The Big Reveal

On Saturday of the 2019 version of the Open House, the Americans in Wartime Museum demonstrated once again why it is an international leader in the restoration and display of armored vehicles.  It did something that literally no other museum across the globe could do…….  Intrigued?  Good, read on.

That day was the culmination of years of planning, and thousands of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears by the staff and volunteers.

Saturday was glorious in terms of weather, and, visitors for the Open House.  The field was crammed with vehicles, living historians, and our wonderful fans.  But as 11:00 am approached, there was a buzz across the display area.

Our incredible announcer, Richard, spoke into the microphone and asked the crowd if they wanted a surprise.  A chorus of “YES” boomed from the audience.  Behind the scenes, the tank mechanics were scurrying around, making everything ready for the Big Reveal.

The driver settled down into his cocoon.  He fiddled with his switches, running his fingers over their familiar shape.  Switches, buttons, and levers that his and other hands had stripped down, restored, repainted, and re-installed over the past year.

The excited crowd gathered near the shop doors.  Inside the driver waited as Richard counted down till 11:00.  Other museum volunteers stood by the shop doors and made a corridor through the crowd.  At 11:00, Richard made the announcement.  The shop doors were flung upward, and the driver flipped his switches.  The air reverberated with the roar of a tank engine coming to life.

As the old shop door traveled upward, a familiar hull shape started to be revealed in the sunshine.  The shape of that hull could only be a SHERMAN!  The crowd murmured in anticipation.  The door kept on its journey upward.  Meanwhile, the driver revved the engine.  And suddenly a very different shape came into focus….that turret and gun was unlike any the crowd had seen before.  It was not a U.S. 75mm or U.S. 76mm….what was it?

Then the tactical markings completed the story; Hebrew.  It could only be an M50 Super Sherman.  Yes, the Americans in Wartime Museum had restored its M50 to full running condition.  The paint gleamed.  Every accessory was in its place.  The fenders were so clean you could eat of them.

The driver threw the transmission into first gear and the massive tracks crunched forward on the gravel.  Museum ground guides moved the M50 from the shop out to the battle area.

Suddenly, the tank sped up and plumes of dust streamed behind!  Was this the deserts of the Middle East, or Northern Virginia?  After two proud laps around the battle area with thousands of photos now stored on visitor cameras, the M50 was parked.

But that was not the end of it.  Later in the day, the Museum ran an M4A1 and an M4A3 Sherman.  Not only had the Americans in Wartime museum restored the M50 to running condition, they ran two additional Shermans for the crowd.

There are less than five running M50s in the world as far as we know at this time.  But no other collection, private or government, has running examples of an M4A1, M4A3, and M50, according to our research.

This is but one more example of why the Americans in Wartime Museum is setting new standards for what a museum should be.  Continue the dream by making a donation and joining our wonderful supporters so we can “Keep ‘em Rolling”.

Michael

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