The Tiger I Gallery.
The beautiful wooded a scenery belies the ferocious action that took place here over 60 years ago. One of the recovery team stands in the muddy marsh ground that holds one of Hitlers most feared and sought after AFV's. A Pz.Kpfw. VI. - The Sdkfz 181 Tiger I!
The diggers are called in after strong magnetometer readings and local stories indicated that a Tiger I was destroyed here in the war. The ground is reluctant to give up it's prey! But after much digging - below, is the result. The director of the group, Igor Matzook poses with the missing piece of Teuton armour.
Below: Two of the team clean off the stinking, cloying mud and examine the Tiger, or what is left of it. Now the research begins in earnest.
This front piece of the tank, complete with remains of the coaxial MG34 was found at a depth of around 4 meters. The excitement of the initial discovery has been replaced by a degree of disappointment, as it appears that there is nothing else in this hole, an odd piece of shattered armoured plate, but no signs of the rest of the tank.
Two theories now exist, was the tank destroyed by some huge explosion and this piece of the Tiger has fallen into the muddy morass and been slowly sucked beneath the surface. Or, was the tank recovered much earlier in a post war scrap drive by the Soviets?
The Tiger was lost near the road network serving Brest - Moscow. The vehicle being near the small hamlet of Kiseli, near the city of Orscha. It is possible from what we know that this Tiger was formerly of Schwere Pz. Abteilung 505, as this unit did lose several Tiger's in this area during 1944. Further investigation of the area might yet unearth the rest of this Tiger - making it a potential mecca for enthusiasts of this famous fighting machine. The heavy barrel of the coaxial MG plainly visible.
We'll keep you posted of any further finds, and keep our fingers crossed!
Below; Where once the eyes of a Panzerfahr stared, now only the gentle Summer breeze and the biting mosquitoes witness the rising of this WW2 beast.
Below some very tangible links with the battle for Normandy. Leaning against the wall are three road wheels from German half tracks. In front of these are a selection of track links from left to right; Panzer IV, Panther and Sherman. There is also a hatch from a Panther as well as a driver or radio operators hatch from a Tiger I, Sd.kfz 181. The flat plate at the lower left of the picture appears to be a floor pan from a Tiger I. The Tiger I relics can almost certainly be attributed to Schwere Panzer Abt 101, and come from the area where the tank ace Michael Wittman met his death. It is highly probable therefore that this turret floor pan belonged to Wittman's tank. The towing clevis's in the foreground also appear to have come from a Tiger, compare these with the smaller example in the background, from a Panzer IV.
Another remarkable find from Normandy below is the 15cm main armament from a Sd.kfz 166 or Sturmpanzer IV "Brummbar". This would have belonged to a Brummbar of Sturm Panzer Abteilung 217 that fought in Normandy during the Summer of '44 and is one of two to be found in the same collection! We understand the unit then went to Lorraine during the Autumn. Sadly we know nothing of the circumstances of its loss, other than it now resides in the same collection as the Schwere Pz Abt 101 items pictured above. Visitors will note that a 75 mm round from a Sherman tank is embedded in the rear part of the mantlet, above left.
More pictures from the Cintheaux area of Normandy where Wittmann met his death can be found in issue 29 of the AFV modeller magazine.
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