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How "Section T" Took Down a Nazi Superweapon and Helped Win the Battle of the BulgeAs you descend the American Heritage Museum's central staircase, be sure to look up to see our "Doodlebug" - one of the several nicknames (buzzbomb, Maybug) given to the V-1 rockets launched on England after the D-Day invasion. From June 1944 to March 1945, the Germans launched 6,725 V-1 rockets at Britain from launch pads in France and the Netherlands. Of those, 2.340 hit London causing 5,475 deaths with nearly 16,000 injured. While the RAF had some early success in downing Hitler's flying bombs, the superior speed of later V-1 models required new approaches to air defense. The most effective solution came from the top secret project of US engineers and scientists led by Johns Hopkins physicist Merle Tuve who comprised what was known as "Section T" of the US Army Research Laboratory. After three years of intensive research and testing, Tuve's team developed the VT (Variable Time) Proximity Fuse, a device that alerted an artillery shell when to explode. By August 1944, Allied forces were shooting nearly half of the V-1 rockets out of the sky, and by the end of the summer, their success rate neared 100%. The last V-1 launch site in the Netherlands was overrun on March 29, 1945.Allied artillery commanders in Europe were anxious to utilize their stockpile of new shells equipped with radio proximity fuses. But the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington and Allied leadership in Europe were reluctant to use the proximity shell against German ground forces. If the Nazis recovered a dud, which they would, they could reverse-engineer the invention and use it against the Allies - and share it with the Japanese. Dr. Vannevar Bush, chairman of the National Defense Research Council, convened a panel of scientists, including Tuve, that determined it would take the Germans at least 27 months to replicate and mass-produce their own proximity shell. Eisenhower then ordered that the shells could be used starting on December 25.However, on the morning a December 16, 1944, Colonel George Axelson, the commander of the 406th Artillery Group, had a difficult decision to make. The Germans had just launched an offensive along an 80-mile front in Belgium and Luxembourg that would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. Axelson decided that the emergency trumped Ike's restrictions and ordered his gunners to use the new shell. The German attack in his sector collapsed. Beginning on December 18, the U.S. First, Third and Ninth Armies unleashed the most devastating artillery fire German troops had ever encountered. Across the Ardennes, the VT fuse became the weapon of choice, particularly at night, in the open and through fog. Shells were showered on German troops crossing critical road junctions, bridges and highways.The development of the proximity fuse was one of the best-kept secrets of WWII and is regarded by many as the third most important technological achievement after the Atomic bomb and Radar. ... See MoreSee Less

34 minutes ago  ·  

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Greetings from AHM! A reminder we will be open Monday, January 17th celebrating MLK Day. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and upcoming Black History Month we have moved the Tuskegee PT-17 Stearman into the museum and is on display. This is the last flying Stearman that was used to train Tuskegee Airmen during WWII. Amazing history! See you soon. ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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Hello everyone on a snowy Friday, January 7th! The museum IS OPEN today from 10am to 5pm but we ask all visitors to exercise caution on our entrance road as we try to keep up with the snowy and slippery conditions. Remember that your car isn't an M24 Chaffee and doesn't handle as well in the snow! (video taken last year, alas we are not driving the M24 today)www.facebook.com/1823762134370546/videos/3869937883086284 ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago  ·  

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Join Liberty Lou on a behind the scenes tour through the American Heritage Museum's maintenance shop. Learn about AHM's tank driving and ride programs. See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwkOi6qGJEY ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago  ·  

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Liberation


M8 Greyhound
– USA | ARMORED CAR

Liberation of Europe

The final battles of the European Theater of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Allies took place in late April and early May 1945. WWII in Europe lasted six long years, from 1939 to 1945, with American participation from December 1941 to May 1945. Europe was freed from Nazi rule. World War II was the last great global war and has long functioned as the conflict by which all other wars are judged. It is a conflict often represented as an  archetypal struggle between good and evil, but it was also a war of clashing national and imperial interests, material production, reduced inhibitions to destruction on all sides, and terrible means ranging from deliberate starvation of civilian populations via sea blockades, to aerial destruction of hundreds of cities, to deliberate genocides, that by the end, saw 75 million people killed. For all that, the Liberation of western Europe was also a triumph of morality and justice over the most evil, ruthless, and criminal regimes of the 20th century. The Liberation is also an enduring lesson in collaboration and cooperation in wartime by a winning military and political coalition, which overcame internal quarrels and differences in a shared effort.

As the war neared its end in Europe Allies came across numerous Nazi concentration camps filled with sick and starving prisoners. In every camp we found appalling scenes and the bodies of thousands who either died of starvation or were murdered. Majdanek near Lublin, Poland was the first camp liberated in July 1944, by the Red Army (most of the Nazi death camps were built in the east, and so were liberated in 1944-1945 by the advancing Red Army of the Soviet Union). Germans tried to cover up their atrocities by demolishing the camp, but parts of the gas chambers were left standing. When the Soviets overran Auschwitz in January 1945, only a few hundred prisoners remained, the rest having been forced onto one of many ‘death marches’ so that they could not bear witness to what had been done. Nearly 1 million Jewish men, women and children were murdered here along with others that were deemed “sub-human” or “useless mouths” or “enemies of the state” by the Nazis.

American forces would liberate concentration camps including Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenburg, Dachau and Mauthausen. The Mauthausen work camp was used for extermination through labor. Many prisoners died hauling massive blocks of stone up the “stairs of death.” On May 3rd, 1945. Allies neared Mauthausen and its nearby sub-camp Gusen. Most Nazi SS camp guards had fled. On May 5th, a reconnaissance unit from the US Army arrived and liberated over 40,000 prisoners. The scene of death and starvation sickened even the most hardened soldiers. General Dwight Eisenhower was so affected by what he witnessed at the Ohrdurf concentration camp on April 12th, 1945, he refused to meet with German General Alfred Jodl and his aid until after they signed the unconditional surrender document at his headquarters in Reims, France on May 7th, 1945.

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Friday, January 7 - Museum Open, but Exercise Caution Driving In

We are open today, Friday, January 7th from 10am to 5pm, but we ask visitors to drive very slow on our main entry road as the winter storm has made conditions slick. Thank you!