Panzer Mk VI (Tiger II) History
The Tiger had hardly entered service before consideration
was being given to its successor. Again, Porsche and Henschel were given
development contracts, and the Porsche submission was at first considered
to be the most likely contender as it drew heavily on experience gained
from the first Tiger development programme.
But the Porsche design again depended on a petrol-electric drive which
would depend on the availability of large amounts of copper for the motors
and other electrical components. By 1943 copper was in very short supply
in Germany so the Porsche design was dropped in favour of the Henschel
submission, the VK 4503(H).
By the time that this decision had been made, Porsche turrets were already
in production, and about 50 had been made. These turrets were therefore
used on the first Henschel-designed chassis. The Henschel design became
known as the Tiger II, or Konigstiger, and to the Allies it was known as
the King or Royal Tiger. It was designed to use as many Panther components
as possible, and by the end of the war 484 had been built, with the first
production models appearing during early 1944.
PzKpfw VI Tiger II Ausf B
Only one model of the Tiger II was built, the Ausf B. It was the heaviest
tank to see operational service during World War 2, and also one of the
most powerful. Its main armament was the 8.8 cm KwK 43, developed from the
8.8 cm Pak 43 anti-tank gun. At its thickest point, the Tiger II armour
was 185 mm thick (on the gun mantlet), and the gun and armour went a long
way towards the Tiger Us prodigious weight of 69.7 tons. As the Tiger !l
used the same engine as the Panther tank it can be seen that it was
seriously underpowered, and so performance was severely restricted. Also
the Tiger II was rushed into action while still undeveloped and suffered
from a long string of mechanical breakdowns and troubles. The first 50
tanks were fitted with the Porsche turret, but the rest had the Henschel
ret which was not only simpler to make but also afforded more protection.
In action, the Tiger II was a formidable opponent which could outshoot and
outrange nearly all Allied tanks with the possible exception of the
Russian Joseph Stalin series, but its huge weight and size made it
ponderous and difficult to conceal. In a swift armoured battle it would
have been almost useless but by 1944 Germany was fighting a defensive war
and the Tiger II was perfect for that role.
Jagdtiger B The most heavily armed of
all the German AFVs to see service was the mighty Jagdtiger which mounted
a massive 12.8 cm L/55 gun in a superstructure built on to a Tiger II
chassis. It was heavily armoured (the front mantlet was 250 mm thick) and
almost invulnerable to all opponents, but suffered from the same lack of
mobility as the Tiger II. Only 48 had been built, some with a revised
Porsche suspension, by the time the war ended.