B1 Intermediate UK 445 Folder Collection
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Hello and welcome to the next in our series of inside the tanks
and it is with great pleasure and due to popular demand
that today we are going to look at the fantastic Tiger I.
Not only any old Tiger 1, of course, this Tiger 131
the only fully functioning Tiger 1 actually currently in existence in the world as we speak.
Relatively few of course Tiger 1's were ever produced only 1354 between 1942 and 1944.
We are now joined by David Willey who is the curator of the tank museum here in Bovington.
Thank you very much for joining us David.
A bit of history about the marvelous Tiger 131.
Well this particular Tiger was captured in North Africa in early 1943.
It was sent out at the end of those see saw battles that had been going across the North African desert,
out to Tunisia when finally Hitler realises the Germans are going to lose.
He then reinforces the German army there with his latest secret weapon, that's the Tiger.
So a number of them are sent across the Mediterranean.
This one is serving with the 504 Schwere Panzer Battalion
The 504th Heavy Tank Battalion.
It's on a hill side at a place called Medgelbab.
British tanks are attacking it.
There are Churchill tanks firing at it.
We know it knocks out at least a couple of those Churchill tanks,
but then we can see damage on this tank that we can now surmise why the German crew abandoned the tank.
They didn't blow it up, they should have done.
That was the orders at the time.
It was a secret weapon, you should destroy your tank if you are going to abandon it,
But we think that one of the key rounds that was fired by a Churchill tank it goes under the barrel,
we can look at that damage in a moment, and it wedges the turret to the hull.
In other words it goes underneath the point meeting between the turret and the hull,
jams in there so that the crew can't actually traverse the turret.
And whether they were wounded, we just don't know
we've never been able to find out or actually track down the actual crew, they abandoned the tank.
The German war diary actually uses the word "panic", when they leave that tank.
It's the first Tiger we have captured intact on the battlefield in the west.
So let's have a look at the damage.
You can see here on the mantlet and the beginning of the barrel
the damage as a round has been coming in its clipped underneath,
clipped the mantlet there and actually then, wedged between the turret and the hull.
At the time the gun was facing forward
and it actually depressed the roof above the driver and the co driver,
and we've got photographs of the time, it shows a fair bit of damage went on there.
Again whether that wounded the crew we just don't know.
You can also see where another, we think 6 pounder round
from one the Churchill guns that's firing,
has clipped off the side of the lifting eye here and it has exposed the bare metal.
So another round has gone there. has clipped off the side of the lifting eye here and it has exposed the bare metal.
So another round has gone there.
And around on the vehicle as well you can also see other bits of damage
which we assume this is probably from shrapnel
so exploding high explosive rounds and there is more damage on the rear.
So obviously shell fire is going off around the vehicle at the time as well,
so we can see that sort of damage.
We know that the loaders hatch, not the commanders hatch,
the loaders hatch, the square hatch was actually damaged as well.
We've got photographs when it was first hit that was broken.
Subsequently that was replaced.
So again whether the crew were damaged in that action again we just don't know.
But whatever happened the crew abandoned the tank.
Again the German war diary it says, they use the word in the war diary, "panic".
The crew of Tiger 131 panicked and abandoned the tank.
And the following day the 48th Royal Tank Regiment,
who have these Churchill tanks, they've been attacking up the hill.
They've had losses, they are back on the battlefield and they find this tank sitting there, abandoned.
And they go across it, they have a look at it.
They knock out the wedged in shell.
We realise we have got the first captured Tiger tank
And its photographed and filmed in situ before it is then recovered back.
It goes to Tunis, where Churchill comes out.
He sees it in Tunis.
The king sees it.
It's put on show.
It's then taken back to Britain, where it is taken to a place called Chertsey where they do all the experimental analysis.
They have a really good look at it there.
They take it apart. They measure it. They record it.
They make a massive report on it.
Put it back together again. They fire the gun.
They do all sorts of things and it is only until 1951, well after the war,
that it is then handed over to the tank museum
And it has been here, obviously, a very popular exhibit for many many years.
And at the end of the 1990's we started a programme to get it back into running order.
And now every now and again, we take it out, special events, special occasion,
we let people know we are going to run it and we drive it around our track.
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Inside The Tanks: The Tiger I part I - World of Tanks

445 Folder Collection
Shovel Snow published on July 18, 2017
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