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Sharon does tanks as well as banks

August 19, 2010 3:00 PM

South East MEP Sharon Bowles has pledged her support for a UK charitable foundation which hopes to restore rare WWI tanks in time for centenary commemorations in 2014.

The SdKfz Military Vehicle Foundation has restored an impressive array of historical military vehicles at its Rugmer Hill Farm workshop in Kent, including jeeps, personnel carriers, WWII tanks, and Field Marshall Erwin 'The Desert Fox' Rommel's Afrika Corps staff car which, until it was acquired for restoration in 1997, spent much of its life as an open-top tourer on a farm in Kenya.

The SdKfz Military Vehicle Foundation has been working with museums across Europe in its bid to restore four WWI tanks to operational standard, including a German LKII tank, only two prototypes of which were ever made.

The historic tanks are made of steel which has become brittle with age but the steel structure can be returned to its original strength by annealing - an industrial process of heating and cooling.

Engines, gearboxes and mechanical parts are also being rebuilt, in some cases from scratch, using original blueprints.

Sharon Bowles, who chairs the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, said:

"There is enormous historic and cultural significance attached to these vehicles which are some of the rarest examples of modern engineering in the world. I am really proud that the expertise required for their restoration is to be found in Kent.

"These tanks could be returned to full working order and be a centrepiece in centenary events around Europe in 2014. The project needs £2.3 million and so I shall be seeking support from MEPs in the UK and elsewhere for EU funding."