Tiger Day VII is an opportunity to visit The Tank Museum without the crowds of the museum’s other major event Tankfest. Having now been to both I can say that the two have very different flavours. Tankfest is much more about moving armour, reenactment and explosions. Sure, the museum and conservation centre are open but the action centres around the Arena. Tiger Day, by contrast, is much more focused on the museum exhibits themselves and some of the stories around them. As the name implies, the Tiger tank is the central figure around which the day revolves.
Tiger 131, is amazing. That’s all I can say. The amount of work the museum staff have put in to ensuring that the first complete Tiger captured by the allies is in running order is immense. The machine sounds amazing with its distinctive track noise and the purr of its Maybach HL230 engine. The machine itself, still has much of the battle damage it received before being captured and this really adds to the vehicles story. Its the details that make Tiger 131 interesting. For example, Tiger 131 may be the only Tiger to feature a welded footstep and handle at its front for the Driver; suggesting a smaller man occupied the position. These details become apparent when up close and personal with the vehicle in the museum and the staff always seemed to be willing to chat about any of the vehicles in the collection.
Obviously, Tiger 131 is only one tank amongst many in the collection and there is plenty more to see. Some vehicles are even rarer and more unusual than the Tiger. Currently, the museum has an Elefant tank destroyer built on the failed hulls of Ferdinand Porsche’s bid for the Tiger contract. It also has examples, of glider borne tanks, amphibious tanks, Hobart’s funnies, cold war tanks and a whole lot more.
The real highlight of any event at the museum is the Moving Armour display and its well worth paying for the ticket to get the opportunity to see some really rare vehicles on the move. Seeing a vehicle parked up is one thing, but listening to and seeing 60 tonnes of tank on the move is a whole different experience. It gives you a real sense of the potential for violence such a vehicle has.
To wrap it up, Tiger Day is a seriously great day out for the kind of person that wants to learn a lot about the collection of vehicles at The Tank Museum. There is a range of talks throughout the day and a small moving armour display featuring the Tiger and its movie companion the Sherman used in Fury. If you are more in to larger amounts of moving vehicles, mock battles and explosions go to Tankfest. Seriously, it is great.