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date of publication: 09-04-2013


Tiger I, Tiger II

Tiger I (continuation)

Tiger I tank

The effectiveness of the thick armor on the Tiger I Tank was reported in 1945 by Sergeant Harold E. Fulton, who described an engagement with a number of Tiger I tanks:

We were ordered to engage a column of six Mark VI's of the early model and two Mark IV's. As gunner, I fired 30 rounds from the 75-mm gun of our tank []. Some were HE [high explosive], some smoke, and the rest AP [armor piecing). Each time one of the AP's hit the tank you could see them ricocheting two and three hundred feet into the air. Along with my gun firing, there were four more tanks of my platoon. Two or three M-4 tanks from another company and two М-7's |self-propelled 105-mm howitzers] firing at the same column. The range from my tank to the targets was five to eight hundred yards.

Two days later, having a chance to inspect these vehicles, we found the Mark IV's with large holes in the front, but of all the Mark VI's there was one penetration in one tank on the back of the turret. The numerous places where the other projectiles hit there was just grooves or penetrations part way through the armor.

Tiger II Tank

In response to the fielding of the Tiger I Tank, the Soviet army introduced new, more powerful, and larger weapons better able to punch holes in the thick skin of the Tiger I. This unpleasant development is reflected in an extract from a report in June 1944 that stated:

When Tigers first appeared on the battlefield, they were in every respect proof against enemy weapons. They quickly won for themselves the title of 'unbeatable' and 'undamage-able.' But in the meantime, the enemy has not been asleep. A/Tk [antitank) guns, tanks and mines have been developed which can hit a Tiger hard and even knock it out. Now the Tiger, for a long time regarded as a 'Life Insurance Policy,' is relegated to the ranks of simply a 'heavy tank.'

The Tiger I suspension system consisted of front sprocket, rear idler, and large disc-type interleaved road wheels with independent torsion bar springing. The Germans first used interleaved road wheels during the 1930s on their early half-tracks. The extra road wheels found on the interleaved-type suspension system lowered a vehicle's ground pressure, a very important design consideration for any tank. It also meant the repair of any damage to an inner road wheel involved the time-consuming and difficult job of removing many outer road wheels first.

Tiger II Tank

The Tiger I measured out at 20 feet 8 1/2 inches long (excluding gun), and 9 feet 4 3/4 inches tall. Due to shipping restrictions on European railroads, the Tiger I had two different setsof steel tracks for transport and combat. Tiger I was only 10 feet 4 inches wide during transport. The wider combat track gave the vehicle a width of 12 feet 3 inches. Tiger I was powered by a 12-cylinder Maybach engine that produced 700 horsepower in its final form.

This gave the vehicle a top road speed of 25 miles per hour for short distances. Average road speed was around 15 miles per hour. Due to its heavy fuel consumption, the Tiger I Tank had a maximum range of 90 miles on good roads, with a cross-country range of less than 50 miles. Unlike the mechanical transmissions found in earlier German tanks, the Tiger I had a Maybach-Olvar preselective gearbox, hy-draulically operated with eight forward and four reverse gears.

Tiger II (Tiger B)

In May 1942, one month after the first prototypes of the Tiger I were shown to Hitler, the ordnance department of the authorized development of an improved Tiger tank originally designated as the Tiger H3. It would receive its more well-known title of Tiger II Tank on March 16, 1943.

The official military designation for the Tiger II was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B. Its unofficial German nickname was the Koenigstiger (King Tiger). American and British soldiers would sometimes refer to the vehicle as the Tiger Royal or Royal Tiger.

Tiger II Tank

The German ordnance department ordered 1,234 examples of the Tiger II from Henschel to be built in four different lots. At least 950 of them were to be completed by September 1945. But, the intense Allied bombing of German industry during the last two years of the war seriously disrupted the Tiger II production schedule. Henschel managed to complete only 477 examples of the vehicle between January 1944 and March 1945.

The Tiger II Tank carried an improved 88-mm gun designated as the KwK 43. This weapon was 20 feet 8 inches long, making it the longest such weapon in World War II. It was capable of knocking out almost any vehicle within 11/2 miles. There was stowage space for up to 84 rounds in the Tiger II. Of those 84 rounds, 22 could be carried in the rear of the vehicle's turret, with the additional rounds stored in the hull.

The armor-piercing rounds fired from the 88-mm gun on the weighed almost 37 pounds each. A command version of the Tiger II, designated the Panzerbefehlswagen, carried only 63 rounds for the main gun due to the extra radio equipment installed in the vehicle.

The 68-ton Tiger II Tank was the largest and heaviest tank to see action in World War II. It was 23 feet 10 inches long (excluding gun), 11 feet 111/2 inches wide, and 10 feet 2 inches tall.