You don’t need to know much about a Sherman tank, or a Soviet MiG fighter jet, to know you wouldn’t want to see either bearing down on you.
The 33-ton tank has a 75-mm cannon and three machine guns. The MiG-29 jet could attack targets in the air or on the ground, and some models could carry tactical nuclear weapons.
But starting Friday, you can safely step in front of either of these iconic symbols of war at Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field in Everett.
The tank and jet are marquee attractions of the 25,000-square-foot “Hangar 2,” which will increase by 70 percent the display space for the collection of military equipment the Microsoft co-founder has amassed over the years.
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Once the second hangar is open, the center will have 19 aircraft on display, along with a dozen other artifacts, including tanks and large gun assemblies.
“Paul doesn’t collect these to put them in a closet,” said Cory Graff, the center’s military aviation curator. “He collects them to share with the public.”
The collection, which opened in Arlington in 2004, moved to Paine Field in 2008.
Staffers won’t disclose what Allen has paid for the artifacts, but the collection’s executive director, Adrian Hunt, said Allen seeks out what he regards as important specimens.
“What we’re trying to do is to find important examples of technological innovation, particularly in aviation, and to restore those examples to their original condition to an obsessive degree, so that every wire, every nut and every bolt is as it was in the original,” Hunt said.
As intimidating as the Sherman tank appears from the outside, being inside one was also dangerous. In Europe in World War II, Sherman tanks were overmatched by German “Tigers” in firepower and range, and were often destroyed by armor-piercing shells.
Some historians say the Sherman tank’s greatest strength was simply that there were so many of them — some 50,000 were produced.
The tank in Everett was built at Pressed Steel Car in Chicago and delivered to the U.S. Army in 1943.
Graff said it probably didn’t go to Europe until after World War II and was used for years by the Dutch Army for target practice, resulting in significant damage that was repaired after Allen purchased it from a collector in 2010.
The restored tank arrived in Tacoma by ship last year and was trucked to Paine Field.
The MiG jet that’s on display also probably never saw combat, Graff said. It’s a two-seater model, the type produced to train new pilots, with the instructor in one seat.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, this MiG became the property of the Ukrainian military. AIlen purchased it from a collector in a deal completed in 2011.
Allen’s aircraft hub is called a collection rather than a museum, Hunt said, because the planes in it are not locked into static displays. Instead, nearly every airplane is maintained in flight-ready condition.
About twice a month during the summer, a couple of planes from the collection are rolled out of their hangar and flown, and the public is invited to watch.
“We treat them with great respect,” Hunt said. “We don’t do loop-the-loops or acrobatics. We have them do what they were meant to do.”
There are no plans to have the planes fly during Friday’s ribbon-cutting for the second hangar.
The first fly day this year is scheduled for May 18.
Jack Broom: firstname.lastname@example.org