Kubinka Tank Museum Hall N6 Guide and Virtual Tour

The Kubinka Tank Museum’s collection of German armored vehicles of the Third Reich is considered the largest in the world and in 1993 included 33 exhibits. Or rather, the largest not in quantity, but in quality, in the variety and presence of unique exhibits. Unfortunately, when the museum was declassified in 1992, in accordance with Russian military laws, all documentation was destroyed, including the characteristics of armored vehicles tested in Kubinka and the history of their receipt. For 25 years, historians have been trying to determine the origin of each museum exhibit, but at the moment only a small number are known. Each famous battle on the Eastern Front provided the Kubinka collection with examples of German armored vehicles. It is known for sure that the only surviving German self-propelled gun Ferdinand was received as a trophy on the northern front of the Battle of Kursk in 1943. The Royal Tiger was captured during the battles on the Sandomierz bridgehead, about which there is an inscription on the barrel of the tank. At the end of World War II, the Red Army captured Berlin and the nearby German tank test site. This gave the Kubinka Museum the legendary super-heavy Mouse tank and other unique examples of German armored vehicles. Transporting this “little mouse” from Germany to Kubinka was a big problem for railway bridges and platforms. Experts have only recently determined the original names of the chassis and gun turret of the only one of the 6 self-propelled 600 mm Karl-Gerät mortars built. Perhaps this will help determine the place and time of capture of this unique exhibit.
During World War II, captured German tanks in various states were delivered to the Kubinka training ground for study and testing. During this period, the main urgent task was to draw up brief instructions for infantry, artillery and tank crews on how, with what caliber, from what distance, and at what parts a German tank could be hit. After World War II, study and testing continued, but with a different purpose. For example, the legendary super-heavy Mouse had electric motors, which was cutting-edge technology at the time. Particular importance was attached to the study of the composition of armor and alloying additives. According to the memoirs of tank museum veterans, the quality of German metal was so good that at the end of the 60s, several dozen German Tigers were simply melted down at the Stalingrad steel plant. About a dozen test drills were used to determine the quality of the steel. Drilling marks can be found on all major parts of the Mouse tank. After the test, all armored vehicles of the Third Reich were located in the open air in one section on the training ground, which was called the Museum. Rain, snow, and frost destroyed these unique exhibits for decades, until covered hangars were built in 1972. There were no special museum pavilions then; there were ordinary army hangars for storing tanks. But how can a super-heavy German tank, when inoperative, drive through the doors of a tank hangar? Or 600 mm self-propelled gun Karl? Foreign tourists have been asking our guide this question for 25 years. The solution to this issue was a simple Soviet military method of sliding on ice in winter. In the USSR, a very popular children’s entertainment was sledding on snow or ice in winter. The slide allowed heavy German armor to be moved into predetermined positions. Once all the exhibits were in place, construction of the hangar began. On Tankman’s Day in September 1972, hangar N 6 with German armored vehicles opened its doors to visitors. Of course, these were generals from Moscow, veterans of the Second World War, families of military personnel, engineers from design bureaus and, of course, KGB officers.

The armored vehicle location map was simple and very logical. The guide led visitors from the entrance to the right and clockwise inside the hangar, gradually showing all the German armored vehicles in the process of their development. The tour began, of course, with the display of the first German tanks T-I and T-II. In Soviet times, as now, guides were forbidden to talk about the role of the USSR in the first period of construction of the German armored fist, about Guderian and the Kazan tank school. After the first German pre-war tanks, the guide began to show the German T-III and T-IV and self-propelled guns at this base in the process of their development. Particular attention was paid to showing an increase in gun caliber, changes to the mantlet, increased armor and chassis structure. The Kubinka tank museum’s collection made it possible to show all these changes in the process of development. Bringing up the rear was the German T-V Panther, which was shaped like an enlarged Soviet T-34 tank. While talking about the technical details of German tanks, the guide also talked about the exploits of Soviet tank crews and infantry with visual illustrations. For example, a German STUG-III self-propelled gun was destroyed by a 12 mm anti-tank rifle, as evidenced by a hole in the frontal armor. In the far corner of the pavilion there are still two giant German exhibits. For Soviet citizens, the beginning of the Second World War was considered not September 1, 1939, but June 22, 1941 and the treacherous attack of Nazi Germany on the USSR. The fact of the participation of the Red Army in the capture of Poland in 1939 and the joint Soviet-German military parade in Brest was kept silent or explained by the cunning military plan of Comrade Stalin. But the heroic resistance of the defenders of the Brest Fortress in 1941 was an obligatory point in the guide’s story with the display of a 600 mm mortar. It is known that the assault on the Brest Fortress and the beginning of the attack on the USSR took place with shelling from two self-propelled guns of this type. The next exhibit at the end of the pavilion, the super-heavy Mouse tank, is of particular interest to both historians and design bureau engineers. In Soviet times, participants in the capture near Berlin, transportation and testing of the Mouse tank at the Kubinka training ground were alive. Over time, the guide’s stories about Mouse turned into legends and speculation, but very interesting and believable. After the Mouse tank, the guide led visitors through the second row of German armored vehicles. All sorts of experimental and unusual exhibits were located here. The ball-shaped German tank is designed like a three-wheeled children’s bicycle, the purpose of which was unclear. Soviet military engineers at Kubinka identified it as a self-propelled armored observation post for artillery fire correction. A stupid idea, since battlefields always have hills and slopes, which makes it impossible to use such an armored observation post. The reinforced armor of the T-I German tank aroused some interest for Soviet designers, since this configuration was intended for fighting Soviet partisans in the forest. The main battlefields of the German T-IF were forests in Belarus and Yugoslavia (see our author’s section about the Russian Security Corps in Serbia and the fight against Yugoslav partisans). Next, a series of Tiger tanks and self-propelled guns on its chassis were demonstrated in the pavilion. The origin and purpose of the Tiger from the Kubinka Tank Museum collection has not yet been studied. During the Cold War, interest in determining the modification of the Tiger disappeared, and in the 90s, all the hatches of German tanks were lightly welded so that visitors (the nickname for the monkey) would not climb inside and unscrew some device as a souvenir. At the moment it is believed that this Tiger has a modification of the E commander version. After the Tiger, the guide showed the further development of armored vehicles on its chassis. The 350 mm rocket launcher took part in the suppression of the uprising in Warsaw. The Royal Tiger was captured in the Battle of the Sandomierz Bridgehead, and its participants were frequent guests at the Kubinka Tank Museum. The pavilion also had a unique exhibit – a 1939 prototype from Henschel, which became the chassis for the Tiger tank. The collection of this pavilion also had a series of armored artillery tractors of varying weights. During the tour, the guide spoke sarcastically about the automobile companies Mercedes, Opel and BMW, accusing them of helping the Third Reich (Soviet propaganda had its own rules). A German minesweeper completed the pavilion’s collection and resembled RoboCop from Hollywood films, which always caused laughter among visitors.
This was the case in the pavilion until the reforms of 2014, when the concept of the exhibition changed. The main visitors were not military engineers, but civilians. In the new Patriot Park, each pavilion was dedicated to a specific historical event – some famous battle. For example, in the battle for Stalingrad or the battle for Kursk, all participants in the event are present – armored vehicles of the USSR, Lend-Lease from the USA and Great Britain, Germany, its allies Hungary and Italy. For this reason, exhibits from Pavilion H6 began to move to other places at a distance of tens of kilometers from the tank museum.
To fill the empty space, the exhibition in Pavilion 6 was completely changed several times. For a long time, this pavilion housed an exhibition of armored vehicles and artifacts found at the battlefields of World War II on the Eastern Front. Traditionally, the search and recovery of military equipment was carried out by civilian special volunteer patriotic detachments, and not by the Ministry of Defense. As a result of this system, many unique exhibits did not end up in the Kubinka Tank Museum, but became monuments at the place of discovery or were moved to different regional museums (where the governor showed interest and financed the work). Finding, retrieving and repairing recovered armored vehicles on battlefields has become a lucrative business. The uncertainty of the laws allowed different organizations and officials to control the recovered armored vehicles. For this reason, the Ministry of Defense created a special team that, using military units and transport logistics, found and delivered dozens of new rare exhibits to Patriot Park in just 2 months. The military equipment of Japan and Nazi Germany was located in border areas with a special regime only for the military on the Kuril Islands and a small island in the Gulf of Finland.
After the artifacts found at the battle sites moved from Pavilion 6 to Patriot Park, the concept of the exhibition changed. The super-heavy Mouse tank is very difficult to move to new places in Patriot Park. The management of Patriot Park decided to hold an exhibition of large tanks from different countries and different wars in Pavilion 6. The result was a hybrid of exhibits from various pavilions, including US and British armored vehicles. In this section of the guide we show views and exhibits of the pavilion from its foundation to the present day. According to constant requests from historians from all over the world, we are posting a complete official catalog of exhibits, German armored vehicles for 1993 with subsequent additions. The main stages of the exhibitions in Pavilion H 6 are illustrated with rare photographs from our own author’s archive. When using materials, please provide a link to the source, this page or web-site.
The official exhibit catalog of the museum of BTWT (**) of Pavilion N6 “Tanks, self-propelled artillery installations, automobiles and other equipment of fascist Germany”. Copyright Michael Blinov (please make a link if referred).

T-1A (Sd.Kfz. 101),
T-IIB (Sd.Kfz. 121),
SU-75 (Sd.Kfz. 131)
SU-105 FH18/2
Т-III j (Sd.Kfz. 141/1) ,
6. SU-75 “Art Sturm”
SU-75 “Art Sturm”,
SU-105 “Art Sturm”,
SU-88 Nashorn,
15. T-V “Panther”,
SU-600 “Tor” “Adam”,
17. “Maus”,
B-4 “Borward”
Small carrier “KettenKrad”
B1a “Goliath”,
B1b “Goliath“,
Ball-tank (Kugelpanzer),
T-1f (Panzer I Ausf. F  or VK1801))
24. Т-VIH “Tiger” I,
SU-380 “Sturm Tiger”,
Т-VIB “Tiger II”
SU-128 “Jagdtiger”
SU-88 “Ferdinand”, (“Elephant“) Panzerjäger
“Horch”-B, **
BTRD7r “Adler-Berk”, , ***
BTRD7r “Bussing” 250/9
Mine Sweeper NK-101,
* – there are some inaccuracies in the Catalog, corrections and clarifications in the possibility are also given
** – from January 2012 – “Central Museum of Armored Weapons and Equipment”