With its huge cannon and almost impenetrable armour, the German Tiger tank struck fear into the hearts of Allied troops. Although more than 1,300 were produced during the Second World War, this is the only working example in existence. Tiger 131 has been restored to its original war time specification after a two-year restoration project costing £80,000.
The 55-ton tank can be seen tackling the tank course at Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset. It has been fitted with a genuine German Second World War Maybach engine and its fan drives have been re-engineered from original blueprints. Now it is coaxed into life using a starting handle. The Tiger was superior to anything the British and Americans had until near the end of war. Rounds from Allied tanks could not penetrate its thick armour, while its 88mm cannon had huge destructive power. The tank soon gained legendary status after its introduction in 1942.
Tiger 131 was captured following a lucky hit by a British Churchill tank, belonging to 48 Royal Tank Regiment, in the Tunisian desert in April, 1943. The shot wedged in the turret ring, rendering it useless.
The five-man German crew abandoned the Tiger, which was captured intact. Winston Churchill, who was in Tunisia at the time, had the chance to inspect it. The Tiger was then sent back to Britain so the Allies could look for design weaknesses…