As a kid, I visited the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Museum at the Aberdeen Proving Ground several times. It’s an amazing place if you’re a kid who likes tanks, and since my friends and I all did, we had a great time walking along the rows of tanks and artillery stored there. The collection has American, British, German, Russian, French, Japanese, and Italian vehicles, from World War I to the present. When my wife and daughter went off last weekend to visit her family, that left me with the boys for the weekend, and I figured what better destination for a boys’ outing than to see a field full of tanks?
It’s a quick drive from where we live, and the best news is that the Museum is now open to the public, following a period of time after 9-11 when it was closed. The museum’s web site says they used to draw 200,00 people a year, although the closure has reduced that figure. While I love the fact that admission is free, I was deeply saddened to see how time has taken its toll on these irreplaceable artifacts as they sit outdoors, and I wonder why they don’t charge to build up their fund for their capital campaign to build enclosures to protect this unique collection. I cannot imagine there are too many collections of armoured vehicles like this anywhere in the world, so they really do deserve better care.
My boys are a little young for the detailed discussions I recall with my friends as we debated the relative merits of glacis protection and muzzle velocity and all the other minutiae we loved as we studied these beasts, but what my kids lack in pedantic detail, they made up for in glee as we roamed unsupervised through this field of tanks.
These pictures here are not mine – our camera was in Boston – but I rummaged on the museum’s web site and on Flickr and found these. From top to bottom, credits go to: Ordnance Museum; Charles Tilford; Ron Hilton; and Ron Hilton.
If you’re at all interested in tanks, the collection cannot be missed. There is a whole museum indoors, which will wait until my kids are a little older, but even without that it’s an entertaining and informative way to spend a few hours. These rows of tanks will form lifelong memories in kids, and are fascinating for adults, as well.