This series of photographs were taken of the Queensland Museums A7V tank on 15 October 2000. The tank was brought to Brisbane as war booty at the end of WW1 and has been in the possession of the museum most of the intervening period. For many years it sat outside the old museum building, under a roof, but otherwise unprotected from the elements, with the guns and some other fittings removed and stored elsewhere.
With the completion of the new museum in the early 1980's she was moved to an undercover location outside the new museum proper, but otherwise more or less untouched. More recently the Museum has conducted a major preservation (*not* restoration) project which included replacing those removed parts which could be found, and the vehicle was moved to a sealed glass display alcove, inside which these photos were taken.
Modellers and students of armour should note the following:
Mephisto was manufactured as a "female" with all Machine Gun (MG) armament, and remanufactured as a "male" with the addition of the Nordenfeldt cannon. The easiest way to distinguish the modified tanks is that the gun mantlet appears as if rotated 90 degrees from those of tanks originally manufactured with the cannon. This is the original gun.
Only two of the heavy MG's are original. the others are dummies made by the Museum staff.
The tank was severely damaged in a demolition attempt by the Germans prior to capture. This destroyed much of the top decking forward of the drivers position and bent the remainder of the cooling louvres outwards. No attempt has been made to repair this damage other than the bending down of the damaged louvres which was done before the tank was shipped from France. However, the drivers position had been partly dismantled at some point, and missing plates and detail have been mocked up by museum staff to match photos of the captured tank.
The paint work is not original but is as authentic as possible. I have access to a Kodachrome taken over 30 years ago in which the tank was painted dark green overall, presumably one of many protective coats during the period the tank was displayed in the open. During the recent preservation the tank was stripped back layer by layer and repainted in colours indicated by analysis of the original paint. Seen on *my* computer screen they appear much as they do to the eye, but as this varies from PC to PC you may see the colours differently.
The camouflage includes quite a lot of fairly pale slightly blue grey. I questioned this and was shown a pile of period photos of trench assaults - with no tanks. Without exception there's a *lot* of smoke and (maybe) gas, so the cloudy camouflage is quite probably based on the likely presence of smoke.
The tank is displayed in a "diorama" on a mud base with barbed wire, empty cartridges and various period detritus, and surrounded by a series of story boards about the capture and preservation of the tank. Most of the above information is gleaned from these, and any errors are more likely my fault than the Museums. The Museum publishes a small soft cover book complete with large scale plans of the exterior and interior which provides much additional information and is highly recommended.
The photos were taken with a Nikon digital camera from outside the glass case. In order to reduce reflections and still use the flash I needed to be hard up against the case - and because of the close proximity of the tank it is not possible to take large overall views even with the lens set to the widest angle.
Nor is it possible to photograph successfully with a polarizing screen to reduce these reflections. The tank's case is just too dark.
Some of the photos still show reflections. These include palm fronds and a T-Rex. The fronds are real, and the T-Rex is fibreglass - but I still think the juxtaposition of this iron dinosaur and the plastic one is quite entertaining
I am willing to attempt to get further detail photos if anyone wants them. Bear in mind that the glass is a pain in the butt, and that the top of the tank and left side are nearly impossible to see. Also bear in mind that I may take some time to get to the Museum to take photographs despite working under two miles away!