of them were blown up, except one, because the explosives failed. Captured by the Germans, it was taken to Germany as a war trophy. However, all trace of it was lost during the war.
We would like to travel back in time to save the King Tiger that Sweden once had from being destroyed. It was gifted from France in 1947 and in 1948 pulled out to the local firing range and sadly shot to pieces. It would have been great if we could have prevented this from happening. We still have the engine and gearbox that was taken out before it was destroyed and we would love to have had the opportunity to put these parts back in again to make the tank complete.
For Christmas this year, we would like to have an Italian Light Tank CV 33. Why this tank? Well, this was the first tank the Austrian Army pressed into service way back in 1936 and therefore is important to the story of the Austrian military. We would also like to have a Mark IV tank. Like the CV 33, the Mark IV also has a link to the Austrian Army. In 1917, an example captured from the Western Front was given to the Austrians by the Germans to use in trials. It was also displayed in Vienna for several months for the public to see.
If we can be so bold as to asked for some additional gifts from Father Christmas, we would love an engine for our T-34 project, to return the ex-Austrian Army’s example back to running condition. Finally, we would like Father Christmas to bring us a set of track for our M36 Jackson so we can display it within the museum.
You can say here in America we actually got our Christmas wish this year when we got a new building. The outside isn’t much to show right now as there is still a lot of construction going on, but soon it will be complete and looking great. Another Christmas wish was granted as we just recently got the 95-ton T28 Super Heavy Tank delivered! However, we also discussed this in more detail with the museum team and for we’d like Santa to bring us a German Leopard 2.
In March 1943 the Finnish Armoured Division made a proposal to the General Headquarters to modify 20 BT tanks into armoured personnel carriers. After some bends the war time Armour Centre was to design the APC and finally got a permission to build a porotype with a wooden platform on top of the BT-7 hull. The fighting compartment in the hull was also used as a cargo space and covered with hatches.
Quite a gadget – which was delivered to the Assault Gun Battalion in October 1943. Obviously, the trials were not very successful as only one porotype was built and finally scrapped in May 1945. As a result, the BT-43 is the tank the Parola Armour Museum has on Santa’s wish list. We would be very happy if Santa even could deliver a photograph of this peculiar tank since we haven’t seen any so far. Only one drawing can show us how it looked like roughly 75 years ago.
Richard Smith – The Tank Museum’s Director
For me, the tank I would like to have for Christmas is not a type of tank – it’s one specific tank. Even though it was one specific tank it didn’t stop it from having three names. Whether it was ‘Big Willy’, HMLS Centipede, or the name it’s most generally known as today: ‘Mother’. Now Mother was the second ever tank and slightly tragically, we used to have it hear at The Tank Museum. However, thankfully Little Willie is still here, which was the first ever tank. But importantly Mother was the first successful prototype – so it looks like a Mark I, although for the tank buffs out there, it had different types of rivets. I would like Mother because it was what went onto be the Mark I.
It solved all the problems of trench crossing and how to mount guns etc. It may actually be closer than we think. There are two stories about what happened to it. In 1940, Mother disappeared when it was sent to be scrapped. One story is it was scrapped and the metal was used for the war effort. However, the second story is that it wasn’t scrapped at all and was buried somewhere in Bovington – but sadly nobody really knows where. So there’s a mystery which goes with the story of Mother as well. So that’s why it would be the tank I would choose for Christmas!
We are officially also their museum and it was a body of men during the Second World War which was very elite. They had a vehicle called the Humber LRC, which is a long bodied armoured car. Now this may be because I’ve personally wanted one all my life. But also it would be fantastic to have this vehicle on display here at The Tank Museum. It’s possible we may get one in the future as there are LRCs out there, but we haven’t got one at the moment.
Jonathon Kneebone – The Tank Museum’s Project Manager
If I’m honest, I’d struggle with this one. Personally the thing I’d like is a new fuel tank for my Indian motorcycle, because mine is getting a little rusty – a bit like me… But all joking aside, the tank I’d most like to restore would be the Char B1. There are a couple of reasons I’d choose this tank. It’s very impressive and imposing to look at. The look of the tracks running around the outside of the vehicle gives a good impression of its inertia and dynamic. Unfortunately we don’t have any running French tanks at the Museum currently so getting one running would be great.
In terms of collection I’d love to have a Gepard, or even a Marksman if we could get hold of one of those. We don’t really have a post war anti-aircraft vehicle here so getting one for the collection would be fantastic.
Chris van Schaardenburgh – The Tank Museum’s Head of Collections
I would like to have a Vickers export tank from the 1960s/70s. It really does belong in our collection. They are out there and I think we should send David Willey on a mission to track one down and find an example for the Museum.