Vimoutiers Tiger tank
|Char Tigre de Vimoutiers|
Tiger tank on outskirts of Vimoutiers
|Location||Outskirts of Vimoutiers on the D979|
|Designer||Henschel & Son|
6.316 m (20 ft 8.7 in)8.45 m (27 ft 9 in) (gun forward)
|Width||3.70 m (12 ft 2 in)|
|Height||3.0 m (9 ft 10 in)|
The Vimoutiers Tiger tank is a World War II German Tiger tank on outside display on the outskirts of Vimoutiers in the French departement of Orne, in Normandy. The tank is located on the way out of Vimoutiers heading towards Gacé on Route Départemental D979.
The tank is a Tiger I Sd.Kfz. 181 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E (late version), serial no. '251 113 AMP' on the turret (AMP refers to the manufacturer Dortmund-Hoerder Huttenverein). The chassis number is currently unknown. The tank, numbered 231 (according to the information board next to the tank) belonged to the 2nd Company of the 102nd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion (though there is some debate surrounding exactly which unit this tank was attached to, some sources refer to 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion).
On August 21, 1944, along with several other tanks (Panthers, Panzer III & IVs and other Tigers) plus assorted vehicles, it was heading out of the Falaise pocket to a fuel dump at the Chateau de l'Horloge in Ticheville during the last days of the Battle of Normandy. It is thought the tank ran out of fuel on RN 179 between Lisieux and Alençon just before entering Vimoutiers. The tank's crew abandoned the tank after setting two explosive charges (which immobilized the turret and damaged the engine decking).
After World War II, Normandy was littered with discarded military hardware. Local scrap dealers purchased this hardware off the land owner and would then scrap the vehicles. The Tiger was sold to a scrap dealer called Morat who removed easily accessible parts of the tank such as the gear box, hatches, smaller fittings, exhaust cowlings etc. Souvenir hunters over time also removed other items off the tank.
However, for the next 30 years the majority of the tank remained rusting in a ditch. After Morat’s death, ownership passed to another scrap dealer in Caen, but when they attempted to start scrapping the tank, the local people of Vimoutiers decided to purchase the tank as a historical monument for 6,000 Francs.
The tank featured prominently in the May (Issue 8) magazine of After the Battle in 1975.
In October 1975, the Tiger was then removed from the side of the road by Alain Roudeix. The turret was lifted off to reduce weight and the chassis then pulled out of the ditch by a bulldozer. The turret was replaced and the tank was placed on a concrete plinth close to where it was originally abandoned in 1944. Partially restored, the Tiger is now displayed on the outskirts of the city. It was classified as a French Monument historique in December 1975.
The Vimoutiers Tiger is one of only seven Tiger I tanks remaining. France and Russia both have two, a working Tiger is at the Tank Museum, Bovington in the UK and one each can be found in the US and Germany.
Weather and time has caused damage to the Tiger tank. The tank's current paint scheme was applied by a local volunteer and does not closely match the green, dark yellow and red that Tiger tanks had during the Normandy campaign.
As of 2013, the mayor of Vimoutiers began to seek funding for a restoration project. But due to the high cost, the decision on whether to carry out this restoration is being debated by the city council.
The current camouflage scheme does not reproduce that originally found on the tank, but was done by a local volunteer who restored the tank
Three-quarters backside view. The tracks are the field tracks (the Tiger displayed in Saumur has road tracks).
- Paul Hocking. "Surviving Tiger 1 serial numbers". panzerbasics.com. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Richard de Neve (22 September 2012). "Weapons of War: Vimoutiers Tiger 231". Weapons of War. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- (in French) Roger, Gérard (June 2008). "Le Tigre de Vimoutiers". Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- (in French) Notice PM61000776, Minister of Culture (France)
- (in French) "Orne. L’avenir du char Tigre de Vimoutiers interpelle jusqu’en Australie". Ouest-France, 16 January 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- (in French) De Grandmaison, Eric (2 january 2013). "Vimoutiers. Faut-il restaurer le char allemand ?", Ouest-France. Retrieved 23 January 2013.
- Tourist Office of Vimoutiers
- Pictures of the Tiger tank in early 1970s and being moved
- Holiday snap of the Tiger tank from around 1967
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