donderdag 27 oktober 2016

Gunbirds military museum day out, part 1

After celebrating my birthday on 3 different dates (cause you can never turn 40 often enough. Or eat cake enough) my brain went on the Fritz. My trigger seems to have been the UWV examination, which was nothing more then strip my pants, a doctor pressing my knee on the side and asking if it hurts - yes, it does very much, now stop pressing that ! - and him telling me to lose weight. Come back in a few weeks time. Next. Felt like a chicken in a processor. Only I wasn't beheaded and dipped in boiling water. Jay.

I got really cranky after that as I have been keeping up appearances and telling myself that it's only pain, I'll get used to it. And keeping a smile all day on your face while you are not happy is rather tiring. So I thought to hell with it, I'll drop everything and go out on my own a bit. I put food in the fridge for Kim and the kids, dropped the kids off at daycare and took the day off. I drove straight to the new Nationaal Militair Museum at the former Soesterberg airbase.

It is a beautiful new building (opened in December 2014) which combines the collections of various other Defence departments museums in a extremely modern way. It has static displays and display cases, but also lot's of interactive locations, projections and currently a area dedicated to 100 years of tanks. The national modelling club had members displaying their creations all over the place (in an orderly manner) from small scale vehicles to aircraft and even a huge German battleshipmodel that must need a truck to be moved.

I tried to take pics of everything, but the inside of the building is pretty dark compared to the bottom to floor glasshouse of the outside walls and my camera didn't like that.

When you arrrive at the parking lots (free parking) you are greeted by a AMX-VCI. There is another one inside the museum and when I left for home another one on a trailer passed me by. A former coworker at the UWV used to do maintenance on these and he said they broke down all the time. It was not unusual to have one arrive with broken torsion bars, be repaired, taken out for a testdrive and have torsion bars break during the test drive..... well, they are French after all (just kidding)

From there it is a short walk to the building. Next to the walkway is a MLRS we used for a rather short 16 years and then sold to Finland.

Did I mention the museum is a very modern building?
The "gate guard" is a Leopard 1V I believe and is promoting the "100 year tanks" display inside.
The entry area is clean and spacious, with about a gazillion volunteers in suits. After paying for my ticket (12,50 euros entry) I was kindly asked to store my backpack in the checkroom as it is not allowed into the museum. This is again a very nice and clean area, and the lockers are all electronic. Press "On" on the keypad, enter a code of your choice, and close. No hassle with keys that people lose or spare coins.

To enter the museum you have to use your ticket as it has a barcode and the gates open when you hold it in front of the scanner. The route through the museum is easy enough to follow, a long line of yellow chevrons points the direction you have to take to see everything in order.

The museum is basically divided into 2 sections. A inner area (The Black Box) has themed display rooms and interactive features, the outer area (The Arsenal) surrounds it on all sides and is completely glass floor to roof. Which turned out to be a problem as I got there early and the low sun and the camera didn't quite see eye to eye. Neither did it inside the Black Box for that matter. <sigh>

Black surrounding walls and spots on the display areas is something my camera doesn't handle too well. Here is a Fokker DXX1 replica over a 75mm AA gun, a 47mm AT gun and the 1945 Dutch Forces Commander in Chief Prince Bernhards jeep. This area had a central globe with seats and a looping projection inside, surrounded by a circle with larger items and then another ring of display cases all around the walls.

( Join as a war volunteer - Land - Sea - Air )

A display model of Hr. Ms. Isaac Sweers, a Dutch destroyer. She was unfinished by the time the Germans invaded and was towed to England before we capitulated. Very modern for it's day (innovations of the ship included certain AA defence aspects that were copied by the British for their own ships) she was there completed in 1941 and served in the Indian Ocean (she was supposed to support the ships for the Battle at the Java Sea but delays kept her in drydock so she missed the battle) and the Med. She was sunk supporting the Torch landings by U-431. 103 of the 194 crew perished. Of the officers only 2 survived as one of the 2 torpedoes hit their sleeping area.

Next to some of the rooms of the inner area are balconies that look down into the glasshouse area. It shows quite well how spacious it is. On the left you can see the yellow chevron route markings.

(and yes, that is a B-25 suspended from the roof. There's a V-2 around the corner as well!)

And if we look to the other side we see a Starstreak, a Hunter, a inverted F-104, a NF-5 and a F-15. ( we never flew the F-15, but the American squadron based at Soesterberg did). Underneath them you can see the diplays by the modellers. If you look at the Starstreaks wingtip you can see the huge German battleship.


When you finish the tour in the inner area you can take the stairs down to the Arsenal. The Sea Fury etc are from the days we still had a carrier. Yes, we did, a former British Colossus-class. Sold it to Brazil. They kept her running till 2001. And now she's someones razorblade.


Hmm, we had Sidewinders on our Seahawks. I wonder where the hardpoints for them went.


A well ventilated Sherman tank.


DAF (Van Doorne's Automobiel Aanhangwagenfabriek NV originally....you can see that shortening that makes life much easier :D ) produced quite a few vehicles for our armed forces.


Straight from Afghanistan, dust and all, a Fuchs that was damaged by a IED.
A YPR-456 as deployed in former Yugoslavia with our peackeepers. This is the variant without the 25mm cannon turret.


Tanks are gas guzzlers. So we bought/leased 529 monowheel gastanks to hook up our Centurions...which didn't work all that well. 


Shame they don't have any ammo cans hooked up to it. We had these in storage up to quite recently, a whole warehouse full of them.


I really should make 1 or 2 of these for my Dutch recce forces.

Learn something new every day: Our Royal Marine Commandoes used 7 of these in trials for long range recce in '59-'60. Guess that didn't work out.

I converted one of these from RH Models into a TOW armed version to fit the 1980 timeframe of my 20mm Forces. Still have a few of these in my spares box that may or may not become Dutch or just Technicals.

The 100 year Tanks! exhibit had lots of late mediaval proposals for "tanks" ... basically wheeled carriages that got more and more armoured the further in time we went. This was listed a s afuture combat vehicle proposal.


A YPR-456 25mm cannon turret (minus the barrel). Limited to 1.65 mtr height people. I'm not a tall guy by any measures but apparently I am for this ride. According to a friend of mine who was a gunner on these you chocked on the fumes after firing a few salvoes. Lowest bidder contractors.....


By now I had managed to completely go in the opposed direction the arrows were telling me, so I backtracked and did the correct tour. And here we find this fine fellow. A Swedish made fortress gun from 1880. If you look well enough you can find loads of smaller forts guarding waterways here in the Netherlands.


Another fortress gun. Raised so you can fire over the walls. Smart.


They sure don´t build them like that anymore.


We had our own Kradschutzen ..... in this case armed with a Lewis MG


State of the art Dutch gun tractor. In 1939.


The FT-17 tank we bought to prove our theory innundating half the country was the best way to defeat tanks. Though to be honest, it actually does work remarkably well when everyone bogs down in the mud, as proven in late 1944 in the Peel - Overloon area.


Japanese tank taken over by the Indonesian guerillas's and captured by Dutch troops. Camouflage applied by Indonesia, not Japan.





Another fine Dutch product. They still have loads of this type. Which no one makes in 20mm. Quite popular in Africa too for durability. A local chap has one, all kitted out for offroad with a big shelter on the back, parked in his driveway about 5 minutes from here.


Outside the museum, on the former runway, was a excercise by medical troops. Offlimits.

Armoured and unarmoured ambulance. Very shiney B-25 hanging from the ceiling.


In the 1930's the ambulance were a bit more spartan...... (V-2 photobombing in the back)


You were better off being a cook....1939 mobile kitchen unit. And again the V-2


I told you the model was big. 


You can go outside, as there is a large covered area. There is a F-27 Troopship.


And a Dassault Breguet Atlantic. Say cheese!


And it's forerunner, the Neptune.


No Orion sadly, they were being upgraded when the Government decided that due to budget cuts we should sell them. Our Government has a habit of that, se we are now left with a overworked, underarmed and outgunned military. Cause we will have peace forever.....sure..... (yes, I'm a cynic)

There are also some Hawks and Nike's SAM's on the other side of the building, but the area looked to be fenced off fue to the excercise and I'm not about to get arrested for tresspassing so I just wandered to the other side to greet a gutted Russian friend.


Yup, the MiG-21 is my favourite Cold War jet. Used by everyone for everything. I really should paint up a few more.

Our American friends left something from the days this was their fighter base, too.



And with that, I ended my tour at the museum. There was a Spitfire (replica?) parked on the other side as well, but again, the excercise.

There is loads more to see, old paintings, armour and uniforms....but hey, shit camera.

The day didn't end here though! More tomorrow, I'm beat.

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