The Wheatcroft Collection feels compelled to make the following statement following our reading of comments on certain forums/blogs. It is clear many of them are seriously misinformed and some even quote as fact, comments from CMH and JAG, during a time of a pending legal case. The real “facts” are as follows and they can all be corroborated by APG:
An initial agreement was made between CMH/APG and The Wheatcroft Collection, to rescue a Tiger I that resided in a German museum – it later transpired that we were required to rescue three tanks (Tiger I, Panzer II and Marder II). This proved to be a difficult task, because most of the museums were known personally by Kevin Wheatcroft, who to that point had been led to believe that there would be resistance in releasing the tanks. All three organisations involved – the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum, WTS in Koblenz and the Tank Museum at Münster behaved impeccably and were of great assistance in preparing the tanks ready to leave for the UK. However, there was an unfortunate incident involving the Tank Museum at Münster, which involved one particularly difficult individual, who did not want the tanks to leave. A court case then ensued and The Wheatcroft Collection were able to obtain a legal undertaking that the tanks were in fact the property of the USA and that Kevin Wheatcroft, acting as an agent for same, had permission to collect and export the tanks to the UK.
It was agreed that two vehicles, namely the Panzer II and Marder II would be put into storage until such time as a cheap and easy way of getting them back to America could be found.
Contrary to one particular blog, the tanks were shipped back to the UK at the sole expense of The Wheatcroft Collection, “not” the British Government as some insist (who, we would like to add, had nothing to do with this entire exercise from start to finish).
As recompense for the work The Wheatcroft Collection had undertaken in securing these three vehicles for return to the USA, a memorandum of understanding was drawn up allowing The Wheatcroft Collection to keep the Tiger I for the purpose of historic and engineering research, so as to enable The Wheatcroft Collection to complete its own Tiger I – at the same time, restoring APG’s Tiger I back to running condition. Subsequently, the Tiger I was stripped down and cleaned and a thorough engineering exercise commenced, including the scanning of many parts, the production of CAD drawings, photographic records made and large quantities of smaller parts that had long since been pilfered from the APG Tiger I were acquired, at the sole cost of The Wheatcroft Collection – in effect, completing the APG Tiger I.
It was subsequently decided that APG wished the Tiger I to make an early return to the USA, following the move of the US Army Ordnance Museum Collection from the former historic site down to Fort Lee, Virginia. Naturally, this left The Wheatcroft Collection in the unenviable position of works half done, but the US government was insistent.
The Tiger I was packaged in a way that it could be transported and again, at The Wheatcroft Collection’s expense, all items were listed and documented, greased, palletised and loaded onto trucks destined for RAF Alconbury. Despite continuing rumours and accusations pertaining to the disappearance of “anything” from the complete engine to other smaller parts!, the tank was returned in a “complete” state, albeit partially dismantled. It was agreed by both parties that nothing was missing from the Tiger I.
However, rumours still persist of a missing engine, despite the fact that it can clearly be seen on footage released by the USA (the tank leaving RAF Alconbury en route to the US Army Armour and Cavalry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia). We cannot understand why it is that people putting themselves forward as “experts”, can fail to see this, yet still persist in circulating these ridiculous and damaging rumours.
There have been numerous comments in relation to material and comments released by Brian Balkwill of The Research Squad. The Wheatcroft Collection can categorically deny any
association with the Research Squad, other than The Wheatcroft Collection making available its Panther Ausf. A project for a photographic study, to be published by them in the form of a book. No further association or business agreement exists. The Research Squad also completed a comprehensive photo study of the Tiger I for the purposes of a researched based book – this was with the knowledge and agreement of APG and The Wheatcroft Collection.
Again, some of these “self styled” experts talk about the shipping of the Tiger I from Germany to the UK, idle chat as to whether we own a Tiger or not, as to exactly how many surviving tigers exist – I can assure any reader that no other party was involved in the funding or engineering of this entire operation other than The Wheatcroft Collection. I can further confirm that The Wheatcroft Collection does indeed own a Tiger I, which is currently under long term restoration, as well as two King Tigers that were brought back from the East some years ago and these also form part of a larger ongoing restoration program.
The court case initially instigated by the USA was withdrawn and the claimants made a substantial, undisclosed, out of court payment to the defendant (i.e. The Wheatcroft Collection). Additionally, it was also stated by the US Government that to quote “it has now been returned to the USA and restoration will be completed by them using their facilities, the USA wish to thank Mr Wheatcroft for his assistance in recovering the vehicles” and further quotes that “the USA confirm that Mr Wheatcroft is welcome to visit the tanks and their museum in Georgia for research and look forward to welcoming him there in the future”. Kevin Wheatcroft of the Wheatcroft Collection will utilise that invitation to continue working with the US government to help complete their Tiger I as well as his own.
Hopefully, the above information clarifies a number of issues that have been raised and will quell the thirst of these so called self-styled experts and enthusiasts, who seem to believe so passionately in their own hearsay.
26 JULY 2012