FILM and history lovers are in for a treat as a tank used in Steven Spielberg’s latest blockbuster War Horse comes to Dorset.

The fully operational replica of a British Mk IV tank will be displayed at The Tank Museum in Bovington when the film is released later this week and will be used in its tank display later in the year.

Museum curator David Willey said: “The vehicle is a wonderful recreation with all the presence and menace of the real thing.

“But inside, it remains simple and modern.”

War Horse, based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s book and stage adaptation of the same name, tells the story of Joey the horse, who is deployed as part of the cavalry during the First World War.

The play at the National Theatre has achieved West End success and won five Tony awards, including Best Play, at last year’s ceremony.

The full-sized replica tank used in the film was based on the museum’s own Mark IV, which was built in 1917.

Oscar award-winning special effects company Neil Corbould Special Effects LTD, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, visited The Tank Museum to take measurements from the vehicle and copy original documents related to the MK IV tank from the museum’s archive in 2010.

The tank, which has been secretly kept at the museum until the film’s release, was built around the engine, transmission and track from a modern commercial excavator.

It makes a brief appearance in the film, symbolising the impact of technology on the battlefield and the changes in warfare that World War One ushered in.

David added: “We obtained this replica because with the World War One centenaries approaching, we wanted a working example of a tank that was representative of that conflict.

“For conservation reasons, we are no longer able to run any of our own vehicles from this period.

“We have long been investigating the possibility of building our own replica so when this vehicle became available to us we were eager to acquire it.”

The vehicle will be part of the museum’s Tankfest event in June and War Horse will be in cinemas from January 13.

• The Tank Museum, Bovington, holds the broadest collection of armoured vehicles in the world.

It tells the story of the tank from its invention in 1915 through to its use in the present day.

Exhibitions include the Trench Experience.

This year’s Tankfest will take place between June 30 and July 1.

For more information, call the museum on 01929 405096.