Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Armour Museums

I was trolling through some old data discs the other day and came upon a collection of (mostly) WWII armour photos from some trips and excursions I've made over the last few years. I was fortunate a few years ago to visit Moscow and during my visit, my guide agreed to take me to a couple of armour museums in the city. The more interesting of the two sites I visited was quite the adventure. My wife and mother-in-law decided that they wanted to go shopping in the city, so I had the guide drop me off at The Great Patriotic War Museum. I had heard that there was a large outdoor tank park located somewhere near the museum and, outfitted for a cold Moscow day (it was mid-February), I walked to the museum from the drop-off point only to find the museum closed. "No problem," I said to myself, "I can walk through the park and find the outdoor museum." So off I went into a large forest, trudging through three feet of snow. After losing my way several times, I finally came upon the fenced in tank park...only to find it locked and closed as well. I trudged around the exterior of the park for a few minutes, pining over my inability to get in to see up close the vehicles I could clearly see only meters away. Coming upon an unlocked gate, I gingerly pushed it open and stepped inside (this was Russia after all...ya' never know what might happen). From a nearby guard shack a couple of regular army, uniformed guards walked towards me, fully-armed. At this point I should point out that I don't speak a lick of Russian and they apparently didn't understand my frantic attempts in English to explain myself. Luckily, the universal languages of cigarettes and money saved the day. Sharing Canadian smokes and passing a $50.00 USD note surreptitiously seemed to gain me two new friends, and an impromptu guide. Over the next hour and a half, my new friend (with whom I could communicate only by hand signals) gave me the informal tour of the park.

The KV-2 has always been an impressive vehicle to me and seeing it up close did nothing to disabuse me of that notion!

To see all the photos of my adventure, look here.

I was also able to visit another museum the next day (the name of which has escaped me) but not in such an adventurous style. Nonetheless I was able to take my favourite photo of the visit below:

I've also been lucky to visit the US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen, Maryland a couple of times. There are some really great armour examples here and I recommend anyone who has the opportunity to visit. Too see all the photos, look here.

Now this Jagdtiger is a monster!

Right in my own proverbial backyard is a little-known collection of armoured vehicles at Canadian Forces Base Borden, outside Barrie, Ontario (just north of Toronto). On the base is a small collection associated with the Major General F.F. Worthington Memorial Park. I've visited this collection several times and you can see a batch of photos here.

Pzkpfw V Panther

The park at CFB Borden is a very quiet, serene place. It's ideal for lingering over the displays and even climbing on the vehicles. I highly recommend a visit and I plan to do so myself sometime this summer to see if anything new has been added.


  1. Quite an adventure to see a few tanks!

    For some reason the flikr pics of the Moscow Museum were very, very small when I went to have a look, but maybe it's my browser.

    I've been the Canadian War Museum annex - it was a number of years back and seemed a bit disorganized, but there was some neat stuff there.

    Did they have any lend-lease equipment in Moscow? Shermans? Canadian Valentines? etc?

  2. Yep, there were several lend-lease units in Moscow. I remember particularly a Matilda in Russian colours and markings!