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German ‘Panther’ tank restored in Ottawa

The Story

The Panzer V tank, also known as the "Panther," was one of Germany's most powerful fighting machines during the Second World War. Somehow, a Panther ended up in Canada by the war's end. It sat for decades at Ontario's CFB Borden before being donated to the Canadian War Museum in 2005 -- but at that point, it was in no shape to be displayed. A full-scale restoration was required. A few hours before the restored tank's unveiling in January 2008, CBC Radio interviews museum employee Jim Whitham about the Panther.

Medium: Radio
Program: Ottawa Morning
Broadcast Date: Jan. 10, 2008
Guest: Jim Whitham
Host: Kathleen Petty
Duration: 5:05

Did You know?

• The Germans designed the Panzer V tank to fight the powerful Soviet tanks they encountered after invading Russia in June 1941. The Panther first appeared in 1943 at the Battle of Kursk. By the end of the war, nearly 6,000 Panthers had been deployed. The Panther is widely considered one of the best tanks produced during the war.

• Nobody is quite sure how this particular Panther ended up in Canada. It might have been captured as a "war trophy," or could have been taken for use in military testing and experimentation. Regardless, it was already in Canada by the end of the war -- we know this because it was used in VE-Day celebrations on Ottawa's Sparks Street in 1945. After that, it was on display for 60 years outdoors at Canadian Forces Base Borden (located about 100 kilometres north of Toronto) before being donated to the Canadian War Museum.

• In a January 10, 2008 press release, the Canadian War Museum's director general, Mark O'Neill, said the Panther preservation was "possibly the largest restoration project ever undertaken by the museum." A team of museum staff, volunteers and contractors spent approximately 4,000 hours working on it.

• The press release goes on to describe the restoration process: "All major mechanical components were removed and treated in order to preserve them... The restoration team reproduced many of the damaged or missing components in order to present the tank as would likely have appeared on operations in 1944. As the restoration team worked on the tank's interior spaces, they removed large amounts of oily dirt, pine needles, and garbage that had accumulated over the years, sifting slowly through each batch to search for clues to the vehicle's service history. They found a small religious medallion, machine gun shell casings, toys and utensils, all stuck in layers of debris."



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