Anytime a Tiger tank has appeared in a movie in the past, be it in Kelly’s Heroes, Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers, it has always been a replica. Usually a mocked-up T-34. This is because there are only seven surviving Tigers and only one of those is operational (Tiger 131). Bovington tank museum in England have always refused to let it be used in movie productions due to the wear and tear that kind of thing would have on the tank overall. Tanks, especially Tigers, are not like cars – they require constant maintenance just to be able to drive in a straight line. So it was with interest that recently on the set of Fury (2014) something identical to a Tiger, that clearly wasn’t a replica, was spotted and photographed. It was a subject of great interest for armor enthusiasts because these units simply aren’t available for movie production.
Now, some confirmation. It is Tiger 131, sole surviving operational Panzer VI, and she was loaned to David Ayer for his movie. This is down to the fact that the shooting location of the movie was (comparatively) close to the set, so she could be easily transported. Secondly, she was loaned on condition that a specially conscripted team of experts from the museum could oversee every minute of her deployment. This is understandable as this is an especially rare piece of machinery and history. Not just anyone can start one, it takes skill to turn her over. Same with gear changing and general movement.
So this is a big deal. The Real McCoy is headed to the big screen, at last. What’s more, as pointed out in our Fury (2014) Screenplay Review, the tank will double up as two seperate Tigers, edited to appear as such. In the biggest action scene in the movie, Pitt and his tank (Sherman Firefly) will engage two Tigers on some farmland in Germany. Yes, one pissant Sherman vs two Tigers does stretch credibility, even a Pershing would have difficulty dealing with two Tigers, but for WW2 movie fans this is close to that time a T-Rex came to life on a certain island, in a certain movie, 20 years ago.
Finally, one picture so far has surfaced, check it out below.