manuals, the publisher who shows you how to take apart your car and put it back together again, have been hard at work on a special project. They have released a manual on the Tiger I which was researched during recent restoration work to the Tiger I at Bovington Tank Museum. Haynes manuals have released a number of military manuals usually covering aircraft, such as the Vulcan, Spitfire, Lancaster, and F86 Sabre as examples, however this is something different going over the Tiger I which was captured in Tunisia in 1943 during World War 2, and housed at Bovington Tank Museum.
The book breaks down as;
3. The Tiger Story.
4. The Travels of Tiger 131.
5. Anatomy of the Tiger.
6. Restore to Running Order.
7. Running the Tiger.
8. Running the Tiger.
9. The Maybach Engine.
11. Fighting the Tiger.
12. Last of the Tigers.
This is a hardback book consisting of 164 pages, it is printed on a good quality semi gloss paper and is approximately A4 size. I will break down this review in the same order as the layout listed in the contents.
This section of the book introduces you to Lieutenant Peter Gudgin MC, 48th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. The Churchill tank he was commanding in Tunisia in 1943 received fire (believed from Tiger 131) and was destroyed by a shot going through his tank front to rear, he and his crew were very fortunate to survive. He was sent back to England to recuperate and ended up meeting the tank that nearly killed him and writing a report on its abilities.
This section covers briefly the 'how and why' this book was written and acknowledges the work by various other authors.
The Tiger Story:
This section of the book is broken down to;
Fahrgestell Nummer and the Waffen Prufungsamt
From factory to the to the front line
Enter Tiger 131
A book of this size can never do justice to all these areas but it does provide an interesting insight into them, the pictures included also show Tiger 131 with its crew in Tunisia and shortly after its capture showing the two tone paint scheme.
The Travels of Tiger 131:
This section of the book covers Tiger 131s movements after capture and the uses it was put to. This section of the book has an excellent selection of period photographs which I am sure will be of interest and shows the damage inflicted on the inside of Tiger 131 at the time of capture.
Anatomy of the Tiger:
This section of the book breaks down into five sub headings which are;
Tiger I statistics
Looking around the vehicle
Water Tiger Submersion and wading
This section of the book covers the layout in both text and pictures which are again period and contemporary. The above sections cover the areas as laid out above. Of particular interest will be the section where the staff at Bovington Tank Museum mix their own Zimmerit using the recipe as instructed in German literature and the results of tests on it.
Restore to Running Order:
This area of the book is broken down into five sub sections which are;
The reason why
The restoration of Tiger 131
Restoration: the workshop view
The vexed question of paint
Restoration: the volunteers view
This area of the book covers the trials and tribulations of returning a World War 2 heavy tank to running order while keeping the vehicle as authentic as possible. This section gives an insight into the difficulties with funding such an operation and finding the right people for the job. It also covers the use of a Maybach HL230 engine which would have been fitted to this vehicle if it had survived in German service, from a Maybach HL210 of which a complete engine was not available. This section of the book also offers what I believe to be a unique opportunity to see parts of the Tiger which cannot under normal conditions be seen.
Running the Tiger:
This section of the book breaks down into four sub headings which are;
Driving Tiger 131
Engine start up procedure
Driving the tiger
Wheel and track maintenance
This will take you back to the days before you got into a vehicle, turned the key, and drove away. The checks required before starting are well explained and there is a whole new list of what to do before you can drive away after the tank is started. This section has some excellent reference pictures which should help those who wish to detail the interior of a Tiger I.
The Maybach Engine:
The engine and auxiliaries
This section of the book identifies the various components of the engine and what they do and how they work. Various cutaway drawings show the internal operating parts and includes areas such as breaking, turret motor, gear box, and ventilation.
This area of the book breaks down into two sub headings which are;
Procedure for aiming and firing the gun
As suggested this area covers the setting up of the main gun to fire, but also covers ammunition and aiming points. This book has not forgotten the bow MG which is covered along with the smoke dischargers and their firing circuits. A point of interest here is that storage of the various ammunition and equipment is also covered in detail with supporting pictures.
Fighting the Tiger:
This section of the book is broken down into six sub headers which are;
Units that used Tigers
Repair and maintenance
Living with the Tiger
A better title for this portion of the book would be Fighting from the Tiger and as indicated from the above listing covers a broad spectrum. The area I found the most interesting was the demolition charges for the Tiger and which is an area I have not seen covered before. While most of the pictures in this area are period pictures which I suspect have been seen before there was a contemporary picture which really caught my eye, that is a picture of Otto Carius getting in or out of the Bovington Tiger after restoration
Last of the Tigers:
This section of the book is broken down into the following three sub sections;
What happened to the other Tigers?
What chance of owning a Tiger?
Buying a Tiger
This section of the book covers the possibility of undiscovered Tiger Is being out there somewhere, and even touches on tanks that were buried in the UK to test their survivability, and which when the tests were abandoned never dug up.
Here you will see the last known six Tigers Is which are mostly complete and their locations.
A three page index is provided to make it easier to navigate through the book and look up specific areas of interest.
This book could never hope to cover the Tiger I to the satisfaction of all, but it does do a good job of providing a lot of information on Tiger 131 and how it was used, recovered, and ended up as it currently stands. Did it have everything I would want from a book on the Tiger I? No it didnt but it is an excellent book all the same. I highly recommend this book to you as it covers a broad spectrum on the Tiger I rather than just a specific, which means there should be something for everyone between the covers.
Tiger 131 walk around by Alan McNeilly
Tiger 131 walk around by Darren Baker