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11
Houffalize's Panther Tank

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The "Battle of the Bulge" is mostly famous for places like Bastogne and Malmedy, but the front stretched over 80 miles from the Elsenborn Ridge in the north of Belgium down to the border with France. Small museums dot the towns affected, including La Gleize and Baugnez in the north, and of course, the famous Bastogne Barracks.

Scattered here and there across the battlefield is the odd vehicle, sometimes in the town square. In the case of the small town of Houffalize (about 25 km north of Bastogne), it's a more-or-less intact Panther.

This Ausf. G model was pushed or blown into the nearby Ourthe River beside the Rue de la Roche (see period photo), and was fished out sometime after the war. The paint is said to be original, but I'm not entirely sure of that. The vehicle is missing most of the inner road wheels, and the tracks aren't threaded correctly on the drive sprockets. But surviving examples of these tanks are so rare that it was a happy moment to see one 1:1 scale.

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About the Author

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.


Comments

I hope at some point they build a museum for this one. Notice how the tracks have not rusted you rust fiends!
JUN 19, 2013 - 10:34 AM
And notice all the chipping and rusting too. ~ Jeff
JUN 19, 2013 - 11:08 AM
As featured on my avatar!!
JUN 19, 2013 - 06:38 PM
Did you visit the Grandmenil Panther as well Bill?
JUN 19, 2013 - 06:42 PM
One of the few places they don't moan at you for climbing on the tank. I mean it's really going to break it isn't it...lol. Having said that I did get stuck inside the Sherman in Bastognes town square and had to do some acrobatics on the breech of the gun to get out much to the amusement of the mate I was with. I was filthy by the time I got out...lol
JUN 20, 2013 - 01:26 AM
We did not. We drove up to La Gleize, whose museum was closed, and I took some photos of the Tiger II (coming in a future feature), but the weather was scheusslich with lots of rain and we finally just bagged it rather than drive all the way to Grandmenil. The avatars are so small, I didn't notice that was yours. The Sherman in McAulliffe Square is pretty nifty.
JUN 20, 2013 - 01:44 AM
Bill, I was lucky enough as a young soldier in HQ 3(UK)Div to be permitted to tag along on a battlefield tour studying the defence of Bastogne, back in the mid 70s; normally these affairs were limited to staff officers but having contributed to some of the preparatory documentation my boss managed to get me on the trip. The rationale for the tour was that we, as a reinforcement Division for BAOR, would, in all probability, find ourselves cut off and surrounded by elements of 3rd Shock Army should the Cold War turn hot, and our General thought that Bastogne was worthy of such a study. Back then key players from the time were still alive and we had the privilege of guest speakers such as the COS from Panzer Lehr Division and on the other side such participants as Gen Desroby, and messrs Rose and Cherry (I think). Anyway, I digress albeit it slightly. Amongst several locations we visited Houffalize and the Panther then was parked just on the roadside next to a pub; it was painted overall dark grey with some very small white digits on the turret sides of "401". Large crosses adorned the turret sides and hull front. The muzzle brake was also picked out in white. One could access the turret which was burnt out and full of rubbish such as cigarette packets and beer bottles. In my modelling zeal I chipped away at some Zimmerit from the hull sides behind the road wheels, although otherwise I recall the vehicle was devoid of Zimmerit; God knows what happened to the chunks I purloined but back then I thought it was justified in the greater interests of my hobby! Fast forward to c.1998 I accompanied a reserve unit to Belgium as part of their annual training; a battlefield tour was on the programme and again we took in Houffalize. It was then in its current location and had recently been repainted in more authentic colours and spruced up by a unit from the Bundeswehr; there was I believe, a plaque recording this. It is clearly now very worn with the large crosses evident on my original visit showing through. I was later tasked to assist the guest speaker on this particular tour by lecturing from the King Tiger on its characteristics at La Gleize - a seminal moment - but another story! Brian
JUN 20, 2013 - 08:48 AM
Great posting Mr Cross. I visited Bastogne with my family back in the mid 1980s. Luckly I have relatives in Hue so they could show us around. Back then they told us that the M4 in McAULIFFE SQUARE was finally inspected after about 30 years with kids climbing in and out. Somebody noticed that there was still a live round in the breech. . . LINK
JUN 22, 2013 - 01:29 PM
Thank you, Brian and J, for sharing your personal stories. These sorts of tours become immensely personal, and my son and I have a bond from sharing this experience. Should anyone be thinking of doing a Bastogne tour, I want to recommend the guide Roby Clum. He took us to places we would never have found, and was amazingly patient during some mixups that could have ruined the tour for us.
JUN 24, 2013 - 03:39 AM