The history of the Middle East is one of the most intense and interesting in the world. Many wars took place in and around Israel throughout the years, and books that focus on these wars often boast pictures of exhibits found in Israel’s Tank Museum at Latrun. Formerly known as the Armored Corps Memorial and Museum, it is home to more than just exhibits.
After making arrangements to visit the Tank Museum, visitors are often met at the gate by the Library and Information Center Manager, who helps to provide and arrange guided tours. The first thing tourists notice about Latrun is the setting; it was originally built by the British as a sort of police fortress that overlooks miles upon miles of the surrounding area. It becomes obvious in just a few minutes’ time that whomever controlled Latrun controlled the entire country. Even after the War for Independence was won, it took 19 more years for Israel to finally reunite with the Latrun fortress and become whole.
An Israeli National Memorial
The term “Tank Museum” scarcely does Latrun justice; to the Israeli people, it is a sacred national monument, much like the Statue of Liberty is important to Americans. The main focus is the Wall of Remembrance, which is coated in silver and etched with the names of more than 5,000 people – soldiers and otherwise – who died in wars from 1948 until today. Surrounding the Wall of Remembrance are the armored tanks and vehicles that helped Israel regain her independence and become a powerful nation.
There are five different sections displaying tanks and other vehicles, and it is possible to visit them all in one tour. The sheer size of the display is enough to startle any visitor. Israel is such a small country, and the sheer number of lives lost over the years is a testament to the country’s determination. The equipment and tanks on display include:
- The Merkava MBT I – IV. In these tanks, the engine, transmission, cooling systems, and fuel tanks dominate the entire front of the vehicle, which provides unsurpassed protection to the crew inside. Although some scoff at the design, those involved in recent conflicts claim that it is one of the best tanks for the environment.
- The Armor of the IDF – These vehicles have been part of the Israeli Army since 1948. They include armored trucks and Cromwell tanks donated by the sympathetic British.
- Looted AFVs – This exhibit represents the armored vehicles captured by the IDF in all of the many battles. There are colors representing many nations, including Jordan, Syria, and, of course, Egypt.
- APC, Engineer, and Mobile Artillery – The Israeli Army has a knack for making adjustments to obsolete vehicles, allowing them to provide support. This display proves it with converted tanks, APCs, and carriers used to evacuate wounded soldiers.
Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in seeing Israel’s artillery of yesterday and today, the Tank Museum at Latrun, known to the Israelis as the Armored Corps Memorial and Museum, is a sight that you will not soon forget. It is certainly a breathtaking and emotional experience.