I have always been a WW2 history buff, and especially I’ve always loved tanks. When I got a chance to visit the Deutsches Panzermuseum in Munster on my way up to Denmark, I had to drop by. It is one of the few places where you can see some of the rarest ww2 tanks. Some of which there are only a couple left in the world. I have always been interested in the technology that was developed in ww2. It was a race between nations, a race to be the first and the best at everything. Many advanced technologies were developed in this time such as; TV, radar, the first jet fighter, the assault rifle, the swept wing, first rocket powered aircraft, medical penicillin, helicopters, freeze dried coffee, computers and much else. Many house hold names owe themselves to advances made in WW2. The AK47 assault rifle is a late derivative of the German MP44 assault rifle. The MiG15, the most advanced jet fighter of the 1950s was based on German drawings of a prototype Focke-Wulf Ta 183, and even had a copy BMW 003 jet engine in it.
Germany fielded many different tanks in ww2, they were constantly improving and changing designs. Although numerically very few, many German tanks were extremely deadly. The Tiger and Panther became well known names to allied tank commanders, and became armor to avoid! The German Tiger tank had much greater armor plating than regular tanks, and a much more powerful gun, which could destroy most tanks at more than twice the distance they could. On the eastern front Tiger crews recorded 14:1 kill death ratios. Munster specializes in German tanks from 1917, and has many of these rare beasts.
These heavy tanks were developed as a result of the German experiences in Russia in 1941. The German army enjoyed very fast progress initially, as they had before in the blitzkrieg era, but that all changed when they ran into good Russian tank designs like the KV and T34 tanks. To deal with these threats Germany developed specialized tank hunter tanks like the jagdpanzer and increasingly heavier tank designs.
Germany could never match the mass production of the soviet union and the USA. The US produced 53,000 Sherman tanks in the war years, while German produced 1300 Tigers. The T34 Russian tank was the greatest threat, and while a very formidable tank, many were lost with poor crew training, lack of communications and inexperience. As more and more waves of soviet tanks hit the battlefield, the Germans were finally pushed back. Russia paid a high price for this, and it can be seen on some of the exhibits at Munster. There is a T34/85 there where you can see the rush under which is was made, the welding and general assembly of the turret is very poor.
As well as the main battle tanks, there are also many other interesting vehicles on display at Munster. The car below is a Schwimmwagen, made by VW. This was an amphibious car with 4×4. The tracked vehicle below is a Goliath. A remote controlled mini tank packed with explosives designed to bring down fortifications.
Germany’s history with tanks began a in WW1 where they captured a British tank, one of the first in the world. A German version was soon developed and became the A7V. These early tanks were more mobile bunkers than anything else. They were very slow and had very little mobility. New tactics first visualized by the British, and developed by Germany in the 1930s called for a mechanized army with fast mobile tanks spearheading enemy positions with great shock and confusion. This became known as Blitzkrieg tactics which proved very successful and led to the collapse of Europe.
The final tanks to be made by Nazi Germany were monsters. The Tiger II or King Tiger tank was one of the heaviest tanks ever made. It weighed 70 tons, had 185mm think steel plating and packed a very powerful gun which could destroy tanks at 2000 – 3000m. Some Tigers are known to have had a 14:1 Kill/Death ratio. Equally insane is the Sturmtiger. Weighing 68 tons, this tank fired a 380mm rocket propelled artillery shell which was designed to destroy fortifications and buildings. The shell is shown in the foreground.
Munster Panzer Museum also has more modern tanks including the Leopard I, right up to the present day. Its a great museum, especially if you are interested in WW2 tanks. I would highly recommend a visit to any history buff! Below are a few pictures from the day! Hope you enjoy and please don’t forget to follow my blog.
Official website is here: http://daspanzermuseum.de/