I live about half an hour away from this and go there quite a bit....This tiger is an expensive beast to keep running....it breaks down a lot, then needs a major overhaul...I believe it originally broke down in Africa, that's how it was captured in the first place.....History repeating!!! Have to say the museum is well worth a visit...especially in the summer when a lot of the tanks drive about outside in the arena!
The vehicle was disabled by a glancing shot that caused the turret turning mechanism to jam, so the crew abandoned it and it was subsequently appropriated by the allies:
“The Tank Museum’s Tiger is unique: it is the only one of the six surviving Tiger I tanks that is capable of running. It was the first Tiger to be captured relatively intact by either the British or the Americans. It was manufactured in February 1943: its’ chassis number is 250112. It was sent to Tunisia at some time between March 22nd and April 16th 1943 and was issued to the 3rd Platoon, 1st Kompanie, Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 of the German Army. It was involved in an action with 4 Troop, A Squadron, 48th Royal Tank Regiment on 21 April 1943. The fighting was at Djebel Djaffa near Medjez el Bab.
The Tiger knocked out two British Churchill tanks but was then engaged by a third. The crew of this Churchill hit the gun mantlet of the Tiger with a 6pdr (57mm) shot and although this failed to penetrate it jammed the turret and wounded the Tiger’s commander. Damage from 6pdr hits is still visible on the front of the superstructure, the gun mantlet and the turret lifting boss. The German crew abandoned the Tiger without destroying it and it was captured by 48 RTR. It was subsequently recovered and refurbished using parts from other destroyed Tigers.”
That’s from the museum’s web site, and the story is also related in the Peter Gudgin’s book (I have a copy):
@Biggus Dickus - If you go there a lot it's probably worth you becoming a 'Friend' of the museum, annual subscription gets you unlimited free entry to the museum. And you can sign a guest in too. Apologies if you already knew that I should add I have no connection to the placed personally - it's just that I too live quite close and a pal of mine is a 'Friend'. Very useful. -
@Cubster - I have to take issue with your comment that the Churchill was obsolete within months. The ghastly thing was obsolete when it was still on the drawing board . Churchill Crocodiles on the other hand were wonderful, apart from the obvious drawback that Germans would tend to shoot the bailed out crews whether they surrendered or not.
Joking aside the Churchill actually wasn't a bad tank, provided you didn't expect it to fight other tanks. It had thicker armour than other allied tanks, and could climb slopes others couldn't. And it didn't brew up like a Sherman did. I still hate the things though.
On the subject of that Tiger - I had the great good fortune to get invited to a private tour of the Tank Museum while it was closed to the public (some years back now, before they even started the Tiger restoration). I was able to clamber over and in a lot of the tanks, including the Tiger I. The feeling you get standing in the commander's cupola on that thing is quite incredible. It must have been very different to be in one of it's targets.
Getting old machines running is a question that caused many discussions among custodians. Every time you do it you destroy a little bit of the original by wearout. But 131 lost a lot of equipment on the way from Africa to Bovington. And he still lacks a lot. So one may argue that he is not the Tank it was in 1943. But the nearest thing possible.
If you offer me a Churchill or Tiger I for a private collection my personal preference would be the Churchill. But collecting British items and not German ones that is no wonder. On the battlefield the decision would surely be a little bit different.