Tracey Tong/metro ottawa
During World War II, a Canadian soldier would not have wanted to face a Panzer V.
The German tank, also known as a Panther, was deadly, difficult to destroy and considered one of the best in the war.
Now, Canadians can view the Panther up close in a friendlier environment after the Canadian War Museum unveiled its latest artifact yesterday. Of the 6,000 Panthers of this series produced during the war, only 20 remain in the world, with most of those in museums, said Jim Whitham, collections manager, transportation and artillery, at the museum.
The second largest World War II tank in Canada and the only one of its kind in the country, the Panther is the museum’s largest enemy battle tank, said Whitham.
The museum acquired the tank from Canadian Forces Base Borden Military Museum in May 2005. A team of contractors and volunteers, led by Whitham, put in over 4,000 hours of restorative work. The unveiling has been long awaited, said Whitham.
“People bugged me daily about when it would be done.”
One of the largest tanks produced in quantity during the World War II, the restored tank is “possibly the largest restoration project ever undertaken by the museum,” said Mark O’Neill, the museum’s director general.
The 45-tonne Panther, which debuted in mid-1943 at the Battle of Kursk, was designed to combat Soviet tanks. Canadian units faced Panthers as they advanced through Italy, and many more after the Normandy landings.
The tank has been strategically placed next to other WWII tanks, including a Russian T-34/85 so that visitors can compare them, said Canadian War Museum spokesman Pierre Leduc.
Whitham expects that the tank will be a huge draw for the museum.
“This is the first time that a large number of people will be able to visit it in a restored state,” he said.