The Tiger Collection at The Tank museum in Bovington, opened April 2017, is the place to visit for all armour enthusiasts. It is a unique display of (almost) all variants in which the Tiger was produced. Not only the museum’s Tiger I is featured, but also two Tiger II tanks as well as the Jagdtiger and Ferdinand tank destroyers. The latter of which was built on Porsche’s failed Tiger tank design. With only two Ferdinand tank destroyers left in the world, it is clear that The Tank Museum pulled off an impressive feat; the Ferdinand was shipped from the US to the UK in a 35 day journey. The display of all these Tigers together is thrilling to say the least and makes for an extraordinary panorama.
Due to its large success, the duration of the Tiger Collection – originally scheduled to last until autumn 2018 – has been extended to last until autumn 2019. For this special occasion both the initial production King Tiger and the Jagdtiger received a new layer of paint. The new colour – an approximation of Dunkelgelb RAL 7028 – was chosen to portray the vehicles in the state they were originally captured in. Both of these vehicles were captured at Henschel’s proving ground at Haustenbeck (which is located at the edge of the Senne military complex). Recently, a video detailing the process of repainting the Tigers was published by the museum.
For a museum that “(…) always aspires to be the consultative and authoritative source on historical armoured vehicles” it is sad to see some beginner mistakes were made. When it comes to the video, Jens Mühlig the person behind Historycolors.de – considered to be an authority on German wartime colour usage -, posted a summary of some of the mistakes on Facebook :
It is a true shame to see that a museum like the The Tank Museum still is not in touch with the scene; lots of new work is continually being published and new facts are dug up one after another. The museum went the extra mile and stencilled the vehicle’s registration number in a circle on the glacis. A job well done.. but wait.. well, you see, it is actually the wrong number that has been applied. Even on their own Tiger blog the photos have enough detail to clearly see the number 253. Instead of the original 253 the Jagdtiger now sports the number 263, a pitiful mistake.
Note that this registration number is not an identifier for its place in a unit (i.e. company, platoon and vehicle no.). Instead, this particular number was applied to differentiate between vehicles that where confiscated for testing – and thus not accepted for army service – by Wa Prüf 61. Using these vehicles test were conducted to establish their performance and suggest improvements. You will find many photos of vehicles driving around on proofing grounds that have a similar registration number.
Coming back to the repaint itself; the sole reason was to restore accuracy and show the vehicles in the colour in which they were found. This goal has at least been achieved for the Jagdtiger. “Why not the Tiger II?”, you might ask. Well, there are a couple of what appear to be genuine colour photos of the captured equipment at Haustenbeck2. The Tiger II in the foreground is the one that currently resides in the Tank Museum. That’s right, it does not appear to be painted dark yellow at all. Seeing that the Jagdtiger and Tiger II are shown in the same photograph, their difference in colour cannot simple be explained away by arguing the colours of the original photograph must have faded over the years.
It is clear that the VK 30.01 (H) on the left is painted dark grey (RAL 7021) and the Jagdtiger is dark yellow (RAL 7028), but both Tigers appear to be neither of those two colours. Indeed, their colour looks way too grey to be RAL 7028. I am not quite sure what to make of it, but certainly yellow was not the colour Bovington’s Tiger was found in!
In upcoming posts I will feature the Tigers in The Tiger Collection with a full-fledged walk-around for each.