EXPLOSIONS OVER THE WARWICKSHIRE COUNTRYSIDE
By Ann Evans.
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Photos courtesy of Toby Heason and Nick Burt.
The Tanks, Trucks and Firepower Show was a massive hit with military fans over the Bank Holiday weekend. Ann Evans reports.
Gunfire, flames and massive explosions rocked the tranquil Warwickshire countryside over the Bank Holiday weekend when the Tanks, Trucks and Firepower Show took place for the 8th year near Dunchurch.
The event is organised by the Alvis Fighting Vehicle Society (AFV Society), with society co-founder Andrew Baker and his team at the helm. As always the show proved a great opportunity for enthusiasts to get up close to a massive array of military machinery and talk to the individual owners of the tanks, armoured vehicles, field guns and even a helicopter, who painstakingly restore, maintain and show their vehicles.
A highlight of the event was the AFV Society’s 68-ton Challenger tank roaring impressively around the main field arena at top speed. Andrew and a small group of AFV Society members have been painstakingly restoring the Challenger I for the last 5-6 years, and while it made it’s first public appearance at last year’s show, this year saw this incredible main battle tank fully restored and back to its former glory. The tank is unique in that it is the only fully working Challenger I in private ownership. A Chieftain main battle tank also growled at top speed around the field to the delight of thousands of spectators.
With the weather for once being kind and the sun shining, the three-day show made for a great family event. There was plenty for all ages to do. Military fans were spoilt for choice with lots of ex surplus military clothing to buy, rifle shooting, tank rides – mini ones and the real thing! There were kids activities, they could ride on a German motorcycle and sidecar, go combat training or more traditional kids’ fun on the bouncy castle.
In the small arena were numerous displays each day including a dramatic infantry re-enactment by the Tommy Atkins Society representing the Leicester Regiment, the Moonlight Raiders Group representing No 3 Commandos and the 1st Panza Wehrmacht 44 group. There was also displays by the West Midlands Volunteer Fire Service, a recovery winch/tow/drop display, the Royal British Legion Motorbike Riders, parades of AFV Society vehicles, Post War and Land Rovers, and more.
The big guns and other spectacular displays went on in the large field arena. Andrew Baker and Mick Brownings drove 8 ton Army Reconnaissance Track Vehicles through dramatic pyrotechnic explosions; there was car crushing and finally an outstanding CVRT Firepower Display.
I chatted to Andrew Baker after the show. He had this to say: “The pyrotechnic and firepower displays were even bigger this year. Because our arena is in a valley and the public are only on one side, we can ramp up the pyrotechnics. We had a Jeep blown up and rolled over, a shed blown up, a pond blown up; we also have a sacrificial Spartan tank that we regularly blow up every year. It’s safe for us to do this as we have a professional pyrotechnics team doing all this. It’s what makes our show absolutely unique, there’s no other show where you can see this kind of pyrotechnics.
The AFV Society welcomes new members and their website also provides a place to buy and sell parts and vehicles. It also has an international register of Alvis fighting vehicles and owners, providing an insight as to where these Alvis made vehicles are ending up. They are always pleased to know of other privately owned vehicles which can be added to the register.
Next year’s (2018) Tanks, Trucks & Firepower Show takes place August Bank Holiday 10am-5pm. Visit their website for more details.