Hi I’m Richard Cutland and welcome to a brand new podcast—Tank Nuts—where I get the opportunity to sit down and chat with a variety of special guests: authors stuntmen, maybe a celebrity or two, who knows? But all with one thing in common: a love and passion for armour. I’m very pleased today to introduce my friend, author and writer Mr. Craig Moore How are you, Craig? I’m fine thanks, and it’s great to be in Paris. I got here a day early and went to the army museum and found my first tank in Paris, which is the Renault ft, and found a few other strange things in the museum. Tanks come in all sorts of different sizes and every day is a school day. I just keep learning new stuff wherever I go. That’s what I love about them. – I mean, we’ve known each other for a while now. Actually, the first time we met was in militracks I think – No, the German tank museum. – Was it in Munster? Well, the German tank museum. There you go. And we sort of know each other, people will know you from Facebook and obviously the books, which we will talk about later on as well, but the background for you Craig… I mean, you started out life—your working life—as a sergeant in the… 30 years I was in the Metropolitan police and doing stuff in Scotland Yard, but the reason that I got involved with this is I’ve got a large military family and one of my uncles… In front of me, I’ve got a Sherman tank and that’s what he went to war in. He lost his leg in the Operation Totalize 3:30 a.m. outside Cramesnil, where we think a German Panzerfaust took out the side of his tank. He was the only one that got out. The rest of my family, some are Wellington bomber; one was a Wellington bomber rear gunner, another one went all the way through the Desert with the King’s Royal Rifles. Going even further back, my great-great granddad and my granddad’s were in World War One. I lost my great granddad in the Battle of the Somme and the other one was in the Artillery. My dad’s eldest brother, he took after his father and, when WWII happened, he went into the Artillery as well. So, as a kid, I had all these people who had stories. And at weddings, they would come round… Although my uncle lost his leg, he had the habit of taking his leg off and chasing the kids around tables, just a bit of a laugh. And when I grew up, there was no internet. We had action men, there was the commando comics and the big films were out; all the war films: Operation Market Garden, Bridge too far, the Battle of the Bulge… So that was the sort of thing that I grew up with, and we played wargaming but not because there was no computers. I think there was one to two hundred millimeter lead tanks and we used to have tape measures and dice and play with that; so I’ve always had this interest. I mean, I recently found a painting that I did of a Panzer Four when I was 12, and it’s relatively good, and I didn’t realise that that interest has always gone through my life. It’s obviously quite, I mean age wise, we’re sort of similar as well. But the choices for me, like say, I grew up with… Did you have the Scorpion tank for action man? And that’s the thing, yeah, but we grew up with that sort of thing. I suppose and I said we had dinner together last night, we were talking about you know, your time in the police force now and I said, ‘Funny for me, it was either the army or the police force’. It was a choice that was one of the big choices for me. I said my background, I mean my father, did National Service. It was my grandfather who probably fed me these stories; he was a prisoner of war in the desert in the REME the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and he was a prisoner war out there. So I used to love, as a young child, sitting down my grandfather and hearing these incredible stories, but unfortunately most of them have gone now. You’d like to stop and go back and talk to them about, you know, roughly what they went through, but there’s details that you want to go back and find out. I’ve been lucky; I’ve walked his battle, the battlefields that he was involved in. He was the 144th Royal Armored Corps, and from my family history, his senior officer did a book and it was quite good. So you can then take that book, go to the battlefield, and work out where they went. And that was fascinating. I had no idea why they landed in Arromanches about two weeks after D-day; why they didn’t send him near Caen. They sent them away off to this wood—my French is not good— the Bois du Bougie, and the British called it the wood of bogies. But that’s normal squaddies. I thought, ‘What the hell were they there for nearly a week?’. But then when you go there, you then find out it’s on a hill, overlooking the valley in a woods, so the tanks would have been harboured underneath this wood out of sight. But they would have been able to have stopped a flanking move of the Germans coming up. It’s not visible when you’re looking at a map; when you go there, ‘oh yeah!’. And then, I then, I was coming up to that wood. There was a plaque on the field behind and it was an American Air Force Base, so therefore they were protecting that —which isn’t on the maps—and they were securing the flank. So you have to go to these locations to get a proper perspective. One of the other things I said: my uncle’s tank was hit, and the commanding officer said, ‘We thought it might have been friendly fire from one of the Canadians’. Now, I don’t know whether you know about Operation Totalize but it was the big push out of Caen. This part of the battle, the operations beforehand, were very problematic because, unlike the Bocage country—which had the hedges which kept things safe from vision—the big fields around Caen were ideal for the 88mm gun, the 75 millimeter guns of the Germans hidden on ridges and they had better range than the the Allies 75 pounder guns. So they decided, ‘Right, we’re getting crippled, we’re getting lots of our tanks taken out. We’ll do a night attack’, and that’s what happened outside Caen. There’s a main road going down to Falaise, the Canadians were on the right and the British and the Polish were on the left, and the commanding officer thought that one of the Canadian shells must have thought we were the bad—his regiment was the bad guys—and sent a shell over. I went to exactly where the harbour was at Cramesnil, and when you go there you suddenly realise that could never have happened, because I tried to find the road. The road is on a ridge, so if Canadian shells were coming over it would have to fly over the the road, over a hill, and come down. It wouldn’t have happened, because that close quarters it would gone straight over. But when you go there, there’s a wood next door, and it’s an old wood, and it’s ideal hiding country for a German infantry soldier with a handheld anti-tank weapon—that’s what I surmise. But you learn these things when you go to locations, and I would recommend anybody that’s interested in battles to try and go to the location and find out what the land lies, because you get a new perspective. As I said, you know, your Facebook page, I follow you obviously, on Facebook and social media, but you’re always, always traveling somewhere. We were taking the Mickey the other day about your selfies you’ve got. Yeah It’s your thing—these selfies—they’re good. – What was was so nice, on the same trip when we went down to a Cramensil, is we went to speak to the mayor, and he had got it all wrong; he was starting to… He welcomed us, he was starting to rename the roads with a different Regiment. I said, ‘No, they didn’t do that, they didn’t attack here. This Regiment attacked the village down the road, at about two kilometers’, and I showed him all the information and the maps, and yeah. ‘It was the 144 that liberated your town in this part of the town’, and he then took us to his house—which was on that section—and he didn’t realise that his town, his house, was liberated by my uncle’s regiment. Because I live in London, I can see all the damage in London with the Blitz, and the shell damage from from bombs. He didn’t realise that the damage on his wall was from gunfire and shells, and we were able to tell him exactly when his house was liberated, which was 3:13 in the morning, when the Scottish infantry came through and liberated his house. So, he’s very pleased but then he told us where the Tiger tank got blown up. Wittmann, which is just down there. So he told us where to go and sit up and have a picnic and just look at that battlefield, and you could then see where the Canadian Fireflys were and where the British Fireflys were, and where Wittmann’s tank was. And again, You get a whole new perspective of that argument. I still think the Canadians did it—but that has really upset people; that is really going to upset people—because the Canadians were literally at right angles to the Tiger tank. And right over in the corner a long way away, was the woods, and he would be hitting a forty five degrees to the Tiger, so odds on the Canadians would have gotten an easier shot. But it’s quite incredible, when you talk, I mean like, every year, because obviously a lot of stuff is becoming declassified year on year, and we’re finding more and more information. And when again, we had this conversation at dinner, when went on about sort of like historians—you know, people who are the experts—and we believe everything they say, but of course a lot of this stuff; if you read, it makes you believe something. If they’ve got a good name to them, you believe it. And when something comes to light and perhaps this wasn’t the way it went… Yeah Of course. You know, records war, records were war records, combat records were, combat records, and a lot of the units. Of course you don’t want to, no commanding officer ever wants to write down the fact that, you know, perhaps we achieved nothing in this battle, or we didn’t destroy this or we didn’t destroy that. So it is fascinating, I mean, I’m no expert. I like to spend time in the archives, and also you might see me—if you see me at a museum—I may have a micrometer or a tape measure out; measuring things because books are wrong. And if I get the chance at a museum to get access to the vehicles, I will try and correct them if they are wrong by doing examinations. And you learn things, it’s like, I was at Saumur, in the French Tank Museum, which by the way has the best German armour collection, not the best, the biggest collection; biggest variety, definitely variety. Yeah, but they allowed me access to top of the Marders and the artillery SPG’s, and nobody has really measured the thickness of the superstructure, and you think German industry would be fantastic, everything would be. The tolerances will be good but I was finding on, for example, a piece of armour which was only 11 millimeters some of it was 10.5, some of it was 11.5. I didn’t realise that there was such a fluctuation on the the armour, that was all new to me. If you’re interested in tanks, get out there, look at the museum’s. Go and do a bit of investigation, go into archives if you’ve got some—and most of them are free—and find out your favorite tank, and just order a couple of books or boxes and see the real documents. – But I mean—just to backtrack a bit see you’re at this time—you’re working, you’re a full-time police officer, of course at that time are you, are you still researching stuff or…? No, no, this came after your retirement. – This then gave me the time, but when, when I was working—for 30 years—I would go on family holidays. – And your wife loved that. – Yeah, yeah. I’ve got two daughters and the wife; and they hated military history. And I said to my wife, ‘Let’s go to the Ardennes: it seems not a big drive, it’s got pretty villages, they have chocolate, there’s waffles and nice beer’. Okay, well about the fourth Panther tank that I found, she worked out something was up. But yeah, it’s those sorts of things you can go to locations for and you can see history. I keep on going on holidays with my wife saying, ‘Right, there’s no tanks, there’s no armour’. And recently, I went to the Lofoten Islands up in northern Norway. I said, ‘There’s nothing up there’, and I went to this town, I was looking around and things looked familiar. And, ‘I think this is wrong, I’ve never been here before. Why is this so familiar?’, so I hadn’t googled it before. I quickly did a bit… ‘Oh my god, this is one of the sites of the commando raid—the four comando raids for blowing up the cod liver oil for the nitroglycerin for the Germans’. And I was recognizing things, that are in black and white photographs, that the commandos have blown up. So she said, ‘You’ve done it again, haven’t you?’. I went to the pub, went to find the museum… – Oh no. – …which was locked. He opened it all up and he was so happy somebody was interested, and he took me all around. But that just keeps on happening. I do try to go and do non-military holidays, but these things… – I saw you talk about obviously the travels and everything that comes with it. I mean, you do get around a bit. It’s very much in my role when you visit all these museums. What would you say, I mean, give me a top Museum if you can do it. Give me the favorite museum that you’ve visited to date. – They’ve all got different things, but the most expansive museum is Saumur. – Oh okay. – It’s got a lot. Also, for new information, new stuff, there is the Parola museum in Finland. It’s only an hour’s drive north up from Helsinki, but that stimulated me to go find more. They start off the first war, the Winter War with no… well, a couple of tanks—Renault FT’s—but they weren’t actually used as Tanks; they were used for bringing the wrecks off the battlefield. And it’s their story about the three different wars they went through and how they then use Soviet Armour and then German Armour, and how they deployed them. So that was an education for me. – So, as a man who’s visited all these museums—and I personally get asked this an awful lot—where do you see the future of our museums? I mean, we see it certainly in the UK, the numbers are decreasing. I mean, it’s a fact, numbers are decreasing at certain museums around the UK. What’s the magic recipe, would you say? Personally, to increase people’s visibility, to make them more appealing, museums need reasons to come back. Recently in London, they’ve had the Imperial War Museum makeover and the National Army Museum makeover, and lots of diehard tank enthausiasts don’t like what’s happened. But they are realists, they’ve got to survive by numbers coming in; they’ve got to get money in. For example, the National Army Museum has a soft play area—military themed—but people are paying four pounds an hour to bring the kids there, that means the local mums and the nannies are coming there with the kids on the rainy day, but not only are they paying that money, they’re also paying for the cups of coffee; that is income for the museum. In London, museums are free, so they obviously need more income, but other museums can do that as well. Most of the places are behind closed doors; you can’t do anything unless you pay your entrance fee. Places like the National Trust and other people realise that what you do is you put the entrance fee back so people will come daily to a museum—provide income—so you have the cafe, you have a little shop, you have the children’s area, the play area. So that’ll bring the local people in and it’ll bring an income in. And then if the guys want to go to the museum—or the family was going to the museum—they then pay for the ticket. But otherwise, people… It will be a destination; you’ve got to make these places a destination to go. And unfortunately, a lot of them are in the middle of nowhere, with hard transportation places. Bovington is a long long way away, but because of what Bovington is, people will make the effort to get down there. But smaller museums like the Norfolk tank museum and Muckleburgh, they and Tim Isaac’s one up in North Devon; they’re all very very good museums but they’re very hard to find —unless you’re on holiday up there—and people don’t know about them. So what I try to do, because I don’t want museums to close… I mean, going back a little bit back, Catz museum in Normandy: wonderful museum, excellent location on an old airfield, and had the main tourist motorway going past and their tanks outside, and people would see that it looked like a good museum. It closed because, my understanding is, that people built it but they didn’t promote it, and they didn’t go and stop the coach drivers at different locations say, ‘Oh bring your people to my place and we’ll give you a little commission’, or… Most places do that to get people into the area. I don’t want these places… You know, they put a lot of work in there. I don’t want them to close up. So, what I try and do is help the museum’s if I can, doing this thing. – The whole, the whole aspect, I mean I remember when we were younger, the whole thing about the museums, well let’s face it, as children… I mean, I would hate it. There was kicking and screaming if we would we go to a museum, because it’s all very much; you can’t touch anything, you can’t… There’s this barrier, this vehicle or something. You know, I still love seeing the tanks, and I actually grew up quite close to the Tank museum in Bovington, so now I do feel this interaction. They’re all starting to get much better, to be able to go up and actually feel and touch some of the stuff. – Yeah. Bovington is great, you can touch. If you go to Saumur, you can touch those. But there are places like the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, they’ve got the tanks behind ropes. – Yeah. I’m not big, I have to say, I’m not a big fan of that. It’s like they’ve got the Jag Panther and you can’t get behind. – Yeah. You can’t go around to have a look at it. To me, the Tank Museum in Bovington has a special place in my heart, because I’ve seen it grow from when I joined the army back in… you know, I was 15 years and eight months old when I joined the army—Junior leaders regiment royal armoured Corps, which was directly opposite the tank museum. So I’ve seen it grow from this, basically a shack with the lady outside that used to have her own little hut that sold cups of tea, to this massive collection it is now. But I do think, fundamentally, that’s purely because we’ve gone, or they certainly, and of a lot of museums have appreciated that you have to run it—to some degree— as a business. – Yeah, you’ve got to do it to survive and people have got to wake up. It’s like, unfortunately, some museums will demand money for you to go and do videoing at theirs, thinking, ‘Alright, we’ve got this small time win; we’ve got like 500 pounds—or whatever—for somebody’s going to videoing’, or we have to pay money take a photograph of one their tanks. They don’t realise that the influencers the celebrities are giving free advertising to a bigger audience. And they’ve got wake up, because all the modern social media people that are interested in armour, they will get to know about the museums from that and go and get their visitors there. I mean, my son, when he was younger, the thing he hated was history. And I was so frustrated, because of my love for history serving on tanks and all the rest of it. I just cannot get interested but then one day I took him down to Bovington, and I think that sort of like that connection with the real thing made him super interested in the machinery—because he was always interested in technology and obviously you’ve got that great link between the tank and technology and everything else. It made him more interested in history throughout, and then he got interested in the people and everything else, so I do think they’ve got this magic recipe down there. And of course, tankfest has gone from—that’s their annual event—they’ve got down there from strength to strength, to strength. So, every year. So I feel it’s one of the best family places. And most of the museums are now trying to do their own tankfest: like the Aussie armor fest; and then there’s the American Heritage Museum, they’re going to be doing their own version of a tank fest; the german tank museum do their tank fest, they just had that; the swedish tank museum has their version. So, wherever you live around the world, there is events going on. Find out where they are and go to them. You also learn a lot by seeing the vehicles move and also, next door to each other, I always remember the first time I saw a Panzer 3 next door to a Sherman; the height difference… Panzer four is so much smaller and you don’t really appreciate that until you see them together and moving—and that’s good. I’m gonna ask every guest this, so: why do you think there is such a passion amongst people for tanks’ armour? What’s the secret? Maybe an almost impossible question to answer. I don’t really know. People, some people, like it for the mechanics; some people like it for the the big movement, the noise, the smoke, and the stuff they see in the movies. My interest, as well as the historical aspect, is problem solving. I know that sounds weird, but going back to WWI, the tanks were developed for getting over trenches. So what did the enemy do? They made the trenches bigger, so then the tanks had to think the designs, had to think, ‘Well, how do we get our tank over a wider trench?’. So they develop a fascine, which they then drop into the trench and drive over again. Problem solving: ‘how’d you deal with mud?’, and the WWI tanks, they developed spuds. Well, they look like large cricket bats, which you stuck on the side of the track, and that would make the tracks wider and dig in. But then they found out they got bent up against stone; so what do you do with that? I know: let’s strap on chunks of wood to make the teeth bigger, but they won’t bend up its developments like that. But other people do something different: we’re in France, the French had totally different ways of doing things: their first two tanks—the Saint-Chermond and the Schneider—were too long and they kept on ditching as they went down into trenches. The nose dive bombed or the gun got stuck in the trenches, so they had to have a different procedure. They had to have the infantry go with them, and when they went up to a trench and killed everybody in the trench, the enemy, they couldn’t go over the trench. They then had to get the infantry come and dig a down ramp and an up ramp—totally different ways of dealing with the same problem. It’s that sort of thing that I find fascinating. And whether we learn from that or not… It’s like with the Germans —lots of people like the German stuff—I recently, for researching my book, I found out that the German Tiger tank got hit on the small arms fire on smoke dispenser. Now, you need smoke dispensers so the enemy can’t see you and can’t target you, but what happened here—it wasn’t on a very windy day—the small arms fire blew off the smoke grenades and it choked the tanker inside, and made them blind, they couldn’t see where they were going. So German response was: ‘Right, rip off all the smoke grenades from the Panthers and the Tigers’. Then some of the tanks in the museum haven’t got those. But they didn’t have the next problem solving, because when I went to Fort Benning, one of their turrets doesn’t have anything apart from the coaxial machinegun—no smoke dispenser. So what do they do? But later on they have a closed defense weapon, which is like a flare gun based inside the tank, and it swivels around 60 degrees, and they can fire off grenades aswell as smoke. They can do that safely from inside and it’s not liable to be destroyed by incoming small arms fire. It’s that sort of problem solving. But I realised this is what I find fascinating about armour, but then talk to people like John Pearson, who has the Valentine DD tank; he loves the mechanics, he loves the way how the thing works. Everybody in this industry, not industry, everybody in this hobby has a different reason for liking what they like: some people like the Sherman tanks; some people like the German armour. You’ve got to realise what you like and then go out and find it. – You say… I mean, I was interested about the smoke. I mean, even in 30 years of service on tanks, we fired smoke twice. I mean, that problem is still not solved, I would tell you to this day. I mean, I just read… You know, there’s a really good book on the French tanks and in 1917 they worked out, the first outing of the French tanks was a slaughter: the artillery targeted them and just blew them up. And they worked out that the land, you’ve got to have good solid land, and they wrote instructions: ‘Tanks will only be deployed if we’ve got good..’ Umm, the artillery spotters on the enemy’s could be killed, ‘There has got to be smoke in the barrage so the enemy can’t see us, and we have got to have good air cover to stop the enemy reconnaissance to come down’. And then the tanks work, and it’s great. I was just reading about the Montdidier attack. In May they attacked, and they totally ignored their own instructions, and what happens? Okay, they have a good hour, initially going up at the top of a hill. But soon as they go over the hill and they’ve got the enemy off the hill and they’re on the plateau, they then are seen by all the German artillery observers, and they just get wiped out— because they’ve ignored their own instructions. And its finding that sort of thing, you know, they do find how to work problem-solve. But sometimes they ignore what they’ve worked out, which again I find fascinating. – So Craig, to the subject of books, I mean, first question: how do you suddenly… Do you wake up one morning and think, ‘I’m going to write a book’? – Hmm… no. The first book I was asked, because I was asked by history press to do one because the 100 year anniversary is coming up, so that’s what started that. But before books, going back a bit, I was asked to be a writer and editor for Tanks encyclopedia website—and that’s a nonprofit organization, everybody volunteers their time. The articles and the main emphasis is trying to get guys like players of World of Tanks, they like the game, they want to know more about the tank that they are driving, and unfortunately, wikipedia is sometimes wrong really. And people, you know, anybody can change it. And if they don’t like what they read on Wikipedia, they get in there and edit it. What happens with World of Tanks [the Tank Encylopedia], and it’s not perfect, but every article that goes up is proof read by three people and then it’s put up. And then we get the other experts around the world commenting to see if they spot any errors, and it’s a changeable format. With the social media aspect, and also anybody around read the tanks encyclopædia and we get new history from places that we would not know. For example, there was a hole in tanks encyclopedia on German artillery, so I decided, ‘Right, I would do the articles and research on the German artillery’, mainly because my grandfather was artillery—British artillery—and my uncle was in the artillery in the Second World War. So I thought, ‘I’ll give that a go’. And it’s a subject I didn’t know about. I didn’t know how artillery guns worked, so it was an impulse for me to learn. I didn’t know that an artillery gun used two-part ammunition and that they put the high-explosive shell in first, then they have a cased tube, which they fill with silk bags, and the longer range they put more bags with more explosive propellant in. That was new to me, so that made me do more research and understand it. And what we like to do in Tanks Encyclopedia is try and get the complicated documents that you find in archives, or you find these in some of the more in-depth books, not dumb it down make it readable. And that’s the idea. You know, the guys that are doing World of Tanks, they will find more, and this is a readable format. And hopefully we get it right, and if we haven’t gotten it right, and one the experts tells us, we can then change it or we find new information. One of the new bits of information that we found was on something called a Hummel Wespe. What happened is they built a load of Hummel chassés but they didn’t have the 15 centimetre guns to go in them, so they looked around and they had a store of 105 millimetre guns—the ones that would normally been put on the Wespe—so they stuck it on the top. But there was only one photograph of that known, and that was post war, with a child on it. There were documents which Hillary Doyle and his colleagues found in the Bundes archiv—the German archives—but it wasn’t really specific. Out-of-the-blue, a contact I have got in Czechoslovakia, Patrick Chris—I think that’s how I pronounce his name— he says, ‘Craig, I have something on that’. I wait, I go to the Czech Republic archives… I can’t speak Czech, so off he goes and he finds a list of all the vehicles that the now communist government has took from the Germans, and put as part of their inventory, and it lists 12 Hummel Wespes and the chassis numbers of all these vehicles. So we’ve got documentary evidence that there were 12 fantastic new history and they actually used 8. And they used the other 4 as parts. We still don’t know what happened to them, probably scrapped or they may be in a lock-up somewhere in the Czech Republic. We don’t know, but it’s nice getting that sort of information. – But then you find some of the… I mean, like we had we had a lot of work at one stage about French tanks, the subjects was French tanks; find out everything you can about French Tanks. Obviously the point of contact for us was we went to the French archives, which is… I don’t know if you you ever had any interaction with the French archives, but it is absolutely, I mean, the place is the size of a football pitch with just locker upon locker, upon locker. And see, the problems we had, I mean, you could easily spend—and no underestimation— probably a year of your life looking through these archives for stuff which was there and was in no particular rhyme or reason to anything. It wasn’t particularly in any order. Fascinating. But of course, as well, we also had the point of fact we had to hire people who are obviously French speakers and understand this sort of stuff. But it wasn’t just the French speakers; you have to get people who not only speak the language but also got some sort of technical knowledge to understand what they were referring. – And that’s what’s lovely, there was one of the young guys… so. I try to encourage people to get interested in the subject, you know, young players who want to know more. For example, there’s a French guy called Alexis Durr, he started off on Facebook as Panzer Alex. He was only 16 and he was going around Europe to tank fests, to different meetings. But off his own back, he would travel six hours by coach to the French archives and he was finding new stuff. He was finding new stuff on the AMX 12, and new documentation on the Renault ft. He’s only 16. If you’re interested in this thing, in this subject, go and find the archives; go digging in your archives in your country. I mean, I don’t read French very well, don’t read German very well, so I’ve said some don’t go there other people can do that. I’m going to stick with the British archives, and there’s loads of people that don’t go digging in those. I found so much. Their archives are like a library, you’ve got to be quiet, and sometimes—well quite a lot—you find not gold, you find new history, or things that you don’t expect. For example, part of my Tank Hunter WWI book, I was looking at, I asked for the private letters for one of the commanding officers, and I was expecting a small file to arrive at the Imperial War Museum archives. I get to my desk, and there are three huge boxes, ‘What the hell is this?’. And I open them up and what this commanding officer did was took his tank commanders after battle reports, and he kept them. The family, when he died, gave them to the Imperial War Museum. Now I was going, ‘Oh my god, look at this look at this!’, ‘Wow, look what I found!’. It was really exciting. And what in these documents were a four-sided a foolscap, the front would be the tank with a chassis, the hull number, the detail, the crew, and orders. You open it up it and it would then have the report of what they did. Unfortunately, all handwritten, it was a bit hard, and at the back there would be casualty lists and also suggestions. As a police riot van commander, I had to fill those out after every ceremonial incident or football incident. The similarity was really, really strange. You know, they started this a hundred years ago as WWI tank commanders, but that will be a book. Well, I can get round to trying to transcribe all this handwriting. Some of them harrowing, you know, one guy survived. You read these and you go, you have to have to step away for a little bit, because the description is quite blunt; it brings it home to you and it’s, it’s the story of okay, so that of a vehicle or tank, but it’s also the story of the crew. – YeaH. It’s the same for me, I’ve always loved that aspect. Personally, I suppose you know my backgrounds—and you know, RTR man Tank Regiment man— that’s that it is, the story of the people, which I felt so honoured to… Over the years, I’ve met and spoke to a lot of veterans. And you know the stories they tell, but always tell them with such joviality. So, sort of inherent, it must be this military thing where there’s always the ability, horrific stories —absolutely gobsmacking some of them—but always with a a degree of civility and humour injected into it as well, which is such admiration for this quite unbelievable. You mentioned your first book. I have got it here actually, Tank Hunter WWI. This was the very first one; that was the one that they asked us for these celebrations. And again, I knew nothing about WWI tanks, I found them very, very confusing. What is the difference between a Mark One? – Yeah. So part of the main thing, again tanks encyclopedia, make it simple, try and work out why, would there were the differences. I mean, little things like: did you know that the World War One tank needed four people to drive the thing? What the hell? And then luckily the Mark Five… they worked out, they changed, everything got new technology in and they had one person that could drive it. So, it’s little things like that, and that’s what I find fascinating about the subject matter. Other things in the archives, again finding new stuff that you weren’t expecting in the archive. People, they don’t know about the subject matter; they just try and write down what they think is in the box and you like, if you want to do a Google search, they have their own search engines. And, when you search for a tank, stuff doesn’t come up, you have to really think outside the box of how would this subject matter be labeled. I was sent up to the Science Museum to help a friend in America look for some information on one of the early pioneers of tanks, I got all that information, I had 24 things I need to define, I found those but then the lady brought in a great big plan draw. ‘What’s this?’, I opened it up and it was a full blueprint of something called ‘Vanguard’. I didn’t really… people have been searching for this thing for ages, it was the last ever Valentine version and it was in the science museum. Why wasn’t this in the tank museum? And again and again, you go to places and you find unusual things where they shouldn’t be. I went to University College London, again looking for some WWI things, and I asked the lady, ‘Is there any other boxes you’ve got under this guy’s name?’. And because he worked on vehicles in WWI, he carried on in WWII, and she brought out this box and it was marked up documents relating to the meeting of the SVP committee—very boring. If he tried to search for a tank that would never come up, I open up the box and its one of those moments: ‘Oh my gosh’. There was unpublished documents on the Tog I and the Tog II, and a totally unknown tank called an ‘amphibious’ tank, because it’s been labeled up wrong by an archivist who thought, ‘Well there are documents for a committee, aren’t they?’, and not realising. I’m not putting it properly what’s in it, there are so much, so this is the premise… I certainly haven’t really said the premise of this book, it’s really the sort of like development involvement of the tank, all the way from you know, from little Willie, really. All the way. Yeah. The first part is an easy guide to the listing of all the combat tanks of WWI. Certainly So how do you make that… there are… you know, there’s a fair few books on the market about the development of the tank and blah, blah, blah. So how do you, as an author, sort of think, ‘I’m going to put my own stamp on this’? Is it purely looking for new information, if you’ve got it, or which is making a readable format with nice illustrations and any new information that’s come out and trying to explain things like, for example, again we don’t know for certain but roughly why what colour they were painting it and why they changed over the course of the war and what the white red and white stripes were on the front back. By the way, on the 18th of April, I believe an order went out, ‘All the tanks are going to be painted this, because the Germans are now using captured British tanks and they have also got their own A7Vs, and these they’re appearing on the battlefield, so we need to identify them as ours rather than German captured tanks’. So you can date roughly when the photograph was taken, before or after, but what I then found out is the combined arms aspect of the war. Why did Cambrai, which was the big push initially, succeed so well? God bless the RTR have to get in, by the way, but it’s trying to get people away from ‘this is a tank, the tank won the war’, no it didn’t, it helps the infantry win the war and it helped other arms. Arms help it, they could cut down on the mass loss of men. – Yes, it did a lot. It helped them and yeah, because the tank can’t really hold land but the new technology, which I didn’t realise is one of the successes, was making the land suitable for tanks to drive over. Whereas before, it was huge bombardment—great big craters—all the tanks got ditched and they couldn’t get through to the enemy trenches. So they developed a new system, a proximity fuze, and you can see this thing in the Imperial War Museum WWI exhibition. It’s a new fuse, which as it hit and comes to the ground, it explodes above the ground and cuts all the wire, and it doesn’t make a great big hole, that was very, very important. So the tanks could actually go across the land. The other thing was: they worked out how to identify enemy batteries; they had listening stations in an arc and then, when the enemy battery fired, they could then zoom in and triangulate it on the map and to back that up. They had observations of the fire of the batteries, so they double-checked where they thought the enemy artillery was, because artillery was the tanker killer. So, when the battle went off, the first thing was limited artillery and neutralise the enemy batteries that can kill the tank, as well as flood the place. With British and French aviation to frighten away the German reconnaissance artillery, reconnaissance and use smoke. Simple things like that helped get the tanks through the German lines, and I think it was up to 6 miles behind enemy lines, but for the first time, it’s a big. Well yes, and breaking that stalemate, which would be going on an eternity. – Yeah. And okay, at the end the Germans did counter-attack, and we lost a lot of men, but it straightened out the lines, but it showed what the tanks could do. And so that’s what I’ve done, there’s lots of encyclopedia type books on ‘these are the tanks’, which is the first part, but I then tried to explain the use of them and how it changed from the early, early tank battles to the later tank battles, and the differences with the French—the way they did battle, which was they swarmed, whereas we had our as in twos or threes; they did the the Renault FT swarmed through gaps on a trench and overwhelmed with numbers. I think it’s interesting that you’ve got this talking about, you know, the tactical side of it. Actually, tactics pretty much countrywide, like the the Russians was a very attack from the line of march, weight of numbers, etc. But it has stayed so much similar even to the current day. Yes, of course technology
has evolved, and with that the tactical usage of tanks has evolved. I mean, the fundamental tactics have not changed dramatically since the first time we saw them, but I thought like that. And then I got an education when I went to the Finnish Tank Museum and the director Timo, he said, ‘Because there where there after the war, we sold them to our charioteers’, which was the tank with the long-range gun, ‘and also our Comet tanks’. I, in my ignorance, thought, ‘Okay, the Comet tanks’ fast reliable, a good gun, would be the main battle tank for the Finnish army’. Wrong. They were driving school vehicles, because they were never going to attack Russia in the Cold War. But what they wanted is to have their vehicles stuck in the woods looking at the border, so if Russia ever invaded Finland, they could hopefully knock them out, change location to another location, and fire again. That was their tactics, which was totally different to a British or an American, or German Cold War type of tactics. So again, every day… – Well, I don’t know, because even my service, it was that ‘cold warish’ period but with Chieftain obviously, the very first thing that I served on. There very much are tactics where we used to crash out on a regular basis from, majority of the regiments were based in Germany, it was that, you know, supposed threat from the Russians and we used to pull out into pre-designated fire positions, and it was a static gun emplacement the Chieftain, that was the thing; very similar. Chieftain really was seen as a bit of a mobile gun platform, whereas of course now, with the advent of Challenger 1—especially Challenger 2—you’ve got this mobility as well, much greater mobility, and the reliability that goes with it. Because obviously, Chieftain was renowned as not a very particularly reliable vehicle, so that sort of changed it. But fundamentally, I mean, tactics wise, it’s always been very similar very, very similar. – And there are so many things to keep learning in this subject. You just keep on reading books and you learn all the time, people say they are an expert in tanks, they’re not. I absolutely agree. Yeah, like you say, every day you learn something new. – Yeah. They’d know… I mean, those that follow my Facebook feed, if you don’t, please just send me a friend request. I’m Craig Moore, with the one with me coming out of the the tank hatch. I put up loads of things, sometimes I will put up a question that I know the answer to, but it’s to stimulate a conversation. And every now and again, you get new information, which is a bonus. It’s good to chat about these things, because people come in different levels of knowledge. I just things like the definition of a tank. Well a tank, people have arguments about it, a tank is an armored vehicle—tracked armoured vehicle— with a machine gun. And that’s what the first one was, the actual word ‘tank’ comes from the Indian, which is a water reservoir mainly for the paddy fields or the rice fields, or for actual water. And we used it, not to fool the germs by seeing something visual; it was for code. We wanted to be able to send communication about supplies of stuff over open communication sources, and if it got intercepted, they would say, ‘We’ve got some sort of water tank coming our way’. That’s what it was originally designed for. So even the tankette, which was a new word, is a tank. It was armored and it has a machine gun. The Renault UE is not a tank, they say armored logistics vehicle, because he doesn’t have a machine gun, although it’s tracked in these armored. But then if you you sit a machine gun on it, it then technically falls within the definition. So the thing that really annoys you is when see people refer to it —it does make sense—as a tank and it is clearly not a tank. It’s just the puritist in us. – Yes. Okay, fine, you can have your definition of the tank. But yeah, going back historically, it was a tracked armored vehicle with a machine gun, and that’s what the tank was. And things change as you go along, but it’s good for these conversations. – Yeah. – Let’s talk about Hetzer. Shall we talk about Hetzer? – Really? Must we? – No, no. But again, new stuff has come recently. Recently, last year, we found documentation during the war, where that term was used in the wartime document, whereas before everybody said it didn’t exist. Again, being the international thing of social media, my colleague on Tanks Encyclopedia Luchien Stern, he went down to the archives in Romania, and it documents —in Romanian—the visit of two German senior officers to look at their tank destroyer, which looks very very similar. It begins with an ‘M’, I have forgotten what it is. And they recorded that they said that would make a good Hetzer, and then other people believe that the term Hetzer is a class of vehicle. It is there to lay in ambush and it will bait them, or it will fire and then dissapear I mean, I made the fatal mistake once on a social media channel of saying about Hetzer, and saying it means ‘chaser’ or something. – Baiter. – Yeah, ‘baiter’. Oh my word! It opened a whole can of worms. It is a great one. Be careful. But what is lovely is now, is there is new documentation of it actually being used on a wartime German strength report, and there is even going back further that the Germans were using even before this thing was built as a term for a type of vehicle. History books can get re-written, it’s just new documents are found all the time. How long did, as a non author of course, how long would you say that it took you to produce this? – That one was six months. – Which to me seems super quick. – Yes, because some of the stuff I’ve already done for Tanks Encyclopedia. – Okay, okay. – You always… you finish a book and new stuff comes along, and you want to change it, that’s the beauty of a website—you can change it when new stuff comes along. I have just been asked by the publisher, ‘Craig, can you do German stuff?’, because German books sell. – Yes. – I’ve got loads of British and Allied armour things that I want to do, but the publisher says, ‘Please can we have some german things?’. I did not want to do another Panther book or yet another Tiger book, but then again, you stumble across things in the archives. I found out that the British Army and the government needed to know how to kill this new threat, the thing called ‘The Panther’, and they captured some and they were given some by the Soviets. And they test them down that Shoeburyness and Chertsey, and I found these reports. I thought, ‘Okay, that’s not published. Let’s make a book on that’. It’s more using British scientific reports. What did the British government know at the time, not after the war, but at the time? But then how do they communicate that to the troops going to D-Day and post D-Day? What’s the best way of knocking these vehicles out? I finished How to Kill a Panther Tank, and hopefully it will be published before Christmas, or maybe afterwards. Then I’m fifty percent through the Tiger Tank One. I’m learning an awful lot, and sometimes, when you are in the archives doing more research, you find something and the hairs go up on the back of your neck. For example, I got a load of intercepts, which is the enigma intercepts of conversations going between the different German units. – Okay. And Churchill received a summary of all these intercepts every morning, and you can get access to this. So if you’re ever near Kew, it’s wonderful to just read these things. And I was looking at this bit of documents in my hand, and I suddenly realised what I was looking at. Before I go on: you’ve all seen James Bond and you’ve got ‘M’ and ‘Q’. Well, the chief of the Imperial General Staff was ‘C’, and he used green pen, Alan Brooke, and he would sign everything in green pen; Churchill would sign everything in red. And this was an intercept that came along and it talked of a Tiger tank movement. And in red it said ‘C: What is this?’, and that exact moment, on that day’s report to Downing Street, it was the first time that Churchill heard about a Tiger tank. I went, ‘Wow, I’m holding a piece of history in my hand’, and the tingles… oh my god. Again, one of those moments you want to shout to everybody in the archives: ‘Look at this, look at this, look at this! This is very important!’, but you can’t do it. Then, at the back of that, was a two-page summary the next day by Alan Brooke of the limited information they knew about the Tiger tank. Going to the Panther tank, again in the archives, I found the first contact the Allies had about what the Panther tank was—the first captured one by the Soviets. And the Canadian military Attaché was invited by the Soviets to inspect this thing, and they’ve got in the archives, the handwritten notes, measurements, of what the Panther tank was and then they’ve attached the typed one, which was sent and it tells you where. It’s all been sent to America, Canada, Britain. And then you can see those different people then translated those measurements to diagrams, drawings, and they then started their first posters, trying to push this out to the units: ‘This is the new threat, this is what it looks like, this is what we think the weak points are’. Some of the information was wrong, but it’s what they had. It was the intelligence report on that day, date, time and place, which was lovely to find and that will be in the new book, so people can see that. I went to Fort Benning and Rob Coogan out there suddenly had on his table a little leaflet, and it’s called ‘How to Kill a Panther Tank—the same name as my book. ‘What?’. What it was, was the American answer: they did a little little leaflet for the tank commanders to fit in their battle dress breast pocket. So that was great, and Rob said, ‘Yeah, please scan it’. And that will be in there, so everybody can see that. But it was interesting to go from the very find, the very very early knowledge of the Panther, which was the Soviets, and then how that was transmitted to the British and the Allies, and then what they did and how they developed it. And then, when they actually laid their hands on these vehicles, the scientific way of how they analysed the armour worked. And the German fanboys got a upset, because some of the British weapons did actually know these things out, but I’m not drawing too much conclusion. People can read the scientific reports and make their own conclusions, but it’s interesting even like the British mines; they were working at how many mines were required to knock out a track and where to place them —because we had the Mark 75 grenade and then we had the Mark 5 pressure cooker anti-tank mine—and how they reacted on different tracks. – Okay. It’s all new stuff to me. It’s very very interesting, and that’s in the book. So you’re now saying you have a greater love of German armour. Yeah, yeah. Greater appreciation. I mean, one of the things I would say to everybody is to get hold of Hillary Doyles Panzer tracks. If you can see them on the eBay, or anywhere they are, it’s the Bible, because the guys went to the Bunders archives and they got original document stuff, only it’s sometimes hard to read what I try to. – Do you mean hard to read from a technical pespective? We can understand it, we can go through it, but it is technical. You have to have a background knowledge as well, to understand what you’re reading, why they did certain things, why designs were simplified—the Allies were bombing the factories and they needed to get things out as fast as they could— why good ideas were ignored, because simplification for the need to get more tanks out working. So you need a background knowledge to understand some of the stuff that is in front of you. But they are good start and resource, good reference material, and there are again good similar sort of things for American armour as well. But it’s that love, I mean, as an army person, you get to go on museum visits. I mean, Bovington was the one we went to in the army and you get talks about, you know, different armour, and armour through the history. But even then it was this, everybody was fascinated with German armour. But I have to say, it was only a few years ago that I had the opportunity to get inside a Tiger 1, it was 131 down in Bovington—a very well-known Tiger. And I have to say, I totally understand and get why they love it so much. It was just an incredible vehicle, it was… it was swarming technology. It was, you know, there’s good things and bad things about it, but you have to say, you’ve just got to love it. There was nothing not to love about it really, every single thing. I mean, I sometimes like the quirky things, and one of my problems is I get taken off on a tangent, the Sherman is lovely—my uncle’s in there—but it doesn’t really do anything for me. People are like, ‘Oh Sherman’s are this’, they love it. Yeah. – And I should be, because I know that was my uncle’s tank, but there’s something I read—Art of the Armour and the guards Armored or the armored guards book—and one of the chapters talks about putting typhoon sixty pound rocket projectiles on the side of the turret, and I went, ‘What?’, that got me going. Tangent, stop everything, I’ve got to find out about this. Then you have to again, work out why they did it, where they got the idea from. The Canadians had it on one of their armoured cars, it didn’t work very well—it wasn’t accurate—and people see rockets on the side and, unlike modern Cold War stuff, that’s an anti-tank vehicle. This had nothing to do about knocking out tanks, and people don’t realise that. You have to put it in the context of the period that they were fighting battles. What the guards were finding going through Belgium and Holland was that the enemy were blockading the roads and a 75-pounder HE shell was not damaging, there wasn’t clearing the blockade. So the guys were going past the RAF stations and they said, ‘Can we have a couple?’, and the others said, ‘Yeah, no problem’, and they started playing around strapping them to the side. I think it’s like, one would be up at a certain angle, at 600, and where it would fire would be six hundred yards; and another one would be 800 yards and they would be fired from inside a wire, from inside the turret. So you were going up to a new village, and there’s a block a barricade at the front, you’re at 800 yards, ‘Fire!’, and these things will be area weapons. They’re not accurate, but if they hit anywhere near, it will do damage and you’ll scare the defenders to pieces, because there’s a great big explosion going on. And then they go on another 200 yards, they’ve got 600 yards, ‘Fire!’, and another salvo of these two rockets were coming out, totally unexpected. They expect HE shells or armour-piercing shells coming from the tanks, but not these great big rockets. So this was new technology and it did the job, so that’s things that I find very very interesting: problems and what the solutions were to overcome them. – So, a question I was asked to ask you, from a friend who’s in the process of writing a book—but very first book as well—and he is panicking about how well it will be received: did you ever… did it ever cross your mind—especially I suppose when it gets to the day where publishers are, ‘Here you go, here it is, ready to go out’—Craig did you think, ‘Oh, I’m really worried’? You have to have a thick skin, because there will always be people who hate it, and there will be other people that will rip it to pieces, but there’ll be an audience there. I mean, a good book that sells will be about 2,000 copies. I this year have sold four thousand three hundred, and I didn’t expect that. You don’t get rich from writing books, and because the commission rates are very very poor. – Unless it’s Harry Potter. Unless it’s Harry Potter. But you do it as a…. there’s a reference book out there, people will find it interesting. Yeah, and also, you can do it to help people; you can bring awareness to different museums. Like I, in the books, I tried to always put down where you can go and find surviving examples of this, thanks to Pierre Olivier, who does this surviving Panzer list —he’s collated all those—that’s a very good resource, and I try to include some of his work, where you can go and find all these tanks. And also, if I have visited them, I’ll include photographs on them, which helps the museum’s. So your advice for an aspiring author: ‘Just have a thick skin’. – Thick skin, don’t read the comments. It’s like, both you and I have done the top five videos at Bovington. You just don’t want to be in those videos. I mean, on mine, because I’m from London, I speak fast and I’m desperately trying to speak slow. It’s like the tank that I helped to dig up, I’ll chat about that in a minute, the Covenantor tank. But sometimes, I go it’s ‘the Coventor’ tank and most of the comments were all about ‘this guy can’t even say it!’. – I have to say, I did look at the that one and there was a lot of comments, ‘Is he pronouncing it right?’ – Yes, I’ll say it slowly, it’s a ‘Covenantor’ tank. But if I speak in London, hold on a minute, ‘We’ll go with you’. People go, ‘Wow, what did he just say?’, but in London they speak a little bit fast. But I mean, the girls that do tank stuff, like Sophie and Rita, they get lots of negative comments. You know, because there were no girls involved in that time. – Yeah, sure. But they’ve both got thick skins, they’re happy with what they do. So if you’re going to go and do anything on Facebook, on Twitch, or write a book, look at the comments but don’t take them to heart. Yes, I mean, I learned pretty quickly. After all, I mean, let’s face it, you’re going into that world you have to expect negativity, that’s the fact of life. It’s like the tank restorers, they get so annoyed with people criticising their restoration from people who don’t own to tank, don’t restore tanks, and there’s all these people being Rivit counters, picking holes in it. Well, pick holes, once you have built your own tank. And then see the problems they’re up against, and be helpful yes, but don’t be negative. One of the things that I really enjoyed getting involved with… – As you say, let’s talk about your involvement in the dig. – The dig. – The dig! It was such a wonderful experience, it’s a bit like treasure hunting. I heard that Rick Wedlocke, who had already helped restore the Cromwell tank and has rescued a few other tanks in this yard, that there was still a Covenanter tank… – Don’t worry, we’re all friends here. – …chassis buried in a pit, in a vineyard, which is now a vineyard, it wasn’t there, as a cow dairy farm was. And it was still there, and he got permission to go and dig it. And I said, ‘Can we come?’, and Wilcox and his son came along, and Frances Paulin. We went there to help as volunteers. And it was such a special day. And Rick was helping Ian Hughes, who brought his WWII wrecker, and the ability to be able to see a WWII tank being pulled out of a hole by a WWII wrecker was superb. But the story of that one was at the end of Dunkirk, the British had built this light cruiser called the Covenantor tank. Most people know the Crusader tank, very very similar. Crusader was better, had a longer chassis, the engine had more capacity for radiators in the back. The Covenantor tank design, as David Fletcher said, is one of the worst design tanks going. Yes, it had a lot of mechanical problems: there’s not enough room for the radio, the radio was put at the front, and they had armour covering it; it had all sorts of mechanical problems, which most of them were fixed by Mark 4. But yet, they still built 1,700 plus of these tanks, which is a lot for a WWII tank. And it was a very good training tank, because most regiments had them initially, until the later version, Churchills and the Shermans came over, when the troops then converted to those for for D-Day. So, it was practical and very versatile. So, yeah, ‘useless tank, useless tank’, but people don’t realise that, at the fall of France at Dunkirk, this tank was roughly about 10 miles faster than a Panzer III, which is the main battle tank of the Germans. It had a gun that could out range the 3.7 millimeter Panzer III gun. It didn’t have the 50 millimeter at that time, so it could, eight hundred yards away, it could knock it out. The Panzer III would have to be within 500 yards. And also, it could punch through the… I think it’s the 14.5 or 15 millimeter armour of the Panzer III. It had not been upgraded at that time, so when this tank came out of the factory, apart for the engine and mechanical failure, it was reasonable. It could have… if the Germans… of the invaded it… – Like the Chieftains. Yeah, if the engine worked, it would have had a reasonable chance, at that period of time. But again, and again, and again, people compare tanks out of periods. They would say, ‘Oh, the Matilda is no good against the Tiger Tank’, or ‘They didn’t fight together’. You have to compare tanks at that period. Obviously, they get out-classed and they come against the new tanks, but you have to think about the time period of when these vehicles were there, before you make a statement. Anyway, these tanks, after the regiments swapped them for the newer Churchills, the newer Cromwells and the Shermans, as they came on, they were spare. So they were given to the infantry to do training. Now, the Canadian third division was headquartered at Headley Court, which is South of London, and the troops were billeted around the area, but they did training in what they called ‘The Mole Gap’, it’s a valley between two hills on the North Downs, and that’s where they did the training. And the tanks were going up and down, and the guys would use them for training on how to then stop a tank, and they would have satchel bombs—which is roughly a satchel a bag with grenades or mines stuck in them—and the troops would be shown where to shove it, and let it explode. So one side of the tank, it was in like a pit, would damage the wheels, it would have been damaged there. And we think one point two or a two pounder shell would have been fired at it as well. There were two of them, and when the Canadians were called off to go down to the south coast and get ready to go for Normandy on D-Day, they brought the engineers that were attached to them, buried them. Canadians, nice chaps. If they had left him out there, the farmers’ cows could get cut on the rusty metal. So what they did was they just buried it, so the farmer—as soon as the Canadians are gone— could put the cows back out in the meadows. In the 1970s, the landowner had some work done, and the gamekeeper estate agency said, ‘Did you know, chaps, that in the war there’s two tanks buried down there?’, and so the guys that were doing the work asked the landowner, ‘Could we dig them up?’. So I think they dug the two tanks up, they found one, that had the turret on, and they recovered that one. That’s the one that has now been restored in Bovington. The other one they saw didn’t have a turret, and the wheels were all smashed, and they thought it was junk, so they just put the chalk back in and stamped it all down, and went off. We went down there and Rick had his, he’s a builder by trade, and he had his digger. And he got them out, and what was lovely, we got nearer, we heard the twang of metal, and the volunteers were called down. There were the trowels, and those shovels, and we could actually see the drivers’ and vision port and we could… ‘Oh we actually got at tank! This is so exciting!’, and then we roughly got the square, the rectangular shape, then the digger came and dug either side by the tracks, but what we didn’t realise is that the other side was intact: the suspension worked, the wheels went round, that was a big bonus. And we cleared the choke, and it came out. And then, the following week in Hugh’s came down with his great big Vietnam War era forklift, and we turned it sideways and got the chalk out. But lots of things would still preserve, because this chalk, it drains. And that’s at Manchester, and it’ll take a long time to restore. But the engine is out, the gearbox is out, there are specialists, and over the time, when there is enough money and time, it will be restored. And hopefully, it will be running around. – So that’s the plan, to get it all the way back to running condition. – Running condition, which would be fantastic. And again, another piece of tank history. Talking about tank history, going back to WWI, for the past year, I’ve been on like a secret project called… – Dum, dum, dum… – Project Fast Dog. – Okay. I don’t know whether you have seen Transformers: The Last Night or Wonder Woman. – Unfortunately, yes. – There’s a WWI tank in there, and that was built by Keven Jepsen and Dr. Tony cook. And it was a movie prop, so it’s slightly smaller in length than the original WWI tanks. And now there are three good WWI Mark 4 replica tanks. So Tony and Kevin thought, ‘Right, do we do a Mark 5? Because there’s no Mark 5, but what about doing something different? We’ll do a whippet, hence the project Fast Dog. So they are using the engine and the track system, and modifying it, and could be building a whippet. So hopefully that will be going around the track with the Mark 4 replica and the A7V around the main arena. And Stefan at the Swedish Tank Museum now has his German version, the 1918 LK 2, which looks very similar to our whippet. If that comes over so crazy, the topic of replicas now in our business, we come across replicas at numerous events with a few of the collectors, etc. etc. What’s your personal opinion on replicas? I hate the way that people on social media… I have a dig at the replicas, ‘Oh it’s a replica, that’s a replica’, as if it’s a waste of space. It’s not, shouldn’t be there, how dare you bring out a replica, a replica is a tour. It is a product for re-enactors, so that we can enjoy re-enactments or battles. The tanks, the replica tanks, look like the real thing near enough. Most of the people that go to these shows can’t tell the difference. It is only the enthusiasts that say, ‘Oh my god, the wheels are wrong’, and that sort of thing. But it helps to give the experience, and educates the public of what happened in the war, and I’m all for them. As some of the qualities, Harold and big 8, sure he does a lot of the stug replicas down in near Gatwick Airport, and I get invited down there or invite myself down there to his workshop. The quality of his work is amazing, they use 432s, which is a British Army / armoured personnel carrier. He takes everything out, including the engine, so they strip off, they cut off the top, they reposition the engine so the drivers positions are changed, and then he fabricates to the drawings of the original superstructure, fantastically. I mean, the one, he threw me, he said, ‘Craig, come down. We’re doing the stug E’, John Phillips’ stug is a D. I was like, ‘What? I’ve got to go back in the books and try and find out what the difference between the D and the E is. So, as an education thing for me, and he was spot-on. And the quality of the work is very very, in my opinion, is very good for a replica foot to be used at shows. And like you say, I mean, a lot of the vehicles now, we see that people love to see the originals roaming around and driving around, and tankfest is a primary example. But I’m again, I don’t think people appreciate that A, we’re not getting
parts of these things any more. Prime example, Tiger 131, they used to do it at tank fest and that they’ve cut it down the shows now, because they’ve had scans done and it’s got hairline fractures throughout it. So there is going to be a stage in its life where the Tiger 131 will have to either have a crapload of work done on it, we’ve sort of talked in big bucks, or it’s just not going to be seen anymore. – And the museums have got responsibilities for future generations, that tank has to last the next 500 years in theory, and if you’re putting it around the arena, the stress, as you say, onto this machine… it can break, and it will deteriorate a lot faster. So the decision has got to be made, you’ve gone to this arena event, what do you, use the original vehicles which can damage them? or do you use replica vehicles near near as the originals as possible? I’m very positive on replicas, I wish there were more, I mean, I try to encourage some of the guys. I haven’t got the technical skills, I’m not mechanic, and I’m amazed at that they do. I mean, I’m pleased that some of them are increasing their repertoire. Just for example, a big H again, he’s done a 15 centimeter Sig 33 which is like a stug with a box on the top, of the great big howitzer, and that sold. It went to America unfortunately. He’s doing a Marder at present, and it’s not the pretty one like John Phillips’ one, it’s the ugly one with the Russian 76 gun on the top. Brilliant, we’ll be able to see that, and it’d be nice that people are doing different things. But what about the use in movies? I mean, a prime example you saw… Probably Fury was the latest sort of big Hollywood blockbuster where they actually utilized Tiger 1-3-1, the real vehicle, in the film. And I have to say it was, you know, the response from the audience was fantastic. You’re actually using a real tank in there, it is lovely to see that, you know, compared with the Battle of the Bulge of when I was young… Yeah, I just think, exactly, the American tanks coming up here, King Tiger tanks… that’s wrong. But you’ve got the sense of the battle. There are some very very good Soviet films that Russian films at the moment of the Soviet era. Yeah, and they are using some of the collections from replicas, and they look very very good. Unfortunately, they didn’t have 12 Panzer IVs, and they were built on a modern vehicle, and they look like old not very good replicas. But it’s nice you can get good replicas, and it gives the experience of the film experience much much better. – So if you had the, let’s face it, the money and the the technical abilities are what would produce a replica. What would be your dream replica? – I suppose because of my artillery book, I’d have to have one of the… – You’re going to say a piece of artillery – SPG. – No way, no way! We’re running out time Craig, unfortunately, because I feel like I could talk to you all day. But I want to tell you, everybody, if you get the opportunity, if you haven’t already, check out Craigs books: number one, Tank Hunter WWI—fantastic read I have to say—; second one if you’re into artillery, German SPG of the Second World War; and the third one… – How to Kill the Panther Tank. That will then be followed by American Panther tanks, which is where they didn’t have these the ones that are over there, and then eventually how to kill a Tiger tank will come out. And then there will be more, there’s been more… – More for more research. Thanks very much, Craig. It is really, really kind of you to take out at your time to come and talk to us, and I really appreciate it. Thank you very much. [Music] Thank you so much for joining us. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast or follow us on social media for the next episode of Tank Nuts.