After breakfast in the hotel we headed for Bovington. Friday was “preview day.” Tankfest is officially Saturday, but getting there on Friday allowed us to see the museum and all the additional vendors brought in for the day. Since most of the people were out watching the tanks drive around the track, the museum was pretty empty most of the day, which was great.
I took over 500 pictures on Friday, but I’ve only included 25 or so in this blog post. That isn’t really enough time to even hit the highlights. Suffice to say, it was a great day. We took our time, read all the signs, had a chance to talk to some of the reenactors, and just immerse ourselves in the development of tanks. It is really cool to see in person tanks you have only seen in pictures. It really gives you a sense of scale. The small tanks are really small, and the large tanks are really large. The magnitude of the differences really hits home when you get to see them in person, stand next to them, and touch them.
The initial exhibit traces the development of tanks in WWI. I think we spent more than 90 minutes in just this section of the museum.
In many cases, there were glass windows cut into the WWI tanks so you could look inside them. In other cases you could walk through them.
After the WWI exhibit, you enter the Hall of Tigers, dedicated to Tiger Tanks.
After the Hall of Tigers, we entered the WWII floor. Again, I took over 500 photos, but I am only including a few. It is very difficult to imagine the size of the museum and all the really investing vehicles on display.
Then we entered my favorite part of the museum, the Hall of Tanks. This traces the early development of the tank (on the left) through the Cold War (on the right). There are a number of displays that allow you to view archival footage of many of the vehicles. Note that despite this being Tankfest weekend, the crowds were low inside the museum.
One of the interesting displays what was not here last year is a display of tank concepts throughout history. There were probably 30 on display, but I only provide pictures of two here.
There are a number of visiting, refurbished or reproduction tanks on the display, including those pictured. Most of these are supposed to be driving around the track on Saturday.
There were a number of re-enactment groups set up around the periphery. Some of the groups were very happy to interact with you. Others seemed somewhat standoffish.
An thus ended our first day at Tankfest. After an uneventful ride back to Poole, we had dinner in a local gastropub, watched a couple episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, and went to bed relatively early.