Just wanted to share a recent experience that although not Wargames based might prove interesting. Earlier this week I had the fortune to visit Vienna, capital of Austria. Given its rich historical military past I thought there might be a museum that could be of interest. I was not disappointed.
Sited in a green and verdant park just outside the city centre the old Vienna Arsenal houses a fairly impressive collection spanning the history of the old Hapsburg empire through to the Second World War and beyond. The building itself is beautiful and somewhat reminiscent of a church/palace inside with it pillars, statues and painted ceilings. Unfortunately I only had 40 minutes to whip round and take in the various exhibits. The following photos are a snapshot of this trip and if I ever return much more time will be spent in this place.
|Front Facade of Museum at the Vienna Arsenal|
First up on my quick tour was the section devoted to the Great War. Pride of place in this exhibit was the car that the Archduke Ferdinand was riding in when he was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914. This of course is seen as the kick off for events between 1914 – 1918. Of particular interest is the bullet entry point in the rear passenger bay. Next door to the car is the uniform the Archduke was wearing still bearing the stains of bllod. I was struck quite cold by the site of these two exhibits realising the enormity of events that were to follow.
There was no sense in the museum to glamorise the great war but at the same time I felt there was no sense of waste as you might do in an equivalent museum here in the UK. It was just a bit sterile.
|The Archdukes Car - Austrian Built|
|The offending bullet hole|
|The Archdukes Uniform|
Next door to the great war exhibit was a hall talking about the second world war and the incorporation of Austria into the third Reich. There were a few interesting exhibits but the highlight of this section and perhaps the whole trip was come face to face with the beast of the 88mm Flak gun. Since being a young kid I have always marvelled at this piece of kit and to see one in the flesh was brilliant.
|German Reconaissance Plane|
|the 88mm Flak Gun !!!|
|V2 Rocket Engine|
It was interesting that there were plenty of bits of memorabilia from the Nazi period but again very sterile. Stop Press: Just looked at the above picture and I have to say to see the V2 engine sited next to the Jewish Concentration Camp uniform just seems wrong....
Rather strangely there was a massive section on the Austrian Navy’s prowess (news to me) and there were plenty of models and cut away battleships. Centre piece to this exhibition was the conning tower of U20, an Austrian U boat sunk in 1916 in the Adriatic and then salvaged in 1962.
|U20 Conning Tower|
A door to the outside lead to the tank park. This is clearly unloved with just these metal behemoths standing and rusting their lives away. Interesting to note that all the tanks on display were either Russian, British or American and the majority post war.
|Self Propelled Gun|
|Russian Tank Killer|
|Fantastic Ceiling Frescos|
Venturing back inside I headed off to the hall that covered the thirty tears war and the wars with the Turks. There was a stark difference here when compared to the earlier halls. More pictures, flags and perhaps more sensed of National pride. The highlight here being a really early ‘hell blaster style’ weapon mounted on a gun carriage.
|Early Hand cannons|
|Armour and Halberds|
|Multi Nut Cracker....|
|30 year war uniforms|
|Multi Musket Cannon thingy|
|Nice display of Turkish weaponry|
|A Mortar - 1790's|
Moving across I headed into the halls dedicated to the Napoleonic Wars and the Wars with Prussia/Italy in the 1830-40’s. The highlight here being the first aerial reconnaissance vehicle. A balloon captured in 1996 from the French.
|French Balloon - original gondola|
|Austrian General - really nice bronze|
As I left I caught site of a jet plane – a Saab Drakken hidden beyond the entrance.
So in summary an interesting flying visit, some great displays, and some great history. However there was nobody there...perhaps twenty visitors in total (mostly American).