Restoring a British giant

Although long left to the elements, the Tank Museum’s FV4005 gate guardian is to be fully restored for this year’s Tankfest, reports Tom Baker

The FV4005 Stage Two turret was a gate guardian for 15 years
All IMAGES: THE TANK MUSEUM

Atracked behemoth has stood in silent vigil beside the Bovington Tank Museum’s entrance for some years. By 2023, this gate guardian – once a testbed for a revolutionary design in tank development – had been ravaged by corrosion.

At one point, the FV4005

Heavy Anti-tank SP No.1 seemed set to be left to the elements. Then the Tank Museum, supported by Wargaming.net, creators of the video game World of Tanks, intervened to ensure this mighty vehicle would be saved. Following a successful fundraiser, the Tank Museum and restoration experts at AW Hewes in Leicestershire have begun to fully refurbish the FV4005 with the hope that it will make an appearance at this year’s Tankfest event.

In 1950, to counter future Soviet tanks with heavier armour than the Soviet IS-3 tank, British engineers started a new vehicle development project, designated Fighting Vehicle, 4005, Heavy Anti-Tank SP No.1 set to be armed with the largest single weapon ever fitted to a tank hull. This heavy gun was to be mounted atop a Centurion Mk.3 tank chassis and enclosed in an armourplated box. The 180mm No.1 gun, later redesignated Gun, 183mm, Tank, L4A1, and given the rainbow codename ‘Red Viper’, was chosen by the War Office as the desired armament and was produced by Vickers.

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