On June 6, 1944, the dangerous and daring Allied invasion of Normandy began the liberation of Nazi-occupied France and led to the end of World War II in Europe. D-Day was the largest amphibious assault ever attempted, and the 150,000 American, British, and Canadian forces who landed on the French coast made history. Seventy-five years later, the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton also is making history with a unique and exciting exhibit – “D-Day: Freedom from Above” – that not only recognizes D-Day’s importance but also is making HistoPad technology available for the first time in the United States.
Developed by the French company Histovery, the HistoPad experience elevates interactive exhibits to a whole level with augmented reality tablets that enable people to manipulate and control an amazing array of 3D virtual images, period photographs, archival films, texts, sound effects, maps, and animations.
“D-Day: Freedom from Above” focuses on the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and their missions in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first French town to be liberated. Designed by the Air Force Museum in conjunction with Histovery and the French Airborne Museum of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, it’s not a game but an historically accurate and wonderfully engaging exhibit that takes visitors back in time to 1944.
Using the HistoPad tablets, you can hear the incessant roar of airplane engines; see paratroopers in the belly of a C-4; vicariously pilot a Waco CG-4A “flying coffin” glider; and learn true stories about the actions and fates of D-Day heroes like Pvt. Kenneth E. Russell, who was nearly killed by a German soldier when his parachute got stuck on a church steeple.
Nineteen-year-old Russell, who would earn two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts, escaped by cutting his harness.
Admission to the Air Force Museum is free, and renting a HistoPad tablet costs only $5, which is a bargain for a singularly immersive and informative D-Day exhibit. The tablets offer content in seven languages, and their user-friendly icons and prompts make it easy – and fun – for folks of all ages to learn about one of the most pivotal days in world history.
As the world’s largest military aviation museum, the Air Force Museum also boasts an unrivaled collection of World War II aircraft. That means visitors get another only-in-Ohio opportunity to see aircraft – including a Waco glider and a C-47 painted with the black and white invasion stripes – used on D-Day.
Since “D-Day: Freedom from Above” runs until December 31, 2019, you can enjoy it for the rest of the 75th anniversary year. In addition, the Air Force Museum has ancillary exhibits about World War II paratroopers and weapons, and throughout 2019, it is presenting D-Day-related activities ranging from Big Band concerts to movies such as “D-Day: Normandy 1944.” On the day of June 6, the Museum’s D-Day commemorations will include a C-47 flyover and re-enactors representing the 101st Airborne Division. For more information, telephone 937-255-3286 or visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.
For more history, Find It Here. at Ohio.org.