Musee des Blindes (Museum of Armoured Vehicles), France

Located in the town of Saumur, in the Loire Valley, France, the Musee des Blindes is one of the largest tank museums in the world. It founded upon the insistence of Colonel Michel Aubry in 1997. With only a few hundred tracked vehicles, Aubry convinced echelons of the French military and local politicians to form a tank museum. Under the close supervision of Aubry, the museum’s collection has grown into one of the largest in the world, featuring some rare models of tank. Furthermore, a key distinction which was maintained by Aubry was the museum’s will to restore as many tanks as possible to full function.

The Museum’s Key Exhibits

The museum’s exhibits span the length of tank development history and represents the largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles in the world. Although its tanks are outnumbered by British Tank Museum, the Musee des Blindes features the only surviving German Tiger II tank, which is in full working condition. Alongside the German Tiger II tank, more than two hundred of the museum’s vehicles are also in full working order. The museum’s key exhibits are categorised by important combat operations contemporaneous to their production. Highlights of the exhibits include:

First World War:

Schneider CA1 – The first ever French tank

Saint-Chamond – The second French heavy tank

Renault FT – The most influential tank in the history of tank development

French Campaign 1940:

Hotchkiss H39 – A faster and more mobile tank introduced after WWI

Renault Char B1 – A French heavy tank manufactured before WWII

Somua S35 – An agile and well-armoured French medium-weight tank

AMR 33 – French cavalry light tank

Renault R35 – French light infantry tank which served in WWII

Germany WWII:

Marder I, III –tank destroyers

Panzer III, IV – Two of Germany’s best medium tanks of the period

Tiger II – The only remaining and fully functional tank of its kind

Jagdpanzer – Self-propelled anti-tank gun

Panther – A devastating tank which entered service towards the end of WWII.