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US Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen

US Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen Book Review

by Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review November 2010 Title US Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen
Author Przemysław Skulski Publisher Mushroom Model Publications
Published 2010 ISBN 978-83-61421-00-9
Format 124 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £19.99 ($37.00 USD)

Review

Mushroom Model Publications is based in the U.K. They have all their books printed by Stratus in Sandomierz Poland in the English language. Stratus also markets books in Polish too.

This new book is in soft-cover 8 ¼” x 11 ½” page format. It is 128 pages in length.

One of the best known and largest military museums of the world is undoubtedly the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum located in Aberdeen, Maryland U.S.A. The collection exhibited by the museum may only be equaled by the French Saumur, the German Munster, the British Bovington and the Russian Kubinka museums. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Aberdeen is of great interest to all military enthusiasts.

The museum is located inside the Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army facility that historically played a very important role as a military test site. America’s involvement in the First World War led to an urgent need for more areas available for testing munitions. The Sandy Hook Proving Ground at Fort Hancock, in New Jersey, became insufficient and impossible to expand, mostly due to the location near the densely populated city of New York.

An alternate location was chosen by Colonel Colden L. Ruges, the Commanding Officer of Sandy Hook. The newly selected area lay in the vicinity of the town of Aberdeen in the state of Maryland. The acquisition of nearly 70,000 acres by the U.S. Government took place in October of 1917 after a proclamation by President W. Wilson. The new facility was to be used for trials with field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, railroad guns and ammunition. The first ammunition testing took place in January 1918. Before the Aberdeen Proving Ground was fully organized, the First World War came to an end.

In the period between the wars, testing of armament continued, while research and development of new weapons, with the emphasis on ammunition, and gradually became the prominent activity. The base was expanded with new installations, such as Philips Army Air Field, additional research facilities including the Ballistic Research Laboratory and a hospital were established. Around the same time, the Ordnance Museum was created in it’s final form and opened to the public. It was not a typical museum. The intent was to collect various types of armament, mostly of foreign origin, and make it available for testing and analysis. The primary scope was to evaluate engineering solutions and technical advancements.

During WWII, further growth of the Aberdeen Proving Ground took place. The area was significantly expanded. The number of personnel was enlarged to about 33,000 military and civilian employees. The extent of activities was not limited to armament trials. Research into new weapons, military techniques and the methods of their application was also widely conducted. It was at Aberdeen that the Bazooka anti-tank weapon was developed, as well as the first EINAC computer.

As the war ended, the Aberdeen Proving Ground reverted to it’s role of weapons research and analysis centre. At the beginning of the 50’s, some of the terrain was used to create a training facility. The Ordnance School and the Replacement Training Centre were made subordinate to the newly-created Ordnance Training Command.

The museum’s mission is to preserve various military weapons and equipment in order to document the history of the U.S. Ordnance Corps. At first, the collection of the museum was limited to equipment dating back to the time of the First World War. However, the location of the museum in the research and development centre allowed for the expansion of it’s collection with additional pieces that underwent testing and evaluation. It was mainly, but not only, American equipment. After WWII, the subsequent wars in Korea and Vietnam, and finally the Persian Gulf conflicts, the collection was further enhanced by enemy equipment captured during these campaigns. This make for a truly exceptional collection.

The Aberdeen Proving Ground Museum has an amazing collection of military vehicles and guns, from all around the world. Tanks and other armored vehicles represent almost the complete history of such equipment, and the indoor displays show U.S. guns and equipment from all eras of the U.S. Army.

This new book, second in the MMP/Stratus “Military Collections of the World” series, illustrates and describes all the major exhibits of this unique museum. The book has 233 color photos of AFV’s and guns displayed out doors at the museum and 41 photos of things in the in door displays.

This book should be both a useful guide for those visiting the collection, and a valuable reference for those unable to make the trip. This book should appeal to military vehicle enthusiasts, modelers and historians.

I want to thank Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and Casemate for this review sample.

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