By Thomas Anderson
This book covers the history of the Panzerkampwagen VI, better known as the Tiger. The development of this heavy tank began in 1937 with the program to design a 30-ton “Breakthrough Tank”. This was designated as the DW 1. The companies tasked with this design were Daimler-Benz, Henschel and MAN.
In 1939, Henschel rolled out the VK 30.01 test vehicle, a hull without a turret. This vehicle was designed according to standing principles with the engine in the rear and the transmission in the front. At about the same time Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was given a like assignment mounting the 75mm gun as mounted in the Panzerkampwagen IV and the Strumgeshutz. By the end of 1941 the decision was made to put aside the 75mm gun and to include the 88mm Kwk L/56 in the redesigned turret. At this time the armor was upgraded as well.
Engine problems as well as, transmission problems kept both Porsche and henschel from delivering tanks on time. These problems would never be completely resolved. The Tiger I, designated as the Tiger Ausf E was finally being delivered, some 1,346 were built during the war. The development of the Konigstiger, or Tiger Ausf B began in 1942. frontal armor was upgraded from 100mm to 150mm, all other armor remained the same. A total of 489 Tiger B’s were built during the war.
This book has a total of nine chapters beginning with the Development. I have only touched the surface in the above description. The next chapter covers the Organization of the Panzer Regiments and how that organization changed during the course of the war. The organization of various formations was impacted by breakdowns, losses and the availability of spare parts. Another factor to be taken into considerations was the theater in which the tank action was taking place.
Mobility was important as we are talking about a vehicle that weighs in at 56 tons. A tank becomes a liability when the vehicle is confined to roads or hard surface areas. The mobility of the Tiger is defined by the width of the tracks, the ground pressure of the vehicle and the power train. The Tiger had its liabilities in its Engine and Gearbox, which limited its cross-country performance to only about 100kilometers before it needed to be serviced.
Firepower is the next chapter where the choice of the 88mm cannon is covered in detail. It also covers the damage that can be done by the tank on the various enemy vehicles encountered. The chapter on Armor covers the decisions made during development which led to the reputation of the Tiger being completely invulnerable to the enemy tanks encountered. This however was not true as explained in that chapter.
The next chapter is the most extensive in the book and covers the Tiger in Combat. It covers combat on the Eastern Front, North Africa and the Western Front in 1944. It introduces the problems that were encountered during combat for the Maintenance and recovery Crews as well as those tankers directly in combat.
Chapter 7 covers the Maintenance establishment and its problems with repair and recovery. A disabled Tiger was recoverable by the use of two 9 tome half-tracked prime movers, or in a pinch by a Panzer III, or another Tiger, which was forbidden due to the propensity to cause damage to the running gear and transmission of the unit used as the tower.
Chapters 8 and 9 cover the Tiger under fire and the author’s conclusions drawn from the information presented within this volume.
This book is profusely illustrated and that in itself is a big draw for the book. Modelers will be able to utilize these photographs to create authentic replicas of the Tiger E and its bigger cousin the Tiger B. For the diorama builder many of the two-page illustrations will be easily translated into a physical representation, which will attract much attention at any modeling show. I recommend this book to any aficionado of the second World War who wants an in depth look at the creation and usage of one of the world’s most iconic tanks. It is also recommended for the modeler as a great source book of details on the Panzerkampwagen VI, known as the Tiger.
This book is available from Osprey Publications.
This book is available in three formats and they are;