Monday 8 April 2019

T-34s in England

Russia, of all places, recently had to import a number of T-34-85 tanks from Laos, due to a shortage of functional ones to show off in parades and shows. Interestingly enough, when I was in England there appeared to be no shortage of this type of tank at all. In fact, there were probably more of them per capita than in Russia. Let's take a look.

First, IWM Duxford. Despite being focused on aircraft, there is a very inspired display of land forces as well in the furthest hangar from the entrance. In it is an action-packed display of what is passed off as a WWII era T-34-85, but isn't quite. The lack of joining beam between the upper and lower glacis plate is a feature of post-war tanks.

The smooth texture of the cast turret and post-war road wheels also hint to the tank's origins.

From the back we do not see the typical Czech wavy exhaust pipe guards or telephone port. I'm guessing that this is a Polish production tank. Incidentally, the SU-100 you see in front of the T-34-85 isn't Soviet either, but of Czechoslovakian origin.

Hiding in the corner of the arena behind the land forces hangar is another T-34-85, also likely of Polish origin, even though this one is trying to disguise itself as a Soviet tank with the slogan painted on its turret.

Next is IWM London. Instead of being hidden way in the back, this T-34-85 is placed on the first floor in front of the main staircase. Eagle eyed readers probably already noticed the connection between the upper and lower front plate and the smooth cast turret...

Yup, this isn't a Soviet tank either. The infantry telephone port and wavy exhaust pipe guards identify it as a tank of Czechoslovakian origin. At the very least, the placard in front of the tank clearly identifies it as such.

A better look of the rear. The telephone port (painted as a stop signal for some reason) and curvy covers are quite visible. I don't know what happened to the mesh cover above the air louvres, as it's quite clearly not original.

And the other side, for good measure.

This is probably London's more famous T-34-85, the tank on display at Stompie Garden. The garden itself was undergoing renovation when I went, so I couldn't get up close and personal, but there are still some good photos of this vehicle.

Smooth turret, pointy nose, you know what that means!

The curvy exhaust guards are there, it's a Czech alright. 

The infantry telephone port is even highlighted in yellow for your convenience.

For those of you wondering if there are any authentic Soviet T-34-85 tanks in England at all, don't despair! You're going to have to travel all the way to Wool for it, but the Tank Museum in Bovington has a 100% Soviet T-34-85 tank that came into its collection through Korea.

Rough turret, straight exhaust pipe covers, no telephone port. That's a Soviet tank, alright.

And for a bonus picture, the secret reason why I went on a T-34-85 hunt in the first place:

Ottawa's T-34-85 is still quite spry, and as such participates in events very often, which means it's hard to catch in its proper place.

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