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As early as 1938 it had been realized that the Pzkpfw IV tank would have to be replaced with an updated design. Enter the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger. The Tiger was in production from August 1942 to August 1944, a total of 1,350 units were produced. Production then switched over to the Tiger II or “King Tiger” which expanded on the success of the Tiger.

Ultimately there were three variations of the Tiger; the basic Tiger battle tank, the Tiger Command Tank (Befehlspanzer Tiger) with no main gun but fitted with a winch, and the Sturmtiger which had a new superstructure fitted with a 38-cm Type 61 rocket launcher with limited traverse. Only ten of the Sturmtigers were built.

For its time the Tiger was an outstanding design with a powerful main gun and excellent armor, but the design was complicated increasing production time and cost. One of the major drawbacks was the overlapping wheel suspension which would become clogged with mud and stones. On the Eastern Front this was disastrous, as during the night the mud would freeze rendering the tank immobile. This meant that the Tigers could not move when the Russian forces attacked in the early morning, which they did frequently.

The Tiger’s main armament comprised of the dreaded German 88-mm anti-tank gun and two 7.92-mm MG34 machine guns, one of which was on a ball-mount on the front of the hull.

Specifications

  • Weight- 55000 kg (121,250 lb)
  • Dimensions- length, including armament - 8.24 m (27 ft.)
    Hull length – 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in)
    Height – 2.86 m (9 ft 3.25 in)
  • Powerplant- one Maybach HL 230 P 45 12-cylender gasoline engine, 700 hp.
  • Performance- Maximum road speed, 38 km/h (24 mph)
    Maximum road range- 100 km (62 miles)
    Fording- 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)
    Gradient- 60 percent
    Vertical obstacle- .79 m (2 ft. 7 in)
    Trench- 1.8 m

Source: The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II

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