Seventy-two years after it fell into Allied hands, one of the largest combat vehicles to see action in the Second World War arrived safely at The Tank Museum in Dorset.
Last week one of the two remaining Elefant tank destroyers from WWII arrived at the Tank Museum at Bovington UK to be part of their upcoming Tiger Collection exhibit. Here is an article from the Tank Museum about the arrival of this armored beast.
Seventy-two years after it fell into Allied hands, one of the largest combat vehicles to see action in the Second World War has arrived safely at The Tank Museum in Dorset.
The 70 ton Panzerjäger Tiger (P), commonly known as Elefant, has undergone an historic 3,500 mile return journey across the Atlantic.
It was captured near Anzio, Italy, by US troops in June 1944 – and quickly shipped stateside for military evaluation.
Tank Museum Curator David Willey said: “Tiger tanks like this one have a powerful reputation which was underpinned with Nazi propaganda at the time.”
“This reputation has persisted beyond the war itself into books, films and video games.”
The tank is being loaned from the US Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center at Fort Lee, VA, by The United States Army Centre of Military History and is one of just two surviving examples of the 91 Elefants that saw service with German forces.
It will be the first time that an Elefant has ever been seen in the UK.
“This mythical reputation, coupled with their rarity, is what makes them of such great interest. But in truth, the myth has elevated them to be greater than the reality.” David added.
Designed by famed auto-engineer Ferdinand Porsche, the Elefant was a self-propelled anti-tank gun and member of the ‘Tiger family’ of Second World War German tanks.
Before serving in Italy, it took part in the Battle of Kursk, which remains the biggest tank battle in history.
Its final destination is The Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset, where it will feature in ‘The Tiger Collection – the Tanks, the Terror & the Truth‘ exhibition sponsored by World of Tanks.
“Tigers are large and impressive by contemporary standards – but there is a moral responsibility to remember what they were used for and the regime who created them,” said David.
“Representing less than 7% of their wartime tank production, Tiger tanks failed to have a real impact and our exhibition will be presenting a more balanced account of these vehicles, along with views of veterans.”
Set to open in April 2017, the exhibition will bring every member of the Tiger tank family together in one space for the first time in history. However, one example that has eluded the Museum will be appearing virtually, courtesy of exhibition sponsors World of Tanks.
“We’re taking our experience of creating historically accurate models for our World of Tanks video game and using this to create an exhibit to complete the collection,” said Richard Cutland, World of Tanks European Head of Military Relations.
“Using the latest digital technology, visitors will be able to see a full-sized Sturmtiger in the exhibition with the use of our Augmented Reality App. We’re pleased to be supporting an exhibition of such international significance.”
The Tank Museum at Bovington has announced a new exhibition featuring every member of the Tiger tank family to be on display in April of 2017. The Tank Museum will be receiving an Elefant tank destroyer on loan from the US Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center. According to the image of the display on the Tank Museum website, the featured vehicles will be Tiger 131, the Elefant on loan from the US, a Jagdtiger, a King Tiger with “Porsche” turret and a King Tiger with “Henschel” turret. Oddly, the painting at the top of the page for this exhibit shows a different mix of vehicles, two Tigers, a King Tiger, Jagdtiger and a Sturmtiger. Chalk it up to artistic license we guess. As far as we know, the only surviving Sturmtigers are one in Russia at Kubinka, and one that was at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in the USA which is now at the Munster Panzer Museum in Germany. Bovington is said to have the 380mm mortar from a Sturmtiger, hopefully this artifact will be part of the Tiger Collection exhibit.
Event Description (from Tank Museum website):
The new exhibition, which will be unveiled in April 2017, is aimed at enthusiasts of German armour and will feature new and previously unseen crew interviews and testimonies and account from those who faced them in action.
The development and technology employed in these huge machines along with historical detail about the battles in which they were fought will aim to assess the extent to which these tanks deserve their mighty reputations.
Veteran accounts will include reminiscences from those who were present at the capture of Tiger 131 and the story of Gunner Joe Ekins of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, who in August 1944, knocked out three Tigers in his Sherman Firefly within a matter of hours. It is believed that one of these Tiger tanks was crewed by famed tank ace Michael Wittmann.
In an interview conducted before his death in 2012, Gunner Ekins recalled; “We were in the orchard, looking out over a couple of thousand yards of flat, plain land. Suddenly there were three Tigers coming across our front. We waited until they were about 800 yards. My commander said ‘target the rear one’ and I fired two shots at him and hit him. We pulled out again and fired at the second tank, hit him with the first shot and it went up in an explosion so, obviously we hit the ammunition or something. By this time the first tank of the three had realised what was going on and he started looking for cover, so it turned a bit towards us, we fired two shots at him and I hit him as well”.
Of course, the German perspective will also be presented. At TANKFEST 2015, former Tiger 1 driver Wilhelm Fischer was interviewed by Museum staff and research is being carried out to identify further personal accounts.
With veteran stories, supporting artefacts, unseen imagery and the stories unique to the vehicles on display, the exhibition will showcase the Museum’s collection of what were arguably the most feared and famous tanks of the Second World War.
The Tank Museum’s David Fletcher takes a look at the Char B-1 heavy tank from 1940.
Here is another video from the Tank Museum at Bovington. This video features the great-grandson of Gnr. Reginald Laverty, one of the very first tank crewmen.
A short video from the Tank Museum at Bovington on the significance of the 100th anniversary of the tank.