T. Logan Metesh
Open House at the Tank Farm
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Tucked away among the rolling farms of Nokesville, Virginia - a town of less than 1,500 residents - lies something completely unexpected in an area just outside of the Washington DC hustle and bustle.
A piece of property with some unassuming storage buildings transforms once a year for an open house event. During that time, Nokesville is home to "the Tank Farm."
Every September, a sampling of military vehicles are placed on public display in these fields to educate the public about their role in American history. Everything from tanks to tow trucks, ambulances to motorcycles, and everything in between, the Tank Farm comes to life with reenactors from all of the different time periods accompanying these vehicles.
There's even a tank track where some of the lumbering beasts roar to life and give driving demonstrations to the public.
The 100+ vehicles in the collection date all the way back to World War One and go to the present day. They all belong to Allan Cors, the retired Senior Vice President of Corning, Inc. and a Past President of the National Rifle Association.
The collection will eventually become part of the Americans in Wartime Museum, which will occupy a 70-acre site in Prince William County, VA. The open house at the Tank Farm serves as both a fundraiser and public outreach for the yet-to-be-built museum.
On display this year was an M113 armored personnel carrier. With only a crew of one, it can transport up to 12 men. The main defensive weapon is a .50-caliber M2 Browning machine gun and 2,000 rounds of ammo. Weighing almost 25,000 pounds, the 209 horsepower gasoline engine allows it to travel up to 42MPH on flat, level ground.
An M42 "Duster," armed with two 40mm anti-aircraft guns, was also on the field. Its 500 horsepower engine moves the 11-ton vehicle at up to 45MPH for a range of 100 miles.
One of the smaller vehicles was an Indian Model 640-B, which was a military version of their Sport Scout motorcycle. Approximately 2,500 were made and used on bases in the US; none went overseas.
Another cool small vehicle was the SdKfz 2 Kettenkrad HK 101, better known as the "Kettenkrad" - which means "tracked motorcycle" in German. A total of 8,345 were built during World War Two.
The oldest vehicle on display was an M1917 tank. Basically a copy of the French Renault FT tank, the M1917 was supposed to be used by the American Expeditionary Force in France, but none were completed in time. The original order was for 4,400 tanks and only 950 were built. The first two M1917 tanks made it to France on November 20, 1918 - nine days after the war ended.
One of the coolest vehicles to look inside was the Soviet-built BMP-1 infantry combat vehicle. It was designed to allow infantry soldiers to fight from inside through a series of gun ports. The vehicle's steel hull, sealed openings, and air filtration system was designed to protect the soldiers from radioactivity, which was a very real concern during the Cold War.
Another Soviet creation - the T34/85 - is regarded as one of the finest tank designs of the 20th century. Approximately 80,000 were made between 1943 and 1956. During WWII, the T34/85 could be produced at the rate of 3-to-1 compared to German tanks.
Other tanks in the collection include Stuart, Chaffee, and Sherman models, just to name a few.
If you ever find yourself in the DC area in mid-September, I highly recommend you come check out the Open House at the Tank Farm!
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