I’ve just spent the past 5 days in Vienna with the Mem and a fantastic time was had by us both checking out the beautiful architecture and fantastic art on offer not to mention the wonderful cafes and lovely beer and wine. I had been once before but the missus hadn’t and as she is an artist checking out the galleries was a priority mission of the trip (and one appreciated by myself too), but as she is also a decent human being I was allowed to check out the fantastic Army Museum. I was extremely happy about this as when I visited last time the halls containing the Napoleonic kit was closed for renovation which was a complete bunch of arse!
One of the great things about this museum is that it was purpose built within the Arsenal complex and the buildings are truly magnificent, as befitting something erected by the Habsburgs I suppose. After proceeding through the gate like entrance to the Arsenal you make your way through a courtyard and back out into the open to be confronted by the Museum itself. There are a great number of cannon displayed outside and there are a Saab Drakken and Tunnan posted at each end of the building too. I was eager to get a closer look at the Drakken as I have one for my Cold War Austrian force and was taken by the small size of the plane, it has always been a bit of a favourite of mine and looked better in the flesh very sleek and ‘sports car’ looking if you get my drift (I was also happy that my paint job was pretty close too!).
Entry into the museum is a quite reasonable E6 and another E2 buys you a sticker which allows you to take photos, genius idea this as they know us geeks just have to take pictures so generates a nice extra bit of cash for the museum. Unfortunately for me my phone had not charged up fully so I had to limit the number of pics I could take and some of the ones I did take weren’t of the best quality but there are still quite a few. So with entry sorted we made our way upstairs and into the grand entrance hall to the exhibition halls. Unfortunately my phone’s camera was unable to capture the magnificent friezes painted on the ceilings and over the doors well enough but they are nearly worth the visit in themselves. First stop was the 30 Years War period hall which had lots of stabby weapons and early firelocks on display, in particular a beautiful pair of Wheelock pistols, and some great information about smiting the Turks and the siege of Vienna (naturally) but I didn’t take any snaps here I’m afraid as I was saving battery for later on.
Through this hall to the end of the wing was the hall displaying the period of the great ‘Succession’ wars through to the Seven Years War. There were some great trophies on display as well as uniforms and drill manuals – my missus was particularly taken with the illustrations in these books and the flags. Again lots of arms on display too but it was here that I did start to get slightly annoyed that there wasn’t any information in English, a few lines might have been useful for those who choose not to use the audio guides.
After this it was back across the entrance hall into the ‘Hall of Revolutions’ which covered the period between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Seven Weeks War of 1866. I was like a kid in a sweet shop now as there were cabinets of Napoleonic goodness all around and, rather impressively, a captured French Observation balloon! I geeked out completely for the next half hour or so and seem to have some sort of obsession with hats going by the photo’s I took! Again everything was displayed very well with uniforms, arms and accoutrements in abundance along with captured standards (that ran the decreasing scale from French Imperial Eagles to 1864 Danish company fannions the further you went through the hall!) but information about the wars and political situations seemed to be lacking but that might be due to my lack of German. Anyway it was worth the 13 year wait to see this part of the collection as the plusses outweighed the slight minuses, I only wish I had taken some more pics of the later uniforms.
One thing these uniforms showed is that if I do any Austrians or Saxons in the future, definitely don’t do the tunics and trousers white as they are distinctly a more creamy colour as opposed to the whiteness of the belts and straps although the better quality officers ones are whiter. Now some more pics from that hall of flags and other bits and pieces.
After the more colourful and splendid exhibits of this hall it was time to return to the first floor and look through the 20th Century halls, the first part of which is some uniforms from the early part of the century then down a slope to be confronted with this…
This innocuous looking car is the very vehicle that Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in and so the whole sorry chain of events that subsequently turned into one of the greatest calamities that mankind has ever unleashed started on that green leather seat in the back. Made you think.
In a cabinet just behind where I was standing to take this photo was the bloodstained uniform of FF, which seemed a touch macabre. The First World War exhibits are quite extensive with some large pieces of ordnance in but I didn’t spend much time in here, the car did it for me to be honest.
Across into the next hall was the period of the Inter war years with a nice display about the very brief civil war in Austria in the 20’s, again sadly no info in English, and then the Second World War is covered before the final hall that is given over to the Austrian Navy. I skipped most of this as I had seen it before and the lack of info was annoying me now and as my phone was about to run out of juice I was saving what was left to take some snaps in the tank park at the back of the museum.
This very nearly didn’t happen as for some reason the small space where the roughly dozen post war vehicles are parked was closed until the 1st of April, the next day! I managed to spot a couple of gents strolling around amongst the vehicles though and I tried to get them to allow me in for a few quick snaps but I wasn’t allowed but one kindly agreed to take some for me. He asked if there was anything in particular I’d like photos of and I said the SK105 and the Saurer APC please – I had already noticed that I’d have to paint all my Austrian kit a lighter shade but some close up pics would be nice so here they are. Unfortunately no pics of the APC but that SK105 was the only Austrian AFV to have fired a shot in anger whilst on UN duty in Bosnia.
So that’s that, a great way to spend the morning whenever you are in Vienna and all for about a fiver. I’ve got a smaller post about my quick trip out to Aspern and Essling to do next but need a bit of a rest!