Tiger II Tank
Tiger II (continuation)
In contrast to their design of the Tiger I, the Germans went to considerable effort to incorporate sloped armor plates into the design of the Tiger II Tank. When the British army captured its first Tiger II in France in July 1944, the ordnance officers who looked it over noted the many design features it shared in common with the Panther tank, especially the sloping of the main armor plate.
Despite some general outward similarities with the earlier Panther tank, the British ordnance officers warned in their evaluation report that "it would be a mistake to compare it with any previous-German tank, as it mounted a gun with far superior performance to the gun in either the previous Tiger or Panther tanks and its armour affords a much greater degree of protection."
The steel armor on the front hull plate of the Tiger II was 150 millimeters thick, with the mantle being 185 millimeters thick. The two sides and rear of the turret were 80 millimeters thick. The turret roof on the Tiger II was 40 millimeters thick. The side and rear hull armor on the Tiger II was 80 millimeters thick.
The effectiveness of the thick frontal armor on the King Tiger is described in a 1945 wartime report by Sergeant Clyde D. Brunson, a tank commander of the Second Armored Division:
One day a Tiger Royal (King Tiger) tank got within 150 yards of my tank and knocked me out. Five of our tanks opened up on him from ranges of 200 to 600 yards and got five or six hits on the front of the Tiger. They all just glanced off and the Tiger backed off and got away. If we had a tank like the Tiger, we would all be home today.
Even the thinner side armor on the Tiger II Tank was effective against most U.S. Army tank guns. Thomas H. Osborne, a first lieutenant in the American Second Armored Division, described an incident involving a Tiger II:
Plainly visible at 2,500 yards was a Mark VI with its side exposed to us. It was dug in up to the hull on a ridge commanding two draws. Another force was attempting to advance toward this vehicle and the enemy tank would hit two of ours, and the forces would withdraw. This continued for a day and a half, until the 'Kraut' ran out of ammunition and drove away. All during this time my platoon fired AP, smoke and HE, attempting to dislodge the enemy tank. We had at least 10 to 15 direct hits with 75-mm AP on the tank, but he failed to move, and we made no apparent impression on the vehicle's occupants.
The British army noted in its examination of the first captured example of a German Tiger II a minor change in the vehicle's suspension system. Rather than employing the interleaved road wheels found on the earlier Tiger I and Panther tanks, the Tiger II utilized an overlapping road wheel arrangement. This meant the vehicle's road wheels were placed alternately on the outside or inside of the tank's tracks.
On the Tiger I and Panther tanks, each single alternate road wheel rotated between two other road wheels to its front and rear. This arrangement caused ice, rocks, and other obstructions to jam the track mechanism on many occasions. While the overlapping road wheel arrangement on the Tiger II Tank was an improvement over the earlier interleaved system, it tended to place a potentially damaging, twisting load on tank tracks.
|GERMAN VEHICLE PAINT SCHEMES|
When the unprovoked German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939, officially beginning World War II, all German army vehicles (tracked and wheeled) were painted solid matte panzer gray. Panzer gray would remain the standard vehicle color for both the German army and the Waffen-SS until 1943. German air force vehicles wore a lighter shade of panzer gray. There was not a standard camouflage paint scheme until early 1943. Some units applied a dark green or brown striped pattern on top of the existing panzer gray to produce camouflage.
When the first German army units arrived in North Africa in early February 1941 to assist the Italian army, all vehicles were painted in a sand yellow color. However, some hurried late arrivals sent to North Africa were shipped in the standard panzer gray. To improve the camouflaging of their vehicles in North Africa, the Germans added matte gray-green lines.Eventually, the standard paint scheme on German vehicles in North Africa consisted of a dark brown base with a camouflage pattern of panzer gray.
Since German tankers considered painting to be a very low priority, German vehicles in North Africa often sported a wide mixture of colors based on whatever paint was available, including paint captured from enemy supply dumps.
In February 1943 the color standard was changed from panzer gray to matte dark yellow— called Dunkelgelb I. By 1943 the color was changed to the very similar Dunkelgelb II. All new or rebuilt vehicles delivered from the factory to German field units were painted Dunkelgelb yellow. Due to the difficulties German tank crews had repainting older vehicles the field, many German vehicles were sloppily painted with visible strips or patterns of Dunkelgelb with the old panzer gray showing through.
For adding camouflage to the dark yellow base, German Tank troops received cans of dark green and red-brown matte paints. The paints were delivered as a paste that needed to be thinned with gasoline or water. The preferred method was to use gasoline since the water-thinned paint was not as durable. The thinned paint could be applied with either a spray gun or brushes. Because of the many different types of thinning material used by German troops, including waste oil, the durability of the paint as well as the shades of color applied to their vehicles varied a great deal.
A very interesting variation in German tanks colors was called the "Ambush" pattern. It consisted of alternating color spots applied to the vehicle's dark yellow base as well as the dark green and red-brown matte camouflage paints. The camouflage concept was designed to simulate lights and shadows normally generated by foliage, thereby allowing a German AFV to blend in with its background.
During the winter months the Germans often used white paint, whitewash, or chalk on their vehicles. Whitewash was an efficient coating for winter camouflage. The water-based paint tended to wash itself away with spring rains, assisted by the vehicle crew.
During the last few months of the war, paint was scarce, along with almost everything else. German factories often painted assembled vehicles in whatever colors were available before shipping them off to field units. This resulted in a wide variety of interesting schemes too numerous to list here.
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