(CNN) — When an armored Land Rover was put on permanent display in the UK's prestigious Imperial War Museum this month, it brought with it an incredible story of endurance, tenacity and survival.
The vehicle was originally used by CNN's Christiane Amanpour during the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s after being purchased by the network's now diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson.
It went on to serve CNN in hostile environments around the globe before going off on its own adventures, eventually being rescued and restored for posterity in the IWM's American Air Museum, northeast of London.
Sniper proof: CNN's first armored vehicle.
The story of the "Pizza Truck," as it became affectionately known due to a large box originally attached to its back, began in Bosnia in 1992 when a sniper's bullet hit and almost killed CNN camera operator Margaret Moth.
With journalists being targeted in the brutal ethnic and territorial conflict, Robertson -- then an engineer and producer -- bought the truck to protect the CNN crew on the ground from sniper fire.
"We needed something that would offer protection for our crew in the kind of hostile environment that the Balkan conflict had become," Robertson explains.
"The Pizza Truck was one of our first properly armored cars, and the fact that we needed it reflected the increasing danger faced by reporters in the field at the time. It was deliberately painted white to make it clear that it was not a military vehicle."
For all the safety it offered, the Pizza Truck could also create its own hazards.
"It was a nightmare to drive," recalls Todd Baxter, who now heads CNN London's Image and Sound unit but took the wheel of the car many times in the field. "It was just so heavy because of all the armor.
"I remember one time Nic and I were following a convoy and struggling to keep up.
"We crested a hill and they'd actually stopped in front of us. We went straight into the back of one of their trucks.
"They thought they'd hit a landmine!"
Stranded in Tora Bora
Christiane Amanpour and Nic Robertson with the truck.
After service in Bosnia the car was used in Macedonia, where it was attacked and set on fire by angry locals, and then in Grozny for a time during the 1994 to 1996 Chechen War.
After a more sedate period based at CNN's Moscow bureau it was sent to Afghanistan, where it was used to transport CNN's Brent Sadler and crew covering the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
On an assignment in the Afghan Tora Bora mountain cave complex, where Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was thought to be hiding, the vehicle became stranded on a wet hillside after its clutch burned out.
Fearing that its unsuitability for the terrain and lack of protection from heavy weapons put the crew at risk, they decided to abandon it.
At this point the story gets even more remarkable.
CNN camera operator Dave Rust, who has been with the network since it launched, decided he wanted to try to save the Land Rover for posterity.
"I heard that it was being abandoned on the hillside, and so I asked if I could have it," he recalls. "CNN said 'yes.'
"Now all I had to do was figure out a way to get it off the hillside, get it repaired and find some way to get it from Tora Bora to Atlanta."
The truck was brought back to the UK but fell into disrepair.
That task was far from simple.
"Everyone retreated back to our campsite and decided to return the following day," the veteran camera operator explains.
"When we returned early the next morning we discovered the car had been retrieved from the hill and parked where the press regularly congregated.
"But a day later it had disappeared."
On further investigation it emerged that a local warlord had acquired and repaired the car, and was driving it around Tora Bora.
Rust and the crew managed to intercept the car and bring it back.
It was eventually restored by the same company that armored it for CNN.
But Rust was then re-assigned and, due to the increasingly dangerous situation on the ground, the entire team had to leave Tora Bora -- and the Pizza Truck -- behind.
Once again the Land Rover itself also disappeared.
Rust didn't give up on it though, and when he returned to Afghanistan almost a year later, he was back on its trail.
"I had an opportunity to cover an American military unit that was using drones as part of their arsenal of weapons. I even showed them a photo of the car and asked them to keep an eye out and let me know if they spotted it," he exclaims.
Royal Air Force rescue
CNN's Dave Rust tracked down the lost car in Afghanistan.
"Eventually I tracked it down via our local fixer in Kabul, who told me our Tora Bora fixer -- a friend of his -- had the car."
This second custodian had radically altered the vehicle's appearance -- removing the distinctive box on the back and repainting it in an oak leaf-camouflage design.
"I never saw any oak trees in Afghanistan!" Rust says with a laugh.
This time though, having bought it back a second time, Rust was able to get the Land Rover out of Afghanistan thanks to the help of the UK's Royal Air Force.
"Our security team leader was a former SAS soldier.
"He talked some RAF guys into flying it back to the UK as a favor. They agreed to do it in exchange for some cases of beer."
The Land Rover was then stored at a facility in Hereford for more than a decade, where it gradually fell into disrepair.
Eventually a CNN team rediscovered it and had it restored -- by the original company that armored it -- and it was transported a its safer and more permanent home at the IWM American Air Museum in Duxford, near Cambridge, England.
Media war: CNN's truck is among conflict-reporting exhibits at the American Air Museum in England.
The car is part of a display about combat reporting, which also includes CNN cameras, flak jackets and extensive video footage, alongside other items from Dave Rust's personal collection of memorabilia collected in 35 years of reporting for the network.
The newly re-opened American Air Museum houses a spectacular collection of 18 historic aircraft and vehicles, as well as more than 850 objects.
Aircraft include a Cold War-era U.S. Air Force B52, an A10 Warthog and a P-51K Mustang.
Other remarkable items include steel girders from the World Trade Center, a section of the Berlin Wall and a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, as well as the individual stories of 85 people whose lives were changed by war -- including Rust himself.
"It was just incredible to see it among this collection of vehicles," says Rust, who attended the opening ceremony of the museum. "It's sitting there, under the wing of a giant B52, with such a great story of its own.
"It's wonderful that it has this permanent home."