Dragon DRF18001 SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann 'Tiger Ace' Historical Diorama (1:18 Scale)
"I had no time to assemble my company; instead I had to act quickly, as I had to assume that the enemy had already spotted me and would destroy me where I stood. I set off with one tank and passed the order to the others not to retreat a single step but to hold their ground."
- SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann, discussing the events leading up to his famous action at Villers Bocage, France, June 13th, 1944
Michael Wittmann (April 22nd, 1914 August 8th, 1944) was a German Waffen-SS tank commander during the Second World War. Wittmann would rise to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer (captain) and was a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross holder.
He was credited with the destruction of 138 tanks and 132 anti-tank guns, along with an unknown number of other armored vehicles, making him one of Germany's top scoring panzer aces, together with Johannes Blter, Ernst Barkmann, Otto Carius and Kurt Knispel who was the top scoring ace of the war with 168 tank kills.
Wittmann is most famous for his ambush of elements of the British 7th Armoured Division, during the Battle of Villers-Bocage on June 13th, 1944. While in command of a single Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger he destroyed up to 14 tanks and 15 personnel carriers along with 2 anti-tank guns within the space of 15 minutes.
The circumstances behind Wittmann's death have caused some debate and discussion over the years, but it had been historically accepted that Trooper Joe Ekins, the gunner in a Sherman Firefly, of the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry was his killer. However, in recent years, some commentators have suggested that members of the Canadian Sherbrooke Fusiliers Regiment may have been responsible instead.
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Length: 14 inches
Historical Account: "The Black Baron" - At approximately 09:00, on the morning of June 13th, 1944, near the town of Villers Bocage, France, Wittmann's Tiger emerged from cover onto Route Nationale 175 and engaged the rearmost British tanks on Point 213, destroying them. Wittmann then moved towards Villers-Bocage engaging several transport vehicles parked along the roadside, the carriers bursting into flames as their fuel tanks were ruptured by machine gun and high explosive fire. Moving into the eastern end of Villers-Bocage, Wittmann engaged a number of light tanks followed by several medium tanks.
Alerted to Wittmann's actions, light tanks in the middle of the town quickly got off the road while medium tanks were brought forward. Wittmann, meanwhile, had accounted for a further British tank, two artillery observation post (OP) tanks followed by a scout car and a half-track. Accounts differ as to what happened next. Historians record that, following the destruction of the OP tanks, Wittmann briefly dueled without success against a Sherman Firefly before withdrawing. The Tiger is then reported to have continued eastwards to the outskirts of the town before being disabled by an anti-tank gun. Wittmann's own account, however, contradicts this; he states that his tank was disabled by an anti-tank gun in the town center.
In less than 15 minutes, 13-14 tanks, two anti-tank guns and 13-15 transport vehicles had been destroyed by the Heavy SS-Panzer Battalion 101, the vast majority attributed to Wittmann. Wittmann would however play no further role in the Battle of Villers-Bocage. For his actions during the battle, Wittmann was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer (captain) and awarded Swords to his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.