There’s a real Panther in Central Massachusetts, and he’s got many friends!

On Veteran’s Day 2018, I decided that I must see the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA.  It has been known for aircraft, but recently acquired the Jacques M. Littlefield collection from California. They had a “soft opening” on their new tank and AFV collection, and it looked good on FaceBook.  They also offered vets a free admission, so I thought it would be a good experience.

I had no idea I was about to see the most unbelievable collection of functioning military vehicles in the US.

There was a short but very good video on Massachusetts and its role in the Revolutionary War.  Then, a door opens and you find yourself in a WWI trench and a multi-visual presentation ensues.

Next, a door opens, and it is early WWII.  A British Vickers Mark V is on display, along with a Mercedes staff car.  There will soon be a Panzer I as well.

Another door opened to a walkway around a giant hall – and my jaw dropped multiple times.

One side of the massive exhibit hall is all WWII
The other side goes from Korea to the present

So I was not expecting that many rare tanks, to include a functional Panzer V Panther.  It had been recovered from a lake on the Eastern Front and fully restored.  I will share some more pictures below, but these do not do this collection justice.  It was amazing to see these so close up.  There were very few placards on the vehicles, but luckily I know a lot of them because of my historical and war gaming interests as well as my background in the Army.  If I misidentify any here, it’s on me.

A centerpiece of the collection is the Panther versus a Soviet T-34/85.  There is a screen that has a multi-visual presentation of the two opposing tank commanders, with sounds, effects, and more.  It concludes with the story of the recovered Panther.

All major European and North African campaigns were represented.  First, North Africa:

Then Italy:

There was yet another T-34 – an older one:

23 T34

There was a nice collection of UK tanks that I had never seen before:

There were of course many WWII American tanks and tank destroyers:

Interestingly, there was a Jagdpanzer 38 (Hetzer) that was key in the What a Tanker game that I played the night before – I had seen one before, but not so soon after I had used it in a game!

Jagdpanzer 38 (Hetzer) tank destroyer

There was also an ME-109!

27 ME109

An impressive display of Flak 88 AA gun and accompanying equipment was nicely.  This could have been the gun that wounded my late Uncle Joseph Delaney in his B-17 in 1943.

29 88 FLAK
88 Flak Display

There were a couple of Russian vehicles – an ISU-122 and an SU-100 displayed.

My grandfather, Marcus C. Delaney, drove an M-24 Chaffee light tank in WWII.  The museum put their Chaffee in the Korean War section, as it did serve there as well.  I was feeling somber seeing my grandfather’s tank on Veteran’s Day, and I miss him.  He was a hero to me, and a big reason I went into West Point and the US Army.

The Korean War display
M24 Chaffee, my grandfather drove this model in WWII
Trying to take a selfie while feeling somber is a tough thing.  I do miss my Papa (Marcus Delaney).

The next section was dedicated to the Vietnam War.

For the Cold War, there was an East German T-72.

Next, the “hot” war that occurred during my service, the Gulf War.  I did not go to the theater, and performed my duties stateside.  I often say that they had a war and did not invite me.

Finally, the War on Terror, which had a USMC M1A2 Abrams tank (though I am not exactly sure which variant it was).  It was hit by an IED in Fallujah in 2006.  There is a touching video presentation of the event and its impact on the crew and the tank commander’s widow.  RIP.

A girder from the Twin Towers
The USMC Abrams M1A2

The museum truly honors veterans, and I was humbled to walk through the many, many displays.  To have one in Massachusetts like this is a really special thing.  The museum will close from November 25th to April 15th, so there are a couple of weekends left to try to go before spring.

I will be coming back here for sure.  Thanks to the American Heritage Museum for such a great homage to our history and our veterans.

37 brochure37a brochure

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

31 thoughts on “There’s a real Panther in Central Massachusetts, and he’s got many friends!”

  1. That’s one serious display and the venue looks huge. I know when I went to the Bovington tank museum in the UK how amazing it was to see these things up close and personal. It certainly helps people to comprehend little of what war is like when you see these killing machines up close.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s ironic as some of my friends made the trip to Bovington last summer, and I was sad I could not go as I was still fighting through some health issues that are now resolved. So now they have a reason to come here! I’ve spent some time with US tanks, but I have never ever seen so many of these except in history books. It was an awesome way to spend Veterans Day Dave.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and a great Museum. I have been to Bovington and as a reenactor I have had the opportunity to see some of the UK’s operating tanks up close and personal. I once saw a pike block charge a Chaffee… but that’s another story! Price isn’t too expensive either.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sorry – It’s the location of the Australian Army Tank Museum – which you’d imagine would be amazing. While the armour is certainly impressive, both times I’ve been there the place felt run-down, let to get dirty and merely adequately maintained at best, rather than well-maintained. I know that Puckapunyal is a working army base (my Grandfather worked there for a period after the war), but you’d still think they could assign some personnel to keep the place properly upkept..
        As you can see from their webpage, the AATM will be closed from the 23rd to the 26th of last month for building works (but why bother updating the page, even though that was almost a month ago?)

        I’ll add posting up some photos of my trips there to my “things to blog about” list once work cools off.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, the US Army is not doing much better. There is a wonderful collection that used to be at Aberdeen Proving Grounds (near BARRAGE), but with base closures and realignment over the last 20-30 years many of the tanks and AFV’s were split up and sent to different bases, without getting funding to reestablish any museums, so many are in warehouses unseen. Also, the ones we have are not operational like the ones at Saumur or Bovington. The American Heritage Museum is private, and has made the vehicles functionality a priority. I looked at the link you sent – and was surprised not to see more Japanese tanks given your geographical location. Best wishes for a slower pace of work my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. One of the things involved there I guess was despite the fact that we technically became independent from the UK in 1901, many people and especially politicians still considered us a satellite state at best, or still a dominion of the crown, so the UK Military pretty much told us what to do and what to take and where to put it. Here’s our declaration of War on Germany for your facepalming.
        Good doggy.
        Not that we’ve improved all that much since then, particularly when it comes to spineless politicians wanting to follow the leads of the bigger dogs.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, the issue isn’t with being strong allies or close to other countries like the US, UK, NZ, Ca – nothing wrong with that – it’s about eagerly following their leads (and orders) like a mindless lapdog. The point above being that if the British told us not to take Japanese tanks (or to ship them elsewhere) then that’s what would have been done. I mean, the British used Australia as a place for (their) Nuclear testing in the 1950s and 60s. Our government only asked how high they should jump.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I really wasn’t aware of that dynamic. Is it the same now vis-a-vis the UK? We of course did much of the same with our tests and vets and deserts. And in a way, as a Cold War vet, I get the urgency back then. The Soviets really were a threat and world annihilation was conceivable, so in comparison a few hundred nuke tests seemed acceptable. I was stationed in West Germany when Chernobyl melted down and the radioactive cloud went over us, it was scary. That’s nothing compared to the Atomic vets. I can see how it would rankle us if another country was to have that influence. We are both independent minded nations that way.


      6. Nah, there would be a massive blowback for something of that nature to happen these days. It’s more about idiot politicians trying to suck up to whoever happens to be in charge of the US or the UK even when that would not make a difference to that relationship but cause damage to others. An example would be that there’s no special (or actual) need to alienate the Indonesians by moving the Australian Embassy in Israel – I doubt Trump would even notice us doing so!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Crikey, Mark, that is truly impressive! Looks well presented with all the exhibits very well restored. That is an impressive Panther as well. A good way to spend Veterans’ Day for sure!
    Glad you enjoyed it so much, thanks for sharing,

    Liked by 1 person

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