Christmas has come early for WWII equipment aficionados. With the American Heritage Museum’s introduction of its new “Icons of Armor: The Ultimate WWII Tank Experience,” visitors will have the opportunity — with a cost of $995 to $1,495 — to operate an M4A3 Sherman medium tank, a M24 Chaffee light tank, and a M26 Pershing tank.
Some may certainly be disappointed to learn that all the tanks have been “de-milled,” meaning the entirety of their armament have been rendered useless, but it’s safety first for the museum.
Despite not being able to pull a James Franco-esque scene à la in “The Interview,” tank enthusiasts will be able to “make turns at various speeds, climb a hill, and cross obstacles” while rocking a provided pair of tanker overalls, free of charge.
“Icons of Armor” is touted as a fundraising sweepstake to help “support the living history mission,” but in case dropping nearly a grand on this experience seems steep, the museum is also offering a sweepstakes for one lucky winner to drive all three tanks.
In addition to the thrill of getting in the driver’s seat of these icons, the “two-day adventure” will include an “Inside the Hatch” tour of five rare British, Russian, German, and American tanks, the museum announced.
Of the included vehicles, the M4 Sherman medium tank gained significant notoriety when it successfully dueled the Panzer IV’s in the North Africa campaign and handled the Japanese Type 97 in the Pacific. Still, it was easily bested by the much bigger, more powerful German Panthers, Tigers, and King Tiger tanks later in the war. But as one German tanker joked, “One of ours is better than 10 of yours, but you always have 11!” The Arsenal of Democracy in action.
Similarly, the M24 Chaffee was equipped with inadequate armor and armament to deal with any larger tank it encountered before finding new life during the Korean War as the principle tank used by U.N. forces.
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The heavier M26 Pershing, meant to replace the lighter M4 Sherman, was designed to take on German Panthers and Tigers. Though it arrived too late in the war to make an appreciable difference, the M26 did see combat while famously assisting in the capture of the bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen.
Those interested in entering the sweepstakes have between now and March 31 of next year to do so, with the winner receiving an invitation to drive all three vehicles.
Good luck and happy driving!
About Claire Barrett
Claire Barrett is associate editor for Military History Quarterly and a World War II researcher with an unparalleled affinity for Sir Winston Churchill and Michigan football.