Tan­k­land USA

vis­it­ing the Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Mu­seum

Firepower - - CONTENTS - TEXT & PHO­TOS BY JOHN TEATOR

A visit to the Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Mu­seum

We dis­cov­ered the ac­tual “hap­pi­est place on Earth” in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and it has noth­ing to do with a mouse. Just 15 min­utes east of down­town Los An­ge­les you’ll find a rar­i­fied col­lec­tion of more than 170 ar­mored and sup­port fight­ing ve­hi­cles on dis­play. The Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Mu­seum’s col­lec­tion of ve­hi­cles pays trib­ute to over 50 years of Amer­i­can ar­mor. We couldn’t help but stop by to take a closer look.

The mu­seum has been col­lect­ing, pre­serv­ing and restor­ing a large va­ri­ety of mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, ar­tillery and equip­ment since 1962 and is home to one of the largest in­ter-ser­vice in the West­ern United States. Its dis­plays in­clude ve­hi­cles that have served in most of Amer­ica’s mod­ern con­flicts in­clud­ing World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Viet­nam War, the Cold War and Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm.

Not only is the Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Mu­seum a place to see th­ese in­cred­i­ble ma­chines up close and per­sonal (you’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced the M53 155mm Self-pro­pelled Gun prop­erly un­til you see how gi­ant this beast is in per­son), it is also a cen­ter for ed­u­ca­tion about the lin­eage of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle his­tory, from horse-drawn ar­tillery all the way to self-pro­pelled can­nons and bat­tle tanks. The mu­seum prides it­self in be­ing a place for his­tor­i­cal, de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing learn­ing. They have study guides avail­able to stu­dents that cover ev­ery­thing from the Amer­i­can Civil War to the Cold War.

In fact, the mu­seum has served as a place where stu­dents from renowned de­sign univer­si­ties such as Art Cen­ter of Pasadena and Otis Col­lege of Art and De­sign come to study ve­hi­cle and in­dus­trial de­sign. They’re not all static dis­plays ei­ther. The mu­seum has ve­hi­cles and equip­ment that has been rented out for movie and tele­vi­sions shows, too.

In an on­go­ing push to keep our past alive, the mu­seum’s core vol­un­teers have been con­tin­u­ally main­tain­ing and restor­ing their col­lec­tion. Cur­rently, they’re restor­ing a WWII-ERA M3 Half-track and just com­pleted a face-lift of a Jeep as well. You can fol­low along with their lat­est project pro­gres­sions on their blog, tan­k­land.com/mu­seum-news. All of this fine work is done largely in part to the fine work of its ded­i­cated vol­un­teer force. If you’re a hands-on type and en­thu­si­as­tic about tanks and other mil­i­tary equip­ment, the mu­seum wel­comes en­thu­si­asts to join them for vol­un­teer ser­vice. Along with tanks and ar­tillery, you’ll also see air- and wa­ter-borne ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing PT Boats, D-day Hig­gins land­ing craft, a Viet­nam river boat and even a Huey Gun­ship that saw ac­tion in Viet­nam. It was a me­morable and worth­while visit for us for sure. The next time you’re out in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, pay a visit to what we con­sider the area’s real hap­pi­est place on Earth.

The mu­seum has been col­lect­ing ve­hi­cles and equip­ment since 1962, and its col­lec­tion in­cludes hard­ware that has served in ev­ery mod­ern Amer­i­can con­flict from WWI to Op­er­a­tion Desert Storm.

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