Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Postcards From Brisbane - The Mephisto

Back on 1 March 2006 I took the family to the Queensland Museum. One of the exhibits, a WWI German tank particularly interested me.

The Mephisto is the last surviving example of the first German military tank, the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen. Although Britain and France developed several types of light, medium and heavy tank during the World War I, the Germans produced only one: the A7V. The prototype was completed and demonstrated in April 1917, but because of production delays the first operational A7V (Chassis Number 501) was not rolled out of the Daimler plant at Berlin-Marienfelde until October 1917. Mephisto has the chassis serial number 506. Only 20 A7Vs were built by the Germans, the rest of their tank force was made up of captured Allied vehicles.

Unlike modern tanks, the A7V has no single, large central turret, but instead is armed with a number of smaller casemates, two on each side and one at each end. A replica A7V was built in Germany in 1991, which is modelled substantially upon Mephisto.

The Mephisto was captured at Villers-Bretonneux on 24 April 1918 by a battalion of Australian troops, mostly from Queensland. It was shipped to England in January 1919 and then sent to Queensland, Australia as a 'war trophy', arriving in Brisbane in June 1919. It was displayed at the Queensland Museum in Gregory Terrace where it remained until 1986 when both it and the Museum were relocated to the Queensland Cultural Centre, South Bank.

You can click on the following links to check out Mephisto's story, combat history, inside, fate, specifications, and general info on the A7V.

Maddie, then aged 4 (almost 5) in front of the Mephisto