Saturday, November 1, 2014


If that isn't a real Tiger I, its the most convincing model I've ever seen.  I do believe that its real.  It might be that full sized replica that somebody built a few years ago.    Its definitely not one of the T 34s made up to look like Tiger Is from Kellys Heroes and Private Ryan.

My dad was a teacher with the Army Reserve and he did two "summer camps" teaching some kind of fancy rocket science at Aberdeen Proving Ground back in the early 1970s.   He took me and my brother along both times and we had nothing to do on base except hang out at the museum.   We crawled all over every tank in the museum.  We'd have probably crawled all over the V2 if they hadn't had it fenced off where we couldn't get to it.   It got so bad that the MPs were kind enough to explain their reluctance to let us continue doing that one afternoon the second year.  

They had an old fellow working in the museum's gift shop and he used to talk about the Tiger Is in Kellys Heroes.   He had worked on captured equipment during the war and had driven most of the stuff in the museum back when we were figuring out what we had to beat.  He is the one that told me what the Kelly's Heroes Tigers were.  I knew they weren't real because they were so small and the wheels and tracks weren't right but I was so used to seeing American tanks standing in for German tanks, I kept trying to figure out which American tank they were made from.  He said that he kept thinking they looked too small and then he realized that they were T 34s and it all made sense.  They filmed Kelly's Heroes in Yugoslavia.   T 34s were abundant in Yugoslavia.  D-oh!

I always wondered why no movie studio ever got a real German tank and used it.    I mean, France used Panthers into the 1950s until they got their own industry back in shape and various Arab nations used Mk IVs into the 1960s.  Its not like there weren't any German tanks to be had.

Then along came Private Ryan and all the commercials and write ups had to mention that they used a "real German Panzer."   Since the climactic battle is with the Tiger tanks, one naturally inferred that they used a real Tiger tank.   Such was not the case.  The real "German Panzer" in Private Ryan was the little Marder that shot the top out of the bell tower.  The Tigers were the Kelly's Heroes Tigers.    Better than using M 47s but still a disappointment after they had harped so much on the "real German Panzer" in the movie.

(Found my Picture)

I've read some reviews of Fury that pick on some tactical details and I spotted a few myself ( I believe that the Germans generally shot at the enemy tank with the longest barrel first since it was the one that could hurt them ) but it would have been a short movie if they hadn't made those mistakes.

Some reviews say that the Germans couldn't have moved a battalion down a road in the daylight that late in the war without attracting fighter-bombers.  I think that those reviewers might think otherwise if they had read Steven Harding's "The Last Battle."  The end of Fury bears some tiny  resemblance to what happened there.   In this case, I do think that's a hole in the story because, in Fury, the Germans were spotted by a reconnaissance plane.  Instead of sending fighters, we sent four Shermans.   Still, things happen in war and you go with what you have.

The Shermans in the movie are a mix from the old M4A1 with the rounded, cast hull to the late model M4A3E8.   People rag on the Sherman all the time because it wasn't a match for the Panther or Tiger but it wasn't ever supposed to be.  It was supposed to beat the tanks the Germans used in Poland and France;  Mk IIIs with 37mm and short 50mm guns and Mk IVs with short 75 mm howitzers.  It did that when it got to Africa but by the time we got to Europe, we were facing stuff the Germans had  developed to fight outnumbered against the Russian T 34.   We couldn't just say "hold the war while we catch up."  We went with what we had and improved it every way we could while developing the M 26 Pershing.  So yes, our Shermans were badly outclassed by the best German tanks but it wasn't because they were particularly crappy.  They were doing a job they were never intended to do.  Fury will show you what that meant to the guys that had to fight in them.   It ain't pretty.

I've never been in a war.  Never even been in the Military.  (But I have been in a Pzkpfw Mk IV - heh!).  I have an appreciation for Military people and Military things because of my dad's time in the Service and  the time I got to spend at various places where the Army sent him to teach every summer.  I've studied history and have a fancy degree in it.  In high school, I knew a lot more about history than any of my history "teachers."   (I had one in 11th grade who thought Eisenhower was a British Field Marshal.  She was a teenager when Eisenhower was President but she thought he was a British Field Marshal. Ugh!).  Anyway, I have no first hand experience in what being in a war is like but I have that book-learnin.'  I have talked to combat veterans from WW2 and have a friend or two who saw more than their share of combat in Iraq.  The combat scenes in Fury ring true with what I have read, what I've been told and the pictures that I have seen that were taken in Iraq after firefights.  (I'm not talkin' pictures that you'd see on the news).  So, if you want to take the word of someone that's never seen combat of any kind, its the most realistic war movie I've ever seen. 

Definitely go see it.  Then go thank a Vet.


Tim said...

The Film Features Last Working WWII Tiger Tank. Both tanks used in the film — the Sherman M4E8 and the Tiger 131 — are real, and belong to the Tank Museum in Bovington, England.

Old 1811 said...

I read (don't know if it's true) that there is one functioning genuine Tiger left in the world, and they used it in this movie.

Lantry said...

Like I said, I do believe it is a real one. Now I know for sure. Thanks for the confirmation!

Anonymous said...

The Sherman was a good tank but its limitations were driven by shipping restrictions. Its dimensions were constrained by railroads and shipping availability. Its gun was its maindrawback. There is little excuse for such a poor weapon. The Mark IV was its equal, which says a great deal more about the Mark IV than the Sherman.

I haven't seen the movie and probably won't. It appears to be flawed and one that is designed with an agenda. Better to see the Big Red One than this movie.

Lantry said...

I agree that the Mk IV from the F-2 model on was as good or better than the Sherman. I as "or better" because it didn't have the "lights every time" reputation that the Sherman had. From the F-2 on they had much better guns than the A - F-1. The movie does have a lot of "see, the Americans weren't choir boys either" stuff in it but that's not how it left me feeling. To me, it really brought home how bad it was for our guys to have to fight in an obsolete and flawed piece of equipment like the Sherman. They do shoot a couple of prisoners but with all the crap they had to go through, it seemed to me like the movie was saying that stuff like that was understandable.