as I announced earlier, today I visited a tank festival taking place at Lešany technical museum. A word of warning first: this article is VERY picture heavy, open on mobile devices at your own risk.
As I wrote on FTR Facebook page (link’s above between the “buttons”), I had some unforseen consequences and therefore I travelled by train. The weather was shit in the morning and I was afraid it would be overcast/rainy whole day, but no, in the end, the weather turned great. The trip was uneventful, but I came a bit later than I expected and had to rush to the museum “arena” to have a look at the opening ceremony (didn’t find the best place by that time, but I did see most of what was going on).
The tank day’s “theme” was the 1938 Czechoslovak mobilization. In short: before the infamous Munich conference, nazi terror bands were already rampaging thru the Czechoslovak borderlands. In order to drive away this scum, Czechoslovak army mobilized in September 1938 and sent the nazis packing. There was a very nice reenactment scene here too, I’ll get to that. The main point was however something else:
The thing under the veil is the LT-35 light tank (you might know it from WoT under the German designation Panzer 35t), which the museum managed to restore to running condition and original appearance. Only 5 are left and this is the only running LT-35 in the world. It came back to Czech republic from America, previously, it was the property of Aberdeen proving grounds.
The tank was unveiled during the event for the first time (in the presence of Czech Minister of Defense). After the unveiling, they took it for a ride, along with another museum piece, the LT-38. The last time they were seen together like that was actually in 1943 in Russia:
Anyway, after this initial show, a “historical reenactment” took place in the arena. You might have noticed the “house” there. That was supposed to represent a Sudeten village. The German villagers, led by nazi agitators, first attacked the Czech villagers and chased them away. They also attacked the Financial Guard (basically the armed customs officers, posted on the borders also to prevent smuggling). In real life, these attacks often ended badly for the guards, they were ambushed and dragged to the Reich to be interrogated, tortured and murdered.
The army responded by mobilizing and by either chasing away or wiping out these fanatical youth nazi terror bands. The army held the borders until the Munich treason, when they were abandoned to the Germans. Sadly, I have practically no pictures, as both the videos I took and the pictures are crap, the people on them are just too small. At least to imagine how it looked: the Czechoslovak army assault:
From that point on, having learned of the crap video quality, I decided to take pictures only. Here, the reenactment ends with the surrendering of borders to Germany and their victorious arrival on board of their halftrack (actually it’s an OT-810, a Czech modified post-war copy of the German original):
After that, I decided to wander around a bit. Throughout the area, various stands were located, including the Wargaming stand, the Czech army stand and the VOP (Czech prime arms company) stand. This badass armor was a part of it (the car says “military police”):
A roar of engines drew me back to the arena, where T-72M4CZ (a Czechoslovak heavily modified and improved T-72) was being shown. Funnily enough – if you noticed the “hill” in the middle of the arena: the T-72 tried to climb that like three times and failed everytime, while the LT-35 before it did actually climb it. Needless to say, people were entertained at least. Here it is in a bit more detail:
and here it is stuck:
After that I wandered off again to look at the museum itself. The problem is, a LOT of the pictures didn’t come out nicely, because many of the vehicles/weapons are located in very dark hangars.
Here, a Lewis MG and a Czech Vzor 24 MG
This monster is a Soviet 130mm KS-30 AA gun.
Back in the arena, another rare piece was shown, the Czech AH-IV tankette:
Czech-made 500mm WW1 mortar
BRDM-2: Chemical and AAGM launcher versions
Czech 47mm Škoda A5 AT gun
German SfH 18 150mm howitzer
BA-64B (the inscription says “Forward to the West”)
Katyusha rocket launcher
M16 GMC, the “Meat Chopper”
Cromwell IV (the Czechoslovak armored unit fighting in the west with the Brits was equipped with these)
Back outside, this one’s interesting: a Czech “STROP” AA system prototype (30mm gun)
Leopard 1, notice the additional armor
Jordanian Khalid (Chieftain evolution)
Prám – a Czech self-propelled mortar project from the 80′s
Jagdpanzer 38t “Hetzer”, this vehicle is very famous, it was captured during the Prague uprising in 1945 by the Czech rebels. The symbols on its surface point towards the defense of the Czech radio, one of the most famous episodes of the uprising. It also bears the name of the fallen defenders
IS-3 (a few were brought to Czechoslovakia in the 50′s and tested)
At that point, I was finished with the exposition, bought some lunch and returned to the arena (where I managed to catch a glimpse of some poor tankette breaking down and being towed away by a tractor) and the Wargaming stand. Well… stand…. more like a tent:
There, Karlie and Tuccy (Czech community organizers) were giving out invitation and gold codes (one of each I took, you’ll have the possibility to win it in the future). At that point I ran into an old pal from EU forums (cheers, ClearEvil!) and after one entertaining episode featuring me, him and a guy from CZ forums who doesn’t like me that much, we basically waited for Challenger (EU historical expert) to appear.
Tuccy and Karlie were still giving out the codes and there was a HUGE queue (as soon as the codes ran out, pretty much everyone disappeared). To my disgust I noticed that some people were actually returning more times for more codes and in the end, there just wasn’t enough for everybody (possibly thanks to these fuckers). How
Anyway, there was some competition for T-shirts, when Challenger appeared and people were actually encouraged to ask him questions. I mean… this was another thing I didn’t get: you have a war veteran guest, who actually commanded a company of tanks in real life and was in real war, you can ask him anything – but no, everyone’s interested in those stupid T-shirts. Pffff.
In the end, I was pretty much the only one asking him stuff, so we ended up talking for like half an hour (or so), he’s a REALLY cool guy, really easy to talk to. And hell, he even talks more than me, that’s something great :) (those who know me know I NEVER shut up). If you expect tons of new game info however, I’ll disappoint you – it was more like a general chat, I knew he couldn’t disclose any game details anyway, so I didn’t ask too much.
The only actual thing I can write is that they know about the FV4202 screwup (for those who don’t follow: ingame FV4202 has totally unhistorical armor and if made historical, it would be tier 8 or so) and they are discussing the options. Not much else really, but it was a great insight into how some things in WG work and I appreciate it.
As for the Czech community staff, I kinda hoped to see Dargnon, Tuccy was cool as always and Karlie… well, she’s not my kind of person and I think that’s fully mutual. But it beats the last girl WG hired.
Anyway, all in all, it was a great day and I enjoyed it very much. If someone wants, I can pack all the pictures and videos (including the crap ones) I have into one big zip and post it somewhere, I didn’t want to spam the page totally.
Oh, and you can see more quality photos here.