Originally posted 30/10/2016
Commencing several years ago, the Friends carried out a great deal of research on the feasibility of constructing a full-size working replica Great War tank, with a view to demonstrating it at public events.
After several trips to Bovington Tank Museum for research, and many painstaking hours of hard work on a PC, drawings were produced of a sponson of the type fitted to Mark IV tanks.
In order to validate the design work without incurring a large financial outlay, it was decided to construct a replica left-hand Mk IV sponson in a suitable lightweight material, in place of steel. MDF was selected as being the most appropriate material for the purpose.
The MDF body was reinforced with a light aluminium framework to provide a robust and rigid structure, and great care was taken to ensure the detail was as close to the original as possible. For instance, rivet details were manufactured by casting a rivet in polyester material, the pattern being taken from a genuine Mk IV tank rivet . Vision slits and the machine gun port were faithfully replicated, and the ball mount for the Lewis gun, made in glass fibre, is able to function as in the real machine. Since these pictures were taken, a replica main gun has been made in wood, and the sponson is now complete.
Unfortunately, the time, effort and expense involved in making this replica of just one part of a tank, together with the anticipated difficulties of storage, transport and insurance of a complete machine, drew the Friends reluctantly to the conclusion that it was not practical to take the full project any further, but the completed sponson is now often displayed at public events, where it always attracts a great deal of interest.