Military machines on manoeuvres at The Classic and Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel

By Sarah Edwards at

Asplendid array of military machinery will be on parade at The Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel, to be held at Bicester Heritage on June 23/24. Show visitors can really get up close and gauge the size and strength of tanks and armoured vehicles from WW2 to the mid-1970s, and experience that military might first-hand with a tank ride.

In an action-packed weekend, the event also features track demonstrations from world-class historic racing cars and motorcycles (some over 100 years old), plus air displays from vintage aircraft including the unforgettable Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire/Hurricane/Lancaster trio.

Image: Crown Copyright

Among the military stars of the Show will be a very special 1942 M3 Grant Tank. This particular machine was used as a target to secretly test captured German ammunition to allow the Allied Forces to improve armoured protection on their vehicles. It took thousands of hits in its vital research role, and is still peppered with countless bullet holes because owner Carl Brown has chosen to keep it in a highly original condition, complete with rust. However, it still runs and will take to the tank arena at the Show.

Image: Amy Shore Photography

You can’t have a live-action tank display without a Sherman, and the 1943 M4A1 due to appear at the Show is a splendid example of the main Allied tank from WW2. The Isle of Wight Tank Museum rescued it from a range and began a restoration that featured in the Tank Overhaul TV programme. Work stopped when funds ran out and Jez Marren stepped in, bought the tank and began a four-year restoration. Powered by a Continental R975 nine-cylinder radial engine – as used in certain US fighter planes – it features a 75mm main gun, two Browning 30 calibre machine guns and a B50 calibre machine gun.

Image: Chris Byrne

The tank arena will host some highly entertaining demonstrations of tracked vehicles. As well as historic tanks, other armoured vehicles will be put through their paces and, thanks to the presence of SWB Motorsport, visitors can even take a (rather bumpy) passenger ride. Based at Bicester Heritage, SWB will be bringing a fine range of hefty toys out to play, including CVRT Spartan and FV432 armoured personnel carriers and an Alvis Stalwart high-mobility load carrier.

Yet more military content is still to be announced, but is likely to include anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, Jeeps and armoured cars. In addition, military re-enactors such as the Bicester Home Guard will be making regular patrols at the event, and visitors are welcome to fall in and join them for drill or watch them doing bayonet practice. The Show will be in safe hands – the Home Guard will be on the lookout for enemy soldiers and ready to capture them should they put in an appearance. Helping to turn Bicester Heritage into a living museum for the weekend, other re-enactors will showcase the uniforms and clothing of WW1 and WW2 eras, and Chalk Living History will show just what life was like in a Glider Pilot Regiment.

From the moment they step inside Bicester Heritage, visitors will be transported to a time gone by. The UK’s best-preserved WW2 RAF bomber station has been lovingly restored under the watchful eye of Historic England and is now a hub for historic automotive businesses. The timewarp base is truly unmatched in evocative character, with even the paint colours being correct to 1930s British Standards. It is recognisable as the location for the WW2 films Darkest Hour and The Imitation Game.

Advance ticket prices start from £23 per adult, £10 per child (5-15) and £55 per family. Entry for children under the age of five years is free, as is parking. VIP package upgrades are also available, which include parking and hospitality.

For further information and to purchase tickets for The Classic & Sports Car Show in association with Flywheel, visit www.classicandsportscarshow.com