The unique tank that saw action in WW2 and is being restored in Yorkshire

A tank which saw action in WW2 and three decades later in the the 1973 Arab–Israeli War is being restored to full working order in Yorkshire.

Howard Johnson, owner of the M50 Super Sherman, at work at Eden Camp
Picture: Charlotte Graham
Howard Johnson, owner of the M50 Super Sherman, at work at Eden Camp Picture: Charlotte Graham

The M50 Super Sherman, which is owned by Howard Johnson, is four months into an 18-month restoration programme at Eden Camp near Malton.

When complete the tank is set to be the only one in the UK and one of only around 10 in the world in full working order.

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It will be able to fire a "pyro" which senior engineer Frank Wood said "should be of the same kind of decibel level and same kind of boom" as the original gun.

Senior Engineer Frank Wood removes the flash barrel Picture: Charlotte Graham

"We are trying to transport people back in time - so people can hear them, see them, smell them," he added.

"Basically we are going to turn this horrible war machine into something that will educate and entertain."

The vehicle bears witness to the action it has seen over the years - being left scarred or "pepper-potted" by 30 and 50 calibre machine gun rounds.

It is thought the tank was shipped from the US, where it was manufactured by Chrysler in 1942, to France under the Land-Lease agreement just before D-Day.

Senior Engineer Frank Wood in the tank Picture: Charlotte Graham

It was used by the British, then the French after WW2, before being sold to the Israeli Defence Force.

It ended up with the Southern Lebanese Army until 1988.

Mr Wood said the project was one of the most challenging things he had done in 21 years because of the difficulty of getting original parts for an obsolete engine.

They paused the project in the summer when they realised quite how rare it was.

He said: “It would have been easier to shove in a new engine, but we decided to go the difficult route and fix the VT8-460 engine and that has been immeasurably hard and expensive.

"This is a heritage restoration and it is vital that we restore with historical accuracy."

They can't be sure of exactly where the tank saw action in WW2 because the T-number - the British equivalent of the American registration plate - has been lost.

It was sold to the French who were left unarmed at the end of WW2 and became M4A4T.

By 1956 the French had built their own tanks and sold it to the Israelis who armed it with a higher spec gun, called a CN75/50.

From then on it was referred to as an M50. "A Super Sherman coming at you with a high velocity round would be quite a thing in 1956," said Mr Wood.

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