Royal Australian Armoured Corps Tank Museum at “Pucka”

The Armoured Corps of most nations armies originally started as horse borne cavalry units. With the introduction of the tank  in World War One by the British who first used Mark I tanks on the Somme battlefield in France on September 15th, 1916 the face of warfare changed completely (they were introduced to break the back of trench warfare). Cavalry units began converting to the armoured role (machine guns and armoured vehicles made men on horseback just too vulnerable).

A British Mark I tank on the Somme Battlefield in 1916
A British Mark I tank on the Somme Battlefield in 1916

The first tank on tank battle did not occur until April 24th, 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux in France – this was due to the fact that the Germans did not deploy their first tank the A7V until March 21st, 1918 and had produced only 20 by wars end on November 11th, 1918.

A German A7V tank during World War One
A German A7V tank during World War One

From its introduction, tanks were just there to assist the army, but by World War Two and the onset of the German Blitzkrieg the importance of the tank in battle as a striking force and as an army in itself, was never better understood. Today the armoured corps is an integral fighting arm of any nation.

German Panzer Korps 1940
German Panzer Korps 1940

The Australian cavalry has a long history dating back to the Boer War and World War One, but the Royal Australian Armoured Corps was not officially formed until 1941. Prior to this date the Australian Army did first operate armoured cars in 1916 during World War One (Sinai and Palestine campaigns) and tank units were first formed in late 1920’s/early 1930’s using the British designed Vickers Medium Tank.

Vickers Medium Tank Australian Army
Vickers Medium Tank

During World War Two the Australian Army operated British, American and home designed armoured vehicles such as the M3 Grant and Matilda II tanks. These tanks were primarily used in the Middle East and Pacific War.

The Australian designed Sentinal medium tank of WW2
The Australian designed Sentinal medium tank of WW2
M4 Sherman tanks
M4 Sherman tanks
M3 Grant
M3 Grant
Matilda II  tank Australia Armoured Corps
Various models of Matilda II tanks were deployed in WW2

After that war the line of heavy Main Battle Tanks included the British Centurion (operated from 1952 to 1977 including service in the Vietnam War), the German Leopard (1976 to 2007 – we had quite a variety of these as you can see in the photos) and now the mighty US designed M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (the first tank was delivered in 2006).

Centurion bulldozer tank RAAC
Centurion bulldozer tank
Centurion MBT Australia
Centurion MBT
Centurion bridge layer and a Centurion bulldozer tank
Centurion bridge layer and a Centurion bulldozer tank
Leopard MBT Royal Australian Army
Leopard MBT
Leopard training tank Australia
Leopard training tank
Leopard recovery and repair tank Australia
Leopard recovery and repair tank
Leopard with a mine removal device
Leopard with a mine removal device
Royal Australian Armoured Corps M1A1 Abrams
Royal Australian Armoured Corps M1A1 Abrams (Photograph by LSIS Andrew Dakin
1st Joint Public Affairs Unit)

More than 70 armoured vehicles along with cannons, other weaponry, artefacts and uniforms are on display at the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) Tank Museum at the Puckapunyal Army Base in Victoria. These displays show not only equipment operated by Australia and her allies but also includes tanks from former Cold War foes and neutral countries along with captured equipment and tanks from World War Two (German and Japanese), the Vietnam War (Chinese built tanks and armoured vehicles) and the Iraq War (tanks and armoured vehicles).

A Mk.I male tank
A Mk.I male tank (mock-up) at “Pucka”
A captured German WW2 75mm anti-tank gun and 88mm anti-aircraft gun
A captured German WW2 75mm anti-tank gun and 88mm anti-aircraft gun
Captured Japanese WW2 Chi-Ha tank and Type 97 Tankette
Captured Japanese WW2 Chi-Ha tank and Type 97 Tankette
M-24 Chaffee light tank
U.S. M-24 Chaffee light tank
A former East German T-72
A former East German T-72
A captured Iraqi T-62
A captured Iraqi T-62
Swedish Stridsvagn 103 tank destroyer
The unique Swedish Stridsvagn 103 tank destroyer
Saladin armoured car
Saladin armoured car
M113 Fire Support vehicle Australian Armoured Corps Puckapunyal
M113 Fire Support vehicle
M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier Royal Australian Armoured Corps
M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier
LAV-25 APC
LAV-25 APC

I have been visiting Puckapunyal or “Pucka” as it is also known, since I was a kid and there is always something new there to see. I always enjoy visiting the museum and have now taken two of my little nephews who loved it! As it is an active military base you must have a valid Government ID and you are only allowed to visit the museum area of the base. The tank museum is well worth a visit if you are ever near the Seymour area of Victoria.

Centurion MBT near a parade ground in Puckapunyal Army Base
Centurion MBT near a parade ground in Puckapunyal Army Base
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Gordon Mason says:

    I would like to contact Major John Baines on his email site to find out my fathers light horse unit ww2, could he please email me for my father details I have.

    1. Deano says:

      Hi Gordon, if you have not already checked on the National Archives of Australia this may help http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/explore/defence/service-records/

      1. Gordon Mason says:

        Hi Deano,
        I was at a Defence Abuse Taskforce Conference, My Defence representative was Warrant Officer Class 1 Don Spinks from Canberra
        requested me to have direct contact with Major John Baines an email
        address to see if he may help to find my father’s Army number, light horse unit WW2 CMF. Australian territories service. I only have his birth, death certificate and black and white photograph showing his shoulder patch. He resided in Lithgow and Sydney NSW.

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