Kubinka Tank Museum
The Kubinka Tank Museum is a large military museum in Kubinka, Odintsovsky District, Moscow Oblast, Russia where tanks, armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) and their relevant information are displayed and showcased. The museum consists of open-air and indoor permanent exhibitions of many famous tanks and armored vehicles from throughout the 20th and 21st centuries (between 1917 to the present day). It is also known to house and display many unique and one-of-a-kind military vehicles, such as the Nazi German Panzer VIII Maus super-heavy tank, the Troyanov heavy tank and a Karl-Gerät heavy self-propelled artillery, amongst other single or limited-production prototypes from the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
The Kubinka Tank Museum is located on a historically "classified" Red Army armor testing facility. Most of its displays in the museum were derived from the research collection of the still-functioning Kubinka armour testing and proving ground. Most Cold War-era Western tanks (from the USA or Western Europe) were war trophies from the Middle East, Africa, Vietnam and Latin America, which were all sent to the armour testing facility at Kubinka to study and focus on any strengths and weaknesses. Due to its secretive history as well as its close relationship with the military, the museum is still staffed entirely by Russian Army personnel today.
Admission and visitor restrictions
As of 2016 access into museum is available for all visitors, however foreign citizens pay 1500 rubles and 1700 rubles during weekends, while Russian citizens pay only 400 rubles and 500 rubles during weekends. Guided tours in English are more expensive, starting at 4000 rubles. Access to children under the age of 6 is free. Permission to film and record videos cost 350 rubles. Foreign citizens are highly recommended to have a copy of the passport to enter the museum as well as the original. Weapons and alcohol are prohibited, at the entrances inspections are carried out by security staff with the help of metal detectors.
The museum hosts a wide variety of tanks and armored vehicles developed and used throughout the 20th century by the Soviets, Germans and many other nations. Around 60% of the exhibits are Soviet-era vehicles, with the most recent display being the Object 172, the prototype of the T-72 MBT. Apart from that, the only remaining Panzer VIII Maus and a captured British tank of First World War-vintage (used by the White Russian forces during the Russian Civil War) – along with several different Hungarian, Polish, Japanese, British and American vehicles – are on display as well.
Located in the outskirt of Moscow, Kubinka is easily accessible by suburban train from Belorussky railway station, Moscow. The complex network of local trains and the lack of ads in English make it difficult to take the right train without the knowledge of the Russian language. The Kubinka Tank Museum, however, is located on the other side of the M1 Belarus Highway, and connected with the Kubinka railway station by shuttle bus, however not everyday but only as a special weekend schedule.
World War II History
Kubinka was a top-secret armour testing range and proving ground from before WWII. All new tanks from Russian research and design bureaus and facilities and factories had to be first tested here. Also, Nazi German tanks and armoured fighting vehicles that were either captured by Soviet troops or transferred by the USA and the UK were tested in Kubinka.
A few captured Tiger I heavy tanks were brought to the testing and proving grounds at Kubinka in 1943 to be subjected to firing tests. From the tests, it was learnt that the most effective weapon against the tank's thick armour was the Soviet 85mm AA-gun 52-K model 1939 anti-aircraft gun, which successfully penetrated the Tiger I's frontal armour (100mm thick) from a range of 1000 metres. Several Tiger II heavy tanks were also captured by the Soviet Union and were brought to Kubinka for more evaluations in 1944. Before Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, some German tanks and AFVs were sold to the Soviet Union and these were also tested at Kubinka. Some of these tanks included the Panzer I light tank, the Panzer II light tank and the Panzer III medium tank, which were all carefully studied and evaluated by the Soviet Union. After 1941, several captured tanks and AFVs of Nazi Germany (like the Panzer IV medium tank, the Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyer, the StuG III and StuG IV assault guns/tank destroyers and the Ferdinand heavy tank destroyer, amongst others), including half-tracks, were evaluated here as well.
In 1945 Soviet Union also tested captured Japanese tanks that were seized after the rapid Soviet invasion of Manchuria, South Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands, northern China and northern Korea. (These include the Type 95 Ha-Go light tank, the Type 4 Ke-Nu light tank, the Type 2 Ka-Mi amphibious light tank (which has all of its pontoons and floatation devices fitted), and the Type 95 Ri-Ki Crane Vehicle (a combat engineering vehicle), amongst other types.)
Cold War History
Soviet tank technology was chiefly concentrated at the Kubinka Force Technology Center, which provided a series of technical evaluations and testing and relevant information to the national defense system to facilitate potential or future tank designs. Today, the Kubinka Tank Museum exhibits more than 50 tanks procured from abroad during the Cold War.
Some of these tanks are as follows:
- An M24 Chaffee light tank, which formerly belonged to one of the French colonial armies and participated in the First Indochina War between 1946 and 1954. During the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Viet Minh captured at least three of French M24 Chaffees and sent a few of them to the Soviet Union after the war.
- An M41 Walker Bulldog light tank was sent to the Kubinka Force Technology Center in 1962. It was captured by Cuba in 1961 during the Bay of Pigs invasion by the USA and anti-communist Cuban rebels. Fidel Castro, then the leader of Cuba, decided to offer it to the Soviet Union to show the firm friendship between the two countries against the USA.
- Some M48 Patton medium tanks are also on display there. Some of these were captured by Syrian troops in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and were later sent to the Soviet Union for careful studies and analyses. One of the M48 Patton tanks displayed was also fitted with "Blazer" ERA (explosive reactive armour), while others were captured by North Vietnam from the USA or South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
- An M60 Patton main battle tank (MBT) was also captured by Syria in 1982 and donated to the Soviet Union, which proceeded to analyse the latest types of ammunition and weaponry on the tank. The few other M60 Patton tanks at the museum were captured by Egypt in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and by Iraq in the 1980s (which captured theirs from Iran during the Iran-Iraq War) and inspected by Soviet military officers. One IDF (Israel Defence Forces) M60 Patton was captured in 1973 in the Sinai by the Egyptian Army and was flown to the Soviet Union after some negotiation with Egyptian government. Interestingly enough, one of the first M60 Pattons that fell into the hands of the USSR during the Cold War came from Iran, from where an army officer reportedly defected to the USSR in a stolen M60A1 Patton.
- Former American M26 Pershing and M46 Patton medium tanks which were captured by Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) during the Korean War and were sent for testings and evaluations at the Kubinka Force Technology Centre. One of these tanks is now on display at the museum.
- Several M113 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were captured by North Vietnam during the Vietnam War and also sent to the Kubinka Force Technology Centre for careful studies and evaluations. Other M113 APCs might have been acquired from Somalia (which, before the 1970s, was an ally of the USSR).
- Several British Centurion MBTs are displayed at the museum. A British Army Centurion Mk.III was captured during the Korean War (most likely by Chinese PVA forces) and sent to the USSR. At least two South African Olifant MBTs (the South African variant of the Centurion tank) were captured in Angola in 1988 and were sent to the USSR by either Cuba or Angola. The Soviet Union also managed to acquire Centurion tanks from Egypt, Iraq and Libya, all countries that had previously purchased them directly from the UK. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Egypt also captured some IDF Centurion tanks, with some of them being reportedly undamaged and remaining intact, and sent them to the Soviet Union.
- A British Conqueror heavy tank is also on display at the museum. This tank was donated to the Kubinka Tank Museum by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in the UK to the Soviet Union in exchange for an IS-2 heavy tank in 1988.
- A former Iranian Army Chieftain Mk.5 MBT and an FV101 Scorpion light tank were sent to the Soviet Union by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.
- An IDF M51 "Super Sherman" medium tank was captured by either Egypt or Syria and was sent to the Soviet Union.
- A French AMX-13/75 light tank that was received from Algeria after the Algerian War during the 1950s and the 1960s.
- Two French Panhard AML reconnaissance vehicles which may be either SADF (South African Defence Forces) vehicles that were captured in Angola or IDF vehicles that were captured by the Egyptian Army.
- A Swedish Stridsvagn 103 (S-Tank) amphibious main battle tank is also on display at the museum (how the USSR obtained one is not known).
- Tank museums
- Musée des Blindés – France
- The Tank Museum – United Kingdom
- Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor – United States
- Yad La-Shiryon – Israel
- Parola Tank Museum – Finland
- Military museum Lešany – Czech Republic
- German Tank Museum – Germany
- Military Museum, Belgrade – Serbia
- Canadian War Museum – Ottawa, Ontario
- Canadian Forces Base Borden Military Museum – 100 km North of Toronto, Ontario
- "Центральный музей бронетанкового вооружения и техники". mbtvt.ru. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- "Танковый Музей Кубинка". tankmuseum.ru. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- "Kubinka NIIBT Research Collection – Foreign Vehicles, Kubinka, Moscow oblast, Russia". preservedtanks.com. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tank Museum, Kubinka.|
- Tank museum, Kubinka, Russia at the Test Range of NII BT; old website with all information in English
- Official new museum website in Russian only