Seventy-two years after it fell into Allied hands, the Elefant, one of the largest combat vehicles to see action in the Second World War has arrived safely at The Tank Museum in Dorset.
The 70 ton Panzerjäger Tiger (P), commonly known as Elefant, has undergone an historic 3,500 mile return journey across the Atlantic.
It was captured near Anzio, Italy, by US troops in June 1944 – and quickly shipped stateside for military evaluation.
Tank Museum Curator David Willey said: “Tiger tanks like this one have a powerful reputation which was underpinned with Nazi propaganda at the time.
“This reputation has persisted beyond the war itself into books, films and video games.”
The tank is being loaned from the US Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center at Fort Lee, VA, by The United States Army Centre of Military History and is one of just two surviving examples of the 91 Elefants that saw service with German forces.
It will be the first time that an Elefant has ever been seen in the UK.
“This mythical reputation, coupled with their rarity, is what makes them of such great interest. But in truth, the myth has elevated them to be greater than the reality.” David added.
Designed by famed auto-engineer Ferdinand Porsche, the Elefant was a self-propelled anti-tank gun and member of the ‘Tiger family’ of Second World War German tanks.
Before serving in Italy, it took part in the Battle of Kursk, which remains the biggest tank battle in history.
Its final destination is The Tank Museum at Bovington in Dorset, where it will feature in ‘The Tiger Collection – the Tanks, the Terror & the Truth’ exhibition sponsored by World of Tanks.
“Tigers are large and impressive by contemporary standards – but there is a moral responsibility to remember what they were used for and the regime who created them,” said David.
“Representing less than 7% of their wartime tank production, Tiger tanks failed to have a real impact and our exhibition will be presenting a more balanced account of these vehicles, along with views of veterans.”
Set to open in April 2017, the exhibition will bring every member of the Tiger tank family together in one space for the first time in history. However, one example that has eluded the Museum will be appearing virtually, courtesy of exhibition sponsors World of Tanks.
“We’re taking our experience of creating historically accurate models for our World of Tanks video game and using this to create an exhibit to complete the collection,” said Richard Cutland, World of Tanks European Head of Military Relations.
“Using the latest digital technology, visitors will be able to see a full-sized Sturmtiger in the exhibition with the use of our Augmented Reality App. We’re pleased to be supporting an exhibition of such international significance.”