While traveling around for Landmarkscout.com to discover more about World War Two in Europe and the UK starting from 2009, we have visited a lot of museums (if not all) that have impressive tank collections and armored vehicles on display.
Some of these collections are so large and so interesting, that we didn’t have enough time to see them all in one day! But this will have something to do with the fact that we like to study and photograph every detail of the steel beasts, of which you can see the result for yourself in the Armor collection on this website.
Most of these museums have a link to the military one way or the other and have passionate volunteers, often ex-tankers themselves, who are restoring and preserving the old steel war machines.
So if you are interested in World War Two and the Allied and Axis tanks and vehicles of this era, we thought it might be interesting to share our Top 5 of Tank Museums that you really shouldn’t miss on a visit to Western Europe and the UK.
The Tank Museum Bovington – United Kingdom
The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset has an impressive collection of tanks on display. With over 300 tanks and military vehicles in it’s collection, be prepared for a long day out! The museum not only focuses on the World War II era, but nevertheless they have all the famous Allied and Axis tanks you could wish for like; the Tiger I, the Tiger II, the Panther, M4 Sherman, the T-34/85, Crusader III, Matilda II and many more.
The Museum draws al lot of visitors, so especially around the more famous tanks and vehicles it can get crowded. Sometimes an overload of information signs are blocking the view of nice details, which can get a bit annoying too. We advise you to take your time and come in as early as possible.
Many of Bovington’s tanks are in running condition and every so often tanks and vehicles drive around in an open air arena in front of the Museum building, so you can experience them alive and kicking. The museum also hosts the annual “Tiger day” where you can see the famous Bovington “131” Tiger I drive around and the multi-day “Tank Fest” event, where tanks from other collections around the world drive over a track on the the museum premises.
More information and photo’s about our visit to Tank Museum Bovington.
Musée des Blindes Saumur – France
Musée des Blindes in Saumur, France has an incredibly large collection of armored vehicles and tanks, if not the biggest. With over 880 tanks and vehicles fully restored and more than 200 of these in running condition, divided over 15 showroom halls, it is one of the most complete and extensive collections in the world.
Even if you never get tired of looking at tanks, here you just might. Exhibition hall after hall is packed with armored vehicles and tanks. You can view the collection ranging from the beginning of tank warfare divided into categories by Theatre of War, representing tanks and vehicles from France, United States, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, countries of the former Soviet Union, Portugal, Israel, Brazil and so on.
In regard to WW2 alone they have an impressive line up with all the famous and lesser known armored vehicles you might wish to see of the era. Their beautifully restored King Tiger (II) “233” which is also in running condition is of course a must see for every enthusiast.
Most of these tanks and vehicles are in great condition as the the Museum does an incredible job restoring and maintaining it’s collection. That you are dealing with tank aficionados directly becomes clear on entering the museum grounds, where tank wrecks, parts, tracks, barrels and so on are scattered around the parking lot. Most of these are a work in progress.
If you are looking for a specific tank or vehicle, be sure to check ahead if it is on display or even at the museum. Saumur regularly lends it’s tanks and vehicles to other events or museums, as many are in driving condition. The museum also hosts events itself, so you might land in the middle of one as you visit. Just like we did on our visit.
More information and images about our visit to Musée des Blindes Saumur France.
Deutsches Panzermuseum munster – Germany
The collection of the Deutsches Panzer Museum or Tank Museum in Munster, Germany, (not te be confused with Münster) is world renowned. With it’s main focus on the history of German tank development the museum collection of more than 180 items is very complete and the tanks and vehicles on display are in good shape, although not all are originally from WW2. Visitors can view them in an open space with enough room to walk around and study them.
The exhibition shows the development of the German tank and armored vehicles in chronological order. Many of these tanks are unique in the world, but most impressive are by far the Jagdpanther, the Köningstiger, and for the grand finale of WW2 tanks the absolutely huge “Sturmtiger” a.k.a. “Sturmmörser”.
The museum is a cooperation between the City of Munster and the German Bundeswehr (Army), of which the first is responsible for running and organizing museum activities and the latter for the restoration and maintenance of the collection.
More information and images about our visit to Deutsches Panzer Museum.
MM Park – France
MM Park France or Musée Militaire Park France is situated in the city of La Wantzenau and has a great collection of 120 tanks and armored vehicles. Apart from this the museum has an extensive collection of aircraft, cars, guns, small weapons and a very notable collection of uniforms. The museum opened it’s doors in 2017 and is one of the largest Military museums in Europe.
Although this museum has no specific focus on tanks and armored vehicles in particular, her collection is incredibly large with tanks from all the participating nations of WW2. You will come across many unexpected and never before seen vehicles. The museum also has a section of Russian tanks and tank destroyers that is worth your attention.
If besides tank and vehicles you are interested in anything WW2, this museum is an often overlooked gem and you will probably need the whole day to explore what it has to offer.
More information and images about our visit to MM Park France.
Bastogne Barracks – Belgium
Between December 1944 and Januari 1945 the Bastogne Barracks was the Division Headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division. It is where Brigadier-General McAuliffe gave his famous “Nuts!” reply to the German Army asking for their surrender during the Battle of Bastogne. With the aid of Patton‘s Third Army, the Germans were eventually forced to abandon their last big offensive in Western Europe. This part of the museum can be visited with a guide. Since the museum is still Belgian Military grounds, they do have special visiting hours, so check the website if you would like to visit this part of the barracks.
Besides the commanders location the Bastogne Barracks hosts a massive WW2 tanks and vehicles collection. This impressive collection ranges from the Russian SU-152 (K), a Panzer IV ausf. J and the famous Stug to the American, English and French tanks and artillery. The collection is displayed in several exhibition halls. Here and there the vehicles are standing side by side which prevents the visitor from walking around them.
The Barracks also have a Vehicle Restoration Center, where they restore and maintain Tanks and Army vehicles into full running condition. Sometimes the VRC-workshop is open for visitors and you get a chance to have a closer look at the inside of the tanks and vehicles.
More information and images about our visit to Bastogne Barracks – Vehicle Exhibition Hall.
More Tank Collections
The museums listed here are our recommendation for a long day out looking at tanks and armored vehicles. Of course there are many more museums in this part of Europe that are worth checking out. If you are looking for more World War Two sights and museums then check out our WW2 map for more interesting places!