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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

2 hours 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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North Africa


M3 Lee
– USA | TANK

Matilda MK.II – UK | TANK

Sd.Kfz 10 1-Ton – GER | PERSONNEL CARRIER/PRIME MOVER

Leichter Panzerspähwagen SdKfz 222 – GER | SCOUT ARMORED CAR

BMW R75 & Sidecar – GER | MOTORCYCLE & SIDE CAR

7.5 cm Pak 40 – GER | ANTI-TANK GUN

The North African Campaign of the Second World War started June 10th, 1940, when Fascist Italy declared war on Britain and France. It lasted until May 13th, 1943, when the last Axis troops in Africa surrendered in Tunisia, including the defeated Afrika Korps sent by Hitler to prop up his faltering Italian ally.

The United States officially entered the war against Germany on December 11, 1941. Struggling against Japan while arming and training its brand new mass armies in haste, the United States began direct military assistance to Allied forces in North Africa on May 11th, 1942. Canada provided a small contingent of 348 officers and enlisted. Australians, Indians, and South Africans also fought under British command in Egypt and Libya, where Britain’s 8th Army and the ‘Desert Rats’ were led by General Montgomery. Meanwhile, Free French forces struck out for North Africa from deep inside West Africa, as the Allies sought to drive the Axis out of Africa as a preliminary to the invasion of Italy and Germany.

The training, build-up, and transport of green American forces took time. While tanks and troops were supplied to the British, large numbers of American troops did not arrive in North Africa to join in the Allied effort until the start of Operation Torch in November, 1942. With some American material assistance, including tanks and aircraft and intelligence assets, British and Commonwealth forces fought the Axis in campaigns in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts (Western Desert Campaign). Anglo-American landings in Morocco and Algeria (Operation Torch), as well as Tunisia (Tunisia Campaign) book-ended a coordinated Allied strategy of driving and squeezing the last Axis armies in North Africa from east and west, until their total defeat and surrender in Tunisia May 1943.

The battle for North Africa was primarily a struggle for control of the Suez Canal and access to oil from the Middle East and raw materials from Asia, but also an effort to drive Italy out of the war as a prelude to invasion of southern Europe and a planned bombing campaign against Germany. It was the place German and American armies first faced off against each other. After early and terrible losses to the Germans, soldiers from America joined the ongoing Allied effort in North Africa and helped turn the tide of war decisively against the Axis. Next would come landings in Sicily and southern Italy. Based in a secured North Africa, bombers and invading armies would next bring the war home to the heartlands of the fascist nations themselves.

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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!