AN appeal has been launched so an historic British Second World War tank can be returned to running order.

The Tank Museum wants to raise £5,000 so the Churchill III* tank, which it has on long-term loan from The Churchill Trust, can run again in time for Tankfest 2021.

Tankfest is the Bovington museum's largest event of the year, attracting bumper crowds, and includes live displays of numerous tanks and armoured vehicles in the museum's main arena.

The Churchill III* tank at the museum was the only running example of its kind in existence, until a major clutch failure at one of the museum's other event's stopped it in its tracks.

Roz Skellorn, marketing manger for the museum, said: "The malfunction was a result of an apparent weakness in the manufacture of the housing unit, something that has been seen in other spares in the museum’s collection.

"The failed parts broke away and dropped into the clutch at high speeds with enormous force – rendering it completely inoperable.

"While the museum would normally prefer to use contemporary parts in vehicle repairs, replacing the damaged components with newly made parts will allow us to strength the faulty bracket to avoid this same failure from happening again."

The Churchill tank was a key British tank design of the period, seeing service in the Dieppe Raid, North Africa at El Alamein, Tunisia, Italy and north west Europe.

Tank Museum experts are looking to work with specialists to manufacture new parts for the vehicle.

A museum spokesman said: "We will return to the original plans to cast and forge new parts– something The Tank Museum has not undertaken in recent years.

"This will be expensive work, at a time when the finances of the organisation are stretched very thin.

"So the museum is turning to its supporters to raise the funds required to complete this project."