Tank demolishes building for Paul Allen arena

By Sara Bruestle | Jan 17, 2014
Photo by: Sara Bruestle A M4A1 Sherman tank from Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection drives through an old building at its Paine Field location, demolishing it to make way for a new “tank arena.”

Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection on Jan. 15 kicked off construction of a “tank arena” by bulldozing a building at its Paine Field location with one of its historical tanks.

A fully restored Sherman tank crashed through a building used while the military held the south side of Paine Field to make way for a 26,000 square foot arena to showcase Allen’s three World War II tanks.

The tank then fired off a couple of celebratory cannon shots to mark the start of construction.

“Today is the first step in a new, exciting direction at FHC,” said Adrian Hunt, executive director of the collection. “We can’t wait to hold our first TankFest at our new tank arena.

“We are so excited to have a space in which these preserved pieces of history can be used to their potential to educate and inspire.”

An FHC spokesperson said the arena is scheduled to be completed in time for TankFest Northwest, an annual event held by the collection. This year’s festival is set for Memorial Day.

The arena will allow the collection to hold demonstrations of what its WWII tanks can do.

The FHC’s inaugural TankFest Northwest event was in 2011, which featured the tanks as part of Memorial Day festivities.

Inspired by the popularity of the event, directors drew up plans for an arena located just west of the main hangar, where tank demonstrations could be held.

“The tanks were a popular addition to the collection, and the idea was born to create a space which was all their own,” said Ashley Wilson, spokesperson for the FHC. “We hope to invite other working tanks to come ‘play’ in our arena.”

Construction of the tank arena is slated for a Feb. 1 start and is expected to be completed by May 26.

Plans for the arena continue to evolve, Wilson said, but there will be an area for public viewing and a track specifically designed for the unique movement of tanks.

The arena will showcase tank events and other activities throughout the flying season.

The FHC’s German Jagdapanzer 38(T) “Hetzer,” American M4A1 Sherman and Russian KMDB T-34/85 tanks will be driven around the arena, in addition to all of the FHC’s other military vehicles.

In addition, vehicles from other collections around the U.S. will be allowed to use the arena during special events.

Many tanks have metal tracks and are quite heavy. Driving them at Paine Field requires the laying down of rubber mats to protect the airport taxiways from damage. FHC directors wanted a place where these machines could “roam free.”

This will be the first arena of its kind in North America, Wilson said.

The site for the arena was the location of an old building that most recently held the offices of a government organization, the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

Jason Muszala, the restoration and maintenance manager for the FHC was behind the wheel of the Sherman tank for the Jan. 15 demolition.

The M4A1 Sherman tank was America’s standard tank during World War II.

The medium tank was so reliable, easy to maintain, rugged and mobile that it was mass-produced and formed the backbone of most Allied offensives.

The Flying Heritage Collection is Paul Allen's collection of rare military aircraft and ground support, comprised of examples from Germany, Japan, Russia, Great Britain and the United States. The collection – on display in two hangars – has been at Paine Field since 2008.

The Flying Heritage Collection is at 109th St. S.W. at Paine Field Airport in Everett.

For more information, visit www.flyingheritage.com.

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