Monday, 10 October 2011

The World's Beardiest Tank Crew

This post is only loosely related to wargaming, but was such great fun its worth a mention. With the great lodestone of my 40th birthday (too) rapidly approaching I spent a chill sunday afternoon at Armourgeddon (can you see what they did with the name - nice punt!).

Its in Leicestershire, and as well as paintballing and tank driving, the site also run 'tank paintballing', in converted FV-432s (of which they have a dozen runners!). So, I signed up with my brother and friend Russ, and we spent an hour at driver, gunner and loader training, before commencing battle. It was spectacular good fun, 17 tonnes of APC to play with in a big muddy field. Having completed the training course (and each scored 2 hits from 3 on the firing range), we then retired for a pre-battle brief, a tea and to select our best positions as crew. Russ was to be driver (not being 6'4"+ he fitted best in the driver's seat). Ken would be the turret aimer/commander, whilst I was the loader/gunner. As the last team of the day our opponents were to be the site instructors - so not much hope of victory then! But what the hell, we were only firing 40mm paintballs at each other, so no armour-piercing shells would be ripping through the APC to dismember us, and we could all go home afterwards.

The battle game was a 'best of 12 shots' affair. Both vehicles had to race between 6 firing points and engage the enemy with 2 shots from each. At the end the hits would be totalled up to get a winner. The pressure was on, but to be inside a hot, loud, bouncing AFV, with the commander issuing his instruction to the driver, Ken traversing the turret and elevating the gun and me racing to reload as fast as I could to be ready to fire on command was superb.

Twenty minutes in battle flew by in about 30 seconds. In the end the 'impartial' instructor scored it 9 hits to us, 7 to the other instructors, so we won (but I think they let us!). Their last shot hit our turret square in front of me, so soberingly, I'd have been a-goner...

We went away buzzing and happy as Larry. Russ was ready to sign-up for the Royal Armoured Corps, and as well as the battle we had a good mooch through the storage sheds too, where they keep some restored vehicles (mostly WW2).

It wasn't cheap at £87 for 2 hours, but as a one-off birthday treat it was brilliant. The site have bought a Sherman and are restoring it, so if they ever get it running and offer Sherman driving days I'll be going back.

Some photos of the day follow.

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