1.) Imperial War Museums - Various locations, Britain
Alright, perhaps this is cheating slightly because the IWM is split into several different branches. But the thing is - each of the branches is incredible and well worth a visit! If I had to select one of the locations above all the others, the Duxford site holds a mighty array of aircraft and is simply a must-see! Imperial War Museums as an organization have always been a great ally of ours, providing artefacts, research material and a wealth of archival information for several of our books that would simply be unavailable anywhere else in the world.
2.) Chiran peace Museum - Chiran, MinamiKyushu, Kagoshima, Japan.
An unusual and emotional place, the Chiran museum is largely dedicated to Japan's Tokkotai pilots of World War II. Regardless of the ideology that motivated (and in many cases, forced) the Kamikaze fliers to complete their deadly missions, the use of planned, sustained and co-ordinated suicide tactics is an unprecedented and terrible phenomenon in world history, and deserves focus. Built in 1975 with the dubious purpose of remembering the special attack pilots and their 'patriotic efforts for peace' the museum features several of the main Japanese aircraft used for the Kamikaze weapons, as well as a moving collection of letters, personal effects and memorabilia belonging to the airmen.
3.) Bundeswehr Military History Museum -Albertstadt, Dresden
A very impressive collection of stuff in a very impressive building. It was originally an armoury, built for Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1876 and up until its closure in 1989 it was a rather typical military museum, showcasing the evolution of German military technology throughout the ages. But the building survived the terrible effects of war in Dresden during World War II, and when it finally re-opened in 2011, its focus was markedly different. Complete with a brand new glass section of the building added on, the museum concentrated on the human side of war, presenting military history as interwoven into the texture of a nation's general history. But it still has lots of cool handguns and uniforms!
4.) Royal Navy Submarine Museum - Gosport, UK
This establishment is dedicated to the history of the submarine and all submersible vessels, going as far back as the time of Alexander the Great right up to the present day. It is based at the 'stone frigate' HMS dolphin shore establishment, which used to be a submarine base itself. The best bit is the large HMS. Alliance, an Acheron-class boat laid down at the end of World War II and completed in 1947, which you can go inside. Since 2001, the museum has also displayed the HMS Holland, which was the first submarine ever commissioned by the Royal Navy. It's housed in a special, climate-controlled room, and you can clamber on board this one too!
5.) General George Patton Museum
Located at the famous Fort Knox, the museum complex there houses one of the largest collections of armoured vehicles in the world, focusing not only on tanks but also trucks and jeeps. The overall coverage of the history and development of armoured warfare is excellent, but more curious is the mini-museum within the larger complex, which is dedicated to George Patton exclusively. It contains personal effects and memorabilia from Patton's life, from childhood up to the end of World War II. Because of where it is located, the gift shop sells mini replica gold bars from the nearby depository!
So how does our top five compare to yours? Have we missed something crucial out, or added a duff choice? Get in touch and let us know, tell us about your best military museum visits!