Tank Museum acquires replica Mark IV World War I Tank from Steven Spielberg's War Horse

By Richard Moss | 10 January 2012
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a photo of an early Mark IV British tank
The replica War Horse Mark IV acquired by the Tank Museum
The Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset has acquired the working replica World War I tank used in the hit Stephen Spielberg movie War Horse.

Fully operational, the meticulous copy of a British Mk IV is set to go on display at the museum when the film is released later this week. It will also be a star attraction in Tank-fest, the Dorset-based Museum's popular working tank displays later in the year.

The tank was based on the museum's own example of a Mark IV and built by OSCAR award-wining special effects company Neil Corbould Special Effects LTD, following several visits to the museum in 2010.

"The vehicle is a wonderful re-creation with all the presence and menace of the real thing," said museum curator David Willey. "But inside, it remains simple and modern."

Built around the engine, transmission and track from a modern commercial excavator, the special effects company, which also has credits on Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, studied original documents relating to the Mark IV held in the Tank Museum archive.

a photo of a horse rearing in terror as a tank approaches it
© DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC
The tank makes a brief appearance in the movie, which is the latest adaptation of the popular children's novel by Michael Morpurgo, telling the moving and harrowing tale of a horse and its relations with the various people it meets before and during the course of the First World War.

The movie connection is going to be a draw, but for the museum the replica offers a perfect solution to the need for a working World War One tank.

"We obtained this replica because with the World War One centenaries approaching, we wanted a working example of a tank that was representative of that conflict," added Willey.. 

"For conservation reasons, we are no longer able to run any of our own vehicles from this period. We have long been investigating the possibility of building our own replica, so when this vehicle became available to us we were eager to acquire it."

Tank Fest runs at Bovington Tank Museum on June 31 and July 1 2012. See the Tank Museum website for details.
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