TLDR: Got video in a Walker Bulldog and Photo Album with tanks and had the best time ever since I sat foot in the UK! 15/10 recommending everyone to attend Wicksteed at War next year!
I’ve waited until now to share this with you. The first footage of the first event I attended this year is finally coming out. Check me out being driven in a Walker Bulldog with TankNutDave:
For those unaware TankNutDave works for Obsidian and is also involved in publicity stunts, military vehicle projects and teaches civilians and MoD how to drive tanks and is one of the organisers of one of the biggest British annual tank shows.
At the military installation, seems like he liked me enough and invited me to attend Wicksteed at War, an event in which he was one of the organisers.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from Wicksteed at War, was only told to bring a tent and that I would perhaps have the opportunity to be driven in one tank, oh boy…my expectations were greatly exceeded!
Travelling to Kettering, if you live in the UK and have London between, can be a bit of a hassle, it took me a few exhausting hours and 6 train changes including London Underground to get there (I suggest going around London to Birmingham for example and then to Kettering if you want to avoid the bigger mess) but by car it’s fairly easy to get there. Oh, and to those interested in going by train, the distance between the train station and Wicksteed is fairly short and there are taxis at the entrance. 🙂
For those interested in attending the event, the entrance is free but parking costs £6 maximum and if you are interested in spending the night camping, I asked Tim Hawkes, another event organiser, for details:
“The campsite is open to all and needs to be booked via Wicksteed park themselves. One night is about £25. If you are planning to get a lot of people there we can discuss a special area, rate etc. In terms of conditions you will find these on our website (wicksteedatwar.co.uk) in the visitor information section.”
When I arrived there on Friday before the event started, there was only a T-55 to be seen, most of the armoured vehicles were due to arrive in that day so I got to explore the place around a little bit and its lovely, one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in this country.
May have walked a good hour or 2 just enjoying the place around until I got warned that the vehicles were arriving, rushed back and they had the usual Half-Track and armoured car subjects but I got really excited and felt like a kid in a candy store when I saw the tanks that were arriving, Wicksteed may not be as big as TankFest but you get to see tanks that Bovvy doesn’t show and I got really over excited because TankNutDave kept offering me the chance of getting on and in every single tank that was being driven!
First one I got be in was a Centurion Mk. 10, its not the first time I’ve seen one but perhaps some of you may remember, last year at the Isle of Wight I was offered the chance of being driven in a Centurion but I decided to give the opportunity to TheMighty Jingles instead because I knew that would be getting much more opportunities than him to be in tanks and I know how much he loves his Centurion in World of Tanks, so I was thrilled to finally be able to be in this tank.
I also had the chance of getting inside in an amazing Panzer III replica, I’m very happy that some of you already managed to spot what the replica is made of actually, basically the owner of the vehicle got an FV432 and modified it to look like a Pz. III, the details are very nicely done on the outside, with some proper sideskirts and most eyes would have a problem detecting this thing was actually an APC. Its engine is in very good state, when its owner took me for a spin he pushed hard on the gas and it went way faster than all of the FV432s I’ve driven, I think I may have screamed in excitement at that point… The only downside of this replica is that the engine is exposed on the inside, if you are driving this vehicle you won’t have a problem because of the airflow but whoever is in the commander’s hatch will get all the fumes. 10/10 would do it again but only for a short period or with a gas mask. 😀
What else, oh yes of course, the Walker Bulldog which I posted at the beginning of this article, this tank, in particular, I never had seen one in real life, I had seen “cousins” like the M18 Hellcat in the Netherlands at Overloon museum and got to be driven on and in it twice, the owner of the vehicle, Warwick Boulton, is a really nice gentleman, he took extra care to ensure I was as comfortable as possible on this vehicle. There was also an M36 Jackson but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to be much around that vehicle, it arrived later than the others but I did take photos of it firing blanks for the arena show.
-For those who have kids, need to point out, thought the day (Friday before event starts) Educational talk and demonstrations are given to the younglings.
- Over 200 schoolkids were taught how tanks work.
That first day had gone by pretty quickly, although I knew no one else but Dave and Tom Dooley at the event and both were pretty busy keeping things running I was quickly welcomed by the rest of their group, they were camping all together in an agglomeration of military green canvas tents and you could see they are used to this type of thing, they had an interesting system, besides normal sleeping tents they also had a tent with a fully operational kitchen (run by a lovely Melissa) and another serving as “operations room” where they did paperwork and chose beforehand which vehicles to take into the arena.
At night, went to the pub with a friend and after having to use “Ritanian tactics” to dissuade a soldier who was attempting to get a tad too close (friend was in guarding/warding off squaddies duty too), everything went wonderfully. Also, had my first gin ever, prepared by the best. That night felt pretty great if I may tell you. 🙂
On Saturday and Sunday!
Weather was very good most of the time, I actually became sunburned, the vehicles for the arena were already chosen the night before so it was just a matter of getting them lined up in time. Wicksteed at War not only displays tanks but also trucks, 4x4s and all other sorts. Dave and John Griff (from BBC) were giving commentary/hosting and did a fantastic job and so did the lads that were responsible for keeping the vehicles coming into the arena.
I personally spent my time taking photos and meeting/greeting some of you and although was just invited to be present I did try to help the organisers around every time they needed.
Saturday night! There was a 40’s themed party so for the first time I decided to trade my boots and pants for a Blue Polka Dot dress and some tiny lady shoes. Had no idea 40’s themed parties were such fun and immediately fell in love with them! I’m even going as far as trying to learn to dance for the fast paced music. Was in good company the entire night and slow danced to the last song with a nice gentleman.
And I saved best for last, I actually got the opportunity to be driven in the arena in a Scorpion but not just that… I absolutely positively outfuckingstandingly fired its 76 mm gun! Have Go-Pro footage of it and will be posting it soon!
It had been years since I had camped and this was my first time experiencing a military history show like this, I was supposed to stay only one night and ended up extending my stay until the end, don’t take me wrong, I love The Tank Museum for all the doors they have open to me and I absolutely adore TankFest although I’m unable to enjoy it like most people as I’m busy meeting and greeting all of you (2 consecutive years attending and never managed to see the arena show) but I never imagined that this much fun could be had around tanks. I kid you not but I had the best time ever since I’ve been in the UK and one of the best times of my life at Wicksteed at War 2016.
I can’t thank enough TankNutDave for inviting me over, he’s awesome! And to all the organisers for being so warm. Will be there next year most definitely!
Notes of interest:
- The bathroom installations in the area are very good, they are private, kept very clean and there are even bigger rooms for families.
- Also for those staying camping, if you have kids, the event takes place inside of a theme park so there are plenty of places to keep the kids busy.
- For those who are coming in adult groups, the park also offers a pub. Dressing up to the decade is an option.
- On Saturdays there’s a 40’s themed party!
- There’s food and market stalls.
- Plenty of space.
My photo album: