Tanks for the memories – the importance of research

May 29, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Posted in copywriting | 12 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What tank is that? (Original.) Click to make BIG.

I love doing research.

This is lucky, as copywriters must do stacks of it to be any good.

Get one fact wrong and you can:

So when it comes to looking stuff up, I’m pretty damn methodical.

Even when it’s an informal request from a friend, I take research very, very seriously – as Chris learnt last week:

‘Dear Paul,

In flicking through one of my father’s photo albums, I found quite a few ‘in the field’ photos.

I am intrigued by this one (shockingly fuzzy though it is) and thought that I would enlist your expertise to identify the type of tank.

All we’ve really got to go on is the shape of the turret and the gun.

I’m thinking it’s either a British Cruiser tank or a Panzer IV.

I believe that it was tank in early ‘45, possibly near Overloon.’

Chris enclosed the pic you see above, so I replied:

‘Hi, Chris.

What a fascinating challenge!

I thought it might be a Panzer IV, but I believe most later models had a turret ‘bustle’ at the back – for radio and other gear.

So I increased the contrast to see there’s no bustle on this tank.

What tank is that? (High contrast.)

What tank is that? (High contrast.)

Then I thought it might be a Panther, and so cross-checked the profile.

My best guess.

Second guessing.

There seem a lot of points of correlation:

  • Long gun (if you deem the white bit in the photo as part of a gun).
  • Two-stage gun mantlet.
  • Gun holder (and position thereof).
  • Tall commander’s cupola (which may have given the idea it was a British Cruiser).
  • Long rear engine deck.

Then I checked Overloon, to see if there were any Panthers in the area at the time and, blow me down (or up)!

The culprit?

The culprit?

So, from preliminary research, Panther seems a fair bet.

See if you agree.’

Chris seemed pleased with progress.

‘By jingoes I knew that you were the man for the job! That photo from the Overloon war museum leaves me gobsmacked!

I did find this photo of a Panzer IV variant which I though fitted the turret profile (without bustle), but I think that the stepped profile of the front of the tank would have been apparent in the photo despite the background vegetation.

The silhouette in the photo does more closely resemble a Panther, for the reasons that you mentioned as well as the taper angle on the rear of the turret.

Outside chance?

Outside chance?

I’m not ruling out the Cruiser Mk.II yet – look at the antenna arrangement (or maybe that’s just a tree in the background of the photo) and the ‘steps’ at rear of the turret.

Then again the stepped profile of the front of the tank doesn’t match, nor does the gun length.

Sentimental favourite.

Cruising for a bruising?

I prefer to believe that it’s a Panther in the photo, though. Much more exciting!


When a client is happy, so am I.

‘Great stuff, Chris.

Your antenna argument may have merit.

If you say the word, I could post the mystery tank pic on Twitter with a request to crowd source its identity.

Chances are, certain sections of my followers would be all over it.

Or you could leave it for your readers to decide.

Either way, very exciting.’

‘Yes, let’s crowd source it!

Attached is a higher resolution scan – you can zoom in and see that what we thought might be a gun support and aerial respectively are in fact trees in the background.



The plot thickens … ‘

‘The reason I mentioned Overloon is that on the same page of photos there are two references to that town – one in an inscription on a photo; on another photo, a road sign featuring that town’s name is visible.

I’m happy for you to include all of this in a blog post.

Let’s see where this goes!

I’m keen as la moutarde!’


All good grist.

Leave it mit me.’

So here we are.

I’m almost certain that tank is a Panther, but not positive.

What I do know for sure is that my readers know infinitely more than I ever will.

And so I’m putting this mystery out there.

In other words …


Yet another contender. (See Paul Huysing's comment below.)

Yet another contender. (See Paul Huysing’s comment below.)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.


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  1. Holy Tanks for the Mammaries, Batwoman! I can’t keep (them) up.

    • Sear Gut! Fur you ze vard ist ofer, English! No more mit der pun pun pun alvays!

      • Sorry. Bit of fun. Great post! I’m a Panzer General. And so is my wife.

        • Thank you, Ad. You always marshall your thoughts so well. Thank you for carrying the baton.

  2. I’m glad none of my clients has ever asked me such questions – I managed to get that you’re wanting to identify a military tank, not a rainwater tank (I could have trundled along with that).

    So I really have nothing to contribute to the solution.

    But, talk about persistence… I think you take the cake.

    • Hi, Desolie. Happily, I have an interest in this field. That said, I’m interested in almost everything except contact sports and child abuse. So looking things up and finding them out is truly a joyful part of my craft. Kind regards, P.

      • So the PFL is right out then?

        • I’m afraid so, Ad. Or maybe … I’m so afraid. Affrayed? … frayed … ay.

  3. Contrary to my long-held belief, Facebook is becoming quite a useful research tool. Just check out this exchange!

    Terry says is it a T-34? He has based this on the look of the turrent.

    Terry certainly knows his tanks. I hadn’t thought it might be Russian. Please thank him for me. And thank you for passing on his input.

    T-34 from the markings it’s 4 3rd guards division largest user of the t 34 zukovs old division

    I can’t even SEE the damn markings!

    Terry (Gemma’s husband!)
    looks like a white star on turrent but the shape and the 76 mm il gun is unmistakable

    By gum, Terry. And do you reckon that kind of tank could’ve been in Overloon in early 1945?

    some russian units were as far south as that due to the lack of enemy units and raced ahead but were recalled a latter stage as for a panther it could also be but hard to see the top commanders hatch

    You never fail to impress me, Mate!

    just remeber let the tiger feed

    BTW, Terry – would you (and Gemma) mind if I recorded this Facebook chat in a comment under the blog post? I think it would add great depth. Only if you’re happy for me to do so.

    its cool
    as you say mate research is king t34s assited is2s in battle:


    Ripper, Rita. Thanks heaps!

  4. Hi Paul,

    My first thought was that it was a Puma armoured car (SdKfz 234/2) based on the curved mantlet and the small turret with sloping sides.

    • Hi, Paul. So great to see you here! Many thanks for your thoughts, which open a fresh line of enquiry entirely. As you’re a master model maker, I know you know your details intimately. So I’m particularly pleased to receive your thoughts in this forum. I’ve added a pic to the blog post so others can see what you’re talking about. My deep thanks to you for making the effort to get us all closer to the truth in what’s turning out to be a challenging quest. Kind regards, P.

  5. The Panther camp has received a big boost with this latest intel. – from a chap who knows his stuff:

    Hello Paul,

    The image is not great but it’s most likely a German Panther tank or possibly a Tiger II. A Panther tank would appear more likely given the sizes.

    Yours sincerely,

    Stuart Wheeler

    Archive Manager


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