Tortoise Tank Archives

New Acquisition!

31st March 2017

The Tank Museum’s Archive has recently acquired an important and rare collection of 55 assembly drawings of the Heavy Assault A39 Tortoise.

Although reduced in scale, these reproductions of original drawings are presented in a 30.5cm x 39.7 cm blue folder with ‘TORTOISE’ boldly emblazed on the cover in canary yellow crayon. Included in the collection are top and side views of Tortoise and detailed drawings of the four bogie stations, gearbox, welding assembly, steering leavers and 360° traverse arcs for Besa twin mount cupola. Not only do these rare drawings fill a gap in the Museum’s collection, but it is hoped that, the information will assist the Museum’s Workshop team in maintaining this unique vehicle.   

Seen here on its last major outing driving around the arena at Tankfest 2011. The only surviving Tortoise is currently on display in The Tank Museum’s Second World War Hall. 

8535-400 TBlogA

Weighing in at 78 tons, the A39 Tortoise was the last in a series of British Heavy Assault Tank designs, originally conceived in 1943, which after a protracted development saw completion of five in 1946. Protected by 225mm of frontal armour and armed with a deadly, and accurate 32-pdr gun, which was capable of penetrating the front of a Panther at 950 yards, the Tortoise was a large, slow but formidable tank designed to overcome German fortifications such as the Siegfried Line.  Unfortunately, Post-War trials in Germany, in 1947, showed the difficulty in transporting the heavy Tortoise to the battlefield. This together with its limited operating radius of only 25 miles, and the lack of formidable defences to overcome, meant that the design was effectively obsolete and it would never see active service.