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Panzer PzKpfw Mk VI (Tiger I)


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                                                                                    Panzer Mk  VI (Tiger I) History

Up till 1941 it was felt that the PzKpfw III and IV were adequate for any tasks likely to be encountered, but this complacency had already been ruffled in France in 1940 when it was discovered that many French and British tanks, especially the British Matilda, were more heavily armoured than their German counterparts.

The discovery of the considerable combat potential of the Russian T-34 and KV-I in 1941 therefore showed the German designs to be at a disadvantage. Hitler himself had envisaged the need for a new and heavier tank design in May 1941 and the events in Russia seemed to confirm the accuracy of his 'intuition .

The result was a design specification for a heavy tank mounting a 8.8 cm gun and having sufficient armour to defeat all the likely future anti-tank weapons. Two firms, Porsche and Henschel, submitted designs for what was given the design designation of VK 3601, and both firms built prototypes mounting a large Krupp-designed turret. The Porsche design had many novel features including a petrol-electric drive system, but it was not selected for service

The chassis was, however, selected as a heavy tank-killer mobile gun carrier, and eventually emerged as the Ferdinand or Elefant. In this form it became one of the most monumental failures of the German armament industry at the Battle of Kursk, for it was underdeveloped and lacked a secondary defensive machine-gun.

But to return to the Henschel design — this was chosen for production and was named the PzKpfw VI or Tiger. Production began slowly in August 1942 but soon increased in volume after the personal intervention of Hitler.
At the time of its introduction, the Tiger was the most powerful tank in the world. It was armed with the formidable 8.8 cm KwK 36 which had been developed from the 88 cm Flak 18 and 36 anti-aircraft gun. At its thickest, the Tiger's armour was a hefty 102 mm and was thus almost invulnerable to all anti-tank weapons then in use.

But its mam disadvantage was its bulk and weight. Its bulk was such that it was too heavy for most European bridges and had to be fitted with wading equipment and air schnorkels . It was too wide for most railway flatcars and had to have two tracks — one for action and another narrower set for railway transport, which also involved removing roadwheels and side shields. Weight was 56 tons which severely restricted its battlefield hand-
ling, but the Tiger was considered to be a formidable opponent and Allied armies had to evolve special tactics to counter the Tiger. Production ceased in August 1944 by which time 1,350 Tigers had been delivered.

PzKpfw VI Tig«r Ausf E  Only one Tiger model, the Ausf E. was built but it was made in several different versions. The first version had extensive wading equipment and triple overlapping road wheels. These road wheels were arranged in three rows and were suspended on torsion bars. The outer road wheels had to be removed for railway transport and narrower tracks were then used which involved a considerable expenditure of time and trouble. Another unforeseen disadvantage of the interleaved road wheel system was discovered in Russia when mud. slush and snow froze solid between the wheels and immobilised the vehicles

Late variants used a much simplified road wheel system with steel resilient wheels in place of the earlier solid dished wheels with their rubber tyres. Other changes made included a more powerful engine increased in size from 21 to 24 litres. Later versions also omitted the wading equipment Tigers built for use in Africa had a special Tp designation denoting suitable for tropical use which involved special air filters for the engine. These filters were also found on Tigers used in Russia.
Other changes incorporated were to the commander's cupola and minor changes to the drive mechanism, but the basic Tiger design remained substantially unchanged to the end. It was the most powerful tank of its day, but with the arrival of the Russian heavy tanks that day soon passed, and the Tigers bulk and weight made it more of a mobile pill-box rather than a fighting tank.
Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf E (SdKfz 267 and 268) Some Tigers were converted to command tanks by the addition of extra radio equipment The two SdKfz variants differed only in the types of radio fitted

Bergepanzer Tiger A small number of Tigers were converted to the armoured recovery role by having their guns removed and replaced by a winch. The exact number converted was very small and may even have been only one.

Sturmtiger Ten Tiger chassis were converted in 1944 for street fighting by the addition of a large armoured superstructure mounting a 38 cm rocket projector This weapon was originally intended as a naval antisubmarine device and fired a hefty 345.5 kg (761 Ib) rocket intended for house demolition. The conversion was not a success on account of the vehicle s weight (70 tons) and awkward bulk. This variant consumed two gallons of fuel for every mile travelled.


Technical Specification

Mk VI (Tiger I) Variations & Plans


Mk VI with Zimmerit cover Captured Mk VI Sturmtiger Mark IV Elephant  
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Specifications Ausf E    
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Weight 56 Tons


Max Road Speed  38 kph / 23.6 mph    
Road range  100 km / 62 miles    
Cross Country Range  60 km / 37 miles    
Length Overall 8,240 mm / 324.4 inches    
Width  3,730 mm / 146.5 inches    
Height  2,860 mm / 112.6 inches    
Engine 700 Horse Power    
Track Width  725 mm /  28.5 inches    
Wheel base 2,830 mm / 111.4 inches    
Armament 1 1 8.8 cm KwK 36    
Armament 2 2 or 3 7.92 mm MG    
Ammunition Carried 1 92 x 8.8 cm    
Ammunition Carried 2 3,920 x .92 mm    
Bow Armour   100 mm / 3.93 inches    
Side Armour  80 mm / 3.15 inches    
Roof & Floor Armour  26 mm / 1.02 inches    
Turret Armour 100 mm /  3.93 inches    
Crew 5