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World War I, World War II, and Vietnam are extremely compelling and monumental military actions in American history, yet is there a way to really become educated about these battles from only pictures, films, or newsreels?
As much as you may be fascinated by Armored Fighting Vehicles, it's easy to forget the consequences suffered by our servicemen and their families.
The WW2 generation is vanishing and we need to safeguard this significant period of time for fear it will be lost forever.
Museum of the American G.I. Offers Something Outstanding For All!
At the Museum of the American G.I., we have returned to working order Armored Fighting Vehicles that were truly operated in these conflicts and our assembly of artifacts contains tanks, jeeps, vehicles, and other items to help you get a real sense of what it was like to face combat in these conflicts.
We have repaired and maintain a large group of Armored Fighting Vehicles from the various battles so individuals can really be exposed to what it felt like to drive these jeeps on the front lines in our living history reenactments!
The Museum is an amazing location where you can experience how it was for American soldiers in Vietnam, World War I, and World War II as well as pay tribute to all the men and women who gave everything so our country can be free.
Museum of the American G.I. is committed to returning to working order tanks and transports and apparatus from these wars thanks to our instructional programs and reenactments.
We have developed a site where visitors can see what life was like as an American soldier in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam through exhibits and Armored Fighting Vehicles that have been returned to working order.
If you're wanting to understand the Museum of the American G.I. or attend one of our happenings, visit our web location at https://americangimuseum.org/ where you can discover lots of great events planned for children and adults!
Passionate About Armored Fighting Vehicles?
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For those who are unfamiliar with living history museums, here are some typical questions that are asked, first about the Museum of the American GI and then about living history museums in general.
Where do I park?
Parking for History in Motion is on-site. If you are attending Santa's Wonderland, make sure you park in their lot next to the museum. From there you can walk to the Museum’s gate.
May I bring in outside food or drink?
Yes! We want everyone to stay safe and hydrated, but please leave the alcohol at home. We do not recommend bringing large coolers, so make sure everything can fit in a purse, bag, or backpack. If you don’t want to carry around lots of items, we will be selling food and water at various locations all day.
Is everything handicap or wheelchair accessible?
We do our best to make our events as wheelchair-friendly as possible. History in Motion will be all outside on potentially uneven or muddy terrain (depending on the weather). All activities will be on a hill a short distance from the parking area, but we provide rides to and from this location to seniors, expectant or new mothers, and those with disabilities.
What should I bring or wear?
All of the History in Motion activities will be outside, so wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are suitable for walking on dirt and grass. We recommend a hat and sunscreen, and potentially a rain jacket or umbrella if rain is in the forecast. Don’t forget your camera for pictures and extra spending money!
Can I pay with a credit card?
You may purchase tickets at the gate with a credit card. Our gift shop and select stations also accept cards. Credit card purchases will have a small processing fee added. Cash, of course, is always welcome especially in the exact amount for the gate entry and special activities!
Will there be seating at the arena?
Yes! We will have bleachers, though seating is very limited. You may bring a chair if you want, but be prepared to have to carry it for long walks.
Will the demonstrations be loud?
Yes, we simulate real gunfire and explosions, so there will be quite a bit of noise. We will have earplugs available for purchase at the site, but you may also wish to bring your own. Be especially aware that the noise may upset infants and young children.
Are pets allowed at the event?
Yes, if they remain on a leash and are well behaved. We also ask that you clean up after their potty breaks, as no one likes tracking poop!
May I climb on the vehicles?
No, unless you are at a photo station or a vehicle ride, otherwise you may not climb on or into any vehicles.
May I touch the display?
Please do not touch any displays unless you have the express permission of the living historian running the display. Much of the equipment our living historians use is original, and thus easily 70 years old or more. Please respect the equipment and leave it available for future generations.
May I photograph events and displays?
Yes! We love seeing your photographs of our events, and don’t forget to tag us on Facebook!
May I bring a drone?
No. Only drones used for the exclusive purpose of the museum are allowed.
What is a military tank museum?
A military tank museum is a museum that specializes in the history of tanks, including their development and use.
What are some typical exhibits found in military tank museums?
Military tank museums exhibit many aspects of tanks, typically focusing on how they were designed and used to support troops or even industry. The exhibits may include one or more of the following features:
- Historical information about the tanks themselves, including their development, tactical use, and strategic impact.
- Models of tanks in various stages of development or models that are based on actual historical designs.
- Artillery pieces that were mounted on early tanks or used to perform anti-tank actions against them. These can include mock-ups of how the tanks would have been used.
- Artillery pieces mounted to defend against tanks, including tank traps and anti-tank cannons.
- Artillery pieces used in support of tanks, such as mobile artillery.
- Tanks themselves, either in working condition or in mock-ups that allow visitors to sit inside them or walk through them.
- Exhibits that show tanks in use to support industry, including mining, farming, and construction.
- Tanks displayed in their historical context with other military equipment or even civilian vehicles.
- Artillery pieces used for anti-tank roles in modern warfare. These often include mock-ups of how the tank was deployed using these weapons.
- Tanks on display from foreign militaries, including allied or opposing forces.
- Artillery pieces used to destroy tanks in battle. These often include mock-ups of how the tank was deployed using these weapons.
How did tanks work during World War II?
Tanks were primarily developed for moving at speed and crossing enemy lines, but advancements in tank technology led to significant changes throughout WWII. The following is a brief overview of how tanks evolved during the war.
Tanks were initially designed to support infantry by traveling across open land at speed and providing covering fire for assaulting troops. By the time of the First World War, tank warfare had become an essential part of any modern battlefield, but technological advances in armor throughout WWII led to additional roles for tanks.
- Early WWII era "Medium" Tanks - Tanks were intended to support infantry, but they could also be used in an anti-tank role against enemy armor. Medium-sized tanks typically had one large gun mounted on the front of the hull, with smaller guns mounted around it. This allowed them to provide covering fire for advancing troops, but also to engage enemy tanks. Medium-sized tanks were much more effective against infantry or light-armored targets than early armored cars.
- Late WWII era "Heavies" - Heavier tanks were developed with thicker armor and a larger gun mounted in a larger turret allowing greater range of fire. The new design made them slower than medium tanks, but increased the tank's ability to resist enemy fire. These tanks were not designed for an infantry support role, instead they were intended to engage other heavy armor or be deployed in quick ambush strikes against lighter vehicles.
- Mid-WWII era "Super-Heavy" Tanks - The German military developed several extremely heavy tanks (typically over 70 tons) that attempted to cross enemy lines and destroy defenders from a distance. These tanks were extremely slow (typically around 3-8 mph), and had limited range, but they could travel off-road and provide support for infantry.
- Mid-WWII era "Rocket" Tanks - The Soviet military developed several tanks that mounted large rocket launchers. These tanks were initially intended to attack enemy fortifications, but they found additional use against both soft and heavily armored targets during the later stages of the war.
- WWII era "Assault" Tanks - In response to new threats from anti-tank rockets and high velocity guns, some tanks began to be fitted with devices that allowed them to suppress enemy fire. The British began mounting flails on their tanks which fired chains around the tank to destroy land mines, while other early designs included devices designed to spray oil or water to extinguish fires.
- WWII era "Special Operations" Tanks - These are tanks which were not designed for combat but have been used in combat. Examples include modified armored cars with extra firepower or better communication equipment used by the Polish resistance to capture German tanks, ships, and other vehicles.
How were armored tanks developed?
When an army forms a military advantage over their opponent, they have the potential to impact the outcome of battles and even entire wars. In order to gain this advantage armies have been developing armored tanks since the First World War.
- The first armored tank was demonstrated by the British in 1916, but it did not see use until two years later during WWI. This new design allowed tanks to engage enemy defenses, while protecting soldiers from gunfire and explosions. Armored tanks were vital to Allied victories during WWI, particularly at the Battle of Cambrai. Armored tanks continued to improve throughout the 1920s and 1930s, but WWII exposed significant flaws in their design. Tank warfare played a major role throughout the world during WWII, but British land forces were particularly reliant on them due to other changes in military strategy - including greater reliance on air power and naval strength.
- During the 1930s the Soviet Union began developing both heavy and light tanks. Heavy tanks were used alongside infantry to break through enemy lines, while lighter vehicles were expected to perform reconnaissance patrols far behind enemy lines. Successful incursions by German armored divisions during 1939-1940 made it clear that even the best armed and armored tanks were woefully inadequate for warfare in modern conditions. The Soviets experimented with a variety of new designs during the early stages of WWII, but the German invasion forced the Soviet Union to focus on producing existing models in large quantities - particularly light tanks which formed a majority of their land forces throughout the first year of the war.
- The British used a combination tank-infantry tactics during WWI, which led to significant breakthroughs as well as heavy casualties. In order to break the stalemate of WWI, the British began developing a new "cruiser tank" model in 1921. These vehicles were faster and more lightly armored than traditional tanks, but they were also expected to engage enemy infantry. While successful at this, these models were found to be extremely vulnerable to anti-tank weapons and most were retired in the mid-1930s.
- The American military realized very late in WWI that tanks would become a vital part of modern warfare - but at the same time they did not have sufficient manpower or industrial capacity to begin developing models on their own. Instead, the Americans began purchasing and importing land tanks from Britain and France throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Not until 1940 did the Americans begin designing their own military tanks, but it was clear that these models would not be ready for some time. As a result American tank divisions were forced to rely on British and French equipment during the first years of WWII - including light infantry tanks which were well-suited for fighting in Europe, but not in the deserts of North Africa.
What is a Superheavy tank?
- A superheavy tank can be defined as "any heavily armored and armed tank that is designed for front-line combat." The term was officially used by Nazi Germany during WWII to describe proposed tanks that would have weighed more than 100 tons. During the 1930s, most heavy tanks were designed for infantry support, with the exception of the French Char B1 which exceeded 60 tons in weight.
- Researchers realized that a tank could attain maximum protection by using sloped armor - which was virtually impenetrable to many anti-tank weapons. This design placed a premium on increased armor, which resulted in tanks that were much larger and heavier than previous models. Nazi Germany began to experiment with superheavy tank designs under the cover of extreme secrecy, but most prototypes proved impractical due to limited mobility.
- Due to their limited production potential, superheavy tanks are extremely rare during the modern era. One example is the Russian T-35 heavy tank, which was introduced in 1933 and weighed more than 60 tons. Its successor models were even heavier - reaching nearly 70 tons when fully loaded with ammunition and fuel.
How did military tanks affect modern warfare?
Tanks were a result of a need for infantry support that could match the speed and firepower of cavalry. The early tanks were slow, unreliable, un-armored or lightly armored, and had limited firepower. With time, tanks became more reliable and powerful artillery systems that could advance on foot with infantry to provide precise fire support.
What is the history of military tank museums?
Military tank museums developed as tanks developed. The first military tank museums were likely created around the time of WWI, when tank technology became available for civilian use. By WWII, there were already more than 30 military-focused or war-related museums in the United States alone.
What are the most common types of American military tanks?
The Sherman tank is one of the most common American tanks in military tank museums, with over 4400 built between 1942 and 1945.
What are examples of military tanks in use?
Military tanks were used for transport, support, and attack roles on the battlefield throughout WWII. They continue to be used by modern armies today, though often in specialized roles like urban warfare instead of general combat.
What was the main tank of World War II?
The standard American tank during WWII was the Sherman M4 Medium Tank, with almost 50,000 units produced and used by many allied and opposing forces throughout the war.
What types of tanks were used in World War II?
The main types of tanks used during WWII included:
- American M4 Sherman tank, which became the standard Allied medium tank. Over 4400 were produced between 1942 and 1945.
- British Churchill, a heavy infantry support tank that was slow to respond but highly armored and armed. Over 6300 were produced between 1941 and 1946 by several allied forces.
- The German Panzer IV, a medium tank that was the base of many later tank models used throughout WWII. Over 8000 were produced by Germany between 1941 and 1944.
- The Russian T-34, which was one of the most common tanks to be used in WWII. Over 36,000 were produced between 1940 and 1958 in the USSR.
- The German Tiger I, a heavy tank that was originally superior to opposing Allied tanks but became less effective over time with advances in technology. About 1400 were produced by 1942, including several captured models used by Allied forces toward the end of WWII.
- The Japanese Chi-Ha, a medium tank that was the most common Japanese tank to be used in WWII. Around 1500 were produced between 1941 and 1944.
- The French Char B1, a heavy infantry support tank that held up against German attacks but was poorly equipped for handling larger enemy tanks. Over 1000 were produced between 1935 and 1940.
Were military tanks used in World War I?
Military tanks were first used in one of the last battles of World War I, in which a force of British Mark IV tanks broke through German lines.
How many types of military tanks were used during World War II?
There is no single standard type of military tank used in WWII. The most common types include the American M4 Sherman, German Panzer IV, British Churchill, Russian T-34, German Tiger I, Japanese Chi-Ha, French Char B1.
What are examples of heavy tanks that were used in World War II?
American Pershing tank was a heavy tank that never saw combat during WWII, though it was used in the Korean War. The German Tiger II tank was one of the largest tanks to be used during WWII.
What types of light tanks were used during World War I?
Light tanks were first used during the Battle of Cambrai in World War I, and included the British Mark IV and German A7V tank.
What types of light tanks were most common? Light tanks were used throughout WWII as scouting vehicles and for infantry support, with some models able to enter enemy territory with minimal visibility or resistance. The American M3 and British Valentine were some of the most common types used.
What types of military vehicles were used during World War II?
Military vehicles used in WWII included tanks, howitzers, self-propelled guns, jeeps, trucks, motorcycles, armored cars, planes and gliders.
What specific types of artillery were used by America in World War II?
The most common type of artillery used by the Americans was the M1A1 155mm Howitzer.
What other types were used?
Some American forces also used 105mm Howitzers and towed guns from their vehicles as necessary. The Germans, Russians, French and British all used extensive artillery in WWII as well.
In addition to land-based artillery, aircraft-mounted cannons saw use in WWII.
How did Howitzers work?
Howitzers were used to shoot high-trajectory shells at faraway targets, often lobbing the shells over other obstacles like hills or buildings before impact.