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DIY Tank Is Ready To Go Into Battle

Jon Phillips and crew with the repro Panzer III

What do you do if you’re really keen to own a rare German tank but it’s way out of your price range?

You build it yourself of course.

That’s what Jon Phillips and a group of fellow enthusiasts have done at Hoo, near Rochester, Kent.

They’ve transformed a British armoured personnel carrier into a rare Panzer 111, complete with swivelling turret, guns and radio system.

The tank will go into action with guns blazing at the War and Peace Show, which takes place at The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, from July 22 to 26.

“Tanks like this are so rare these days that you can only find them in museums,” said Jon, who runs a mobile welding business. “If you could buy one it would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. We managed to get hold of a British AFV432, which is a tracked vehicle, and completely rebuild it into a German tank.

“There were no Panzers round here to base it on so we bought a model and scaled it up from that.”

“The biggest job we had was to move the engine further back,” said Tim Bluck, an electronics engineer who installed the radio equipment aboard the tank. “It’s a massive Rolls Royce beast which is so heavy that our fork-lift, which carries two-and-a-half tons, struggled to shift it.”

Most of the plating was welded by Jon’s son Lewis, who is planning a career with the Royal Marines. He was working under the direction of Harold Marillier, an expert on German armour.

The team managed to get hold of a ring bearing from an old British Scorpion tank on which the turret sits and swivels with satisfying ease.

The tank is armed with a 50mm high velocity gun and two MG34 machine guns. They are gas operated, which creates a realistic bang and a flash, but complies with firearms regulations.

“Of course it’s not the real thing,” said Jon. “But it gives people a very good impression of what a Panzer 111 looked like and how it operated.”

It’s not the first time the team has created a rare German weapon of war. Last year they built a German StuG 111 mobile gun. After the War and Peace Show Jon plans to concentrate on restoring a four-wheel drive amphibious WW2 vehicle Schwimwagen.

More information on the War and Peace Show website




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