Tanks – Fascinating Beasts

When I was much younger, I was obsessed by tanks – the military sort, not water tanks.   I mentioned this in another post (link) as the reason I found myself working as a modelmaker in Amsterdam for many years.

To begin with my interest was sparked by the animal like quality of these machines, rather than the destructive potential they represented all too well,   If you watch a tank moving around in the forest or mud, with all its crew safely locked up inside it, they have a seriously animal like quality about them.  Obviously the animals they most resemble are dinosaurs, the larger ones who presumably also ignored such minor things as trees, smaller dinosaurs and so forth as they went about their daily business.

Like dinosaurs, tanks seem to be totally indifferent to the sort of country they are moving around in, be it mud, dust, forest, fields or whatever, all the same to them, as it must have been to the larger types of dinosaur I imagine.

This short video of a bunch of tanks training gives you perhaps an idea of what it is I mean.

If you can watch this video without thinking about the men inside those large machines, but simply watch how they move, lurching around, pushing through bushes and so on then I think you will see what I mean.

Here to give you a better idea of what I mean, are a bunch of dinosaurs doing their thing…  the similarity must be obvious to you.

While I was still trying to be a sculptor, roughly between the ages of 19 to 25, I sent a lot of time attempting to get this huge animal quality of tanks into my sculptures, creating truck loads of closed steel boxes that moved around in a blind but assured fashion, but none of them satisfied me, as inevitably they were relatively small, and both tanks and dinosaurs typically weigh in at around 20 to 60 tones – rather larger than I could manage with my limited financial and physical means.

That small problem notwithstanding, my fascination continued, and I sublimated it to a degree by means of two efforts, the first and most satisfying was to buy and use on a daily basis a huge armoured personnel carrier, known affectionately as a Pig, A machine I loved dearly and used every day while I had it.


That is me, by the way, struggling to close one of the windows in the back section of the Pig.

As you can see, it isn’t really a tank, but it has a lot of the character of a tank, could be entirely closed up, so I had to use periscopes to see the outside world, it could happily wade through thick undergrowth, struggle through water up to about 5 foot deep and so on, so it had a number of the tank qualities that I was so fascinated by…  Just not all.  But it isn’t really possible to drive around in a real tank.

The other way I dealt with my tank “addiction” was to make models of them.. hundreds of models in all sorts of scales from about 1:500 to 1:16, which in plain English means models that ranged from about 2 cms long to ones at about 50 cms.   Mostly static models, but a few of the very large ones were radio controlled, so I could set them off in the undergrowth and let them do their small best to imitate their much larger cousins.  By and large this was not really very successful, they tended to get long lengths of tough grass caught in their tracks which stopped them (literally) in their tracks, sadly.

But the idea was there.

In site of having moved around the world somewhat since my most productive model tank period, which was while we lived in the Netherlands, living in France, Angola, China, The Philippines, and now Australia  I still have most of them, albeit in boxes, awaiting the completion of our house (we are actually building our own house here in Australia) to be unpacked, admired and dealt with.

What on earth does one do with several hundred model tanks of all types and scales?  I have simply no idea what I shall do with them when finally I have the space to unpack them all.   Sell them on eBay perhaps?

Do you have a similar attitude to tanks, or am I simply a deluded tank Geek?

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