Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tiger I (Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger)

The Panzerkampfwagen VI "Tiger" was a heavy German tank, the sole manufacturer of Henschel in Kassel manufactured from 1942 to 1944 and of the Wehrmacht was used from late summer 1942. Due to its strong main weapon and the high armor protection was one of the most powerful of the Tiger tanks of the Second World War .
As serious drawbacks were in addition to conventional design without sloped armor the elaborate preparation, its underpowered, low range and interference-prone technology in combination with high maintenance requirements, which limited the mobility of the tank significantly. As a result, more vehicles were lost due to mechanical defects and self-destruction than by direct enemy action. Although the strategic importance of the Tiger with only 1350 copies produced was low, he is considered one of the most famous tanks of the war.

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf E
A tiger in 1944 in northern France
Main Features
5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, radio operator)
8,45 m
3,70 m
3,00 m
57 t
Armor and armament
25–110 mm
Main armament
88-mm-KWK 36 L/56
Secondary armament
2 × 7.92 mm MG 34
Maybach 12-Zylinder-Ottomotor
700 PS (515 kW)
Torsion bar
Top speed
Road 38 km / h, road 20 km / h
Power / weight
12.3 hp / tonne


  • 1 Development history
    • 1.1 precursors
    • 1.2 Prototype
    • 1.3 serial production
  • 2 Technical description
    • 2.1 turret and armament
    • 2.2 driver and radio operator as
    • 2.3 drive and drive
  • 3 use
    • 3.1 Ostfront
    • 3.2 Nordafrika
    • 3.3 Italien
    • 3.4 Westfront
  • 4 follow-up assessment
    • 4.1 Design Analysis
    • 4.2 legends
  • 5 variations
    • 5.1 Panzerbefehlswagen
    • 5.2 Sturmtiger
    • 5.3 Bergepanzer
    • 5.4 Projects
  • 6 Specifications


Although the actual construction contract has been awarded for the Tigers until the spring of 1941, can the development of history traced back to the year 1937. At that time the company from got Henschel from Heereswaffenamtcommissioned an infantry support tank in the 30-ton class as a replacement for the Panzer IV to develop. As the breakthrough car "DW 1" designated prototype should have the main weapon in the Panzer IV also used 75-millimeter gun butts. After the construction of the chassis testing 1938 were adjusted as a new contract for the minimally modified successor "DW 2" was selected by the Henschel also produced only one chassis.
In the meantime, Henschel also dealt with a 65-ton successor of the new vehicle in the form of "UK 6501", which - like the later Tiger - had a frontal armor of 100 mm and a side armor of 80 mm and its armament also from the short 7 0.5 cm gun was.
Overview of the different UK prototypes

After the Army Ordnance stipulated new basic requirements ranged Henschel - besides MAN , Daimler-Benz and Porsche  - a revised proposal of DW 2 under the name "VK 3001 (H)". Of the three built chassis an in-house end of the war trials was subjected, while the other two as the chassis for the self-propelled gun Sturer Emil served. At the same time at Henschel which originated "VK 3601", the result of a claim Hitler for higher armor and stronger weapons was developed and is considered a direct ancestor of the tiger. A significant difference was not hanging on the drive armored box top. In a frontal armor of 100 mm and a 60 mm side armor of the box weighed about 40 tons. The main armament was to consist of a 75-millimeter cannon with conical pipe. The four were later produced chassis as tractors.


After the lack of tungsten precluded the use of the weapon and the short conical gun Panzer IV in the first battles had unsatisfactory breakdown services, the HWA issued on 26 May 1941 with the "UK 4501" the final development order to Henschel and Porsche . for later Tiger The tanks in the 45-ton class should be more heavily armored than before and as the eight-eight have known anti-aircraft gun as the main weapon. Since the demonstration of the prototype on Hitler's 20th birthday To be held April 1942, the two companies engaged in view of the tight time window back to its previous developments components. Due to the increased demand of such tanks shortly after the start of the Russian campaign , the Wehrmacht already ordered in the summer of 1941 off the vehicles from the drawing board and awarded construction contracts for 90 tanks of 60 from Henschel and Porsche.

Prototype of the Porsche Tigers
An unconventional design presented by Professor Ferdinand Porsche designed and Porsche-Tiger said VK 4501 (P) is, with its petrol-electric drive, in which any two 320-hp 10-cylinder engines, two generators, drives, with its current two in the rear flanged wheel electric motors were powered. A major drawback was the high ground pressure of the vehicle, the limited range in the field of only 50 km, and technical difficulties with the air-cooled engines.

As for the VK 3601 by Henschel after the removal of the conical gun turret ring for now to be used - and originally designed for the Porsche Tiger - Krupp tower was too small with its 88-mm cannon, the chassis had to be enlarged, which in combination with the increased armor was a vehicle that had crossed the predetermined weight limit to 12 tons. Besides this version Henschel projected a second version with a tower of Rheinmetall-Borsig , the almost identical to the tower of the Panthers and was also should have its long 75-millimeter cannon. After building a wooden model, the plan was shelved.

Prototype Demonstration
Only with great difficulty could the Henschel prototype and in Nibelungenwerk prepared Porsche prototype will be completed by the specified date. Without any tests, both vehicles had traveled a total of only a few meters. Since the Henschel tank stood out about the gauge of the rail car, had the distance from Kassel to the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia to be closed to oncoming traffic. Given the personal friendship between Porsche and Hitler dedicated this from the outset the Porsche prototype full attention while the prototype of Henschel gave almost no attention. During subsequent test drives of the Porsche Tiger was already out on the road, while the Henschel vehicle despite small technical defects could also complete light off-road use.
Production decision

The Porsche-wells were later Elephantrebuilt

Despite serious concerns about the unusual and not yet mature drive concept of the Porsche Tigers Hitler insisted on the continuation of the two projects. In the summer of 1942 involved extensive testing in Kummersdorf where the Henschel Tiger put back until the end of July 1000 km. The vehicle, however, was a result of many childhood diseases are not as mature front. Due to ongoing engine problems delayed the arrival of the Porsche Tigers, who failed completely in the following test drive on rough terrain. Porsche then another three months were granted for a revision. What was the role of the Porsche Tiger in the considerations of Hitler, not only showed his order to speed up the production by any means and to refrain from an otherwise customary for the assignment, test, if possible, but also its demand in September, in the still not existing vehicles should be quickly moved to the North African theater of war. In October, armaments minister Albert Speer, a Tiger Commission, which should be set on the final production model, and after re-evaluation of both versions end of October 1942 the Henschel Tiger for certain series production. The products manufactured by then-Porsche chassis were later Jagdpanzer Elefant rebuilt.

Series Production

Delivery of the finished welded, pre-drilled and roughly 21 ton tanks

In August 1942, production started at Henschel in Kassel at midfield after the local plant was expanded III extensive. In the tank manufacturing 8000 employees working in 12-hour shifts, the night shift reached a significantly lower workload than the day shift. Due to a statement from 1943 when Tiger manufacturing employment of foreign workers was expressly forbidden without permission. [9] The production line consisted of nine bars with six hours processing time. The manufacturing time of a vehicle was approximately 14 days.  Much of the components was delivered fully assembled, the following companies were the main key suppliers:

  • Tub: Krupp (Essen), Dortmund-Horder Hüttenverein (Dortmund) and Skoda (Hradec Kralove)
  • Tower: Wegmann (Kassel-tower development came from Krupp)
  • Engine: Maybach (Friedrichshafen) and license production by Auto Union (Chemnitz)
  • Transmission: Maybach
  • Electrical: Bosch (Stuttgart)
  • Primary Weapon: Buckau-Wolf (Magdeburg) and Dortmund-Horder Hüttenverein (development of Krupp)

Like most German Tiger tank was fabricated in the high-quality work, so that, combined with its intricate design a rational mass production was not possible. The proportion of metal-cuttingmachining was in the tub and tower manufacture very high and placed high demands on the production technology. In order to create a stable gun platform, the armor plates were kept as large as possible so that, among other things, the bottom hull and turret - with the exception of the front - consisted of a single piece. To prevent from fire any tears or cracks, subjected to the armor plating only a subtle surface hardening, so that, for example, the front panels have a hardness of 265 Brinell showed that only half as much as the Panzer IV was. Nevertheless, it was a very hard armor, no signs of brittleness exhibited.
After mounting the tanks were no tower retracted on a test track about 100 km, where they used to fuel savings bottled gas as a fuel. Then the tower was installed, equipped the vehicle completely and officially handed over. The cost of a tiger stood - without weapons, optics and radio - to 250,800 Reichsmarks , fully equipped, the price charged was RM 300,000.
For all vehicles sold initially occurred massive problems with the semi-automatic gearbox, so that the tiger was seen at the time as not reliable. Besides persistent defects such as engine fires,leaks in the cooling water circuit and short circuit in addition to the engine oil losses were up to 15 liters per 100 km, which was more than just tolerated portable. Only towards the end of the year, the worst problems are solved, whereas an increase of assembly errors due to the increased load of the factory workers was observed.
Total Henschel produced 1350 copies, which were distributed among the following production data:

Production numbers of the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger

In August 1944, the production of the tiger was finally stopped. Parallel to this was already the beginning of 1944 started production of "King Tiger" designated successor Tiger II , and the license of the Panthers .

Technical Description

The name of the tank was "Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger execution E." In contrast to the previous German tanks existed from Tiger only this version, even if it came in the course of production to some changes. From February 1944, the vehicle was due to driver instruction only "Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Version E". To avoid confusion with the Tiger II listed successor, is also the name Tiger I encountered.

Turret and armament

Clearly visible is the thickness of the diaphragm and the view of the binocularoptical sight

The Panzerkampfwagen Tiger consisted of a tank and a mounted thereon and freely rotating tower. This was, apart from the front, from a single piece of steel armor, which was bent like a horseshoe. Forward, the continuous over the entire width of panel was connected to the main and secondary armament. At the rear, a luggage box for the utensils of the crew was assembled, to the right there was a round emergency hatch in the tower wall. On the turret roof, there was the hatch cover for the loader's and commander's cupola, the initial five-protected armored glass blocks slits and later by the Panthers acquired dome with six periscopes possessed. The tower floor was covered with three support arms suspended from the turret ring, so that the turret crew was also pivoted. The loader had a place right next to the towering almost through the entire interior cannon while the gunner and the commander were left on the other side in a row. The tower was pivoted by a hydraulic transmission, which was connected to a power take-off of the running under the fighting compartment main shaft. A 360 ° rotation took a minute. The lateral fine adjustment and judging took place at the height of a hand wheel. With the engine off, the tower had to be rotated manually, while the commander with another wheel could provide support. As was the target optics binocular tower riflescope TZF 9b available, which had a 2.5-fold magnification. From April 1944 it was monocular TZF 9c to a selection of five-fold increase in installed. In addition to the primary weapon of the gunner served with a pedal also the parallel arranged machine gun MG 34 .
In the main weapon was a modified version of the known as well as successful in the anti-tank used 88-mm antiaircraft gun , the impact of ignition switched to electric ignition and with a muzzle brake was fitted. This weapon possessed by a good penetration power a shooting accuracy, so that together with the high-precision optical sight the accuracy in practical shooting with the first shot at 1000 m was 93 percent.  For the gun there were 92 rounds of ammunition, 64 of which Shot in the sidepods of the overhanging pan and the rest were stored on the sides of the fighting compartment. Usually, there was a struggle loading half of armor-piercing shells and from explosive projectiles.
Ammunition and penetrating power of the 8.8-cm KwK 36 L/56
Nomenclature of ammunition
Tank shell 39
Panzergranate 40
Garnet 39 HL
Bullet weight
10,2 kg
7,3 kg
7,65 kg
Muzzle Velocity
773 m/s
930 m/s
600 m/s
Penetrating power of the KwK 60 ° sloped armor (= 30 ° angle of incidence)
500 meters
110 mm
155 mm
90 mm
1000 meters
100 mm
138 mm
90 mm
2000 meters
84 mm
110 mm
90 mm
When the tank shell 40, it was an armor piercing bullet from tungsten carbide , which due to lack of tungsten only in small amounts, or often not at their disposal. The penetrating power of the normal tank shell 39 was indeed lower than that of Pzgr. 40, for the destructive effect was higher because after penetrating a small explosive charge was detonated. When the grenade 39 HL it was a hollow charge projectile , which was carried only rarely, because it is relatively imprecise and regular tank shell was more than sufficient.

Driver and radio operator as

Front left sitting in the tub, the driver and the radio operator on the right, between them was the gearbox. Two crew members was a separate entrance hatch available. The front view of the driver had. One slit with a protective armored glass block, which could be covered with a vertically displaceable tank latch In this case, he looked through a hatch located in the angle mirror . Right on the gearbox, there was his dash, left him for a gyro . The radioman operated near the radio also in a ball socket seated bow MG he hosted by a headrest. The radio equipment was left of him on the transmission.

Drive and drive

The water-cooled Maybach twelve-cylinder engine with an output of 700  hp and 23 liters cubic capacity was installed in the rear center in the longitudinal direction. This also in the Panther used, 13,000 RM expensive and 1.3 ton gasoline engine replaced the built-in the first 250 vehicles, 650 hp engine with 21 liters capacity. At low temperatures, it was possible, through a small opening, the cooling water with a blowtorch preheat. In the engine compartment was an automatic Halon fire extinguishing system installed. On both sides of the engine, there were tanks, behind the radiator with the fans. The latter was driven by a complicated system of 19 gears. The flow of power from the engine went through a covered pan in the running below the fighting compartment propshaft on the branch transmission tower of the mechanical drive further to the oil-bath disc clutch on the zusammengeflanschten switching and steering gear. From there we went over to the tub sides flanged countershaft to the front horizontal chain drive wheels.
To remove the zusammengeflanschten switching and steering gear had the tower, usually with a Strabokran be lifted. The manual type Maybach Olvar (oil Variorex) was a semi-automatic Vorwählgetriebe with eight forward and four reverse gears which automatically after dialing the Ganges carried out the clutch and shifting hydraulically. In case of failure of the automatic emergency circuit was possible by hand.
First time in a German tank control was carried out by a steering wheel. Unlike the previous tanks I to IV with her ​​by steering levers (steering brakes) controlled clutch steering gears was an oil pressure actuated two-radii superimposed steering gear by Henschel for installation, which, depending on steering angle delayed the chains, so in every gear cornering is possible in two specific radii was. A turning on the spot was also possible. At a steering gear, the driver defect could control the vehicle even with two Behelfslenkhebeln responsive to the service brake impacts. This was - the world's first standard for a motor vehicle manufactured - with disc brakes fitted, whose operation was carried out mechanically by pedal.
The high combat weight of 57 t made many bridges impassable for the Tigers, so the vehicle initially had a diving ability to 4 ½ m. For this reason, all hatches and other openings with rubber seals were water-tight manner. To the motor is a 3-meter tower snorkel for the supply of combustion air has been applied, and the exhaust gases were passed into the water. Trials have a service life of up to 2 ½ hours are obtained under water. At 495 vehicles produced this complicated system was not installed.
Box drive the Tiger: To an inner roller to change, had a total of 13 rollers are removed.

Since the Tigers had a higher weight than initially planned, the chain had widened and additional wheels on the outside of the drive to be mounted. Because with Buna rubber bandaged rollers only had a short lifetime, about 800 vehicles built new, sprung with inner rubber ring, steel rollers were used, the noise-intensive, but for long-lived and were needed in the production of less rubber. All three runners were an axis to a swing arm with torsion bar suspended. The first in an armored car used next box drive made ​​for a good ride comfort, but winter had the negative effect that between the rollers predetermined set of slush freeze overnight and could make the tank immobile. The first prototype had to protect the drive's still a complicated system with hydraulically lowered side skirts , which was discarded after the first screening immediately. Since the original chain of 52 cm had to be widened to 72 cm, rose the tank on the gauge of the railway wagons.Henschel proposed as a solution to the installation of two strings alongside one another, but the Army Ordnance Department rejected this proposal, so that every wound railway transport narrower loading chains and had to be taken off the outer rollers. Changing a roughly 3-ton chain took about 30 minutes.


The Panzerkampfwagen Tiger did not come in the stock of a regular armored division , but were the specially erected heavy tank battalions assigned, of which eleven when army and three in the Waffen-SS existed. The target population of this autonomous and to focus education relied units was 45 Tiger tanks. The laying of the vehicles was usually carried by rail with SSyms flat wagons. Longer marches should be avoided due to the high vehicle load, especially since the average cruising speed barely higher than 50 percent over the foot soldiers of a regular infantry division was. Moreover, marches not occur with other motorized troops, since a technical stop after the first five kilometers and then every 15 km was required, which could in combination lead to the susceptibility to motion constraints of the remaining troops.  As such, the vehicles had on normal basic good mobility had, however, due to the high ground pressure problems in rough or muddy terrain so that even an overcoming of muddy sections that were only as long as the tiger, was almost impossible. For this reason, was a reconnaissance of the terrain in front of a use of great importance. Crew training and repair units for this valuable vehicle was given a high priority. It also served as a teaching tool provided with the unusual and humorous verses Tiger fibula .
According to an official statement of the Tiger should not be responsible for intelligence and security tasks or - are used for woodland and urban combat - because of its far side protruding cannon. The main task of the Tiger was fighting enemy tanks. These were done in the battle directly to a distance of 1200 meters, was at distances over eingegabelt . The regular combat range was 2000 m, under optimal conditions, a stationary target could be fought up to 3000 m. Propelled by the shelling targets over a distance of 2000 m should be avoided. In order to increase the armor protection, it was advantageous to the chassis in the fight diagonally offset to position the opponent so that the projectiles not at right angles to the vertical, thus ballistically unfavorable Tiger auftrafen armor.

Eastern Front

The first use of the Tiger took place on 29 August 1942 in the section of the Army Group North at Mga near Leningrad, which brought to the next four tanks and technicians from Henschel. Because of Hitler's impatience premature use of immature construction ended in failure, as in the terrain unsuitable for heavy armored vehicles turned out three of the four due to technical defects and awkward with three heavy tractors Sd.Kfz. 9 had to be rescued. The wrecked tanks could be subject to extensive repairs with extra spare parts flown in from Germany again made ​​fully clear, but the next time you use mid-September fell back from all four, of which one is no longer capable mountains tanks had to be destroyed. In addition to this failure, the unsuccessful operation resulted in the loss of secrecy and surprise of the moment.
The next combat operations were beginning to 1943, among other things in the Second Battle of Lake Ladoga instead. Although only a few tigers in use simultaneously, they were dominating the battlefield and shot to March 160 from enemy tanks, while in six lost vehicles only three were due to enemy action. It was found that the Red Army against no adequate armor the tiger had available.The standard tank T-34 was the Tigers failed completely, because he could not penetrate the frontal armor and begin effective hit on the side only at a distance of about 100 m, while the Tigers have a T-34 could already destroy at 2000 m. Also, the SU-122 was against the Tigers as well as ineffective. The well-trained Tiger crews met usually at 1000 m with the first shot enemy tanks like the T-34, the results almost always led to the destruction of the targeted vehicle.  During the fighting, several Tigers, including an intact vehicle were seized, which the Soviet Defence Ministry recognized the potential of the vehicle and issued special legislation against this tank.
Tiger of the SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" with three bars on the right lines as a tactical character of Operation Citadel

The first major use was in the last major German offensive in the east during the battle of Kursk , where along with 19 later supplied vehicles participated 152 tiger, of which 113 tanks were operational. The company should have actually been held in the spring, However, the date of the attack was against a military reason due to the exaggerated expectations of the new Tiger and Panther postponed until the availability during the summer so that the Red Army was able to build a defense in depth line. Since the Tigers associations partially contrary to their doctrine as a priority weapon even split company as were and also in the first two days of the offensive exceptionally high losses due - partly own - anti-tank mines had to be recorded, was a concentrated use of these units is not possible. Nevertheless, the Tigers reached during the battle high shooting numbers, so the heavy tank battalion 505 destroyed in the first two days of 111 enemy tanks, and at the height of the Battle of Prokhorovka 15 Tiger was on a day off 120 enemy tanks. Among the Soviet armored formations, the Tigers broke in some cases of panic similar disintegration, after which the Red Army military courts intervened. Because of the superiority of the tiger, the Soviet tank crews from their leaders were instructed to fully close against all basic tactical skills at top speed on a tiger to him up close from the side or from behind to shoot at least incapacitated. Given the devastating losses and recognizing the inferiority of their T-34 - but only against the Tigers and not against the uprated combat and also superior Panzer IV  - the Soviet military suspected everywhere Tiger tanks. With a share of only around five percent of all employed German armored vehicles of the Tigers, however, had little influence on the course of the battle, especially the commitment of all vehicles averaged less than 50%. Until the termination of the operation, used Tiger groups had spite of heavy fighting, only 13 vehicles a total loss be reported.
And during the subsequent Soviet counter-offensives Tiger associations were involved. Given the absence of guns, which could penetrate the armor of the Tiger, was the Red Army to the fire focus of all available weapons to often only sporadically used Tiger, so they were often set by secondary damage incapacitated. An example of such tactics were the struggles with 45 tigers full strength sPzAbt 506 in the fall of 1943, in their inventory after a week of use, along with six total losses not deployable Tiger due Battle damage - mostly on optics, weapons and drive -. Longer existed
After the heavy losses at Kursk, the Soviets led since 1944 by beating the powerful addition to hard core bullets a successively stronger armor models. The new T-34/85 with its 85-mm gun could penetrate up to 500 m the front of a Tiger, but was unsuccessful due to its slightly increased armor this continues, whereas the heavy IS-2 represented an aggressive opponent. The penetrating power of the 122-mm gun was identical to that of the tiger. The advantage lay in its sloped armor, which, however, was in the front of the tub in the first series by beating due to the unfavorable stepped bugs still easy. Only the improved model with the continuous hull front armor was penetrated in this area hardly, but the poor quality of Russian cast steel ballistic protection often severely restricted. The rest of the armor and the turret front was the Tigers penetrated at 1000 m, while the Tiger could also be set at this distance from the IS-2 incapacitated. A disadvantage for the IS-2 high reload was because of the dividing ammunition, the low ammunition capacity, a much poorer optical sight and the most unlike the experienced Tiger crews less trained Soviet tank crew. The fact that training and experience were often more important than individual technical parameters showed, for example, a battle of five tigers in July 1944 in Daugavpils , as this, according to the battle report of sPzAbt 502 within ten minutes destroyed without loss 16 IS-2.  In addition to being powerful tanks led the Soviets also improved assault guns as the SU-100 and ISU-152 one that could fight a tiger effectively.
The sum of all shifted to the Eastern Front Tiger I came to the following numbers:
  • 1942: 9 pieces
  • 1943: 434 pieces
  • 1944: 507 pieces
  • 1945: 11 pieces
The highest use of numbers on the Eastern Front was achieved in May 1944, with nearly 300 tigers to note which is that during the entire campaign, the number of needing repair Tiger the deployable often exceeded. During Operation Bagration called Russian summer offensive of 1944, at the end the worst defeat of German military history was, could the used Tiger selective indeed spend some advances, but were a result of the often confusing fighting withdrawal and the inadequate provision of safe mountain capacity as well as the quantitative completely superior and qualitatively improved Soviet weapons technology used all three major tank battalions wiped out, so that in July 1944, with 125 the highest ever total losses suffered on the eastern front month losses were recorded. Later in the war, the vehicles were mostly on as alarm units, where they the Soviet advance but despite some still considerable shooting numbers could not stop because of the numerical superiority of the Soviet armored formations. Due to the strong depletion of German forces tigers were contrary to their operational doctrine often as support to the main line used in stationary defense, which, however, are often used individually, and 3 m high vehicles blanketed the opposing defense capacity on what inevitably led to losses.

North Africa

A captured by the Allies in Africa and now in the Bovington Tank Museum Tiger standing

After the success of the British at the Battle of El Alamein occurred reinforcements, under which the first Tigers were ordered in November 1942 to Africa. After the Allied landing in North-West Africa , the associations were diverted to Tunisia, so that from the end of November, two heavy armored divisions with a total of 31 tigers, mostly with barges were transferred to Tunisia, one of which was lost none of the otherwise costly transport. Since it is the first production vehicles concerned and this even with a variety of childhood diseases were affected, it was in connection with the missing workshop units and the lack of supply of spare parts at a high technical failure rate, so that only a few vehicles at a time in battle were. The Tigers came in the Battle of Tunisiaused where they were far superior to all Allied tanks. Even from the smallest distance was the M3 tanks not penetrate the Tiger armor. Even the increasingly frequent M4 Sherman was the armor of the Tiger on all sides by beating under normal circumstances, while the Tigers easily could turn the Allied tanks even from a distance. The British six-pounder -Pak was with normal anti-tank missiles as well powerless against the Tigers, but managed this place during a battle, two tigers with special armor piercing projectiles out of action, which burned a tiger by the inflammation of his ammunition and was blown up later, while in the other despite five passing shots on the side with a total of 24 hits the interior was left intact and the vehicle was recovered. The two used heavy tank battalions destroyed until the surrender of the Axis forces in May 1943, a little more than 300 tanks, while only seven tigers were lost to enemy fire. The rest of the Tiger dropped out due to technical defects or damage due to drive through fire, artillery or mines and almost all blown itself.
British bombardment tests after the fighting on two captured tigers showed that the armor against the Allied Standard weapons possessed a good protective effect. The 40-mm Zweipfünder gun one Churchill -tank could also with high velocity projectiles penetrate any place of armor. The 57-mm- pounders standard Pak left with normal AP -tank grenades either notches, or the bullets broke the surface-hardened armor. The American 75-mm gun one M4 Sherman could not penetrate the front, but managed to beat by a nearly vertical incidence, the pan side from a distance of 90 m. Than the angle of incidence was increased to about 15 °, also leaving the projectile only notches.


The difficult terrain Italian had many technical failures result

After the surrender of the Axis forces in North Africa followed the Allied invasion of Sicily . From 17 at this time on the island and committed Panzer Division "Hermann Göring" imputed tigers due to insufficient recovery and repair capacity was only one can be transported to the mainland back, while the other's to technical defects or getting stuck in poorly explored area of the Force had to be blown up.
As part of the defense of the Allied invasion of Italy were in the late summer of 1943, wo smaller groups with a total of 35 tigers on the battleground of the Italian mainland, which in February and in June 1944, each a complete heavy tank battalion joined them. After the breakthrough of the Allies after the battle of Monte Cassino came during the German retreat from mid-May 1944 in the difficult terrain to many vehicle breakdowns, so that to stabilize the front of the Gothic Line in July, a total of 64 tigers had to be written off as a total loss, of which only five were due to exposure to enemy weapons.

Western Front

Tiger on the march in northern France
After the Allied invasion of Normandy in the following weeks, three heavy tank battalions were moved a total of 126 tigers in the conflict zone. Because the only gradually arriving associations and the march-related losses were the tigers time only in small numbers used, so that they have no operational impact on the course of the battle had even though they have this has often been attributed to the Western Allied postwar literature.  As before in North Africa was the Tigers all Allied tanks far superior to merely used only in small quantities, "Sherman Firefly , "a special version of the British M4 Sherman with a 17-pounder gun was, at least in terms of firepower, the tiger equal. By mid-August only to the account of the used only in small groups Tigers went about 500 destroyed tanks that could not replace the Allies because of their industrial supremacy in the shortest time. By the end of the operation in late August, including the costly boiler Falaise counted, lost all tigers, so that at this time was not one tiger on the Western Front. An analysis of the loss of 105 lost tigers showed that only 38 were due to direct enemy action, while the rest has been abandoned or demolished. Moreover, were throughout the battles in Normandy face the high Allied success stories only thirteen total losses due to air attacks.
In the following period were the Allies due to the inferiority of their tanks to bypass localized Tiger units spacious, making the underpowered and broken fragile tiger so as to avoid encirclement were forced to costly retreat. Later in the vehicles could often only be used individually. At the Battle of the Bulge was attended by 35 Tiger I, suffered in the battle not a total loss. In March 1945, the stock of Tiger I on the Western Front amounted to only 13 copies.  With the enhanced dissemination of subcaliber APCR -armor piercing projectiles now more and more regular anti-tank weapons were able to fight a tiger. The Allies had a similar tank but only towards the end of the war with the M26 Pershing , of which, however, could intervene because of various delays only 20 pieces in the fighting in the European theater of war.


Design Analysis

During the war there were more losses due to defects and other causes than from enemy action

The Panzerkampfwagen Tiger was one of the most powerful tank of the Second World War. Due to the high penetration power of its main weapon, the fast Nachladefähigkeit, the precise target optics and the exact shooting gun of the Tiger in terms of firepower was superior to all opposing standard tanks. Although the armor was formed ballistically unfavorable, they developed because of their thickness a high protective effect, so the Tigers against the opponent's basic anti-armor weapon was virtually invulnerable to normal combat range. The vehicle also had serious drawbacks. Apart from the much too small a range of the conventional design of the armor with the vertical and therefore not resistant floor surfaces was considered backward. Technical innovations such as the operated with a steering wheel steering gear, the semi-automatic gearbox and disc brakes allowed although a good controllability, however, these complicated and maintenance-intensive technique proved to be extremely susceptible to interference, which had subsequently hardly defensible logistics and repair capacities are claimed. In combination with the underpowered, there was a large number of vehicle breakdowns, where there a particular disadvantage was that the towing problems for these heavy vehicles until the end of the war could not be satisfactorily solved. In general, was appointed by a fully Tiger Division after two to three operating days in the battle only half ready for use. Furthermore, tried the higher management levels to achieve with them only temporarily assumed Tiger units as much as possible, without in turn understand the tactical features and for the high repair needs of the tiger to apply. Together, this led to the - for a World War II mass produced tanks - unusual fact that the majority of losses in not to enemy action, but on technical defects, as well as breaking down or getting stuck terrain in combination with lack of opportunities mountains and subsequent self-destruction was due. In addition, the fall in production of vehicles at tremendous human and material cost, and at a time when the economic situation in the empire became increasingly precarious. Despite contemporary criticism of the high development and production costs of the "clumsy and cumbersome armor" RM amounting to half a billion whose preparation is subsequently considered not necessarily a bad decision. The fact is, however, that for the army of Panther or a more reliable, easier to be produced and therefore available in larger numbers tanks in the 35-ton class would have been preferable. Even the Henschel engineers were of the opinion that the Panther was better suited for mass production and had more of these tactical advantages.


Propaganda photo of the scene in Act PK

During his tenure the Tigers was a favorite object of propaganda, was in the nature of the tendency to exaggerated displays clearly. In the Nazi propaganda was the Tiger stylized as "invulnerable battering ram" and "life insurance occupation" means. Unpredictable way the tiger was in part a victim of its own propaganda, as parent rods sometimes unrealistic tasks to them only briefly assumed Tiger departments presented that this could not cope with more. In addition tended due to the fact good armor protection some Tiger crews went to exaggerated self-confidence and a high degree of risk, so that the Inspector General of the Armoured Corps to unnecessary losses pointed out that the status of invulnerability was unrealistic and maintain tactical basic rules. The enemy propaganda , there was relative exaggeration little difference. The Soviets figured after the Battle of Kursk , the downed them tigers over 700 pieces, although a total of up to this point, only about half of that number was on vehicles ever made. The Western Allies reported that almost everywhere in their front Tiger tanks spotted and a significant number were destroyed. During the Battle of the Bulge was of the opinion that more than half of the German tanks from tigers would whereas Panzer IV and Panther were the actual mass.
The tiger, of which only a few copies exist, has to this day a high reputation

Due to the low availability of the tiger due to the mechanical unreliability and low production numbers during the war there was not even a handful of examples in which a concentrated use of his true doctrine was a breakthrough weapon. In addition, there was no single strategic breakthrough, all successfully completed attacks were merely tactical. Nevertheless, the tiger was the German tanks, the enemy brought against the most respect. Usually occurred enemy armored vehicles as soon as they spotted Tiger tank, immediately retreated. Above all, when the Western Allies his appearance led to the front often leads to panic-like conditions.  During the invasion of Normandy were Tiger units are the only German units below the division level, in the strategic location maps were recorded by the Allies. In one of General Eisenhower for the War Department report prepared American soldiers these describe in detail the superiority of the tiger over their tanks. also Field Marshal Montgomery was aware that the Tigers exerted a negative impact on the morale of his British troops.  Its still existing "legendary reputation" , which allowed the Tigers are one of the most famous tanks of the war, but more of the former Allied reporting and the reception of foreign military literature than actually owed ​​realistically justified.



Unlike the other German Panzerkampfwagen there was hardly the Tiger variants. Was the most common with 89 pieces of Panzerbefehlswagen that was recognized from the outside only by an additionally attached to the tower antenna star. When change was the coaxial machine gun turret, and the ammunition was reduced from 92 to 66 grenades. Instead, an additional radio in the tower was built, which was operated by the loader's as second radio operator.


Sturmtiger when it was a heavily armored assault tank in which a sloping surface box construction on the Tiger chassis was set up. The armament consisted of a 38-cm-mortar rockets, whose projectiles developed an enormous explosive effect. Of the 65-ton vehicle 18 were produced.


Model of a mountain Tigers

Of the initiative in front of the garages converted from regular tanks mountains tigers came only a handful are used. The vehicles, the main weapon was removed and was fitted instead of a suspension for a small crane that could lift but only light loads.
From the available chassis of the Porsche Tigers five units were rebuilt as armored recovery vehicles. The conversion of the power plant was carried out as in the Jagdpanzer Elefant , but the vehicle was not the add-on armor and instead of the large building only a low building at the rear, which was self-defense, an MG built the 34th The vehicle had a small crane, but do not have an efficient harvesting.


After the heavy street fighting in Stalingrad , there was a proposal to convert three Porsche chassis to Rammpanzern. Crowned with a totally enclosed on all sides and heavily sloped armor vehicle should bring with its tapered front ram edifice. The project was the same as how the plan, two tigers chassis as a load carrier for an intervening 24-cm-gun 4 or to use a version of the Tiger as assault gun with even the successor to Tiger II or "King Tiger" used 8.8-cm KwK produce the 43rd
Also for the regular production model, there were plans to combat efficiency. So it happened in the summer of 1942 to study to reinforce the front armor to 120 mm. In order to reinforce firepower in autumn 1943 was a vehicle with the KwK 43 from the "King Tiger" equipped. Because of the initial massive problems with the transmissions in October 1942, a tiger with a 12-speed electric transmission was from ZF equipped, which conducted the switching electric. In terms of improved power transfer, the incorporation of was driven flow of the company Voith studied. All these projects were not followed.
As part of the increase in low power weight , there were several developments with more powerful engines. Trials have the power of the regular Maybach engine using direct injection to be raised from 700 to 800 hp. The next stage of development led to a 1000-horsepower engine with supercharging , an experimental model of the installed into a tiger, but was not tested. A version of this unit came after the war in a prototype of the French AMX-50 for installation. Due to the course of the war these efforts were also projects as a 12-cylinder diesel engine with 800 hp by Argus , an air-cooled 16-cylinder X-engine Porsche, the put to the test achieved an output of 1500 hp, a 12-cylinder petrol engine with 900 hp of Auto Union , a 12-cylinder petrol engine with 1050 horsepower of eagles and a new drive concept from Porsche with a 1000  WPS powerful gas turbine .


Technical data of the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger
0 Main Features
Heavy Tank
Prototype model /   Sd.Kfz.Nr.
VK 4501 (H) / 181
Chief Engineer
Dr. Erwin Ader ( Henschel & Sohn , Kassel)
Combat weight
57 tons
LOA with gun / no gun
8,45 m / 6,31 m
3,54 m
3 m (with later Panther Dome = 2.88 m)
0 armament
Main armament
8.8-cm KwK 36 L/56 (modified 88-mm anti-aircraft gun )
Secondary armament
2 × 34 mg
KwK: 92 Shot
MG: 5850 income (39 Gurtsäcke three 150 cartridges)
Tube length (gun)
4,93 m
Weight (gun)
1,35 t
Tube life
6000 rounds
Price (KWK)
22.000 RM
0 Panzerung
When front
100 mm / 81 ° (front driver)
When side (construction)
80 mm / 90 °
When the bottom side (drive)
60 mm / 90 °
When Heck
80 mm / 90 °
When soil
25 mm
Tower Front
100 mm / 80 ° (110 mm aperture)
Tower page
80 mm / 90 °
Turret rear
80 mm / 90 °
Tower ceiling
25 mm
0 Performance
Maybach HL 230 P 45 , Zwölfzylinder - Ottomotor ( V-Motor , 60 ° Bankwinkel ), Wasserkühlung
vier Registervergaser , aus vier Doppel- Fallstromvergasern realisiert
do Zylinderbank Ein Bosch- Magnetzünder , Trockensumpfschmierung , Ölinhalt 28 liters
23 l
700 hp at 3000 -1 (continuous power: 650 hp at 2800 -1 )
Weight-related performance
12.3 hp / tonne
Speed ​​road / terrain
40/20 km / h
Fuel storage
540 l
Reach road / terrain
100 km / 60 km (other details: 195 km / 110 miles)
Chain width
72 cm
Ground Pressure
1.03 kg / cm ²
Ground clearance
47 cm
up to 35 °
1,60 m
Grave excess capacity
2,50 m