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The Armourgeddon Museum

Category: Blog
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Posted: 25/09/2018 13:10
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We have a collection of over 60 tanks and military vehicles, guns, interactive displays and machinery in our museum, along with a café and picnic area. Open daily May - October and by appointment during the rest of the year, if you are wanting to bring the history of WWI & WWII to life for kids learning these subjects at school, re-visit the lives and stories of your grandparents or great-grandparents or simply have a keen interest in the military, we are sure you will LOVE our museum. 

The main attraction and reason why you should come to Armourgeddon is the fun-filled, wild adventure of the Tank Paintball Battles. With a tank driving experience, you will never forget, there are lots of other activities to suit your adventure needs; including the air rifle shooting, quad safari and clay pigeon shooting, there is something for everyone. However, the magnificent and historical museum is well worth the visit. Not only does it hold a military collection which includes exhibits ranging from a 1947 BELL 47G helicopter to a 1940's M4 105 Sherman Tank. The museum will take you back years and walk you through some of the greatest tanks and vehicles in military warfare. On weekends throughout the year, you will also gain entry to the spectator area where you will be able to see some of the vehicles being put to the test. 

Our museum comprises of a number of weatherproof hangers jam-packed full of military vehicles, guns, cannons and military paraphernalia. The ‘Inner Sanctum’ has a variety of pieces- often donated by visitors, which tell of the human side of WWII and a few pieces from WWI too.

The spectacular M4 105 Sherman Tank is just one piece in the museum that is intriguing with a wonderful history; the M4 Sherman is an American tier 5 medium tank, which was first produced in the 1941-45 by U.S Army Ordnance Department. The Sherman first saw combat in North Africa in 1945. The M4 Sherman was the main battle tank used in WWII by the US military and other Western Allied countries during WWII. Not only did it serve in the early war times but also this tank has had its time in the filming spotlight. Accordingly, M4s have appeared in a number of films and television programs over the years. The museum includes a number of tanks used in War-based movies of the last 20 years: Saving Private Ryan, Evita, Fury and many more. 

Fury is a World War II film released in 2014 starring Brad Pitt. The Sherman was the main tanks used in the film the M1 105 had its own special feature. Matador is an M4(105) HVSS with a T23 turret. The M4(105) HVSS doubles as Fury in scenes where the actual tank died on the set. In the 1970 action comedy Kelley’s Heroes, three M4 Sherman tanks there used. The 1980 Sam Fuller film The Big Red One and even the 1960s television series The Rat Patrol used Sherman’s as stand-ins for German armour. With lots of history and interesting background, you can see it first hand in the museum.

Another interesting piece in the Armourgeddon Museum is the 1947 BELL 47G helicopter. The Bell 47 is a single-engine two-seat light utility helicopter produced by the US-American manufacturer Bell Aircraft Corporation. The chopper was built at Bell Aircraft’s Buffalo Plant near Niagara Falls in New York State on 15th May 1947. The BELL 47G helicopter has had a lot of firsts and impressive achievements, such as; the first certified helicopter, first military helicopter trainer, first helicopter to go to war and, (once again) possibly the first helicopter to be a TV star. The BELL 47G helicopter got its nickname ‘the chopper’ as the first helicopter the blades were new and were described as a chopper. Leaving all later helicopters that followed being called ‘choppers’.

We buy, restore and sell vintage armour and military vehicles of all designs, commissioned from WWII to the present day. Our highly trained team of restorers is made up of experienced panel beaters, paint specialists and mechanics; but most importantly, they are Military enthusiasts meaning that all of our projects are restored sympathetically.

Once restored, our tanks are either sold via our sister company, Armourgeddon Restoration, or head for display within the museum. The collection now numbers over 60 vehicles.

We have interactive exhibits incorporating an Anderson Shelter, to show our visitors a taste of what life was really like during the years of war for those on the front line: where they would live, sleep and eat. 

The hope for our Museum is that it will inspire visitors to understand a little more of life for those who died to provide us the freedom that we take for granted today. We also hope that we are a bit more exciting than a history textbook for those studying WWII at school or simply to expand their knowledge.

With newsreel videos, working field telephones and Morse Code machines to play with as well as an AK47 and a rifle to pick up and hold, the museum at Armourgeddon is one of the best interactive exhibits in the UK.

The Armourgeddon museum is open year-round, but out of the tank season (May to October), it is always best to call ahead so we know to expect you and can inform you of any group bookings we may have on site when you wish to visit. Planning your visit on days when we have tanks running will allow you a further insight into these magnificent machines able to conquer the ground whatever it may be like.

We have also developed The Café De Normandie, a street scene café within the museum where you can sit and soak up the atmosphere as if in the 1940s in rural France, with a number of military vehicles parked up along the roadside setting.

So as you can tell there are lots of interesting reasons to go visit the Armourgeddon Museum, perhaps before or after your tank experience, or if you are interested in military vehicles then this is the place to come. The museum is open all year round so for more information about the chopper and the Sherman tank, then come along. There is so much more to see in the museum including the FV 432 tanks and many other vehicles. For only £6.00 per person and under 5’s go free, come and have a look for yourself. If you visit Armourgeddon to experience tank driving or a tank paintball battle, or any other activity, then entry to the museum is free! 

What’s stopping you? Time to plan a visit to the Armourgeddon museum! 

Here are some of the tanks, guns and vehicles that we have on display:

T55

The arrival of the T55 at Armourgeddon a couple of years ago found this Russian warhorse take a prime position within our museum. Joining with the wide array of other military vehicles, tanks, guns and war memorabilia from across Europe and the earth, the T55 sticks out from other tanks in our collection with its cylindrical top section and relatively flat wheelbase. A huge hunk of metal, this game-changing battle tank of the Soviet war effort was used throughout the theatres of WWII and the various wars since.

Arguably the key battle tank of the Soviet attack fleet, the Eastern block owners categorise the T55 as a medium tank, preferring the T64A armed with a 125mm gun as their primary machine.

M3

The M3 Lee, officially titled Medium Tank M3, was an American medium tank during World War II. Due to two different turret configurations, in the UK the M3 was known by 2 different names; Lee and Grant after the Confederate general Robert E. Lee for the US configured turrets and Grant after the Union general Ulysses S. Grant for the British pattern turrets. 

As soon as design work was completed, and production commenced in 1941 on the M3, a large order, to plug the 3,650-tank shortfall in the British army, was placed. The design was compromised in order to get to production quickly- despite the considerable firepower and armour, the M3 had a high silhouette, an archaic mounting system for the main gun and poor off-road performance. 

T16

T16, Mark I. This carrier was a significantly improved design, based upon those built by Ford of Canada, manufactured under lease by Ford in the United States from March 1943 to 1945. It is longer than the Universal with an extra road wheel on the rear bogie; making for a pair of full Horstmann dual-wheel suspension units per side, the engine is a Mercury-division 3.9 litre displacement Ford flathead V8 delivering the same power as the allied. Unusually, instead of the steering wheel controlling the combination brake/warp mechanism, the T-16 had track-brake steering operated by levers with two for either side. During WWII, the T-16 was used mostly by Canadian forces, as an artillery tractor. After the end of the war, it was used throughout Europe and South America by Argentinian, Swiss and Netherlands forces. 

WC62 and GMC LeRoi

The WC62 is a member of the Dodge WC series. This was a range of light 4-wheel drive and medium 6-wheel drive military utility trucks, from the production lines of Dodge and Fargo during the WWII years. The Dodge WC series accounted for the majority of the light 4x4 vehicles supporting the US Army during WWII, along with the quarter ton jeeps produced by Willys and Ford.

Our CMC LeRoi compressor unit was often fitted onto the GMC 2.5 tonne 6x6 series. However, the compressor as a stand-alone unit had been in action before that date, with engineers who engaged the unit from the back of smaller 4x4 trucks.

The unit was used to provide compressed air for a huge variety of pneumatic tools which were carried in compartments fitted to the sides of the compressor. One of the LeRoi’s tasks was to inflate the rubber pontoons used for the Treadway bridge system. Another use of the LeRoi Compressor Truck was by the Bomb Disposal units.

Flak18, Pak 36 & DKW 350 NZ

The Flak 88mm was originally an anti-aircraft gun of WWI, adapted from existing medium calibre weapons, designed to fire at really tight angles- almost vertically from the ground. By 1915the German command had realised that these medium-powered land-based guns were all but useless in fending off airborne attacks- even against the slow-moving balloon-based aircraft of the time.

The Pak 36, full name Panzerabwehrkanone model 1936, was a compact gun, weighing just 327kg, for 45 calibre projectiles. Manned by a crew of three, the gun was able to be manoeuvred quickly. With large wheels and sloping shield, stability was good and the gun gave an exceptional performance against armour ranging from 20mm to 64mm at short range

The DKW 235 NZ motorbike, originally created in 1919 as ‘The Little Marvel’, an incarnation of the original, served the German army throughout WWII and continued life as a civilian vehicle through to the middle of the 1950s.

ZPU-4

The Russian ZPU, meaning "anti-aircraft machine gun mount" is a family of towed anti-aircraft gun based on the Soviet 14.5 x 114mm KPV heavy machine gun. It has a quick-change barrel, mounted on a wheeled chassis. In the firing position, the wheels are raised off the ground and the carriage is supported at four points, screw jacks at each end of the carriage and on outriggers on each side of the carriage that are also provided with screw jacks. The weapon can be brought into action in 15 to 20 seconds but can, if required, be fired with the wheels in the travelling position. The ZPU entered service with the Soviet Union in 1949 and is used by over 50 countries worldwide.

T-72

The T-72 entered service with the Soviet army in 1973. A total of 30,000 tanks of this type were produced in the Soviet Union, China, Czechoslovakia, India, Romania and Yugoslavia. The tanks were exported to about 30 countries and at the end of the 1990s, Russia operated around 9,000 of these main battle tanks. The T-72 is protected by composite armour, able to withstand any 105mm munitions at ranges greater than 500m.

The tank is topped with a 125mm smoothbore gun, able to fire at a much higher muzzle velocity than Western 105mm rifled guns. Additionally, the gun is fitted with a new carousel-type autoloader, although the maximum rate of fire is up to 8 rounds per minute. 

Chieftain

Our Chieftain arrived at Armourgeddon back in September 2015. What we expected to be a 6-month job has been quite the restoration project taking a total of 13 months to complete. However, she is now our pride and joy, adding to the main battle tank collection we house in the Armourgeddon museum and military vehicle collection.

Krupp 10.5

The Krupp 10.5cm gun was an evolution of the WWI field guns by German engineers as they prepared for the battlefields of WWII.  Sharing the same carriage as the 7.7cm FK16, significant developments were made following learnings from WWI trench warfare. These guns surrendered to Belgium as reparations after WWI were taken into Army service as the 10.5cm leFH following the Conquest of Belgium.

Pak 38

German forces first used the Pak 38 in April 1941 during WWII. When the Germans faced Soviet tanks in 1941 during operation Barbarossa, the Pak 38 was one of the few early guns capable of penetrating the 45mm armour of the T34 when quipped with Panzergranate 40 APCR shots with their tungsten core. This ammunition was used in an attempt to infiltrate the KV-1 tank. With its range and anti-tank capabilities, the Pak 38 was also used in the Atlantic Wall, capable of destroying Allied tanks on shore.

Flak38

The FlaK 38 anti-aircraft gun used by Nazi Germany in WWII was introduced as a competitor to the 8.8cm FlaK 18. Proving too heavy for field use whilst having roughly similar performance to the 88mm, the FlaK38 use used primarily I static mounts. In the museum at Armourgeddon, the FlaK28 is mounted onto the back of a Citroen U23R flatbed truck. The German Navy deployed multiple pairs of these guns mounted on electronically powered tri-axial mounting, intended to compensate for the motion of the ship and maintain a lock into the intended target. Designed with hydropneumatic recoil and a horizontal semi-automatic sliding block breech, by Rheinmetall in 1933, approximately 4,200 FlaK38s were made.

Sherman Tank

The M4 Sherman was the main battle tank used in WWII by the US military and other Western Allied countries during WWII. Reliable, highly mobile, a mobile workhorse that held its own in battle; despite being far lighter than its German opponents deployed towards the end of the war. Numbering in the thousands, the majority of the Sherman fleet was deployed to Allied forces including the British Commonwealth nations in the American lease-lend programme which saw the USA give circa $50.1billion of materials between 1941 and 1945; a figure equivalent to $656billion in today’s money and equated to 17% of the US total war expenses. 63% of the materials came to Britain, effectively ending the United States’ pretence of neutrality, which had been the dominant stance of US Foreign Policy since 1931 in one giant step away from non-intervention.

Bofors Gun

The Bofors 40 mm gun, usually referred to simply as the Bofors gun, is a multi-purpose auto-cannon, anti-aircraft weapon, designed in the 1930s by the Swedish arms manufacturer AB Bofors. As one of the most popular medium-weight anti-aircraft systems used during World War II, the gun was deployed by most of the western Allies as well as by the Axis Powers. A small number of Bofors 40mms remain in service still and saw action as late as the Gulf War.

Bell-47

Our fine example of a Bell 47G helicopter was built at Bell Aircraft’s Buffalo Plant near Niagara Falls in New York State on 15th May 1947. She was originally registered NC120B and constructed as a Bell 47B.

She first flew for Alaska Airlines and was based at Merrill Field, Anchorage, Alaska. In 1951, she was converted to a 47D1. Before being exported to the UK in 1962, she flew for AG Helicopters of Pasadena, California for crop spraying. She was converted to her current configuration at about that time.

 

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