Rare German tank Mephisto on display at the Australian War Memorial

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Mephisto, the last remaining First World War German A7V tank, has gone on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra as part of commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War.

In collaboration with the Queensland Museum, this is the first time the rare tank has been displayed outside Brisbane since it was transported from Europe after the end of the First World War. 

Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, said Mephisto added yet another element to the myriad of stories told through the Memorial.

“It is wonderful that this magnificent piece of our history is to be displayed at the Australian War Memorial during the Centenary,” Dr Nelson said.

“It is vitally important that stories such as Mephisto are preserved for future generations, and this item is a vivid example of what our soldiers fought against in battle in the First World War.”

Of Germany’s A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, which was crewed with 18 to 26 men on board, only 20 were ever built for use in war. Panzerkampfwagen 506, Mephisto, is the only surviving unit anywhere in the world.

It was part of the initial German tank detachment which participated in the first German tank attack at St Quentin in France on 21 March 1918.  Its second, and final, battle was at Villers-Bretonneux on 24 April 1918 in which opposing tanks fought head to head for the first time in what was a watershed moment in the evolution of tank warfare.

During the battle, Mephisto was disabled and abandoned on the field before being salvaged as a war trophy by the 26th Battalion, AIF in a daring night-time operation. 

Mephisto will remain be on display in Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial until mid-2017.

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