A7V tank from World War I on the bottom Wieprz river? It may be the first original in Europe!

Westfront, deutscher Panzer in Roye
A7V tank at Roye on 21 March 1918 – Wikipedia

A German A7V tank from World War I was found in 2013 at the bottom of the river. There is no original of this tank in Europe, only a copy in the museum in Munster. There is one surviving A7V tank, Mephisto, at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, Australia.

The wreck lies in Wieprz near Lubartow at a depth of about four meters. It lies on the bottom of the river, tower down. You can see the bottom of the tank and a portion of  rear track – a member of the group “Reconstructive 8 Legions Infantry Regiment” said.

The dimensions of the wreck and its shape suggests that it may be German tank A7V of the First World War. We checked and it does not fit into any other equipment. We want to extract and reconstruct – added Zydlewski. The wreck was found during searches in Wieprz river for remnants of the battle of Kock. This was the last great battle fought in the area in September 1939 by soldiers of the Independent Operational Group General Franciszek Kleeberg against German troops.

This fall, the wreck has been carefully examined by divers. To reconstruct the tank plans of a tank A7V have been obtained from the archives in Dresden. Now they are raising funds for the extraction of the wreck. They have already promised help by the local authorities of Lubartow Kock, Koflikty reports.

Sturmpanzerwagen A7V Replik on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster , Germany. - Wikipedia
Sturmpanzerwagen A7V Replica on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster, Germany. – Wikipedia

The A7V could have been used as an artillery tractor in the Polish Army, which in 1920 Wieprz was moving on the offensive against the Bolsheviks – says Zydlewski. In his opinion before the tank, but rather its chassis, in Poland could be in private hands.

After World War I the German tanks, without arms, were sold to private buyers. They serverd as tractors to transport tree trunks. When the war broke out with Russia, this type of equipment was requisitioned for the army – says Zydlewski. Germans produced only several dozen A7V tanks in 1918. These machines were approximately 9 m long with a width of 4 meters and a height of 3 meters.

They were equipped with a cannon and six machine guns, the crew consisted of a dozen people. There is no original of the tank in Europe A copy is in the museum in Munster. Even if only a part of the tank remains it will be a very valuable exhibit – says Zydlewski.

The A7V tank

The A7V was a tank introduced by Germany in 1918, during World War I. One hundred chassis were ordered in early 1918, ten to be finished as fighting vehicles with armored bodies and the remainder as cargo carriers. The number to be armored was later increased to 20. They were used in action from March to October of that year, and were the only tanks produced by Germany in World War I to be used in operations.

The Bovington Tank Museum’s A7V replica during a public display (June 2009) – Wikipedia

After the war

Two lightly armoured vehicles broadly resembling the A7V, one of which was named “Hedi”, were used by a Freikorps tank unit to quell civil unrest in Berlin in 1919, and were constructed after the war, using the chassis from Überlandwagens and armed with four MG08/15 machine guns.

Some sources say that several A7Vs were handed over by France to Polish forces and used during the Russo-Polish war of 1920. However, the fate of each A7V that saw service in WWI is known, and there is no known official record or photographic evidence of A7Vs in Polish service.

The design of the A7V is featured on the tank badge of 1921, awarded to commemorate service in the German Panzer forces of 1918.


Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.

@joris1944 facebook.com/joris.nieuwint