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Posted on Jun 6, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Guns and Drums – 2005

Armchair General

VEHICLES AND GUNS

Although restricted to a relatively limited area, there were a surprisingly large number of vehicles and artillery pieces on display in and around the museum. We start our tour with two diverse pieces, a small field gun dating from the Napoleonic era, and a 25lb gun from more modern times. The one in the picture was unserviceable, having a barrel full of cement, but….

As a special treat for the audience, several rounds were fired from this 25b gun. Fortunately for local residents, they were only blank rounds (!).

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Outside by the gates of the museum, armoured vehicles are mounted on permanent display. Whilst inside, encounters with other vehicles such at this Daimler Ferret can be had. This Ferret dates from 1963, and was a development of the Daimler Scout Car. Later, it would evolve again into the Fox ARV.

Nearby, a menacing looking Scorpion Light Tank lurks near the museum, and next to it, just inside the door, we see an 18 Pounder field gun from the Great War – 1918 to be precise. From 1904, batteries of the Royal Field Artillery were equipped with this type of gun. In Aldershot at that time there were two Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery, a total of 36 guns.

Some more mundane vehicles now, firstly a Bedford J3 Ambulance dating from 1953. This is an RAF type and was originally used at RAF Farnborough. Alongside it, a Military Pattern General Service Wagon from 1900. Wagons of this type were in general use by the British military during the late 19th Century and were still in service until the end of the First World War.

Here’s an Alvis Saladin armoured car from 1960. With a crew of three, these vehicles were used as reconnaissance vehicles and were armed with a 76mm gun. The vehicle was steered using four of its six wheels and was designed to operate with only three steerable wheels if one should be blown off by enemy fire. Next to it, we have the immediate predecessor to the Saladin, a Humber "Pig" dating from 1953. The "Pig" was used as an armoured personnel carrier until it was replaced in the early 1960s, but were brought back into service during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Parked around the corner I found this 1963 Bedford Army Truck and a CVR (W) Fox armoured reconnaissance vehicle from 1979. I’ll leave the reader to guess which one is which.

This "Jeep" was actually built by Ford and dates from 1943. It was used by Lt-Gen Sir Brian Horrocks, commander of 30 Corps in the latter stages of World War II.

And to round off the static displays, some artillery pieces casually lying around.

One of the highlights of the day was seeing two historical Main Battle Tanks being driven around the parade ground. First up was this Chieftain, legendary for being able to take a lot of punishment, although this particular model had some gearbox problems on the day and broke down in front of us. Nevertheless, it was an impressive beast.

This Challenger I shares many of the same features as the Chieftain, but has improved transmission, handling and suspension.

It’s rather disconcerting to stare down the barrel of one of these things…

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