This Australian Cruiser (AC) “Sentinel” armoured fighting vehicle is one of the fewer than six remaining Sentinel tanks. This tank belonged to the private collection of the late Jacques LittlefieldIt, and it was bought by Games company Wargaming.net in 2014, the group behind the online multiplayer game World of Tanks. This company has donated it to Cairns museum. Australian Armour and Artillery Museum in Cairns is the largest private collection of military vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere, and in words of Alexander Bobko, Wargaming.net head of global marketing projects, "perfect new home for the AC 1 Sentinel", News.com.au reports.
[Via ABC Far North: Mark Rigby]
This tank has a largely uncut hull, with turret, gearbox and running gear, otherwise bare inside. After war, this AC1 was reassembled at the Melbourne Tank Museum using the hull of AC1 8006 and the turret of AC1 8040. It was previously located at the Camp Mabry Museum in Austin, Texas, previously to be bought by Wargaming.net. This vehicle consists of the hull of AC1 8040 and an AC3 turret. The tank was externally restored in 2014. It now has a 17 pounder barrel in an attempt to represent the AC4 prototype; the mantlet and gun mount were fabricated by the museum.
The museum is also home to a replica of the prototype AC4 Sentinel designed by the Australian Army before the conclusion of WWII. Assistant manager of the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum Jason Belgrave "comparing the gun size on the two Sentinel tanks gave a good insight into how much technology advanced during the course of the war." "When the Germans designed better armour, somebody had to design a better gun system with a better projectile to try and penetrate it", ABC.net.au reports.
AC E1 development vehicle with a test turret and 17 pounder gun [Via - Australian War Memorial under the ID Number: P03498.010]
Wargaming.net is well known for reaching deep into military history and rescuing or refurbishing wartime tanks and planes for museums around the world, in part due to a corporate policy of supporting education and partly because of a demand for historical accuracy coming from their player base, Sunshine Coast Daily reports.
Tracy Spaight, Director of Special Projects at Wargaming.net, told to this newspaper "Wargaming is passionate about history." "We work with museums and nonprofits around the world to make sure that the vehicles of World War II are preserved for future generations. We are thus excited to bring the Sentinel tank back to Australia, where she was built, so that Australians can rediscover this piece of their country's WWII heritage."
The Australian Cruiser tank Mk. 1 (AC1) was the only WWII tank to be produced en masse in Australia, with 65 units having rolled off production lines by 1942. It was the first tank to be built with a hull cast as a single piece. The few Sentinels that were built never saw action. The completed Sentinel tanks were used for evaluation purposes only and were not issued to operational armoured units. They could seat a crew of five and came with a two-pounder tank gun and a pair of .303 Vickers machine guns. Weighing 28.4 tonnes and moved by three Cadillac V8 engines to a top speed of about 48km/h
The Australian Cruiser tank programme was terminated in July 1943 believing it better for Australia to put the effort spent on the AC tanks towards building her own railway locomotives and supporting the large number of US tanks due to arrive.The tanks that had been produced were placed in storage until the end of the war. The major part of them were sold, mostly for agricultural use.
[Via: Rocket Chainsaw]
As Townsville Bulletin reported on Saturday, February 2, 1946, "Sixty-five Australian cruiser tanks which cost about £40,000 each to build about a year ago, may not bring £40 each on the civilian market. The tanks nave been described as Australia's greatest engineering victory, and among the world's best. They are on the war surplus list, and are to be sold by public tender by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. In 1942, when Australia was in danger of Invasion. It was decided to build a purely Australian tank. Its outstanding feature was the cast steel, non-riveted hull and gun turrets. The hull was cast in one massive piece of armoured plate. This distinctive feature of the tank is now one of its greatest drawbacks in conversion to a peacetime machine. So far, the Disposals Commission has not found any civilian use to which the tank can be put, but a Melbourne firm is investigating the possibility of cutting up the armoured portlon for use as base plates for heavy machinery. The tanks, which weigh 26 tons each, are powered by three Cadillac V8 110 horsepower engines."
Wargaming has indeed taken the opportunity to re-create the Sentinel tank in World of Tanks as well, as it is now available for PC players and World of Tanks Blitz gamers. If you’d like to see the genuine article, you can visit the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum at 1145 Kamerunga Road, Smithfield in Queensland, open 7 days 9:30am-4:30pm.