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The Vitmoutiers Tiger - a history

Article about: by lebus12 On the first picture, it's me!(This picture is mine, but one time on the web, it's finished!) In the 60's-70's, I was every month in the Falaise pocket! Thank you Lebus for provid

  1. #1

    Default The Vitmoutiers Tiger - a history

    Hi all,
    I thought I would start a history thread on the famous ‘Vitmoutiers Tiger’. Searching through the forum ( and the web ) I see that many have written snippets on it and there are several YouTube videos of it taken by tourists and historians alike ( including Martin Bull who was /is a member here – but as we have no searchable membership list anymore I can’t check ) but no-one seems to have collated all that into ONE thread.

    So, what I want to do it to draw on the info & photos I have found on the web ( and concede that while these WERE on the public domain, ownership of these images is not mine and I will remove them if asked to ) and try to compile the complete history of the beast. Any member who can add to it please do.

    This has also been prompted by the fact that I read it was to have a restoration or a makeover for the 70th anniversary …. now only days away I wonder if it was done??? And if so was it painted once more in gaudy camouflage??
    So here is its history to date.

    19 August 1944
    several German tanks that had escaped from the Falaise Gap were making their way to a fuel dump which had been set up in the nearby Château de l’Horloge. They were forced to detour along the Vimoutiers-Gacé road and several ran out of fuel. Others were simply abandoned, and eventually about sixty Panzers, including three Tigers, were left scattered around Vimoutiers. The crew of this one left it sitting in the middle of the road and attempted to destroy it by setting off two charges which immobilized and cracked the turret and damaged the engine decking.
    Sometime later, advancing units of the 2nd Canadian Division (the Black Watch) bulldozed the tank off the road and down an embankment.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Post War
    After the war Normandy was littered with discarded military hardware and with scrap prices high, a local scrap dealer named Morat removed easily accessible parts of the tank - such as the gear box, hatches, torsion bars, interior fittings, exhaust parts etc. Over time souvenir hunters removed other items off the gutted tank as it slowly slid down the ditch and rusted.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    1966
    After Morat died in the mid 1960’s, a Caen scrap dealer attempted scrapping the tank properly with cutting equipment but the people оf Vimoutiers decided tо purchase the tank аs а historical monument fоr 6,000 Francs.


    1975
    The tank featured prominently іn the May 1975 issue оf After the Battle magazine. Stemming from the publicity and public pressure, the local authorities in October of that year contracted local Alain Roudeix to remove the Tiger frоm the side оf the road. The turret wаs lifted off to reduce weight аnd the chassis then pulled out оf the ditch by а bulldozer. The turret wаs replaced аnd the tank wаs placed оn а concrete plinth just down the road from where іt wаs originally abandoned іn 1944.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

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    The turret was replaced and thin plates were welded on to cover the apertures where the hatches had been blown off. The removal of the torsion bars had collapsed the suspension so concrete support blocks were fitted under the front and rear of the hull, so the tank would sit at the correct height.
    The weld cuts were made good and then the tank was re-painted and the camouflage pattern was added with reference to armour plate still in M.Roudeix's collection. Іt wаs classified аs а French Monument historique іn December of 1975.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    1982 - 2002
    Seven years in the air necessitated a fresh repaint which was done in 1982 with little concern for accuracy and again 20 years later ( still not correct )
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    2012
    Looking tatty once more, the Tiger was scheduled for restoration in 2013.
    A local translated French article reads” Supported by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs, the vimonastérienne municipality is considering not only the restoration of the Mastodon, "but also its protection and its development", explains City Hall. An architect specialized in the restoration of this type of military vehicle will be soon chosen to ensure control of work. Once the proceedings start, will remain to complete the financial record, communities hoping a subsidy of 80%. If all goes well, the restoration is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013. But not sure this operation is completed before the ceremonies of the 70th anniversary of the battle of Normandy.
    Has it happened???? Does anyone know??


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    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  3. #3

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    Great story ! So glad it didn't end up in the knackers yard!!

    Nick
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  4. #4
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    Well presented Dan, thank you.
    Currently working on several KZ related projects, including items for the USHMM and various private concerns and studies. Available as a guide to KZ sites, contact for details.

    http://www.concentrationcamptours.com/

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com/


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  5. #5

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    Great work Dan, I would love to visit that thing one day. When my boy is older I'll take him around Normandy for sure.

    I do wish they would do a decent authentic camo though. Give me the tools and I'll finish the job!

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote by KradSpam View Post
    Great work Dan, I would love to visit that thing one day. When my boy is older I'll take him around Normandy for sure.

    I do wish they would do a decent authentic camo though. Give me the tools and I'll finish the job!

    I will come with you ! Cant be that hard to do ! We will end up with this

    Nick
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture ssspzabt102221saumur.jpg  
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  7. #7
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    Great story.

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    This next group of photos shows the Tiger in 2012. After ten years in the elements the gaudy camouflage has aged and softened but time is taking its toll - it has spent more years on this concrete pad than it spent in the ditch by the side of the N179. Hopefully the scheduled "restoration" didn't happen and what is left of the beast can age in peace.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture LM07040.jpg   LM07041.jpg  

    Vitmoutier Tiger 2012-1.jpg   Vitmoutier Tiger 2012-2.jpg  

    Char_Tigre_de_Vimoutiers_2012-02_back_1.jpg  
    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

  9. #9
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    Once worthless discarded metal, now worth millions.....

    Strange world.....

  10. #10

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    Here is some eye candy for you fellas ( me, I have to live this through the camera lens of others ......sigh )

    One day Danno, one day .......

    ( Oh, check out the crack through the turret and the lifted hull plating - this must have brewed up in a spectacular fashion!! )
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture 3707403385_6a62c69975_z.jpg   Tiger - air grilles.jpg  

    Tiger - commander hatch.jpg   Tiger - drive spoke.jpg  

    Tiger - driver.jpg   Tiger - gun.jpg  

    Tiger - hull crack.jpg   Tiger - hatch crack.jpg  

    Tiger - turret roof.jpg   Tiger - track.jpg  

    vimoutiers (89).jpg   Tiger - turret hatch.jpg  

    " When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "

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