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Tiger I: the Scary Tank

Tiger I: the Scary Tank

Tiger I, nickname of Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf.E, feared by many of its opponents, has remarkable feats: Over 10 Tiger tank commanders claimed over 100 vehicle kills each, including Kurt Knispel with 168, Walter Schroif with 161, Otto Carius with 150+, Johannes Bölter with 139+, and Michael Wittmann with 138.

Tiger I emphasized firepower and armor. While heavy, this tank was not slower than the best of its opponents. However, with over 50 metric tons dead weight, suspensions, gearboxes, and other such items had clearly reached their design limits and breakdowns were frequent.

Tiger I had frontal hull armor 100 mm (3.9 in) thick, frontal turret armor of 120 mm (4.7 in), 60 mm (2.4 in) thick hull side plates and 80 mm armour on the side superstructure and rear, turret sides and rear was 80 mm. The top and bottom armour was 25 mm (1 in) thick; from March 1944, the turret roof was thickened to 40 mm (1.6 in). The nominal armour thickness of the Tiger was reaching up to 200 mm at the mantlet.

Tiger I equipped the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 gun, one of the most effective and feared tank guns of World War II. It`s accurate. In British wartime firing trials, five successive hits were scored on a 16 by 18 in (410 by 460 mm) target at a range of 1,200 yards (1,100 m). Tigers were reported to have knocked out enemy tanks at ranges greater than 2.5 miles (4.0 km).
Further information: 8.8 cm KwK 36#Ammunition
PzGr. 39 (armour-piercing, capped, ballistic cap)
PzGr. 40 (armour-piercing, composite rigid)
Hl. Gr. 39 (high explosive anti-tank)
sch. Sprgr. Patr. L/4.5 (incendiary shrapnel)

Engine and drive
The engine was in the rear with a gasoline powerplant. The engine utilized was a 21-litre (1282 12-cylinder Maybach HL 210 P45 with 650 PS (641 hp, 478 kW). From the 250th Tiger, it was replaced by the uprated HL 230 P45 (23 litres/1410 cuin) with 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW). The engine was in V-form, with two cylinder banks at 60 degrees.

Fording system
TigerⅠwas designed to ford four-meter deep water which required at least 30 minutes of set-up, with the turret and gun being locked in the forward position, and a large snorkel tube raised at the rear.

Crew compartment
It was equipped at the forward, with the driver and radio-operator seated at the front on either side of the gearbox. Three men were seated in the turret; the loader to the right of the gun facing to the rear, the gunner to the left of the gun, and the commander behind him. There was also a folding seat on the right for the loader. The turret had a full circular floor and 157 cm headroom.

TigerⅠrequired large amount of manpower and material. It cost over twice as much as a Panzer IV and four times as much as a StuG III assault gun. The closest counterpart to the Tiger from the United States was the M26 Pershing (around 200 deployed to ETO during the war) and IS-2 from the USSR (about 3,800 built during the war).

Gun and armor performance
From a 30 degree angle the Tiger's 88mm gun could penetrate the front glacis plate of an American M4 Sherman between 1,800 and 2,100 m (1.1 and 1.3 mi), the British Churchill IV between 1,100 and 1,700 m (0.68 and 1.1 mi), the Soviet T-34 between 800 and 1,400 m (0.50 and 0.87 mi), and the Soviet IS-2 between 100 and 300 m (0.062 and 0.19 mi). The Soviet T-34 equipped with the 76.2 mm gun could not penetrate the Tiger frontally at any range[citation needed], but could achieve a side penetration at approximately 500 m firing BR-350P APCR ammunition.[citation needed] The T34-85's 85 mm gun could penetrate the front of a Tiger between 200 and 500 m (0.12 and 0.31 mi), the IS-2s 122 mm gun could penetrate the front between 500 and 1,500 m (0.31 and 0.93 mi).
From a 30 degree angle of attack, the M4 Sherman's 75 mm gun could not penetrate the Tiger frontally at any range, and needed to be within 100 m to achieve a side penetration against the 80 mm upper hull superstructure. The British 17-pounder fired its normal APCBC ammunition, could penetrate the front out to 1000 m. The US 76 mm gun, if firing the APCBC M62 ammunition, could penetrate the Tiger side armour out to just over 500 m, and could penetrate the upper hull superstructure at ranges of 200 m. Using HVAP ammunition, could penetrate frontal out to just over 500 m. The M3 90 mm cannon used in the late-war M36 Jackson, M26 Pershing, and M2 AA/AT mount could penetrate its front plate at a range of 1000 m, and from beyond 2000 m when using HVAP.

Combat examples
On 7 July 1943, a single Tiger tank commanded by SS-Oberscharführer Franz Staudegger from the 2nd Platoon, 13th Panzer Company, 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler engaged a group of about 50 T-34s around Psyolknee (the southern sector of the German salient in the Battle of Kursk). Staudegger used all his ammunition and claimed the destruction of 22 Soviet tanks, while the rest retreated. For this, he was awarded the Knight's Cross.
The Tiger is particularly associated with SS-Hauptsturmführer Michael Wittmann of schwere SS-Panzerabteilung 101. He worked his way up, commanding various vehicles and finally a Tiger I. In the Battle of Villers-Bocage, his platoon destroyed over two dozen Allied vehicles, including several tanks.


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