Introduction

World War II was a global conflict involving most of the worlds’ nations and over 100 million military personnel worldwide.  The war, divided into the Allies and the Axis, is known as the deadliest conflict in the history of the human race.  The war began on September 1, 1939 when Germany and Slovakia attacked Poland.  By September 3rd, France, Britain and other countries from the commonwealth openly declared war on Germany.  For the next six years a war like no other, involving all the major powers of the world, would ensue throughout various theaters.

 

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL features several dioramas relating to WWII.  These WWII dioramas feature tanks, halftracks, vehicles and an extensive collection of WWII memorabilia.  Audio also accompanies various displays within the dioramas.  The Pearl Harbor diorama features original film footage from the WWII attack.  Click on the link below for more information on these and other dioramas and displays featured at the museum.

AFHM Interactive Museum Map

 

The United States Enters WWII

The United States became involved in WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  The bombing was in retaliation for the United States refusing to trade items Japan desperately needed to assist them in their war with China.  The attack at Pearl Harbor claimed over 2,000 lives.  A total of eight battleships were either damaged or destroyed severely impacting the Pacific Fleet.   It was the only battle that took place on American soil.  The United States entered the war and began fighting on two fronts – Europe and the Pacific.

 

In addition to the bombing at Pearl Harbor, several other encounters throughout the war would more than earn their place in the history books.  The Battle of the Bulge, Battle of Normandy and the Battle of Iwo Jima are just a few of the historical conflicts that remain at the forefront of WWII battles.

 

America’s Home Front 

WWII vintage posterYoung men in the United States signed up by the thousands for military duty.  Patriotism was at an all-time high.  The war was in the fore front of everyone’s mind.  All citizens became involved in the war at some level.  Military themed posters were distributed throughout the United States encouraging the conservation of the resources needed by the military to fight a successful war.  Rubber, oil, gasoline, coffee and many other day-to-day items were being curtailed and food was being rationed.  Automobile production ceased beginning in February of 1943 in order to use the manufacturing plants to produce items needed for the war.  Women entered the work force to assist with making these much needed items.

 

Battleships, Tanks and Aircraft

The United States and several other countries had several fleets of battleships involved in the various theaters of the war.  Battleships proved to be a dominant force throughout the World War II.  However, by the end of the war the advancement of the aircraft carrier with offensive weapons and air guided missiles, the construction of battleships had all but come to an end.

 

A huge demand for aircraft existed during WWII.  Countries continued massive production runs and were constantly evaluating performance and safety with practicality and firepower making adjustments to meet and exceed the air power of the enemy.  Several aircraft rightfully earned their place as being synonymous with WWII.  The B17 Flying Fortress, the P51 Mustang, the P40 Warhawk and the British Spitfire just to name a few.  Advancements made throughout this time period were staggering and set the pace for future prototypes and continued advancement in military aircraft.

 

Tanks and military vehicles played a large role in World War II.  Variations of both continued to roll off the assembly line due to the continual changes required in design to meet the ever changing demands of the opponent.  Tanks were initially used as a means of infantry support but by the end of the war, tanks had become the dominant force on the battlefield.

 

Step close and get a sense of the strength of the cold metal on AFHMs authentic, fully restored, fully operational battle tanks, which are prominently displayed throughout the museum.  Get a sense of the combat they endured throughout their service.  Take a moment, put yourself in the turret – feel the power, feel the fear, feel the pride. 

 

 

WWII M16 HalftrackMilitary vehicles were used throughout the war for transporting troops, carrying infantry, artillery and anti-aircraft weaponry.  Halftracks were popular due to their versatility.  They were equipped with regular wheels on the front of the vehicle, which allowed for easier steering, but the back of the halftrack had caterpillar tracks.  These would help with propelling the vehicle merging the benefits of the cross-country abilities of the tank with the easier handling of a wheeled vehicle.

 

Summary

World War II holds a tremendous amount of history in the advancement of military weapons and tactics.  These advancements were spawned through necessity, but even the simpler aspects of WWII hold a tremendous amount of respect.  Trench art continued to be a favorite past time of the men in World War II and the once hand dittoed dog tags were now being produced by machine.   World War II, along with its many memories and memorabilia, was a time like no other - before or since.

 

To this day, World War II memorabilia continues to be highly sought after by collectors of all levels.  The uniqueness and rarity of the item is only super seceded by the amount of respect and patriotism that penetrated the hearts and souls of all Americans during World War II.