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Monday, October 20, 2014

Behind the Scenes (Part 2 of 2)

Looks like it's time for the second part of my visit to the War Museum in Ottawa. Sorry it took so long to get to the presses! The sheer amount of WW2 pieces in this museum is staggering, among the top draws are a Panther, Hitler's staff car and the 'only' Land Mattress Rocket artillery piece in existence!

Simply put, the Panther tank is among the biggest and baddest pieces of armor ever to grace the battlefield. Yes, I said 'grace', the sleek lines and the Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating on this steel beast is truly awe inspiring!

PzrII slightly over shadowing an Italian 'Tankette' on it's right. One of the smaller tanks in the museum's collection. It is easy to see why it was so easy to produce and get into an area quickly, whether over land under it's own power, or by train. Could be repaired, refueled and back in the fight quickly.

A huge Mark IV Churchill with a modified bridge attached to it.
It's called a 'Great Eastern Ramp', this tank/bridge layer weighs in at 42 tonnes! The actual bridge length when fully deployed is 18m. I would love to use this to circumvent terrain during my next tournament!

British designed, this particular Valentine was built in Montreal Quebec, Canada and was shipped over to the Soviet Union to be used in an offensive in 1944. This tank was actually donated back to Canada by the Ukraine government in 1992. It's in rough shape, but it's a testament to how much abuse it took over 70 years ago on the battlefields of Europe.
A total of 1420 Valentines were built in Montreal and all but 30 of them were sent to the Soviet Union to help the war effort.

Any idea what tank this is? Took a few shots to get the lighting right and not easy to take a picture of. This uncomfortable little tin can is none other than the Soviet T-34/85! You can see by the next few pictures just how big this tank was and why it gave the Nazis such a hard time during the war.

Enemies of the Cold War stood together at one point. Much like the T34/85 and the Sherman do in this picture. This tank saw action in the Ukraine later during the war and was built in 1944.

It's not a model.......

But it was remotely controlled.....any ideas yet?

This very cool piece of technology and mayhem is a German Goliath. Considered to be a 'tracked' mine or demolition vehicle. It was used to clear minefields and destroy fortifications in nearly every theater of the war. It was gas powered and was controlled via the cable you see in the center of the housing. There are very few remaining examples of these remarkable pieces of engineering in existence. There were over 7500 built and were considered to be a one time use. There were also versions of this that were powered by electric motors as well.

Another glimpse at a rare piece of German aviation history.

Based on the V-1 rocket, this piece is currently undergoing restoration. Unlike some museums where you only get to see the finished product, this Fieseler Fi 103R 'Reichenberg' is on display for all to see. This model was the R-IV, the single (wooden) seat, rocket powered version. There were five different models, the R-V was the trainer for what later became the HE-162 fighter jet. It will be interesting to see this piece of history once it is completely restored. They would have been launched from the belly of another aircraft and steered towards their targets by their pilot. There are very few of these around today, with two others being listed in North America out of the five worldwide. Just under 200 of these would have been produced late in 1944-45 and did not see any action.

This beast is non other than the Sturmgeschutz (Stug) III Assault Gun. This one lies in one of the entrance ways to some of the other museum displays. It is not on display in the main area with the other tanks. You can see this one suffered extensive damage and is cut away in other areas so you can truly get a good look at the inside of this steel machine. It's well painted and the damage has been highlighted to give it some definition and reveals what can be done to a tank before it is rendered useless.

 The inside of this cramped vehicle has extensive damage but some of the original breach and other controls remain in good shape.

The only surviving 3-inch rocket launcher known as the 'Land Mattress' is in the Canadian War Museum's artifacts. Developed from a similar version that was found on ships, this towed version was capable of delivering 30 60lb rockets over 7km! It was used in 1944 by British and Canadian forces, and was actually built by A.C. Cars, a British car manufacturer.

The front view of the rocket tubes and some of it's rockets. There was also a 16-tube variant built during WW2.

 German Kundapp KS 750 Motorcycle and sidecar.

 Other WW2 era motorcycles

Nebelwerfer 'Smoke Mortar'

One of Hitler's captured Staff cars. Once thought to belong to Hermann Goering, this Mercedes Grosse 770 actually belonged to Hitler and was one of six staff cars the Führer used during the war. It was captured by American troops in 1945. It ended up in Canada after an American car collector bought it and later sold it to a Canadian collector. It was later donated to the Canadian War Museum where it sits on display and is the most iconic piece of history from a time when evil tried to rule the world. The bullet proof glass was damaged by Allied soldiers after the car was captured. The engine in this car was apparently replaced by another engine that was found at Hitler's retreat near Berchtesgaden, Austria.

I really hoped you enjoyed my brief tour of the Canadian War Museum. I tried to get as much of the real 'gems' that this museum has to offer visitors. There are many more things to see and when I made the transition for part two of my article, it was tough to decide what would make the cut. There is a ton of history out there, check out museums in your area or hit the road and pass on your passion to your friends and family.

Matt 'ViciousEgo' MacKenzie has been interested in WW2 and gaming since a teenager. He regularly contributes articles and hosts the DiceDevils Podcast on Matt is retired on weekends and enjoys a Captain Morgan with Dr. Pepper from time to time.

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