Achtung Panzer

I've been at the "Military Odyssey" show at the Kent fairground today and had to keep my jaw from bouncing along the ground at times.

Not only were there re-enactments of military scenes from every era of history, with the enthusiasts all mingling together; SS Panzer Grenadiers chatting with Cavaliers but there were enough military vehicles to start a small invasion and sufficient lethal weaponry to give the Police sleepless nights.

I stumbled across a recoiless Mowbat 120mm anti-tank gun that I was trained on almost thirty years ago when the cold war was at its height. The life expectancy of a gunner was estimated at the time to be about three rounds before a Russian tank spotted the jet of flame that came out of the back of the gun and so I'm glad I never shot one in anger.

What did rather worry me was the free availability of "deactivated" weapons and very convincing replicas, particularly the BB type. You could buy an Uzi or AK47 - deactivated of course - for £199 and no cashier in the world is going to argue with you if you point one of these from the front of a bank queue.

The smaller BB pistols are now so good that the Glock semi-automatic I handled felt and looked like the real one I once owned and only a close inspection revealed that it fired pellets. This all rather makes a mockery of our gun laws post Dunblane. It's very easy to buy a real firearm on the black market and it doesn't take a genius to "reactivate" an Uzi machine pistol with a few new parts.

On my part, I settled for a nice Chinese AK47 with a folding stock, which fits nicely into my motorcycle panier, an RPG7 rocket launcher, all the rage in Najaf and several World War One "potato masher" grenades. I couldn't quite decide whether I should have wrapped myself in a Swastika flag - A steal at £19.95 - and was torn between dressing-up as a Spartan hoplite or a German paratrooper of the Second World War. Others however have such fashion choices down to a fine art and even bring their half tracks or Tiger Tanks with them.

Boys never really grow up and I'm not sure what my wife will make of the Kalshnikov when she discovers it!


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