It has to be said there's something about being in a tank that brings the big kid out in all of us. But what is it like inside one of these things? Well despite being big and robust on the outside, conditions inside for the driver are often cramped and pretty dark - especially when the hatch is closed!
Take the FV432 Armoured Personnel Carrier for example. There's the driver's hatch right at the front of the tank. Climb in and you'll find your knees are pretty much up against the two main control levers (yep, it's levers rather than a steering wheel!) and the speedo is mounted next to you at thigh height. As for the seat, well there's no back rest on it and it's more like a little leather stool you perch on. Still, comfort probably wasn't high on the list of priorities when these battle zone machines were designed by Leyland.
Of course, trundling along when you can see where you're going is one thing, but if you go into full assault mode and the hatch is closed, you'll suddenly find yourself closed in this full metal jacket of military sturdiness, being bounced around and trying to keep the APC in a vague straight line. And did we mention the noise? It's a full martial orchestra of whirring, clunking and screeching combined with the bursts of fumes from the exhaust.
The one tank we've all heard of is the Chieftain. This was an essential piece of kit for many of the British Army bases around the country for three decades before being replaced by the Challenger I. After being retired in 1995, many of them were demobbed and sold off by the Ministry of Defence, which is why you can get to have a go at the controls of one today.
Being a main battle tank it not only does it look the part, it is the part. Going into battle these boys were equipped with the full monty of weaponry including the main armament in the form of the highly accurate firing power of the L11A5 120mm rifle gun mounted on the 360 degree rotating turret and two L7 machine guns. As for the onboard crew of four, the driver is pretty much lying down to operate the tank when it's hatch closed, whilst the commander, loader and gunner hold positions in the turret ring.
Of course, you won't be firing off any ammunition on these experiences, but some of our operators do offer you the chance to actually demolish a car which is pretty satisfying. The FV4201 (the official name for the Chieftain) will make mince meat of the vehicle. As you slowly but very surely roll up to the car you'll suddenly hear the crack of glass and the bending of metal as you just bust your way through, leaving a rather flat looking mass of scrap in your wake. Now that's what we call road rage revenge!
With all this thrilling full-tracked action in the mud and dirt, it's no wonder our tank driving experiences are best sellers. With tank operators the length and breadth of the UK offering everything from 55-ton monsters to nippy Self Propelled Guns for your to drive, we think you will love getting stuck in with the ex-Army boys (many of the instructors are retired soldiers) and kicking up a storm in your tank.