The Indiana World War Memorial, modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, was built after World War I with General John “Blackjack” Pershing setting the cornerstone in 1927. (Photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
While in Indianapolis for the 148th National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting, Guns.com had to make sure to visit the nearby Indiana War Memorial.
Located inside 25 acres of monuments, sculptures and statues downtown, the state-owned Memorial and museum honor the deeds and accomplishments of Indiana veterans in warfare going back to the Colonial-era.
Revolutionary War weapons such as British Brown Bess and French 1777 Charleville muskets along with Pennsylvania rifles pop up early in the self-guided tour, which is laid out chronologically.
Followed by the guns of the War of 1812 such as the 1795 Springfield and 1801 Harper’s Ferry rifle.
Besides the 30,000 sq. ft. military museum, the IWM has numerous war flags carried by state volunteer regiments in the Civil War, such as this one of the 19th Indiana, part of the renowned “Iron Brigade of the West” that fought at Antietam, the Wilderness, and Gettysburg, among others.
Captured German Great War-era weapons include a Kar88, M71 Jaeger rifle, Z Rifle, and Steyr M95, as well as rare pioneer-style, saw back bayonets.
And a German MG08/15 light machine gun, complete with its flash hider and a 100-round Trommel drum magazine. While “light” the MG08/15 still weighed 42-pounds without the ammo but could be operated by a single soldier.
As well as a Spandau Maxim MG08, fresh from the trenches of the Western Front. These water-cooled 8mm heavy machine guns could fire as many as 2,000 rounds non-stop before they boiled dry and the jacket had to be refilled by the five-man crew. This earned the gun a reputation as “the devil’s paintbrush.”
American WWI machine guns include an M1916 Colt-Browning Potato Digger and an M1917 Browning water-cooled heavy gun, both in .30-06.
Other WWI weapons include a Spanish M93, Belgian M77, Swiss Vetterli M78, American-made P14 Enfield, and U.S. M1917 Remington Enfield. Remington later used the M1917 design as their Model 30.
U.S. infantry weapons from World War II and Korea include M1 Garands and Carbines, the M1918 BAR, M1903 Springfield, M1 Thompson, and M3 Grease Gun. Also note the M44 Mosin and PPSh, of Korean War era
WWII German arms range from the MG42 machine gun and P08 Luger to an STG44, MP34 burp gun and K43. The Walther Karabiner 43 was often referred to as “Hitler’s Garand” as it was a 10-shot semi-auto chambered in 8mm Mauser. Some 400,000 K43s were made during the war.
A dedicated Marine Corps display shows off not only the BAR, Garand, and M1903 sniper but also light mortars and a flamethrower, key to rooting out pockets of Japanese resistance in the “green hell” jungles of South Pacific atolls.
Japanese weapons from WWII include Arisaka carbines and rifles alongside Nambu light machine guns and a “Knee” mortar which you shouldn’t actually fire from your knee unless you are a fan of physical therapy.
The IWM has a loaned M1911 Colt .45 that has a serial number that dates to 1919. It was carried in WWII by Sgt. Leo Thompson of Salem, Indiana when he was killed in the Philippines in 1945. Recovered by his brother-in-law,
Thompson had personalized his gun by inserting a 1944 Australian shilling in the grip.
Both the M3 Grease Gun and M1 Garand also have special places of honor at the IWM due to the fact they were made in Indiana, with the M3 cranked out exclusively in Anderson in WWII and the International Harvester version of the M1 made in Evansville during Korea.
Heavy weapons on display include several light and medium artillery pieces
Like this Vietnam-era M40A1 106mm recoilless rifle. A cool thing about this anti-tank gun is the 50-caliber M8C spotting rifle mounted on top, which helped the crew hit their targets.
Speaking of Vietnam, there is a comprehensive display with an M79 Bloop Gun, M60 general purpose machine gun, M16A1, AK, and M72 LAW
There is also an AH-1 Cobra gunship with its 3-barreled 20mm gun and rocket launchers
More modern captures include an Iraqi LMG and RPG round. In another room is a plastic-covered chair that came from one of Saddam’s palaces.
The Indiana War Memorial is open Wednesday-Sunday from 9AM to 5 PM and is free to the public.