The Tiger was a formidable tank. It saw action in Russia, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy and north-west Europe (although production was limited to just 1,354 tanks) and it was feared by all Allied tank crews, which gave the Panzer forces a considerable psychological advantage. Even so, it would probably be fair to say that more Tigers were lost to mechanical failure than to combat.
The Tank Museum‘s Tiger 131 was in service with 3 Platoon (Troop), 1 Kompanie, Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504, German Army, it was captured by 48 RTR, A Squadron, 4 Troop, at Djebel Djaffa, Tunisia, on 21st April 1943.
This tank was the first Tiger to be captured intact by British or U.S. forces when it was knocked out in the final month of the Tunisian campaign. It arrived in Tunisia sometime between 22nd March and 16th April 1943 and was involved in an action with 48 RTR near Medjez-el-Bab on 21 April 1943. It knocked out two Churchills but a shot from another’s six-pounder stuck the gun mantlet, and although unable to penetrate the tank’s thick armour, jammed the turret and wounded the commander.
Damage is still visible on the mantlet, superstructure front plate and turret lifting boss. The crew abandoned the tank, and it was recovered the next day and refurbished using parts from other vehicles. The Tiger was later displayed in Tunis and inspected there by King George VI and Winston Churchill.
In October 1943 it was sent to the School of Tank Technology for evaluation and in November 1944 displayed on Horse Guards Parade.
Hand Crank Starter
The hand crank starter, is the recommended way of starting a Tiger in cold weather conditions, for normal conditions it also has an electric starter.
The inertia starter ” Schwungmasse ” works by rotating a heavy mass at speed, once it reaches 60rpm a lever is pulled below the hand cranking arm, this pushes the drive pinion onto the fly wheel, making the engine rotate and start.
These men starting the Tiger are very experienced tank mechanics, who volunteer to keep Tiger 131 working.
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