I think that I will have too much time on my hands during my late summer trip to London. I discovered this semi-bucket list activity. Has anyone attended one of the tank driving schools/experiences in the UK such as Armourgeddon in Lutterworth, Leicestershire? For 100 to 200 GB pounds one takes an half or full day class on how to drive a 15 ton tank and then gets to take it out for a spin, load the cannon, and maybe crush a car for another 500 pounds (too rich for me). What was your experience like? Does your real life experience match the hype of the web site?
Driving a tank is not especially exciting once you catch on to the lever and pedal idea. Saying you've squished a car might be. I've never done it on a playground. Most of the things depicted on the web site were not tanks even though they has a top-mounted gun.
Ed: Thanks for your comments. You are correct when you say that the vehicles shown on most web sites are not actually tanks - they are armoured personnel carriers. However, the school in Southampton lets one drive a number of vehicles including a 70 ton main battle tank, and some other place has a heavy Russian tank.
A 15 ton vehicle isn't going to be a tank, which I think you and Ed have already figured out. Sounds like an armored personnel carrier or something similar.
As an example, an Abrams main battle tank (depending on the model) is 60-70 tons.
As someone who got to drive a main battle tank, for free courtesy of the US Army, I will second Ed's comment that driving one is not as exciting as you might think--in the driving compartment, you're not in the compartment where the main gun and other exciting hardware is. Also, your vision in the driver's compartment is limited, since you're well down inside the front slope of the tank.
Now loading the main gun, of an actual main battle tank with a big gun instead of some little cannon, would be more fun. Not as good as firing off a round--now that was exciting.
Excitement on a tank:
. hitching a ride on the back to go snoop at something out in the middle of a potential mine field
. bumping an ap mine just right so it blows a track off and throws hitchhiker ass over teakettle into the weeds
. tiptoeing rapidly back back to the flying machine yelling at the copilot to get the sucker fired up in order to haul tail before the higher ups get wind of acute unauthorized goofing off
I've also thought of that as a "bucket list activity" but at this point it's not high on the list. I've done a bit of preliminary research on firms in the U.K. offering that type of experience. One that I found that offers the "crush a car" activity uses a 55-ton Chieftain main battle tank at a current cost of £445. They get the drivers "warmed up" in a lighter APC and other armoured vehicles, and then the main event takes place after lunch. If your wife or others travelling with you want to witness the fun, they get nicked a "spectators fee" of £30 each, which I believe includes lunch.
One of my relatives used to drive Warrior APC's in the Army, and I'm going to ask him about this to get some idea on what the experience might be like. Unless I win the Lottery, this would be a bit of a "stretch" for my travel budget. Another bucket list activity that I've looked at is a tandem jump with the Red Devils Parachute team, but they require a minimum "donation" of £500 for that experience. That would also be above my budget and their 210 lb. weight limit would be an issue too.
Thanks for your responses. As has been suggested by your posts, some of these "tank" driving schools in reality only let you drive an armored personnel carrier. The tank museum in Bovington has an all day program, offered once a year and priced around $400, where one gets to "drive" a tank. However, this means being the commander of an actual tank, not the driver, and being the driver of an APC. So I will be looking for a school that offers an actual tank experience at a reasonable cost. The biggest obstacle for doing this is getting from the local train station to the actual location of the tanks. I do not want to spend a fortune in taxi fares getting to and from a remote farm. Tank driving schools aren't located in the heart of a city.
You might want to check and see if the place down on the Isle of Wight is still in business.
There is a place just out of Budapest where you can take a T-55 for a spin-James has posted about that and it certainly looked entertaining, if you are ever going that way.
Forgive me in advance but this was the first thing that came to mind when I read this post!
Our beloved former governor had a charity fundraiser...
Arnold and his tank
So off topic but I couldn't resist!
I have decided to commit a half day to the tank driving school that is located just outside of Winchester. For the equivalent of theater tickets to about four West End plays I will have three and one half hours to drive a 55 ton main battle tank, a self propelled gun, an armoured personnel carrier, and a militarized all terrain vehicle. I was planning to visit Winchester anyways - the Winchester Cathedral and the Gurkha museum - so the school will be a fifteen minute taxi cab ride from the city center. The "crush a car" option is too expensive for me. [Note: I still plan on attending one or more West End productions: Open or 39 Steps]
In addition to the Gurkha museum, you may find it interesting to have a look at museums for other Regiments there. As I recall, there are five Regimental Museums at Peninsula Barracks, including the Rifles (formerly Royal Green Jackets) which one of my relatives used to belong to. One of the predecessor Regiments of the RGJ is the Ox & Bucks, who landed at Pegasus Bridge and other locations in Normandy during WW-II.
While in Winchester, also have a look at King Arthur's Round Table, which is in the Great Hall. The Hall is closed for special functions at times, but you can check the website for opening and closing times.
Thanks for the tip. I was also planning to visit the regimental museum of the Green Jackets - they march at a pace that is so fast while playing their instruments that one thinks that the film reel is being shown at fast speed - but didn't mention this because it would not be on the radar of most folks. Even mention of the legendary Gurkhas beings blank stares from most people. I am glad to hear that they are housed in the same area if not the same building. I am looking forward to this.
It's quite a spectacle to watch them march at 140 paces per minute with a 15" stride (regular Army is 120 paces with an 18" stride). THIS video provides a short example (somewhat of an amateur production, but not too bad). One of the songs associated with the RGJ is called High On A Hill and it's one of my favourites.
One interesting bit of trivia regarding the Ox & Bucks. The actor Richard Todd was in the Parachute Regiment and fought in the Normandy campaign. His group landed near Pegasus Bridge to reinforce Major John Howard (Ox & Bucks), who had landed earlier by glider. Richard Todd played Major Howard in the movie The Longest Day, and his part during the operation was played by another actor in the movie.
As I recall, the RGJ and Gurkha museums are both in the same building.