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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Battleships and battlefields: WWII Museums from around the world

Some of the ships and planes and battlefields of World War II remain to this day, maintained by diligent museum staff around the world.

From the USS Missouri battleship in Pearl Harbor, to the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier in New York, to the beaches of Normandy and more, these museums respect and preserve a legacy of service.

Here are photo tours of many of the top sites.

USS Missouri

The USS Missouri wasn’t at Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, but now sits vigil there over her fallen sister ship, the USS Arizona.

A tour of the legendary USS Missouri




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The Pacific Aviation Museum

Just a short distance from the Missouri, on Ford Island, is the Pacific Aviation Museum, with a wide variety of aircraft, though mostly those that served in the Pacific Theater of WWII.

A tour of the Pacific Aviation Museum (pictures)

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USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

Far across the Pacific and all of North America, the USS Intrepid sits in the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side. She served for over 30 years, starting in WWII, and is now home to myriad aircraft, from prop planes to the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

A tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (pictures)




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Royal Air Force Museum

Long before Pearl Harbor, the British were fighting their own war. The RAF Museum houses hundreds of aircraft not just from WWII, but WWI, the Cold War, and more.

A tour of the Royal Air Force Museum (pictures)




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American Air Museum and Imperial War Museum Duxford

Not too far outside of London, at the still-active Duxford aerodrome, the Imperial War Museum Duxford and the American Air Museum have over 200 aircraft, including huge WWII bombers, early and modern jets, and even an entire B-52 and an SR-71.

Take a tour of the American Air Museum and the Imperial War Museum Duxford (pictures)

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Churchill War Rooms and Imperial War Museum London

London itself, of course, has an incredible variety of museums. Churchill’s underground War Rooms are legendary, and across town the Imperial War Museum London has tanks, artillery, uniforms and more.

A tour of the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum London (pictures)

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HMS Belfast

It’s hard to miss the Belfast, sitting in the Pool of London, across from The Tower and just upriver from Tower Bridge. It’s the largest surviving British vessel from WWII and helped sink the German battleship Scharnhorst.

Take a tour of the HMS Belfast (pictures)




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Bletchley Park

The Allies’ superior codebreaking was said to have taken years of the war, and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Much of that was thanks to Bletchley Park. Did you see “The Imitation Game”? That was based and shot here.

Photo Tour of Bletchley Park




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HMS Alliance

A bit further outside of town, along the southern shore of England, is the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth. The submarine HMS Alliance was started during the war, but finished right after, and is the pinnacle of British WWII submarine design. Nearby is the HMS Warrior, which never saw a battle in its service in the 1800s, but the HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship, sure did, and survives to this day a short walk away.

Three ships, 300 years of Royal Navy history (pictures)

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The Beaches of Normandy, 70 years later

June, 2014 was the 70th anniversary of the landings at Normandy. I got a chance to be there that week, and even meet one of the brave men who stormed the beaches that morning.

D-Day: 70 years later (pictures)




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The Rock of Gibraltar

A British stronghold for centuries, during WWII it was a crucial base, not least for its ability to observe the entrance to the Mediterranean, but for its nearly impenetrable series of man-made tunnels and caves, which you can tour.

The other Rock: Gibraltar’s tunnels, Bond movie locations and more (pictures)

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In his alternate life as a travel writer, Geoff does tours of cool museums and locations around the world including nuclear submarines, medieval castles, Abbey Road Studios, and more. You can follow his exploits on Twitter and Instagram, and on his travel blog BaldNomad. Got a tour-worthy spot you think he should check out? Let him know!

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