Mephisto is heading for home

09 June 2017

One of Australia’s most significant war objects, the German tank Mephisto has returned to Queensland.

As the only surviving German A7V Sturmpanzerwagen tank in the world, Mephisto is one of the best known objects in the Queensland State Collection.

Mephisto was salvaged by the 26th Battalion in the First World War, a battalion that was predominantly made up of Queenslanders, and since that time it has become part of the story of Queensland’s history.

Since July 2015, the 33 tonne, eight metre tank has been on display at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra, but on 6 June it began its journey home, arriving on Thursday, 8 June.

Queensland Museum Acting CEO and Director Alexander Hayward said it would be the second homecoming for Mephisto which originally arrived in Brisbane following the First World War in June 1919.

“Mephisto is one of Queensland Museum’s most significant objects and we are pleased that we have had an opportunity to share one of our state’s best known stories with a national audience,” he said.

“During its time at the Australian War Memorial visitors from around the world have viewed Mephisto as part of the Anzac Hall exhibition space, but we are delighted to have the much-loved tank return home to Queensland.”

Queensland Museum Chair David Conry said Mephisto was considered an iconic part of Queensland’s history.

“Like many Queenslanders I have fond memories of visiting Mephisto as a child while it was at the old Museum in Bowen Hills and having my photo taken with it.”

Recovered in July 1918 near the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, Mephisto was salvaged by soldiers from the 26th Battalion, comprised mainly of Queenslanders, who helped recover the abandoned vehicle and drag it behind allied lines.

During its time at AWM, Mephisto has been assessed by expert large technology conservators, undergone specialist metal treatments and will continue to undergo further remedial conservation works at The Workshops Rail Museum.

Specific conservation work undertaken included installing replica guns, assessing the condition of the gearbox and engine, replacing oils and fluids within the engine, and corrosion treatments on the body of the tank. The specialist conservation team at AWM also developed a maintenance plan for long-term preservation of Mephisto.

After being carefully wrapped, Mephisto started its journey north accompanied by a team of museum conservators, before being transferred into a de-humidified balloon-like cover called a carcoon at The Workshops Rail Museum.

The public will be able to view Mephisto at The Workshops Rail Museum with a planned future return to Queensland Museum at South Bank.

Media enquiries:
Christine Robertson, Senior Media Officer, Queensland Museum – 3840 7789/0417 741 710
Heidi Jones, Senior Media Officer, Queensland Museum – 3842 9388/0416 273 279