Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tiger 1

PzKpfw VI Tiger 1
C L I C K     T O     E N L A R G E

The Tiger 1 first made its appearance in August, 1942.  Weighing in at 60 tons it was a monster for its time.  Its tank gun was the world's most powerful.  It was feared by its enemies, and rightly so, but it paid a severe penalty for its size in speed, mobility, range and reliability.  It was a deadly but clumsy giant.
Picture:  640 x 410 - Flickr
Tiger 1 Ausf E.

Entered Service:                    1942

Crew:                                       5

Armament:                              1 - 88 mm L/56 gun
                                                 1 - 7.92 mm machine-gun coaxial with main armament
                                                 1 - 7.92 machine-gun in hull

Armor -
Front:                                       100 mm / 3.94 in
Sides:                                        80 mm / 3.15 in
Decks:                                       23 mm / 1.02 in

Dimensions -
Length:                                   8.25 m / 27 ft
Height:                                   2.85 m / 9 ft 4 in
Width:                                    3.73 m / 12 ft 3 in

Weight:                                 55,000 kg / 121,253 lb

Engine:                                 Maybach V-12 water-cooled inline petrol
                                              700 hp @ 3,000 rpm

Road Speed:                       38 km/h / 24 mph
Cross-country Speed:         20 km/h / 12 mph
Range:                                 100 km / 62 miles
Vertical Obstacle:                0.8 m / 2 ft 7 in
Trench:                                 1.8 m / 5 ft 11 in
Fording Depth:                    1.2 m / 4 ft
Gradient:                              35 degrees

Situated on a broad plain enables the Tiger to use its long range, high velocity gun and first rate optics to best advantage.  The Russian Eastern Front seemed ideal for the tank but there were problems.  Winter snow could freeze its suspension and jam the tracks and it could also become bogged down in mud.  Traveling long distances was forbidden as it placed undue strain on the engine, transmission and suspension.  It also consumed enormous quantities of fuel.
Picture:  640 x 480 at 96 dpi - Fighting 118th

The commander has a revolving cupola for viewing.  The turret is made from a single piece of steel that is 82 mm thick.  The mantle, the metal plate protecting the gun mount, is 110 mm thick.  The shapes of the tank were kept simple as possible to ease production of a weapon that was already hindered by complication.
Picture:  664 x 1000 at 200 dpi - WW 2 Total  

The turret is blown free of the hull.  The commander's cupola lies on the ground.  The gun barrel's muzzle brake is missing.  Being a crew member of a Tiger was not a life insurance policy.  Every tank had vulnerabilities.  
Picture:  428 x 316 at 100 dpi - WW II in Color

It's taking two Wehrmacht  SdKfz 9 armored personnel carriers to pull this Tiger in for repairs.  One version of the Panzer V Panther was designed to tow the heavy Panther and Tiger tanks  as no other towing vehicle could handle the weight.
Picture:  800 x 542 at 50 dpi - Wikipedia 

The Tiger was ten tons heavier than the Panther but they used the same engine.  The expected life of an engine on the Panther was a thousand kilometers or about six hundred miles.  Only 1350 Tigers were made in World War II.  They were too expensive in a number of ways.
Picture:  799 x 496 at 50 dpi - Wikipedia      

Transporting Tigers by rail required removing the outer wheels of the interleaved wheel system and replacing its normal tread with special narrow tread so the tank would fit on the rail car.  It was a labor intensive, time consuming special handling process repeated for every shipment and, again, for every arrival.  
Picture:  1024 x 1024 - Lone Sentry    

The German General Staff called for a "breakthrough" tank in describing what would become the Tiger 1.  At the Battle of Kursk in July, 1943, Operation Citadel, it was the tip of the spear in Hitler's attempt to regain the initiative on the Eastern Front.  The effort failed for numerous reasons.  Part of the problem is that the Tiger wasn't the breakthrough tank the Wehrmacht needed.  It was unsurpassed at picking off other tanks at a distance but its liabilities outweighed its assets in the often confused armored scramble of highly mobile battle.
Picture:  800 x 516 at 200 dpi - WW II Total

Technology can so impress that one loses sight of the mission.  German engineering brilliance was sometimes overwhelmed by simple approaches that favored high productivity of reliable, easily maintained, inexpensive equipment.  The T-34 was an excellent tank but the Sherman also managed to get the job done, without accolades.  Tanks battling tanks was just one aspect of the tank's mission in Europe in World War II.  Providing infantry support was also important and the Tiger was too much a luxury item to be much of a factor in that role.  Hitler's over-reliance on technological solutions may have been Germany's own version of Maginot Line.
Picture:  650 x 225 - The Armor Site      

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