Vimoutiers Tiger tank in 2013
August 4th,2016 : The Vimoutiers Tiger tank soon restored
Information source: France Bleu Normandie
Author: Philippe Thomas
For forty years, the German tank of Vimoutiers has been exposed on the roadside. Gnawed by rust, an association wants to restore it. To do this, it was necessary to record the chassis number of the armor to know its origin and its precise date of manufacture.
The operation is delicate. No one has entered the tank for years. Bruno Galopin is an official restorer of public monuments. He alone can open the door. The armored vehicle is classified as a historic monument since 2 December 1975. “It is still dangerous, there are bits of scrap protruding inside,” he said. A disker, then a presser foot, is necessary to overcome it.
Inside, a number, that of the chassis. Indispensable to know the number of the German unit to which it belonged. “We are still hesitating between three battalions, there were three battalions of Tigers engaged in Normandy, and I hope that we will be able to say that it is 101, 102 or 503,” explains Frédéric Normand, guide to the Memorial of Montormel and a connoisseur of the Second World War.
Once this information is gathered, identification of missing parts will be easier. And the restoration will be able to begin, “so that it is done again to the identical”, enthuses Frédéric Normand. The original parts, no longer exist, and missing part of the engine. The interior of the tank is almost empty.
Seven Tiger tanks in the world
For this association, rehabilitation of this tank is of particular importance. “It is a technical and historical witness of what happened during various operations, including the Battle of Normandy in 1944,” said Olivier Robert, president of the association for the restoration of the tank. It must be said that there would remain only seven Tiger tanks in the world, including two in France. The other is in the museum of armored vehicles, in Saumur, in Maine-et-Loire.
The history of the tank
Thirteen days after the Allied landing, the Germans entered the coast of Gacé, a few yards from Vimoutiers. “He was going to replenish himself in Roiville and he ran out of fuel,” says Olivier Rober. “So it was abandoned by its crew and scuttled […] to prevent it from being used by the opposing armies,” he adds. It was long abandoned in a ditch, before being exposed on the side of the road.