This tank was captured in Tunisia and is in the USA pending restoration. It is a Tiger of the 2nd company of s.Pz.Abt. 501, later attached to Panzer Regiment 7 as their 8th company. It must have arrived in Africa in early January 1943. Research now implies that this tank, not Tiger 131, is the one captured at Djebel Jaffa on 21 April, as described in "Tigers in Combat 1". Other details of its service have not been found in documents, but the combined photographic record of its unit yields information.
One photograph shows this tank approaching Sidi N'sir shortly after the battle of 26 February. At this time it was the command tank of its company (number "81"), and very probably participated in the Hunt's Gap battle in the following days, there to lose four of its subordinate Tigers. The survivors of the 8th company were absorbed into the 7th company, and this Tiger was demoted, becoming "712".
Another photo shows Tiger "712" driving south from Enfidha. This can only be the journey to Maknassy, so it very probably arrived there and fought the 9th US Armoured Division.
The tank was numbered "712" when captured, but photos show an "8" under the "7", and under that a "2". We now know, from photographic studies, that all the tanks of the 2nd company had their leading digits changed in this sequence. We also know what numbers were originally assigned, and the fate of most of the Tigers. That leaves only two possibilities for this tank's original number; "21" or "221".
The book "Tiger without a home" reports that an examination of this tank found "a pair of twos" in its number. This confirms that the Tiger was originally "221". And it leaves only one possible number for the Tiger badly damaged but recovered from near Robaa. That one must have been "21", the original command tank of the 2nd company.
At the time of Ochsenkopf this tank was "81", the company command. This raises the possibility that it was promoted immediately after the Robaa mission, becoming the second "21". But the position of the painted digits on the tank's turret argues against this. If you were ordered to alter a tank's number from "221" to "21", would you overpaint the last two digits and draw a new "1"? It would be much simpler to overpaint the leading "2", but we can see that this didn't happen.
Therefore we don't believe this tank was ever numbered "21", even if it was used as the company command tank during February 1943. We believe it was renumbered along with the rest of the company at the end of February, becoming "81".
|Hub of the sprocket wheels||Central dome is small|
|Alignment of bolts on the sprockets||Bolts aligned with arms|
|Tow cable direction||32mm cable with the ends to the front|
|Tool holders on glacis plate||Custom tools in a nonstandard layout|
|Toolbox at rear left||Supported perpendicular to the wall|
|Mudguard type||Wide, folding mudguards|
|Thick area on mantlet||Flat with 2 small holes|
|Headlight arrangement||Two headlights on the hull roof|
|Turret bin type||Wide 1.4m bin with 2 latches|