A million Jeeps

Well, not really a million.  But there were a heckuva alot of them.  I had a chance this week to travel with a friend to see the Top Kicks Military Museum in Petersburg, West Virginia. If you are a Jeep fan and want to see alot of Jeeps this is one place to go with an owner who has dedicated his time since 1982 to saving and preserving what seems like as many Jeeps a he could find.

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I had a chance to go through the Jeeps inside and out.  Gerald Bland restored many of these, and went through all of the engines.  He keeps them pickled but ready to go.  From what I found a battery and some gas will start these Jeeps right up and send them out into the wild.  I was particularly fond of a row of Civilian Jeeps with US Navy dataplates, two CJ3A’s and one 3B.  You do not see these too often.

20150716_121105[1]There was a nice array of World War 2 Jeeps as well, many with photos of how they were found, and of the restoration process.  The effort Gerald went to to save the Jeeps and other WW2 vehicles is quite impressive.

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Among the World war 2 Jeeps were some nicely dressed examples as they may have rolled through Europe, some early script examples, a slat grill, and a Navy Jeep with PTO driven generator for radio equipment.

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The Jeeps continued up through the M151 era. As if Jeeps were not enough there were a wide array of other vehicles from World War 2 through the 1970s. These were in a variety of conditions from ready to drive inside the museum to peacefully slumbering under a blanket of patina outside on the museum grounds.

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The museum also has displays of weapons, uniforms and equipment.  Gerald is wonderful to talk with and has a passion for history.  Make sure to take the trip and visit soon as gems like this museum will not be around forever.  Also, if you want to see many more photos from the museum collection be sure to follow us on Hanson Mechanical’s Instagram as we will post many more photos there.

Thanks for being a great host Gerald!

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Military Aviation Museum WWI collection

I saw a posting today that my favourite museum, The Military Aviation Museum of Virginia Beach, is closing.  I enjoyed their World War Two airshows and really hoped to see their World War One airshow this fall. Sadly the collection is being sold off.  This is what can happen when one person owns a museum.  I am glad the owner shared it with so many people while he had it. My heart goes out to all the volunteers who put their time and souls into this place and to all those who loved visiting the collection.

I am glad I made a point of taking many photos while I attended their last WW2 airshow.  At the museum their is/was a WW1 hangar built off of plans from The Great War.  The hangar housed a wonderful collection of WW1 replica aircraft.Image

Above is the ever famous Fokker DR.1 as seen through the gorgeous beams of the structure.  The DR.1 was made famous by Baron Von Richtofen, the Red Baron. Below is a view of an Avro  504K through the wings of another aircraft.Image

There also was a very interesting Model T Ford.  This vehicle was restored and was not a replica made by the museum. It was designed as a starter for the early aircraft.  Rather than have a man spin the propeller by hand, this vehicle drove up to the front of the aircraft and spun the propeller. An early and rather large starter!

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Another example in the collection was a recreation of a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter.  This was the first British aircraft with synchronised machine guns allowing the pilot to fire through the propeller without hitting it.  The Sopwith had two seats and could carry two bombs.

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My absolute favourite in the collection was the replica of a French Bleriot monoplane.  This plane was built by a group of enthusiasts in Spain.  Somewhere in my collection I have an original photo of a Bleriot flying over Paris early in World War One.

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ww107I am deeply saddened that I will not see their WW1 airshow now.  I am happy I have these photos to reminisce over though.  At least I had a chance to explore this beautiful collection.

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Warbirds over the beach 2013

This weekend I was kicked out of the shop and told to have some fun.  I headed to Virginia Beach where the Military Aviation Museum was holding their annual WW2 Airshow.  My WW2 Living History Unit, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, was set up there.

Below are a couple shots of our display.  The first shot shows our chaplain’s display.  John Novicki, our padre, has collected many original WW2 Canadian chaplain items, and even met with Reverend Candy who served with 1 Can Para during the war.ImageThe shot below is of our mess, and of Sarah Max’s daughters interpreting WW2 Girl Scouts.  The girls are wearing original uniforms!ImageDespite questionable weather I really enjoyed seeing my friends and exploring the museum and its collection.  The Museum has several hangars including an original Luftwaffe hangar they shipped from Germany. Below is a shot of my good friend Bill speaking with a visitor.ImageThe airplane collection spans from WW1 to WW2.  The museum does a WW1 airshow towards the fall.  Below is a Fokker Dr.1 in the replica WW1 hanger.  The hanger was built using blueprints from WW1.ImageThe museum vehicle collection is eclectic. The wide range of vehicles spans from military standards to civilian oddities.  Below is a shot of a WW2 Jeep and a 40s sedan.ImageConsider this post a “teaser”. Over the next couple weeks I will post photos of the museums aviation and vehicle collections.  Every corner you turn has a surprise.  The museum is open year round.  I highly recommend a visit, airshow or not.