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‘Top-secret’ Cold War tank could be bought by tiny museum

PUBLISHED: 07:14 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 12 May 2020

The Norfolk Tank Museum is fundraising £60,000 to buy this Challenger 1 prototype. Picture: The Norfolk Tank Museum

The Norfolk Tank Museum is fundraising £60,000 to buy this Challenger 1 prototype. Picture: The Norfolk Tank Museum

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A rare military tank could be housed at a Norfolk museum – if staff and volunteers can raise £60,000.

Norfolk Tank Museum chairman Stephen MacHaye, pictured with a Deborah II Mk4 tank, is fundraising for a Challenger 1 prototype tank. Picture: Nick ButcherNorfolk Tank Museum chairman Stephen MacHaye, pictured with a Deborah II Mk4 tank, is fundraising for a Challenger 1 prototype tank. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Norfolk Tank Museum in Forncett St Peter has launched a fundraiser for a Challenger 1 prototype, which has so far raised more than £1,000 in three days.

The tank, which was developed in the 1980s and the first Challenger prototype tank ever built, is currently up for sale for £60,000 by a military dealer.

Museum chairman and curator Stephen MacHaye said it was a rare opportunity.

“They don’t come up for sale.” he said. “I think there were only three or four Challenger 1 prototypes built, although I’m not entirely sure as it is top secret still.

The Norfolk Tank Museum said purchasing the tank would be a brilliant community project once coronavirus is over. Picture: The Norfolk Tank MuseumThe Norfolk Tank Museum said purchasing the tank would be a brilliant community project once coronavirus is over. Picture: The Norfolk Tank Museum

“But the tank is some of the finest British engineering and an example of our leading technology when it comes to the military.

“We need to save this tank, it is part of our heritage.”

The Challenger 1 prototype, which was rescued about 20 years ago and is currently in a sales yard, was designed and built at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Leeds and used as the test-bed for the development of all Challenger tanks.

It was later used as a static target on live-firing ranges before being bought by a military dealer.

If bought, the museum hopes to strip back every nut and bolt for a full restoration, which staff estimate would take up to three years.

Restoration work would be undertaken by a team of 20 volunteers, including youngsters working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Youth Achievement Award.

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Mr MacHaye said: “It would be a fantastic project for the museum and the community to get it in full running order once coronavirus is over.

“It deserves to be in a museum enabling people to see it, and experience it. We can provide the home it needs and the expertise to restore it. It offers a great educational opportunity for young people to acquire engineering skills, whilst learning to preserve and appreciate the past.”

The tank would also complete a display of all three main battle tanks, including Chieftain and Centurion tanks, that were part of the Cold War.

To donate search for the Norfolk Tank Museum on www.gofundme.com


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