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Posted on Feb 24, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Bovington Tank Museum

Armchair General


Well, I had to get to it eventually. I was just saving the best until last.

The pride of the museum is of course the Tiger Mk I. And I just have one word to say, and I’ll even say it in capitals ? WOW.

Tiger 131 was captured virtually intact by British forces stationed in Tunisia in 1943. Having sustained some light damage, the Tiger’s 88m gun was put out of action with a freak shot that effectively jammed the turret ring. Being unable to use the main weapon, the crew abandoned the tank shortly thereafter and legged it.

Tiger 131 was shipped back to England for evaluation and tests. It has the distinction of being visited by both King George V and Winston Churchill on its arrival in this country.

Ten years ago, a restoration project was commenced and has only recently been completed, in November 2003. Although the Tiger does run, it’s not the original engine, which was sectioned for display shortly after it arrived in the UK. It uses a replacement engine from a King Tiger, and had to be altered slightly to accommodate the marginal differences between the original engine and the one from the King Tiger. Unfortunately, the first King Tiger engine they placed in the Tiger I blew up, but luckily, a spare one was found and this has been used instead.


During the 13:00 "Tiger Talk" given by a Museum official, we were told that the Tiger was actually in the middle of making the final part of the journey into the display area when it, erm, ran out of petrol. To the embarrassment of all concerned!

We were also informed that it’s rather "unreliable" – I think this may in fact be a euphemism for "we’re afraid of breaking it".

Here is another one of my "famous" barrel shots.

And here is yours truly stood next to the beast. Photo by "Roach".

An excellent picture of the Tiger by "Roach".

A side view. Note the damage to the gun elevation gear on the side of the turret. This wasn’t what put the turret out of action, but it can’t have helped. You can see that the 2 pounder British shell has taken a big chunk out of the side.

A shot of the rear showing the air-filtration equipment for the engine.

Another rear shot showing battle-damage to the exhaust shielding.

A shot from "up on high" ? or at least as high as I could get standing on tip-toe – showing the front hatch covers. If you ask me, the Tiger just cries out to be sat beneath an overhead all-round gantry and for those hatches to be open so people can see inside. I couldn’t-just-quite get a picture showing the top of the turret.

And finally, a picture of the engine deck at the rear.


To view the complete set of images from my visit, go to the ACG image gallery here.

A J Summersgill

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1 Comment

  1. those look nice