Saumur Tank Museum – Part II

The German Hall contemplated me with several new vehicles I have never seen before and a few ones I had but with some differences. The order of the tanks is quite nice to understand how Germany developed their tanks during the War. The Tiger I in display is quite an unique vehicle to see, it’s one of the last seven remaining in the World and it’s very different from the Tiger 131 that is in display at Bovington Tank Museum.

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Tiger I 221 also known as Tiger Colmar

The Tiger I (221) is a mid 1944 production vehicle, also known as late production or Ausf. E, with overlapping road wheels adopted from the Tiger II. Notice the narrow transport tracks, they where usually only fitted when the tank needed to be loaded into a train, so they could fit into tunnels. Also you can see the turret is a late version, main feature that will tell you this, is the commander cupola and the whole tank is covered in Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating.

With an unique history, this Tiger I was part of the 2nd Company of the SS Heavy Panzer Battalion 102. It last fought in the Cauville sector before it was abandoned by it’s crew due to mechanical problems. Then was captured and recommissioned as the Colmar with the 2nd Squadron of the 6th Cuirassier Regiment and fought all the way back to Germany. It’s considered one of the best examples in the World, together with the Tiger I (712) from the United States Army Amor & Cavalry Museum. They are the only two remaining that could be restored into running order again, just like the Tiger 131 from Bovington Tank Museum.

As you move along you come to see a Panzer IV Ausf. J, it used be to a target range wreck in Establissement Technique de Bourges and has been restored. Next to it, a Panzer III Ausf. F, and last but not least a Panzer II Ausf. C, in running condition. Although it was obsolete, it was used in the Normandy front as a command, control and observation vehicle. The markings on this tank are incorrect, the vehicle has been restored to a 1940-41 condition but the markings correspond to 1944.

On back of these first vehicles you then have a collection of Tank Destroyers and Self Propelled Guns. Starting with the Marder Series, vehicles considered obsolete where converted and fitted with anti tank guns and used as a support role. The museum has quite a big collection, a Marder I Sd. Kfz. 135, Marder 38 H Sd. Kfz. 138, Marder Hotchkiss and a Marder III Sd.Kfz. 139 and in the middle a Wespe Sd. Kfz. 124.

You come to find there is one that is known as the “little lie”, together with the other Jagdpanzer and Sturmpanzer. It’s the Jagdpanzer 38t also known as Hetzer…

No, it’s not a Jagdpanzer 38t latter known as Hetzer. It’s a G13 a post war version of the Jagdpanzer 38 build for Switzerland with a StuK 40 gun. How can you tell that? First notice the light in the front, it’s different from the German Hetzer, then the gun where you can see that the muzzle break has been removed. Then notice all the extra equipment on the side and rear of the vehicle, original Jagdpanzer 38 didn’t have any of this. Ok, it’s not a true Hetzer, but it is a copy of it and you can understand what the German army was using during the War.

A wide variety of vehicles based on the Panzer III, Panzer IV and Panther are at display on this area too. A Stug III, StuH 42, Jagdpanzer IV Ausf. F, Brummbar,  Hummel, Flakpanzer IV, Bergepanther and a Jagdpanther.

A few of these vehicles I never seen them before, but one caught my eye specially because of it’s history. The Jagdpanzer IV/70 Late (Alkeet). This vehicle was put out of action being hit several times with extensive damage. But, the Free French Forces recovered it and them used it from 1944 to 1945 to fight the Germans and made it all the way back to Berlin.

And coming to the end you find yourself in front of my favourite German tank, the Panther Ausf. A. The turret on this vehicle is not original to the hull, that is currently preserved in the Omaha Overlord Museum. From what I know this is one of at least three that Saumur Tank Museum has, one of them is the famous Panther Ausf. A (211) that is in running order.

As you go out of the German Hall, you find yourself in a tiny hall with two tanks, both Italian, the Semovente M42 and the M15/42.

And its all for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed this second part on my visit to Saumur Tank Museum, please leave a comment with your opinion and thoughts. My next post will be about a very special hall on the museum.

Harkonnen