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The Tank Chase[1] occurred in 1938 between Indiana Jones and numerous Nazi agents, both of whom were seeking the Holy Grail.



Professor Henry Jones, Sr. had been seeking the Grail for many years and recorded all he knew and learned of the cup in his Grail Diary, including precise directions to the Grail's resting place in the secret Canyon of the Crescent Moon, before he was captured by the Nazis. His attempts to keep the information secret by mailing the diary to his son failed as the Nazis managed to acquire it from his son's friend Marcus Brody. Now in possession of the map, the Nazis needed to gain the favour (or, at least permission) from the Sultan of Hatay, the country in which the canyon resided, to retrieve the Grail.[2]

JG 1989

Walter Donovan and Elsa Schneider searching for the Canyon of the Crescent Moon.

The leader, wealthy American Walter Donovan and who the Sultan had had previous encounters with, attempted to secure passage through Hatay by offering the Sultan precious 'donated' valuables of gold and silver quality (in actuality having been plundered from their owners). The Sultan, having no interest in the glittering baubles and deeming the Grail as pure mysticism, was much more taken with Donovan's Rolls-Royce Phantom II staff car and openly admired the vehicle. Donovan's response was to politely tell him that the keys were in the ignition, willing to give up the prized car if it meant getting the Grail. Ecstatic at his new find, the Sultan promised them a full complement to assist their expedition, namely:

Unbeknownst to them, their meeting had been observed by Kazim, a member of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword which had been sworn to protect the Grail from discovery and misuse. The convoy departed across the desert, led by Colonel Ernst Vogel and the tank while Donovan, Brody (as a prisoner) and Elsa Schneider rode in the Renault Torpedo, the trucks and the Kubelwagens (carrying Nazi soldiers) in the middle and the camels and horses bringing up the rear.[2]

Skirmish with the Brotherhood and capture of Henry Jones[]

Having journeyed across the desert for several hours, the convoy stopped when Donovan spotted a reflection in the hills, which was Indiana Jones, Professor Jones Sr. and Sallah Mohammed Faisel el-Kahir and had the tank fire at it, missing the trio but destroying their car. As the Nazis deliberated whether or not it had been Jones, the Brotherhood sprung their ambush, catching them by surprise and killing a number of soldiers.[2]

12 - Indy Last Crusade

The Joneses and Sallah scouting the Nazi forces.

However, the Nazis quickly rallied and drove their assailants back with grenades and machine-guns, mortally wounding Kazim in the process though he was able to warn them of the impending doom the Grail would bring them before he expired. Jones and Sallah used the distraction to acquire the convoy's horses and most of the camels while Henry attempted to rescue Brody from the tank only to be caught and held at gunpoint while Vogel taunted and beat him repeatedly over his devotion to his Grail Diary until Henry retorted that what the book told him was that "goose-stepping morons like Vogel should try reading books instead of burning them!". Before the colonel could respond, Donovan pointed out that the other Jones was absconding with the horses. Vogel, eager to finish the task he had been issued, shut the hatch and ordered the tank to pursue.[2]

The Chase[]

While Sallah retreated with his pilfered camels (intended as compensation for the car the Nazis blew up), Jones rode his horse away as the tank broke off from the convoy and set after him. Observing the archaeologist from within, Vogel waited until the tank was closer before bellowing orders to fire the guns. As the convoy was passing, Donovan stood up in his car and ordered the soldiers to go and reinforce the tank; in response, the two Citroens and one of the Kubelwagens broke off from the main group and went to help the tank. Noticing the vehicles approaching gave Jones an idea and he proceeded to turn around as though trying to outflank the tank. Taking the bait, Vogel ordered the tank driver to turn the vehicle and upon doing so found the tank on a direct collision course with the Kubelwagen.[2]


Jones fighting on the tank.

Before either vehicle could turn, the Kubelwagen smashed into the front of the tank and flipped up so that its body was now blocking the main gun as well as the driver's view. Quickly growing frustrated, Vogel ordered the Kubelwagen blown off the tank where it was immediately run over and flattened by the tank upon landing, killing its still-living driver in the process. Jones meanwhile used the car's destruction to come up beside the tank and jam a rock down the barrel of the left turret. While a German soldier kept Henry and Brody at bay with a pistol, the tank gunner attempted to shoot Jones with the turret, but the rock that Jones had put there caused the turret to backfire explosively, destroying it as well as killing the gunner and causing the tank to fill with smoke. As Vogel opened the hatch to allow the smoke to escape, he caught sight of Jones coming up behind the tank, drew a Luger P08 and both proceeded to trade shots in an attempt to kill the other. Indy's pistol soon ran out of ammunition, however, and he proceeded to jump onto the tank just as Vogel rose up to meet him. Before he could attack him, Jones was suddenly tackled by a soldier who had jumped onto the tank from one of the Citroens. As two more made to attack him, Jones grabbed a Luger from the first one and shot him, only to be surprised when the bullet passed through him and the other two soldiers. A fourth came at him with a knife and though Jones was able to shake him off, he was suddenly attacked from behind when Vogel tried to strangle him with a chain.[2]

Managing to stagger over to the open hatch, Jones ordered his father to get out before Vogel dragged him back, causing him to drop his Luger into the tank where it landed in front of Henry. Managing to briefly free himself from the chain, Jones recovered in time to punch the knife-wielding soldier in the face, causing him to fall onto the moving treads and be crushed by the tank as he fell off. Inside the tank, Henry noticed the other Citroen coming up next to the tank and a soldier opened the tank's periscope to see what was going on, only to see Vogel slam the archaeologist's face against the periscope. Amused, the Periscope Soldier remarked on the Americans ability to fight as being akin to girls. Jones, apparently hearing this insulting remark, kicked the periscope with his foot and caused it to hit the soldier around the back of the head. Henry then used the distraction to grab the Luger his son had dropped, but his guard tried to stop him and they both fought over it before Henry squirted ink into the soldier's face with a fountain pen. As Brody remarked on the pen being mightier than the sword in this case, Henry quickly went over to the other side turret and fired it at the Citroen truck, blowing it up and killing all the soldiers. The explosion caused Vogel to release Jones, who was carried along on the treads and only avoided being crushed by rolling right off the tank and clinging onto the destroyed turret. Smiling sadistically, Vogel hit Jones with a spade in order to make him let go, but Jones's satchel became caught on the turret just as he did let go. To further complicate matters, Henry was still battling the soldier while the tank was heading right for a wall that would crush Jones. Anticipating this, Vogel ordered the driver to speed up just as the soldier finally managed to retrieve his Luger. Pausing to take a breath, he noticed Brody next to him but was unable to react before Brody struck him in the head with a spent shell cartridge. As he fell back, the soldier reflexively fired his gun and the ricocheting bullet struck the driver in the head. Just as Jones was about to be crushed against the wall, the driver's corpse slumped across the controls and the tank turned away from the wall, saving the archaeologist at the last possible moment.[2]

Vogel death

The Mark VII Tank falls off the cliff.

Unaware that the tank was now heading for a sheer drop over a cliff, Jones was in the process of helping Brody and his father out of the tank when Vogel came back armed with the spade. Brody inquired as to how one got off the tank, only for Jones to provide an answer by accidentally knocking him off when grappling with Vogel. As Henry wondered where Brody had gone, Indy noticed Vogel about to hit him from behind (reflected in his father's glasses) and while he ducked it, Henry was knocked onto the treads, forcing Indy to lash him in order to avoid his death with his whip until an arriving Sallah was able to pull Henry to safety. Finally gaining the upper hand over Vogel, Indy proceeded to repeatedly slam the colonel's head against the turret until he finally noticed the cliff edge and made a scramble for safety as the tank went right over. Plummeting to the bottom of the cliff, with a screaming Vogel clinging to the turret, the tank crashed to the bottom and exploded, killing all the remaining Nazis on it. Initially thinking Indy had gone over with it, his father and friends silently mourned him until he appeared alive and well. After hugging his son in a brief moment of loss of self-control, Henry composed himself and rushed to the horses, ecstatic about being so close to the Grail.[2]


Having observed the whole debacle from a distance via binoculars, Donovan and Schneider were both delighted to see that the cliff was in fact the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, where the Temple of the Sun lay with its prize. Now it was a race to see just who was worthy to claim the Grail's fabled gift.[2]



Notes and references[]