Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lesany Military Museum - Czech Republic

During August I managed to get out of Prague for the day and drive down to the Czech Army Military museum in Lesany (about 50 KM south of Prague). The museum houses a large collection of tanks and artillery from around the world, especially WW2 German and Soviet tanks and artillery. Above you can see the famous "Pink Tank". This was on a Soviet War memorial in the centre of Prague, and a couple of years after the Revolution was repainted pink by the Czech protest artist David Cerny (the tank was on a 1945 liberation memorial, and it was a play on how the Soviets went on to "Liberate", and then occupy the country after 1968). The Russian Embassy was outraged and protested, so finally the tank was moved to the museum. 

The museum really does have a huge collection of interwar, WW2 and cold war tanks (especially British equipment used by the Free Czechoslovak Army in WW2). They also keep a large number of them in running order and put on exhibitions of them driving around the training grounds in the summer. I will just list the tanks below against pictures and some commentary. I highly recommend this for a day trip from Prague.

There are many unusual tanks as well such as this US M36 above. WW2 vintage, it was sold to the Yugoslavs in the 1950's, and was then later used in the Yugoslav civil war by the Slovenes. Finally it was sold to the Czechs for the museum.

Above, an original 88cm German flak gun (the terror of many an allied tank man).
A Bofors flak gun.

Austrian WW1 10cm 1910 mountain gun (from the Italian front).

Above the funeral carriage of T.G. Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia
Another 10cm Austrian Mountain gun from WW1

The 1933 Skoda MU - 4 interwar tankette (it really is the size of an armoured mini). Below you can see the Czech designed AH-IV tankette, which was used by the Romanian, Swedish and Iranian Armies in WW2. The one in the photos is the Swedish version.

Below, the famous Czech LT- 38 (used in large numbers by the German Army at the start of WW2). This was an extremely reliable light tank, and in terms of engineering and mechanics, far superior to anything the Germans were producing at this time, certainly much better than the Panzer I and II tanks. It saw extensive action during the invasions of Poland, France and the Low Countries.
The chassis continued to be used throughout WW2 in the production of Marders and Jagdpanzers.

Below, a Jagdpanger (38) Hetzer, based on the Czech LT-38 Chassis.

Below an exhibition of original soft-skinned vehicles used by the Czechs in North Africa in WW2 (note the plastic egg on the bonnet of the first one).

Original Soviet SU-76 self propelled cannon from WW2

Below a Soviet ISU 152
Original WW2 "Katusha" rocket launcher (on a US Studebaker). A terrifying weapon for anybody on the receiving end. Here's the song that goes with it: "Katusha"

Another M36 Jackson

Sherman M4A1 Tank

Cromwell IV from the Free Czechoslovak Army that landed at Normandy

Windsor Carrier Mk.I
Morris C8 Quad used by the Free Czechoslovak Army in France

British WW2 Comet tank

Skoda MOZ 2 amphibious jeep

Ferret Mk2

Saracen APC

US Patton tank
Leopard 1

Centurion Tank

Israeli Merkeva MK-1 tank

Chieftain tank

Czechoslovak Army T-72 medium tank
Czechoslovak Army T-52 AM2 medium tank

Soviet 122mm Self propelled gun



Half built Hetzers that were used by Czechs during the Prague uprising against the Germans in 1945.

Soviet IS-3 heavy tank

Original Soviet T34/85 from WW2

T-34/76 version 1942/43 used by the Polish Army fighting with the Soviets, and was used by the 1st Polish Tank Corps in the liberation of Prague.

Czechoslovak Army T34
Picture showing the cramped interior cabin of a T34/85 (viewed from the bottom of the tank)