IRON FIST

HO SCALE MODEL OF A 1944 GERMAN PANZER DIVISION

Patterned after the Wehrmacht 2nd Panzer Division on the eve of D-Day in 1944, this HO scale model reproduces a complete German tank division. Robert L. Parkinson (1923-1991) conceived of this model panzer division in the early 1960s and built it through the 1970s. Comprising about 15,000 pieces, it includes tanks, halftracks, armored cars, assault guns, artillery, trucks, motorcycles, and men, all organized in the combat and support units organic to a German panzer division of the time. An attached tiger tank battalion adds to its firepower and size. All the pieces were hand painted by Parkinson and are organized in historically accurate platoons, companies, battalions, and regiments. Since 1992, this one-of-a-kind division had been in the collection of the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In 2011, it became the property of the National Armor and Cavalry Museum (NACM) at Fort Benning, Georgia. At that time, the NACM placed the panzer division on loan to the World War History & Art Museum in Alliance, Ohio. Iron Fist displays this panzer division to the public for the first time since 1992. WWHAM is the only venue ever to permanently exhibit this huge panzer division. It is also the first place to show the panzer division in display cases, allowing patrons to get up close to see the detail. In 2013, the NACM permanently transferred the panzer division to WWHAM as its new owner. We are most grateful to the National Armor and Cavalry Museum for their confidence and support.

Iron Fist Display Cases

Iron Fist Display Cases

Looking west in Iron Fist showing many of the display cases. This photo was taken before the display cases were covered and before text panels were installed.

Iron Fist Display Cases

Iron Fist Display Cases

Looking east in Iron Fist showing more of the display cases.

Panzer Grenadier Regiment

First Panzer Grenadier Regiment

First Panzer Grenadier Regiment in review order.

Panzer Grenadiers

Panzer Grenadiers

One company of Panzer Grenadiers in Sd.Kfz 251 halftracks.

Sd.Kfz 251 halftrack

Sd.Kfz 251 Halftrack

Close up of an Sd.Kfz 251 halftrack converted by Bob Parkinson from an ammunition carrier.

Reconnaissance Battalion

Reconnaissance Battalion

Reconnaissance Battalion in review order.

Armored Car Company

Armored Car Company

Armored Car Company composed of Sd.Kfz 222, 231, 232, and 234 armored cars. The Sd.Kfz 222, 231, and 232 armored cars were converted by Parkinson from Puma armored cars.

Puma armored car

Puma Armored Car

Close up of an Sd.Kfz 234/2 Puma armored car made by Roco Minitanks of Salzburg, Austria, and hand painted by Bob Parkinson.

Medical Battalion

Medical Battalion

Part of the Medical Battalion showing a Medical Company of field aid stations (top) and the Ambulance Company (below).

Artillery Regiment

Artillery Regiment

Artillery Regiment in review order.

Battery of Artillery

Battery of Artillery

Battery of 150mm artillery towed by 8 ton halftracks.

Artillery Tractor

Artillery Tractor

Close up of 8 ton halftrack used as an artillery tractor.

Panzer Regiment

Panzer Regiment

Panzer Regiment in review order.

First Panzer Battalion

First Panzer Battalion

First Panzer Battalion composed of the headquarters company, four companies of Panther tanks, and a maintenance and supply company.

Panther Tanks

Panther Tanks

One company of Panther Tanks.

Panther Tank

Panther Tank

Close up of a Panther Tank from the First Panzer Battalion.

Exhibit Opening Tour

Exhibit Opening Tour

Joel Parkinson, WWHAM Director & Curator, showing a group around on opening day for Iron Fist.

Exhibit Opening Tour

Exhibit Opening Tour

Joel Parkinson showing another group around Iron Fist on its opening day.

Parkinson family tours exhibit

Interstate Fans

Some of the Parkinson family gathered from Wisconsin, Nevada, and Virginia to see the Panzer Division, August 6, 2011.

Joel Parkinson and Panzer Display

Transferred

Joel Parkinson, WWHAM Director and Curator, in the midst of the 2nd Panzer Division after it was permanently trensferred to WWHAM by the National Armor and Cavalry Museum (March 2013).

Unterscharfuhrer Harold A.

Harold A. was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925. In 1938 his family moved to Germany where he was immediately put in the Hitler Youth. In October of 1942, he was assigned to a Panzer III tank crew in the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich. A year later his Panzer battalion was issued new Panther tanks. He was the machine gunner and radio man in a Panther tank at the Battle of Kursk in 1943. After being shot up at Kursk, the 2nd SS Panzer Division was withdrawn to France in January, 1944, and was committed to fighting the Allies after the D-Day invasion of Normandy. In August, 1944, Unterscharfuhrer (Sergeant) A. was in a Panther tank attempting to escape the Falaise Pocket. The tank ahead of him was destroyed, blocking his way. After he got out of his Panther to tend to wounded he heard someone yell in English, "Hands up!" The Americans were shooting captured SS troops on the spot. However, Lieutenant Herbert J., an Army Ranger from Cleveland, Ohio, heard Harold speaking fluent English. That, and the fact that they discovered that they played together as boys in Cleveland, meant that Harold was spared that day. Harold was now a prisoner of war. After the war he returned to Berlin where he could not find any of his SS memorabilia. Turns out his father buried everything as the Russians closed in on Berlin to avoid being shot by them. In 1948 Harold was allowed to return to the United States since he was an American citizen. He settled in Cleveland again. On July 2, 2013, Harold and his wife visited the World War History & Art Museum in Alliance, Ohio. He wanted to see the HO scale model of the Wehrmacht 2nd Panzer Division (distinct from his 2nd SS Panzer Division). He was especially thrilled to see the battalion of Panther Tanks. What did Unterscharfuhrer Harold A. think about the model Panzer Division and WWHAM? "Very impressive!"

Harold (right) and his brother, Herbert (left), in World War II.

Harold (right) and his brother, Herbert (left), in World War II.

Joel Parkinson and Panzer Display

Harold with the battalion of Panther tanks in the model of the 2nd Panzer Division at WWHAM, July 2, 2013.