Collings Foundation’s 2016 Battle For The Airfield

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Stow, Massachusetts is usually adorn with autumnal colors during the second weekend of October, and “leaf peepers” abound in the scenic town just beyond the bustling suburbs of Boston. At the Collings Foundation’s main museum and headquarters, a collection of airplanes, autos and armored vehicles sits in and around a large barn/hangar building, adjacent to a grass runway. Lined by changing trees and a meandering river on the other side of the buildings, the runway recently became a battleground and living history exhibit for almost three hundred military reenactors, a dozen or more military vehicles and a true World War II veteran, a Fieseler Fi-156 Storch liaison aircraft. Hundreds of spectators made their way to Stow for either a morning or an afternoon history lesson at a realistic portrayal of World War II warfare at the 2016 Collings Foundation’s “Battle For The Airfield”. DSC_4977 bw The forty-five minute reenactment began with a German General’s field inspection, added a liaison flight and horse-mounted reconnaissance, and ends up with an armored battle, complete with tanks, half-tracks, and other motorized vehicles, along with scores of infantrymen.

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Plentiful explosions, smoke, and blank rifle fire add to the realistic portrayal of the din of warfare on the ground.

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Both before and after each of the two daily battles, the reenactors are available to talk to, and teach you about their particular specialty – from uniforms to engines, and unit histories to veterans’ stories.

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A panel discussion with three World War II veterans – one a German soldier, one a U.S. Army Air Force air crew member, and the other a U.S. A Navy destroyer crewmember drew an interested crowd in between the morning and the afternoon “battles”.

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Saturday’s planned activities went well, but a rare rainy Sunday provided a wet venue for the finale of the weekend. Besides the Storch, the Collings Foundation’s AT-6F and a pair of PT-17s were outside of the museum’s hangar – the T-6 and one of the Stearmen were continuously taking passengers up for rides. The Storch was available for rides, too!

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To be honest, the autumn foliage colors weren’t very impressive to view on the second weekend in October in Stow. However, the efforts and examples put forth by the Collings Foundation and the scores of reenactors at the “battle” were definitely attention-grabbing and worth the trip to witness instead.  

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