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British Army Vehicles

Things have been ticking along quite nicely these last few weeks, though it is going to get busy again. Rather relieved that my son got the prediction of another heatwave wrong, though I am missing the warmth just a little bit!

Can’t believe we’re now in September; this year has gone so quickly. At present, we have three issues left after this one – DC Collections, Rugby Union and Christmas 2021. At the time of printing, there are no other issues. That’s not to say that Royal Mail won’t surprise us with something! Would be quite nice to keep things steady for a while.

Until the next time, stay safe, stay well, and keep collecting!

British Army Vehicles (2nd Sept) consists of stamps and a minisheet, as well as stamp cards etc.

Though I’m not a huge fan of the military genre, I do have great respect for all that they do. Researching the technology behind the tanks and helicopters has been quite the eye-opener.

History of the tank

The concept of protected vehicles can be traced back through the wheeled siege towers and battering rams of the Middle Ages to similar devices used by the Assyrians in the 9th century BCE. The two ideas began to merge in the battle cars proposed in 1335 by Guido da Vigevano, in 1484 by Leonardo da Vinci, and by others, down to James Cowen, who took out a patent in England in 1855 for an armed, wheeled, armoured vehicle based on the steam tractor. But it was only at the beginning of the 20th century that armoured fighting vehicles began to take practical form. By then the basis for them had become available with the appearance of the traction engine and the automobile. Thus, the first self-propelled armoured vehicle was built in 1900 in England when John Fowler & Company armoured one of their steam traction engines for hauling supplies in the South African (Boer) War (1899–1902). The first motor vehicle used as a weapon carrier was a powered quadricycle on which F.R. Simms mounted a machine gun in 1899 in England. The inevitable next step was a vehicle that was both armed and armoured.

Little Willie

Little Willie was the first working tank in the world. It proved that a vehicle encompassing armoured protection, an internal combustion engine, and tracks was a possibility for the battlefield. In 1915 the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, created a Landships Committee to tackle the problems of trench warfare. After many experiments and false starts, an agricultural firm, William Foster & Co. of Lincoln, was contracted to build a prototype machine. Its designers, William Tritton and Walter Wilson, came up with a set of workable tracks which were fitted to the ‘Landship’ now known as ‘Little Willie,’ which is said to be an irreverent nickname for the German Crown Prince, Kaiser Wilhelm. By the time ‘Little Willie’ was built, Wilson and Tritton had already come up with an improved idea of a machine with tracks running all the way around the vehicle, which would be able to cross trenches. This would become the classic British tank design of the Great War. Thus, ‘Little Willie’ was redundant almost as soon as it was built.

Did you know…

  • Tanks were designated ‘male’ or ‘female’ according to the guns fitted.
  • The engine of a Scorpion tank is the same found in a Jaguar E-type sports car!
  • The Action Man toy tank was a replica of the Scorpion tank!
  • Against Italian opposition in N. Africa, success of the Matilda tank led it to being called ‘The Queen of the Desert.’
  • The Tank Museum in Bovington, boasts the ‘World’s Best Collection of Tanks’, with more than 300 vehicles on display.
  • Since 1945, all British tanks have been equipped with boiling vessels allowing them to make tea.
  • In 1990, the UK had around 1,200 main battle tanks in its inventory, but today it has 227, and those that remain are in urgent need of modernisation.
  • The Wildcat helicopter can travel at a maximum speed of 157 knots (180mph).
  • The name ‘Wildcat’ recalls the name given to the Grumman F4F, which was a helicopter widely used during WW2.
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