A Charity Needs Volunteers to Help Restore a Conqueror

Jack Beckett
Credit: The Wight Military and Heritage Museum
Credit: The Wight Military and Heritage Museum

The Soldier On! Charity is offering six people on the Isle of Wight the opportunity to help restore a Cold War-era Conqueror tank. The tank is housed at The Wight Military and Heritage Museum in Cowes.

Soldier On! Has over a dozen years of experience in assisting vulnerable, socially-isolated or disadvantaged people improve their well-being or their prospects of getting a job.

Along with restoring the tank, the charity is working with the Isle of Wight College to help people develop digital skills like 3D animation, games development, mobile application development and web development.

The Wight Military and Heritage Museum.
The Wight Military and Heritage Museum.

The curriculum manager for Digital Industries at the college, Paul McKillop, said that the arrangement with Soldier On! Was a unique opportunity for their students to apply what they’ve learned in a way that helps members of the community who do not have the advantages to attend college.

According to the Soldier On! Website, the charity helps people who want to overcome their loneliness, low self-esteem, or find help with their recovery after a traumatic event.

They aim their services at those who are ready to begin the path to being independent but are stuck in a rut and not sure what they want from life.

The charity was formed in 2008 by Nicholas Harrison. He is a specialist in career transitioning and personal development. The vision of the charity is to help people who suffer from life-altering events or who have been moved the fringes of society have meaningful jobs.

The Conqueror tank was introduced in the British army in 1953 to counter the Soviet IS-3 tank. The Red Army unveiled their newest creation at the Victory Parade after the end of World War II. The IS-3 was heavily armored, had a piked nose and wide tracks, and a gun that was at least 120mm in caliber.

Conqueror tank without side skirts.
Conqueror tank without side skirts.

The Allied armies all immediately began programs to develop their own 120-caliber, heavily armored tanks. The US came up with the 120 mm Gun Tank M103. The French had the experimental AMX-50 with its own 120mm gun. Both were developed in hopes of combatting the threat of the IS-3.

The British decided to develop the ‘Universal Tank’ or, as we call them today, the ‘Main Battle Tank.’ These tanks would be based on a common chassis.

They developed the FV200 series of tanks with this goal in mind. The Conqueror, officially known as the ‘Tank, Heavy No. 1, 120mm Gun, FV214 Conqueror,’ was part of this series. It was 63 tons with a 120mm gun and thick steel armor.

In spite of its impressive specifications, the Conqueror was only in service from 1955 to 1966. It was one of the heaviest and largest British tanks to ever see active service.

The Isle of Wight Military and Heritage Museum has a mix of tanks, vehicles, weapons and uniforms from the 19th century through the present. They have an extensive small arms collection and will allow visitors to handle the weapons when a specialist is available.

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The museum also has a replica street scene depicting life during WWII and a 1940s garage. They have recently added a German section to the exhibition cabinets.