Phil Loder visited the Musée des Blindés in Saumur, France, to see the progress on their Tiger I restoration
France has two near-complete German Tiger Is from World War Two. One is parked beside the road near the town of Vimoutiers in eastern Normandy, while the second is at the Musée des Blindés, the French Armoured Vehicles Museum at Saumur in the Loire Valley. Many readers will have seen the announcement a few months ago that the team at the Musée des Blindés were planning to restore their Tiger I to running order.
The museum’s website states: “The events organized in 2014 for the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of France sparked real enthusiasm among the French population and particularly among young people. The commemorations in 2024 and 2025 will be opportunities to explain and illustrate to all audiences the major battles fought by the Allies. During these events, showing the Tiger I in motion will allow spectators to understand the challenge that such a combination of steel and firepower represented for the Allies.” The restoration is expected to take two years, and the museum posted a video at the end of 2022 showing the Tiger being dismantled for assessment. The decision was taken to proceed and while the Maybach engine has been passed to a specialist company for refurbishment, the rest of the vehicle will be restored in the museum’s workshops. Parts of the tank are on display as a temporary exhibition in a marquee off the main galleries, and as I had been planning to visit the museum while on holiday in the area, it seemed like a good opportunity to have a look.