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Tiger Tank

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During the mid- and late 1930s a number of heavy tank prototypes were developed but none reached production. These included the Neubaufahrzeug (New Construction Vehicle) of 1934, the Durchbruchwagen DW1 and 2 (Breakthrough Vehicles) of 1937 and 1940 and the Vollkettenkraftfahrzeug VK6501 (Fully Tracked Experimental Vehicle) of 1938.
In 1939 an order was given to Henschel, Porsche, MAN and Daimler-Benz for a new vehicle in the same class as the DW2, about 30 tons, to be known as VK3001. The Henschel version, VK3001(H), was a development of the DW2 (and eventually formed the basis of the 12.8cm PzSfl V). The Porsche version, VK3001(P), was known as the Leopard or Type 100 and included several new design features. These included petrol-electric drive and longitudinal torsion bar suspension. In parallel with the VK3001, an order was placed in 1941 for a 36 ton tank, the VK3601. A prototype was built by Henschel in March 1942 but work on both the VK3001 and VK3601 was stopped. Both projects had already been overtaken by an order received in May 1941 for a 45 ton tank, the VK4501.
There was limited design time available for the VK4501 so Henschel produced a design incorporating the best features of the VK3001(H) and VK3601(H). Similarly, Porsche incorporated the best features from its VK3001(P) in its proposed design. At Rostenburg on 20 April 1942, Hitler’s birthday, the two competing prototypes, VK4501(H) and VK4501(P) Type 101 were demonstrated before Hitler.
The Henschel design proved superior and an order was given to start production of it in August 1942. It had the designation Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf E although later, on 27 February 1944, the vehicle designation was changed by an order of Hitler to Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf E. It would appear that only one official model of the Tiger I was produced, the Ausf E, though some sources refer to the early vehicles as ‘Ausf H’. Some sources do, however, refer to the designations Ausf F, H1 and H2. Nothing is known of the Ausf F. The Ausf H1 was a proposed variant replacing the 8.8cm KwK L/56 with the longer L/71 as used on the Tiger II. A suitable barrel was despatched from the experimental establishment at Kummersdorf for fitting in a test vehicle but it is not known if the trial was ever completed. The Ausf H2 was a similar proposal mounting the 7.5cm KwK 42 L/70 in a new turret, resembling the Panther turret in shape. A wooden mock-up vehicle was built but the trial went no further.
As a safeguard against the Henschel design failing, one hundred examples of the Porsche VK4501 design had been produced. When the results of the trials were announced ninety of these chassis were used as the basis of the Elefant tank destroyer instead of being completed as tanks.
The suspension of the Henschel Tiger consisted of eight roadwheel stations each side, each comprising three rubber-tyred roadwheels. The roadwheels were overlapped and interleaved, alternately one on the outside and two on the inside, then two on the outside and one on the inside. This arrangement gave very good weight distribution and a smooth ride. Transport track 51.5cm wide could be fitted in place of the normal 71.5cm combat track in order to reduce the vehicle’s width for transit by rail. To do this it was necessary to remove the outer roadwheel from each station.
The only Tiger variant to be produced in any numbers was the Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger command tank. Some eighty-four vehicles were converted into two models, the SdKfz 267 with an additional Fu7 radio for company commanders and the SdKfz 268 with an additional Fu8 radio for battalion commanders.

Early Production Model

Although design changes were made throughout the production of Tiger Is it is useful to classify them by external characteristics into early, mid-production and late production vehicles. The very first production Tigers were distinctive as they had a prominent pistol port on each side of the turret. They were also not equipped with a turret stowage box, a feature seen on all later vehicles. They were fitted with a cylindrical ‘dustbin’ cupola with five vision slots. All early production vehicles were powered by a 21 litre Maybach V12 petrol engine, the HL 210 P45.
The standard early production Ausf E had a loading and escape hatch in place of the pistol port in the right wall of the turret (from turret 46). A large stowage box was fixed on the centre rear of the turret from turret 56. Three NbK 39 90mm smoke grenade dischargers were mounted on the top front of each turret side. Curved armour plates were fitted around each exhaust outlet on the hull back plate.
These vehicles were equipped with an air cleaner system, known as Feifel, since many of them were destined for North Africa. It consisted of air filters on the top corners of the hull back plate linked by rubber tubing to the engine inlet at the front edge of the engine deck. Vehicles so fitted were designated Tiger (Tp) or Tiger Tropen (Tropical). The system was discontinued in August 1943 after the end of the Tunisian Campaign.
All early and some mid-production Tigers (to 250495) were equipped for wading and total submersion to a depth of 3.9m. All possible water entry points were sealed with rubber tubing and plugs and the air supply for the crew and engine was provided by a Snorkel pipe mounted on the engine compartment.
Most early production Tigers had five anti-personnel ‘S’-mine dischargers on top of the superstructure. These were fitted at the four corners and at the front left of the engine deck and gave close defence against infantry attack. During production it became clear that the Tiger was under-powered and so, from May 1943 (vehicle 250251), the original engine was replaced by a more powerful 24 litre engine, the HL 230 P45.
Some early production vehicles carried spare track links on the turret sides. They had fittings on the left side for five links. On the right side there was less room because of the escape hatch so only two or three clips were fitted. All later production vehicles appear to have had these clips. At some point during manufacture of early production vehicles, a change was made to the gun mantlet. An extra band of armour about 35mm thick was cast into the left side across the area through which the binocular sighting holes passed, possibly to remedy a weakness induced by the holes.
Production changes included improvements to the track adjustment (from 250026), gearbox (from 250037), commander’s seat (from turret 50), brake systems (from 250151), upper fuel tanks (from 250201), forward shock absorber mountings (from 250301) and fuel tank mountings (from 250351). The smoke grenade dischargers on the turret sides were omitted from turret 286.
Particular vehicles of note were 250017 (Versuchsfahrzeuge/Experimental Vehicle V1) used for trials against the Tiger (P), 250018 (V2) fitted with an experimental electric gearbox and 250019 (V3) used for submersion trials. Also 250003, 250006, 250363, 250366 and 250367 were used in firing trials.

Model Id:300
Manufacture:Wegmann & Co, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Turret manufacturer)
Henschel und Sohn, Kassel, Nordhessen, Germany (Chassis manufacturer and vehicle assembly)

1) Wheatcroft Collection, Leicester, Britain

Number of Photos: 8
Sample Photo from Album Number 73

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Unique ID: 73
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

After Koblenz this Tiger went to the Munster Panzermuseum, and was there for some time in the late 1990s. It then went on loan to the Wheatcroft Collection in England in about 2001.