New Haynes Workshop Manual reveals how to change the oil on the Tank Museum's Tiger 131

By Richard Moss | 01 June 2011
a photo of two men holding a book as they stand in front of a large tank
The Tank Museum’s Mike Hayton (left) and David Willey (right).
The Tank Museum’s most famous exhibit is set to join a small but select band of iconic World War Two machines this week with the publication of a Haynes Workshop Manual explaining its inner workings.

The German Tiger tank will stand alongside the likes of the Lancaster Bomber, the Spitfire and the Hurricane when the manual, written by Curator David Willey, Historian David Fletcher and Workshop Manager Mike Hayton, is published on June 2.

As is the tradition with the Haynes Workshop Manuals, this new addition to the military vehicle enthusiast canon will be fully illustrated, providing a window into the history, workings and operating procedures of a World War Two legend.

Tiger 131 is the only complete and working example in the world today and the museum concedes that, with only six Tiger tanks still in existence, not many people will need to consult the manual when changing their transmission fluid. However, such is the interest in the formidable Nazi panzer that sales should be brisk.

“Tiger 131 is probably our most famous exhibit, not least because the Tiger tank itself has an almost mythical reputation,” says Willey. “In undertaking this project we have taken a much more sober and practical view of the vehicle.

a black and white photo of a knocked out tank being inspected by British troops in the desert
Tiger 131: Allied troops get their first close up viewing of a Tiger tank shortly after its capture© The Tank Museum
“By avoiding the often seen and heard hyperbole and myth-reinforcing, this book gives readers the opportunity to really get under the Tiger’s skin, with practical and technical information on how it works, how it’s used and looked after and how it was fought in.”

As well as the technical details, the book features personal recollections from those who commanded Tigers in war and answers important questions as to why so few of the 1,355 tanks produced survive, and where those that have can be found.

A foreword has been written by Peter Gudgin MC. In 1942, as a young lieutenant with 48 Royal Tank Regiment, the Churchill tank he was commanding was knocked out by Tiger 131 in its last engagement before capture.

Wounded in the action, Peter returned to England where he was posted to the School of Tank Technology. There, by sheer serendipity, his task was to produce an examination report on Tiger 131 – the first Tiger tank to be captured intact by the Allies, which now resides at the museum in Bovington.

  • The Tiger Tank Owners’ Workshop Manual is available from June 2 from The Tank Museum, and all good bookshops, RRP £19.99.
  • Author-signed copies will be available at Tankfest, The Tank Museum’s major event of the year, on June 25 and 26.
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