For sale: tanks, good condition, some used during D-Day.
The Normandy Tank Museum is selling its entire collection at auction next month before closing its doors because it failed to attract enough visitors. The sale includes tanks, military vehicles, trucks, aircraft, and motorcycles, many of which have been restored to working order.
More than 40 armored vehicles, along with thousands of military items used during World War II and dozens of mannequins in full battle dress, will be sold on September 18 by Artcurial, a Paris-based luxury auction house. The sale will be held in Catz, a town a few kilometers from Normandy’s Utah beach, where the Allies landed to liberate German-occupied northwestern Europe in June 1944.
“We thought the museum would attract more people,” museum co-founder Stephane Nerrant said in a phone interview. “The terrorist attacks had a considerable impact on visitor attendance,” he said, declining to provide numbers. French refinery-workers strikes that caused fuel shortages in May and June nationwide also dented ticket sales, he said.
The museum opened in 2013, based on the private collection of founder Patrick Nerrant, Stephane’s father, who started buying WWII armored vehicles in the eighties.
WWII was the first major conflict that extensively used engines and motor vehicles.
Compared to WWI, “the use of tanks increased greatly during WWII after a formidable industrial effort,” said Frederic Sommier, who manages the nearby D-Day museum of Arromanches-les-bains. By 1939, tanks had replaced most of the horses used during WWI, he said. Airplanes also became far more widespread and were used to couple air and battlefield attacks, Sommier said.
The venue also offers tank rides and flights over D-Day landmarks such as the beaches where as many as 4,400 allied troopers lost their lives on June 6, 1944.
The 33,000 square-foot museum also has its own repair shop. It estimates the cost of refurbishing a Sherman tank at $160,000 (150,000 euros) plus labor.
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Featured Image – U.S. Army M4 Sherman tanks are loaded on a landing craft tank in England June 3, 1944, three days before the invasion of Normandy, France. The morning of June 6, 1944, Allied forces conducted a massive airborne assault and amphibious landing in the Normandy region of France. The invasion marked the beginning of the final phase of World War II in Europe, which ended with the surrender of Germany the following May. DVIDS