There is something quite exhilarating about strapping oneself into 26.5 tonnes of lethal armour, powered by a noisy high 500 horsepower V12 diesel powering the clanking caterpillar tracks.
Subtle? No. One would never say the classic Soviet WW2-era T34 (Medium Battle Tank) was subtle.
When it burst on to the battle fields of the Soviet Union during the Second World War, it won accolades from its Nazi foes who described it as ‘the finest tank in the world’ and ‘vastly superior’ to its German built counterparts. Its’ role on the Eastern Front cannot be overstated, produced in huge numbers (more than any tank of its time), suffered huge losses (more than any tank of its time) and ended up being the second most successful tank of all time, by production numbers.
So, is it scary? Very much so. Imagine being on the receiving end of its 76.2 mm tank gun (the largest bore size at the time) and you will soon respect your adversary.
But, is it fun? Now there is a conundrum.
The T34 was designed to dominate the land battle – a big, fast, crushing, terrible behemoth spouting flames from the barrel at the front and diesel fumes from the back.
But fun? You betcha!
There was something exhilarating about being driven inside the Soviet tank as it crashed through the underground. You can easily imagine gunners firing the cannon shells at targets, with the resultant explosion and booms. The photographs and uniforms were good fun although so much vodka early in the day, the de rigour for some, was an acquired taste for someone who had not seen active service in the Soviet military.
How could I do this?
Well, Russia is full of entrepreneurs and since tanks are so much fun and the Soviet Union had so many…the two came together and we can now ‘hire a chauffeur-driven Soviet tank. As a group of amateur ‘tankers’ we will be introduced to the greatest iconic armoured vehicle of the Second World War. We will get a tour of this vehicle and many other military types before trying our hand as Tank Commander of 26 tonnes of prime Soviet engineering.