Today, 18 May, Militracks celebrated its 10th anniversary. Starting out initially as a small event for enthusiasts of German hardware, Militracks has grown out to be the biggest event for Sonderkraftfahrzeuge and one of the largest events showcasing running military material in Europe. With last year’s showing of Saumur’s Königstiger at the event many would have thought this could not be equalled this year, but nothing was less true. The half tracks, lorries and passengers cars were accompanied by a running specimen of the famous German Panther tank this year! The inclusion of a Panther to the vehicle lost was more than enough to convince me to visit the event again this year. To sweeten the deal, a number of other running tanks and tank destroyers was present. For example, the Weald Foundation brought two World War I tanks and even a rare Nashhorn was present which is in the process of being restored by the SD KFZ 165 project.
Unfortunately, Saumur’s Panther no. 211 was plagued by engine problems just days before its planned shipment. Eventually, the team at Saumur managed to patch up the Panther so it could begin its journey to Overloon. It is believed that this patch involved a swap of the entire engine for that of Saumur’s Königstiger. On its arrival at the museum on Friday, the engine did not run smoothly and disaster struck yet again the next day which meant it was out of the running for most of Saturday morning. As some of you might notice, the vehicle has had its Zimmerit completely redone in April and was just recently repainted in a new camouflage scheme.
Around two o’clock, the first roars of the Maybach’s 12 cylinders were heard. A few photos on Facebook show the engine with one of its Magnetos opened and a spare carburetor nearby which might give some insight in what was wrong (timing issues? insufficient current for the spark plugs?). Anyhow, a lot of fiddling with the air filters later, the Panther started to move! Initiate air filter fiddling:
It was an astonishing sight to see this more than 70 year old beast move and maybe the sound of its engine was even better. I will surely upload some video clips I took at the event very soon, but in the meantime I will leave you with some photographic material 😉