Profile: Michael Wittman

Michael Wittmann was one of Germany’s most famous ‘panzer aces’ of World War II. During his career he was credited with destroying 138 enemy tanks and 132 anti-tank guns. He fought throughout the war until his death.

Wittman Turret

During the battle of France and invasion of Greece he commanded a Stug III assault gun (Sturmgeschutz III). But it was on the Eastern Front where Wittmann was to establish his reputation and score most of his kills. He quickly rose to the rank of second lieutenant (Untersturmführer) and by the time of the battle of Kursk he was leading a platoon of Tiger tanks.

Michael Wittman

In April of 1944 his company was transferred to SS-Heavy Panzer Battalion 101 in Normandy. During the fighting Wittmann was ordered to occupy the small town of Villers-Bocage. Unknown to his commanders the town had already been occupied by the British 22nd Armoured Brigade. Observing elements of the enemy formation advancing along the road out of the town, Wittmann saw his opportunity and struck.

Within a quarter of an hour his five Tiger tanks had destroyed more than a dozen enemy tanks and at least as many other vehicles. His advance against the town had been courageous, but ill prepared and arguably reckless.

tigers

In August 1944, as he led a formation in a counter-attack towards Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil, his Tiger was caught in crossfire from Sherman Fireflies belonging to the Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers. A single shot penetrated his tank’s engine compartment causing an ammunition explosion that blew the Tiger apart, throwing the turret some distance from the wreck. Wittmann and his crew were killed instantly.

Wittman-in-Scenery

 

Wittman Turret 2

 

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Rules for fielding Michael Wittman in games of Bolt Action can be found in Tank War – so why not grab a copy and re-enact Wittman’s daring attack?

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