Cavalry Tank Museum, India – Photo Essay
As you enter the Cavalry Tank Museum, India, two turrets on either side greet you. A gentle slope with green shrubs and palm trees lining the pathway take you to the exhibits: tanks, self-propelled guns, specialist vehicles and armoured cars. The 48 exhibits of war machines that comprise this outdoor museum ironically seem quite at ease in these serene, scenic surroundings, in complete contrast to the fiery battlegrounds that they once frequented.
The museum was established by the Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmednagar, India, in February 1994, and the Centre and School continue to maintain it. This museum housing these vintage armoured fighting vehicles is the only one of its kind in Asia. All the vehicles still carry distinguishing insignia, formation signs and names, preserving their character. Among the vehicles exhibited are (see thumbnail gallery at end of article for photos):
The Churchill Bridge Layer is a turretless Churchill III or IV with hydraulic equipment fitted in the fighting compartment. It could launch a 30-foot bridge horizontally. The bridge was made in four parts for ease of handing, but was carried and launched rigid. It could support vehicles up to 60 tons. This bridge layer remained in service in the British Army until the early 1960s, when it was replaced by the Centurion Bridge layer.
Rolls Royce T-43
The Rolls-Royce armoured car was the first and most successful armoured car of its day. It was designed and built on a commercial saloon (sedan) car chassis known as the Silver Ghost in December 1914. It was the most widely used armoured car in the First World War and saw action in France, Egypt, East Africa and Russia during the war.
(Editors’ Note: To read more about this Rolls-Royce warhorse, see "Rolls Royce Armored Car: The Bulletproof Ghost" on our partner site HistoryNet. http://www.historynet.com/rolls-royce-armored-car-the-bulletproof-ghost.htm)
8-RAD Schwerer Panzer Sphahwagen
The Schwerer Panzer Sphahwagen (heavy armoured reconnaissance vehicle) was developed in 1932 and was basically a 6×4 truck with a new armoured body. Originally a 6-wheel, rear-axle-drive (RAD) vehicle, it was soon upgraded to 8-wheel RAD. It proved as the most powerful and best-known model used by the Germans in the Second World War. The most unique feature of this vehicle was that it had two drivers, facing opposite directions, so it could be driven forward or backward as needed. It had a crew of four and a turret-mounted 2-cm gun and was powered by a L8V-GS eight-cylinder, water-cooled petrol (gas) engine. By virtue of a relatively complex chassis layout, this vehicle was the most advanced cross-country wheeled vehicle in its class at that time.
The Sherman Crab “Flail tank” was developed by the British in 1944. The idea of attaching flails was originated by Captain Abraham Du Toit, a South African engineer, as a means of pulverizing the ground to detonate mines or remove them by force. Flails with small bob weights on the ends of chains were mounted on the Sherman tank. The drum rotated at speed and the chains detonated the mines in front of the vehicle.
M3A3 American Light Tank known as Stuart Mk V in British service, entered service with the US Army in 1941 and was used by the British and other Allied forces in the African desert, in Burma, and during the capture of Antwerp. American forces found its light weight particularly useful on islands in the Pacific. The Indian Army employed this tank in Zojila, Srinagar valley, Naushera and Nagaland. The M3 was produced in quantity by the American Car and Foundry Company. It was powered by a Continental radial air-cooled engine and had a road speed of 36 miles per hour.
Sherman Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle (BARV)
The Sherman Beach Armoured Recovery Vehicle was one of the large number of indigenous special purpose conversions carried out on the Sherman chassis by the British. It was introduced into service in 1944 following a decision in October 1943 that a recovery vehicle for beach work would be required for the Normandy landings. Fifty-three Sherman BARVs were delivered to the Allied 21 Army Group by D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Sherman BARV was a converted Sherman ARV Mk I with a welded superstructure, bilge pump and engine intake trunking for deep wading.
Centurion Mk VII main battle tank
The Centurion entered service with the British Army in 1949. It weighed 50 tons and was armed with a 17-pounder (76.2 mm) and later a 20-pounder (84mm) main gun. It also had six smoke dischargers on each side of the turret.
Pakistani M-48 Patton tank
The Pakistanis lost almost 100 M-48s in Punjab in the 1965 Indo-Pak campaign. Two years later, the Israelis used the M-48, modified with a 105mm gun, very successfully in the Six Day War. This was the most dreaded and publicized American tank of the 1950s.
The Cavalry Tank Museum is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm IST, with free admission. It is closed on Sundays and all of India’s national holidays.
About the Author:
Khursheed Dinshaw is a Pune, Maharashtra state, India-based freelance writer with more than 610 published articles in major Indian newspapers and magazines. An avid traveler, she writes on lifestyle, travel, health, food, trends, people and culture.
All photos provided through the courtesy of the Cavalry Tank Museum.