For those who know their Second World War history this tank model, available at atlaseditions.co.uk, is an iconic piece. The Tiger was one of the most effective weapons of the conflict, on either side. Weighing 56 tons, it had an 88mm cannon and armour-plating that was 12cm-thick.The 1:72 scale die-cast tank model here has the SS markings of Michael Wittmann, who was one of the most successful tank commanders of the war.
Wittmann's Tiger Tank inflicted huge losses on the British near Villers Bocage in Northern France in a battle for Normandy in June 1944. Wittmann was on a reconnaissance patrol when he encountered a large number of British tanks, belonging to the feared 7th Armoured Division, dubbed the Desert Rats.
Wittmann realised the British unit planned to mount a manoeuvre against his Panzer Lehr. He mobilised his crew and engaged the enemy to enormous effect. Destroyed in the initial skirmish were 12 M3 half-tracks, three M5A1 Honey Tanks and four Cromwell tanks. Wittmann returned later that same day with three more tanks to launch a counter-attack and capture Villers Bocage for the Germans. When he arrived the British tank crews were enjoying a tea break and so were off guard.
Wittmann and his Tiger Tank crew successfully destroyed the whole collection of British vehicles. The German tanks then went into the town but an anti-tank gun immobilised Wittmann's Tiger, which forced the crew to escape. The other German tanks were also destroyed by the British but the losses for the 7th Armoured that day totalled 25 tanks, 14 half-tracks and 14 carriers. The incident did not change the course of the war but Wittmann's endeavours, in a tank replicated here, are now recognised by historians as having been exceptional. During a later fight for Caen, Wittmann's tank suffered a direct hit and he was killed.