Kubinka Tank Museum Guide & 1992 – 2014 Virtual Tour

See also Part 1 History of the Polygon from 1931 and the tank museum in Kubinka 1938 -1991 of the USSR period:

Kubinka Tank Museum 1992 – 2014

The history of the Museum and its collections after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, “perestroika” and reorganization of the structure and methods of work, as well as replenishment with new exhibits. Liquidation of the Museum, moving exhibits to other places and transformation into a “technical site” of the Patriot Park.
Perestroika, begun by Mikhail Gorbachev and continued by Boris Yeltsin, also took place in the army and in the tank museum. In 1991, the general political and economic situation in the Russian Federation became more than terrible. The average salary of civilians was only 10-15 dollars a month, there was no food and household products in stores – clothes, electric shavers, washing machines and televisions. High inflation and depreciation of Russian rubles. The regular officers of the Soviet army experienced the stress of the destruction of communist ideals and the delay in their salaries. The necessary clothing items, uniforms, were not obtained in full and the “excess” was sold on the market. There were cases when young cadets of the military academy even sold their bodies, which completely destroyed the Soviet image of the builder of communism. Pederasty in the USSR and the Soviet army was punishable officially by the prison. There was a massive voluntary and by order of the leadership of the Ministry of Defense reduction of the army. It was believed that the Cold War was over and there was no need to maintain a large army, as in the days of the USSR. Of the positive trends, it is worth noting that all military collections “for official use” were gradually opened to ordinary civilians. This also happened to the tank museum in Kubinka. As usual, this happened too rudely, wrongly, with great damage to the preservation of history, the so-called “military” method. A description of the origin of all exhibits and the results of their testing were in the secret library and archive at the BTVT Institute. The archives included descriptions of exhibits from the Second World War period, as well as military equipment obtained as a result of secret operations of local wars and conflicts during the Cold War. According to the Soviet classification and the Order of the Minister of Defense 010, the declassification of information at that time was a period of 50 years. The exception was information that is relevant at the present time. Thus, after 50 years, all archives were supposed to either be declassified, or destroyed, or “keep forever.” The chief of the polygon, general, in 1992 ordered to clear the premises of the Library and Archive. The process of the declassifying documents or transferring them to the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense in the Podolsk city was very long and difficult. Responsible for the archive went the easiest way – the destruction by the burning almost all documents. This is acceptable for covert operations to obtain military equipment from the US, Britain and Israel, but completely unacceptable for exhibits of the Second World War. Thus, all the exhibits of the tank museum have lost their history. Only 20 years after this monstrous mistake by the authorities, enthusiastic historians privately began to try to restore the history of some exhibits from memoirs and other sources. After declassifying the exhibits of the museum, it was decided to provide access to the museum to civilians. The first visit by civilians was carried out only on certain days (Tankman Day in September and May 9 Victory) through the territory of the military camp and the secret 38 NIIII. Near the service entrance and along the entire passage corridor, a patrol was set up from the military personnel of the tank regiment and the 45th airborne regiment, located here, across the road.
According to the old Soviet traditions, for educational propaganda purposes, all the 90s, on Tankman’s Day, visitors were allowed to enter the Museum for free. By the end of the 90s, the Museum had a separate entrance and ticket office from the Minsk highway, but there was no public transport. On foot from the railway station, the path took 30-40 minutes through the Moscow-Minsk-Berlin highway. It was possible to take a taxi from the station, but for ordinary Russian citizens the cost was very expensive. Travel agencies appeared, making group bus tours from Moscow, but only for citizens of the Russian Federation. With foreign citizens, the situation was completely different, more complicated, but more profitable.

Painting of the armored vehicles in the historical colors
Since the construction of closed hangars and the second “opening” of the Museum in 1972, all museum exhibits from all over the world have been painted in a single Soviet protective dirty field green. For the convenience of the control, especially the combat and experimental armored vehicles, to account for the collection, the big white serial numbers were applied on the turrets according to the service catalog, where the first digit meant the number of the hangar, the category of the tank. Tanks in working order were shown in motion during the holidays and had the Museum’s logo and model name on the turret for spectators and generals.  At the end of the 90s, several civilian volunteers from the Scale Models Club offered the Museum management to paint some of the exhibits in historical colors and apply tactical identification marks for free. Of course, the first experience was not very successful, tactical identification marks were not always correct, and the paint was not very resistant, but the Museum took on a completely different look. It is also necessary to take into account the factor that in the 90s there was no much information on the origin of the exhibits and in general on this type of the armored vehicles. Primary work was carried out in 1999-2001 on weekends by the civilians, non-military personnel and museum staff, the classical volunteers. This period of the Museum’s history is presented in the Archival photo gallery made by our team, posted below, as well as on the pages of the hangars and individual exhibits.

to be continued soon