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  • SdKfz 181 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I (PzKpfW VI) / Panzer 6) Heavy Tank

    The PzKpfW VI Tiger Heavy Tank saw extensive combat action on all fronts during World War 2 and proved itself a formidable foe to the Allies.

     Updated: 4/1/2017; Authored By Dan Alex; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Tiger heavy tank served the German Army during the latter years of World War 2. She proved a most powerful design and an excellent fighting machine but suffered from excess weight and large size as well as German war time resource shortages. When operational, few Allied tanks could match her save for the Joseph Stalin heavy tanks fielded by the Soviets. The Tiger became the first German tank to mount the powerful 88mm anti-aircraft gun and artillery piece as its main armament and showcased thick armor and decent mobility for its size. Some mechanical issues arose over her operational life and she was not wholly invulnerable for Allied doctrine soon developed to combat her greatest attributes and many were felled to Allied guns in turn. At her core, the Tiger led a short legacy in the war and was limited by too many factors for its true battlefield potential to be realized.

    The T-34 Changes Everything

    Up to this point in the war, medium tanks of the German Army such as the Panzer III and Panzer IV series had played their role quite well up. However, the Germans, not blinded to the ever-changing requirements of the modern battlefield, had been envisioning a replacement for their Panzer IV series as early as 1937 but work proved slow for requirements changed on a seemingly monthly basis. This work was spurred along by previous encounters with British Matildas and French Char B tanks. When Hitler committed to invading the Soviet Union through "Operation Barbarossa" in June of 1941, he effectively sealed the fate of his Third Reich in the long run - the Germans were shocked to encounter the new T-34 medium and KV-1 heavy series tanks of the Soviet Army. These were well-armed and heavily armored fighting tanks and outmatched anything the Germans could field. The T-34 was of particular note for it utilized heavily sloped armor plating, large road wheels set upon wide tracks and mounting a proven 76.2mm main gun. It was only after several captured examples were studied by German engineers that the Soviet's forward-thinking nature was appreciated.

    Immediately, the Germans set to work on a T-34 "counter-tank". Designs were provided for by stalwarts Daimler-Benz, MAN and Henschel to be joined later (in 1939) by Porsche. The Henschel and MAN designs moved ahead while the MAN design itself eventually became the excellent "Panther" series. This tank featured wider tracks, overlapping road wheels, sloped armor protection and a powerful 75mm main gun - all lessons learned from studying the T-34. The Henschel and Porsche designs remained and these eventually evolved to become the "Tiger" heavy tank.

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    SdKfz 181 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I (PzKpfW VI) / Panzer 6) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1942
    Type: Heavy Tank
    National Origin: Nazi Germany
    Manufacturer(s): Henschel / Krupp - Nazi Germany
    Production: 1,350

    Design (Crew Space, Dimensions, Weight, and Systems)

    Operating Crew: 5
    Length: 20.64 feet (6.29 meters)
    Width: 12.24 feet (3.73 meters)
    Height: 9.48 feet (2.89 meters)

    Operating Weight: 62 tons (55,800 kg; 123,018 lb)

    Nuclear / Biological / Chemical Protection: None
    Nightvision Equipment: None

    Installed Power and Standard Road Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Maybach HL 230 P30 12-cylinder gasoline engine developing 650 horsepower OR 1 x Maybach Maybach HL 230 P45 12-cylinder gasoline engine developing 700 horsepower.

    Maximum Road Speed: 24 mph (38.6 km/h)
    Maximum Road Range: 62 miles (100 km)

    Armament and Ammunition

    1 x 88mm KwK 36 main gun
    1 x 7.92mm MG34 anti-infantry coaxial machine gun
    1 x 7.92mm MG34 anti-infantry machine gun in bow ball mounting.

    1 x 7.92mm MG34 anti-aircraft machine gun in commander's cupola.

    92 x 88mm projectiles
    5,850 x 7.92mm ammunition

    Global Operators / Customers

    Hungary; Nazi Germany

    Model Variants

    PzKpfw VI "Tiger" - Base Production Designation

    PzKpfw VI Ausf. H (SdKfz 182) - North African Theater version with tropical filter system above engine compartment; limited amphibious capability.

    PxKpfw VI Ausf. E (SdKfz 181) - Standardized Tiger after February 1944; revised turret with new Panther-like cupola; provision for cupola-mounted MG34 anti-aircraft machine gun; access hatch in rear turret.