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Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E (Tiger I)

Weighing 56 tons of the best quality German rolled homogeneous nickel-steel plate armor, and carrying the dreaded 88 mm KwK
36L/56 high-velocity gun, theTiger I was designed to dominate the battlefield.


German Doctrine - defining the basis for the heavy tank concept.

German doctrine before World War II didn't clearly specify the parameters used to define a light,
medium or heavy tank. This lack of an exact definition of the role of each tank type was a result of the
inherent qualities of the tank as a weapons system operating in a combined arms force, and as such, it's
potential were not fully understood at the time. The same conceptual lack of a clear definition of the three
generic tank types also existed in the US, the UK and the Soviet Union. What existed was a somewhat loose
classification based on the weight of the tank and the doctrinal missions of each type.

In face of that, what was generally accepted was that the light tank was to be employed in
reconnaissance missions, that demanded great mobility but didn't require much armor protection nor great
lethality. The medium tank were to be used in exploitation or pursuit missions, requiring a different mix of
mobility, armor protection and firepower. To fulfill these requirements, medium tanks had to be fast, and to
have a greater level of mechanical reliability, since those tanks were to be able of conducting fast maneuvers
necessary to exploitation or pursuit missions.

Under this classification, heavy tanks were to act as support for the infantry and artillery, but the main
purpose of the heavy tank was to penetrate the enemy's defenses, thus allowing the medium tanks to exploit

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the breakthrough. However, that classification also implied the assumption that the light and medium
tanks could, to an extent, perform each other's missions. This was not possible for the heavy tanks, as they
wouldn't have the same degree of speed and the operational range of the other two types, because of the
greater weight, consequence of the heavier weapons and high degree of armor protection required for these

In 1937, Guderian described the operational principles and tactics that would shape German thinking
on how to employ armored formations in a future war. The mission of the heavy tank within this concept was
to effect a breakthrough, and it's first objective was to engage and destroy the enemy's anti-tank guns in the
defensive line. The next objective of the heavy tanks was to destroy the enemy artillery - but Guderian
correctly anticipated that the penetration of the defensive lines would force the enemy to throw his armor
reserves in a counter-attack. About the importance of defeating this counter-attack, Guderian emphasized
that the greatest enemy of the tank is another tank, and that because of that, the armored forces had to be
capable of defeating this counterattack, or the breakthrough would fail.

The German doctrine of that time focused mainly on the offensive. Naturally, when the tide turned
against Germany, the doctrinal recommendation was that the armor formations would be kept back, and
ready to counter-attack any breakthrough of the German defense lines. Consequently, the doctrinal mission
of the Tiger was first and foremost, whether in the offense or in the defense, to kill the enemy's tanks.
Understanding this way of thinking is fundamental to comprehend why the Tiger was developed and
employed the way it was (Source: WILBECK, Christopher W., Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger
Heavy Tank Battalions in World War II).

Heinz Guderian, Germany's greatest armor theorist, thought that the primary mission of the heavy tank was
to kill enemy's tanks in counter-attacks against German breakthrough attempts.
As Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen, Guderian understood the value of the Tiger as a force multiplier
factor either in the offense or in the defense. After the tide turned against the Wehrmacht, the Tiger proved
to be a most effective weapons system in defensive operations.

Development of the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E

Despite the decision to mass produce the Pz.Kpfw.III and IV, and the far certainty at the time that
these two models would be adequate for the expected battles of the future, the German general staff also
called for an even heavier tank in 1937. This was to be of 29.53 tons (30,000 kg) or more and was to be a
heavy "breakthrough" tank to lead the armored assaults. The design lapsed until 1941, by when it was
realized that the Pz.Kpfw.III and IV had been less successful than had been expected against the heavily
armored French and British tanks in 1940. This view was fully endorsed when the Soviet T-34s and KV-1s
were met later in 1941, and resulted in a specification for a heavy tank capable of mounting the highly
successful 88 mm high-velocity gun in a turret with full traverse and carrying sufficient armor to defeat all
present and future anti-tank weapons. Two firms submitted prototypes, using some of the developments
from the 1937 ideas. These were Porsche and Henschel. The turret was common to both and came from

The official WaPrüf 6 designation to the Porsche prototype from 5 March 1942 was PzKpfw VI (VK
45.01 P) (Ausfürung P). The Inspekteur der Panzertruppen (In6) designation, specified for use in training and
maintenance manuals and in organization tables, was Panzerkampfwagen VI P (88 mm) (SdKfz 181)
Ausfürung P. Suggested names were 'Tiger (P)', 'Tiger P1' or 'Porsche Tiger'. The Henschel prototype
received the designation VK 45.01 (H). This Henschel model came into being as a rush job, quickly
assembled from a mixture of components available from previous heavy panzer designs. Henschel were not
originally involved in the 45 metric ton heavy tanks project, as they had been tasked with the development
of a 36 metric ton medium tank with 80 mm front armor, the designation of which was Panzerkampfwagen
VI Ausfürung B (VK 36.01). To meet the demand that the production program was to start in 1942, the VK

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45.01(H) was quickly created by redesigning the VK 36.01. A new feature was the Vorpanzer (frontal
shield) which could be lowered to protect the track and drive sprockets. However, this feature was quickly
dropped, having only been fitted on this Versuchsserie Tiger Nr. 'V1'.

The Porsche prototype - VK 45.01(P).

The Henschel prototype - VK 45.01(H) - with the

Ferdinand Porsche (with the hat) and the VK 45.01(P).
Vorpanzer (frontal shield).

After tests conducted on 20 April 1942, the Henschel prototype was chosen for series production. The
decision was based on a maneuverability test, and on the fact that the Henschel prototype was more
conventional, cheaper and easier to produce than the extravagant Porsche design. At the time of its
introduction, and for some time afterwards, the Tiger was the most powerful tank in the world. The 88 mm
gun, which had 92 rounds of ammunition, was enormously formidable, and the armor ensured that any
frontal shot could not penetrate. So effectively was it that the Allies had to develop special tactics to deal
with it. Production began slowly in August 1942.

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The Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E

Official Designation

Thomas L. Jentz, in "Germany's Tiger Tanks: Vol.1 - D.W. to Tiger I" (Schiffer, 2000), presents a list of
official names given to the Tiger I, ordered by date, from 1941 to 1944:

VK 45.01 28 July 1941 - Henschel

Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.H1 (VK 4501) 21 October 1941 - Wa Prüf 6

VK 4501 (H) 05 January 1942 - Wa J Rue (WuG 6)

Tiger H1 (VK 4501 - Aufbau für 8,8 cm Kw.K.Krupp-Turm February 1943 - Wa Prüf 6

Pz.Kpfw.VI (VK 4501/H Ausf. H1 (Tiger) 02 March 1942 - Wa Prüf 6

Pz.Kpfw. "Tiger" H 20 June 1942 - Wa J Rue (WuG 6)

Pz.Kpfw.VI, VK 4501 (H), Tiger (H) Krupp-Turm mit

01 July 1942 - Wa Prüf 6
8.8 cm Kw.K. L/56 für Ausf. H1

Panzerkampfwagen VI H (Sd.Kfz. 182) 15 August 1942 - KStN 1150d

Tiger I 15 October 1942 - Wa Prüf 6

Pz.Kpfw.VI H Ausf.H1 (Tiger H1) 01 December - n/a

Panzerkampfwagen VI H AUSF.H1 corrected over to

March 1943 - D656/21+
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E

Pz.Kpfw.Tiger (8,8 cm L56) (Sd.Kfz.181) 05 March 1943 - KStN 1176e

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E (Sd.Kfz.181)

07 September 1944 - D 656/22
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E

The last denomination is the one that is the official name for the Tiger I. So, it is either
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E (Sd.Kfz.181), - Sd.Kfz. is the abbreviation for Sonderkraftfahrzeug
(Special Purpose Vehicle, or Special Ordnance Vehicle, a classification used - beside other vehicles - for the
Panzers), or Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E, and that's the official designation until the end of the war.

Walter J. Spielberger, in "Tigers I and II and their Variants" (Schiffer, 2007), cites a Führer's order,
dated February 27, 1944, which abolished the designation "Panzerkampfwagen VI" and ratified the name
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E as the official designation.

Armor Protection

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A Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E (late production, with the new commander's cupola, steel rimmed
roadwheels, small muzzle brake and monocular Turmzielfernröhr 9c sights), assigned to s.SS.PzAbt.101,
destroyed in France, Normandy 1944.

The hull of the Tiger was a comparatively simple welded unit with a one-piece superstructure welded
on top. At the front it was 100 mm, around the sides 80 mm, and 26 mm on the top. To assist production all
shapes were kept simple. The turret was also simple, and the sides were almost upright. It remains a curious
fact why Henschel's engineers came up with what was essentially a square box for the Tiger's hull. The only
steeply sloping element on the Tiger was the short glacis plate, forward of the hull upper front plate with its
ball-mounted machine gun and driver's vision slots, which was set at 81 degrees to the vertical. However,
the vertical plating was massive enough to withstand virtually everything. The mantlet was very heavy, with
120 mm of armor, and carried the long and heavy gun. Below, the armor tables for the Tiger I:

Armor Data for the Tiger I (slope in degrees from the vertical)
Front Side Rear
Gun Mantlet 120 mm @ 0° Turret 80 mm @ 0° Turret 80 mm @ 0°
Turret 100 mm @ 10° Superstructure 80 mm @ 0° Hull 80 mm @ 0°
Superstructure 100 mm @ 9° Hull 60 mm @ 0°
Hull 100 mm @ 25°
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

Armor Scheme - Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E (slope in degrees from the horizontal)

Source: SPIELBERGER, Walther J., DOYLE, Hilary L., Tigers I and II and their Variants. ISBN: 978-0-7643-2780-3

According to Jentz (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op.
cit.), "The Tiger's armor was invulnerable to attack from most tank guns firing normal armor-piercing shells
or shot at ranges over 800 meters, including the American 75 mm and the Russian 76 mm. It is obvious that
the 17-pdr. firing normal APCBC rounds could defeat the frontal armor of the Tiger I at most combat ranges
for tank vs. tank actions in Europe. However, by 23 June 1944, only 109 Shermans with 17-pdrs. had landed
in France along with six replacements. By the end of the war, on 5 May 1945, the British 21st Army Group
possessed 1,235 Sherman tanks with 17-pdrs., while the remaining 1,915 Sherman tanks were all equipped
with the 75 mm M3 gun". Below, three more tables from the same source (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's

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TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.), that show clearly the tactical superiority the
Tiger I had over its contemporary adversaries:

Penetration Table 01: Cromwell, Churchill.

Tiger I vs. Cromwell Cromwell vs. Tiger I Tiger I vs. Churchill Churchill vs. Tiger I
(88 mm KwK) (75 mm M3) (88 mm KwK) (75 mm M3)
Front: Turret 2000 m 0m 1700 m 0m
Mantlet 2700 m 0m 1400 m 0m
DFP* 3500 m 0m 1300 m 0m
Nose 2500 m 0m 1100 m 0m
Side: Turret 3400 m 100 m 1700 m 100 m
Superstructure 3500 m 100 m 3000 m 100 m
Hull 3500 m 900 m 3000 m 900 m
Rear: Turret 3500 m 100 m 2600 m 100 m
Hull 3500 m 0m 3500 m 0m
* DFP = Drivers Front Plate
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6
Penetration Table 02: Sherman A2, Sherman A4.
Tiger I vs. Sherman Sherman vs. Tiger I Tiger I vs. Sherman A4 Sherman A4 vs. Tiger I
(88 mm KwK) (75 mm M3) (88 mm KwK) (76 mm M1A1)
Front: Turret 1800 m 0m 1800 m 700 m
Mantlet 200 m 0m 200 m 100 m
DFP* 0m 0m 0m 600 m
Nose 2100 m 0m 2100 m 400 m
Side: Turret 3500 m 100 m 3500 m 1800 m
Superstructure 3500 m 100 m 3500 m 1800 m
Hull 3500 m 900 m 3500 m 3200 m
Rear: Turret 3500 m 100 m 3500 m 1800 m
Hull 3500 m 0m 3500 m 1700 m
* DFP = Drivers Front Plate
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6
Penetration Table 03: T-34/85, JS-122.
Tiger I vs. T-34/85 T-34/85 vs. Tiger I Tiger I vs. JS-122 JS-122 vs. Tiger I
(88 mm KwK) (85 mm S53) (88 mm KwK) (122 mm A19)
Front: Turret 1400 m 500 m 100 m 1500 m
Mantlet 400 m 0m 100 m 500 m
DFP* 100 m 300 m 100 m 1300 m
Nose 100 m 200 m 300 m 1000 m
Side: Turret 2200 m 1600 m 1000 m 2900 m
Superstructure 2100 m 1600 m 1000 m 2900 m
Hull 3500 m 2900 m 1500 m 3500 m
Rear: Turret 3200 m 1600 m 100 m 2900 m
Hull 2100 m 1500 m 300 m 2700 m
* DFP = Drivers Front Plate
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

With the exception of British guns, the data on the penetration tables above were extracted from "a
Wa Prüf 1 report dated 5th October 1944 which relate the relative ability of the major opponents to penetrate
the Tiger and vice versa. Data on British gun capabilities were extracted from British penetration test reports.
The penetration ranges in the tables were determined for conditions in which the tanks stood at a side angle
of 30 degrees of the incoming round. These tables should be used only for comparison of the relative
vulnerability of the opponent's tanks. The data are not to be misconstructed as the absolute ranges at which
the armor could be penetrated. There was a fairly large variance in both the protection offered by the same
thickness of different armor plates and thickness penetrated by the same type of armor-piercing projectiles.
"Also, the ranges shown in tables above "are all approximations based on calculations using estimates of the
capabilities of American and Russian guns and penetration numbers derived from German guns firing against
German armor plate." (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.).

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One of the Tigers from 2.Kompanie, sPzAbt.504, lost in the

The Tiger I armor could take a lot of punishment, as can
first days following the Allied landings on Tunisia on 10 July
be seen by the number of hits taken by Tiger 312.

The armor of the Tiger I was not well sloped, but it was thick. Here is where many fail to understand
that, in terms of World War II tank warfare, thickness was a quality in itself, since armor resistance is mainly
determined by the ratio between armor thickness and projectile diameter (T/d). The T/d relationship
regarding armor penetration demonstrates that the more the thickness of the armor plate overmatches the
diameter of any incoming armor piercing round, the harder it is for the projectile to achieve a penetration. On
the other side, the greater the diameter of the incoming projectile relatively to the thickness of the armor
plate which it strikes, the greater the probability of penetration. This explains why the side armor of the Tiger
I, being 80 mm thick, was so difficult to be penetrated at combat ranges by most Allied anti-tank and tank
guns, whose calibers were overmatched by the thickness of the Tiger I armor.

The rolled homogeneous nickel-steel plate, electro-welded interlocking-plate construction armor had a
Brinell hardness index of around 255-280 (the best homogeneous armor hardness level for the corresponding
thickness level of the Tiger's armor, by WW II standards), and rigorous quality control procedures ensured
that it stayed that way. About this issue, and according to Thomas L. Jentz, "there is no proof that
substandard german armour plate was used during the last years of the war. All original documents confirm
compliance with standard specifications throughout the war" (JENTZ, Thomas L. Germany's TIGER Tanks,
VK45.02 to Tiger II: Design, Production & Modifications).

Moreover, in the same reference book, Jentz presents the data from a British testing of the Tiger's
armor protection by firing different guns against it. The tests were realized in a place beside the the main
road from Beja to to Sidi N'sir in Tunisia, on May 19, 1943. The reports from these tests stated that the
resistance of the Tiger's armor was "considerably higher than that of the British machineable quality armor.
The side armor, with a thickness of 82 mm (nominal thickness was 80 mm) had a resistance equivalent of 92
mm of British armor" (Jentz, op cit, page 15). However, a little further, when addressing directly the issue of
the Tiger's armor quality, the report states that "The armor plates (with exception of the hull roof plates) did
not show any marked tendency to brittleness, and their behavior generally was not unlike British
mechineable plates. The following table gives a list of Poldi hardness, corrected to Brinell figures, taken at
the surface of the armor".

Armor Nominal Thickness Brinell Hardness No.

Turret Roof 25 mm 290
Hull Roof 25 mm 335
Glacis 60 mm 265
Hull Sides 60 mm 265
Turret Sides 80 mm 255
Superstructure 80 mm 260-255
Hull Rear 80 mm 255
Driver's Front Plate 100 mm 265
Hull Front 100 mm 265
Mantlet 100-200 mm 280
NOTE: Actually, the Tiger I chassis Nbr. 250570, object of the trials, was
assembled in early October 1943, and its armor would have been rolled, cut,
hardened, and welded together at least three months earlier - that is, before July

The Tiger, as a result of it's intrinsic doctrinal mission - that is, to effect a breakthrough and to support
medium tanks, during the breakthrough, by destroying enemy tanks - was, production-wise, a very
expensive and resource consuming tank. The nominal cost of a Tiger was 250,800 Reichsmarks. In contrast,
a PzKpfw III Ausf. M cost RM 103,163, a PzKpfw IV Ausf. G RM 115,962, and a PzKpfw V Panther RM
117,100; all these figures are exclusive of weapons and radios. However, the final cost of the Tiger's
production was even higher - 299,800 Reichsmarks (Source: HAHN, Fritz. Waffen und Geheimwaffen des
deutschen Heeres 1933-1943 Band 1 & Band 2. Koblenz : Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1987, in Christian

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Ankerstjerne's Panzerworld web site. Accessed in June 21, 2007).

Christopher W. Wilbeck, in "Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Heavy Tank Battalions in
World War II", citing the Tigerfibel (the Tiger's manual), states that the final cost of the Tiger's production
was much higher - 800,000 Reichsmarks - and 300,000 man-hours were required to produce one single
Tiger. The Tigerfibel , in view of making those numbers more personal to the Tiger crewmen, stated that it
was required one week of hard work from 6,000 people to produce one Tiger. It also stated that 800,000
Reichsmarks figure was equivalent to the weekly wages for 30,000 people.

The frontal vertical plating was massive enough to Tiger I disabled by a side penetration that hit the engine and
withstand virtually anything. caused the suspension to collapse.

As an added benefit, due to its resilience, when a Tiger was damaged and was subsequently destroyed
by its crew, the crew frequently managed to escape capture and return to its unit, and this helped to create
experienced crews. This benefit oviously came at a cost in other aspects, however.

Another fact that helped the Tigers a lot was the "shatter gap" effect which affected allied ammunition,
a most unusual situation where rounds with too high an impact velocity would sometimes fail even though
their penetration capability was (theoretically) more than adequate. This phenomenon plagued the British 2
pounder in the desert, and would have decreased the effectiveness of U.S. 76mm and 3" guns against Tigers,
Panthers and other vehicles with armor thickness above 70 mm. It should be noted that the problems with
the 76 mm and 3" guns did not necessarily involve the weapons themselves: the noses of US armor-piercing
ammunition of the time turned out to be excessively soft. When these projectiles impacted armor which
matched or exceeded the projectile diameter at a certain spread of velocities, the projectile would shatter
and fail.

Penetrations would occur below this velocity range, since the shell would not shatter, and strikes above
this range would propel the shell through the armor whether it shattered or not. When striking a Tiger I
driver's plate, for example, this "shatter gap" for a 76mm APCBC M62 shell would cause failures between 50
meters and 900 meters. These ammunition deficiencies proved that Ordnance tests claiming the 76 mm gun
could penetrate a Tiger I's upper front hull to 2,000 yards (1,800 meters) were sadly incorrect.

As a general rule, BHN (Brinell Hardness Index) effects, shot shatter, and obliquity effects are related
to the ratio between shot diameter and plate thickness. The relationship is complex, but a larger projectile
hitting relatively thinner plate will usually have the advantage. There is an optimum BHN level for every shot
vs plate confrontation, usually in the 260-300 BHN range for World War Two situations. Below that, the
armor is too soft and resists poorly, above that, the armor is too hard and therefore too brittle.

The 13.(Tiger) Kompanie, of Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland, reported on the armor protection of
the Tiger: "During a scouting patrol two Tigers encountered about 20 Russian tanks on their front, while
additional Russian tanks attacked from behind. A battle developed in which the armor and weapons of the
Tiger were extraordinarily successful. Both Tigers were hit (mainly by 76.2 mm armor-piercing shells) 10 or
more times at ranges from 500 to 1,000 meters. The armor held up all around. Not a single round penetrated
through the armor. Also hits in the running gear, in which the suspension arms were torn away, did not
immobilize the Tiger. While 76.2 mm anti-tank shells continuously struck outside the armor, on the inside,
undisturbed, the commander, gunner, and loader selected targets, aimed, and fired. The end result was 10
enemy tanks knocked out by two Tigers within 15 minutes" (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks -
Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.).

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Tiger 223, 2. Kompanie, schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 102 was stopped by track damage near
Tostes, just a few miles from the Seine. It was examined by this Canadian soldier on 30 August

All this considered, and analyzing the tables above, it stands clear that, "based on opposing ranges,
without considering other factors, the Tiger I had only been outclassed by the Russian Josef Stalin heavy
tank with the 122 mm gun" (Again, JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat
Tactics; op. cit.).

It was said that it took at least five American M4 Sherman medium tanks to knock out a cornered
Tiger. Whether it is fact or hearsay was not confirmed - however, it's interesting to note that according to the
kill/losses achived by the Tiger battalions, the overall ratio was 5.74 to 1 (WILBECK, Christopher W., op cit).

When speaking about opposing ranges, it becomes necessary to take a look at another essential Tiger I
feature: the KwK 36 L/56 8.8 cm gun.


Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E of sPzAbt.501, covering another Tiger, both firing at long range, in Russia.

Introduction to the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 gun.

The 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56 was an adaptation of the famous 8.8 cm Flak 36, which was a development of
the Flugzeugabwehrkanone Model 18 (Flak 18). In informal German use, this gun was universally known as
the Acht-acht, a contraction of Acht-komma-acht Zentimeter (8.8 cm = 88 mm), and was first used in
combat by the Condor Legion, in Spain, where it earned the reputation of being an excellent anti-aircraft gun

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as well as a tank killer. This capacity would be confirmed during the French campaign in 1940, and
most spectacularly in the hands of Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa. The Flak 36 was essentially a Flak
18 mounted in three sections, making possible to change the part of the barrel that suffered most attrition
from the high-velocity rounds. By the time the Wehrmacht was heavily committed in Russia, it proved to be
the only gun in the German inventory capable to destroy the new T-34 and KV-2 Russian tanks at longer

The famous 8.8 cm Flak 36 in action as anti-tank gun in Russia, 1942. Note the use of the stereoscopic range
finder at right, which made possible for the 8.8 cm Flak 36 guns to hit targets at record ranges.

In 1938 the 8.8 cm Flak 18 was considered for firing against ground targets, specifically
armored/concrete pillboxes and enclosures, and the armor piercing ammunition that would be in service from
this time onwards consisted of the 8.8 cm Panzergranate weighing around 9.5 kg with armor piercing cap
and ballistic cap with a high explosive filler of 160 grams. Muzzle velocity is listed as 810 m/s from the L/56
barrel of the Flak 18 and Flak 36/37. During early 1942 the penetration ability was improved with the
introduction of the Pzgr.39 of 10.2 kg weight with reduced HE filler of 59 grams. Muzzle velocity was 800
m/s. The early Blitzkrieg up to early 1942 saw the use of the large capacity Pzgr. with penetration less than
100 mm at 30 degrees. The 88 mm Flak APCBC round which fought the KV and T34 tanks during 1941 and
early 1942 was less effective than the round fired by the Tiger's 88 mm KwK 36 L/56. Even the later 88 mm
Flak round with a large capacity high explosive filler (and 9.54 kg weight) penetrated from 8% to 23% less
than the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 APCBC round.

Tigers fighting at the Kursk Offensive - firing at long range.

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Still at Kursk, a Tiger advances and pass some destroyed T-34's.

In May 1941 the German general staff had demanded a new Kampfwagen Kanone (Tank Gun)
specification for the Tiger; it had to be capable of penetrating 140 mm thick armor at a range of 1,000
meters, without specifying that the caliber had to be 88mm. This specification was a direct consequence of
Hitler's directive dated 26 May 1941, which stated that if the same penetration capability could be achieved
by a gun of smaller caliber than 88mm, then preference should be given to the smaller caliber gun, based on
the increased ammunition load and the lower turret weight. However, the same directive stated that the
chosen caliber must be adequate to engaging tanks, ground targets, and bunkers. This resulted in
Rheinmetall receiving a contract in mid-July 1941 to design a turret with a gun that fulfilled those
requirements. The first gun designed by Rheinmetall, the 75mm KwK L/60, barely met the requirements,
being able to achieve a penetration of 100mm of armor inclined at 30 degrees, at a range of 1400 meters.

In face of that, Rheinmetall, in order to to ensure that the penetration specificaton was met, developed
a longer gun, the 75mm KwK 42 L/70, to be fitted in a new turret, designed around ths new gun. By July 1
1942, long range plans under Hitler Panzerprogramm II established that the first 100 production series tanks
would mount the 88mm KwK 36 L/56 in the Krupp turret. Form the 101st tank on, in February 1943,
production should be shifted to the Rheinmetall turret with the 75mm KwK 42 L/70. This was to be the
famous gun that would be mounted on the PzKpfw. V Panther.

However, at a Panzerkomission meeting on 14 July 1942, the subject of Tiger armament was discussed
again, and it was verified that the ability to penetrate 100mm of armor, under the requiderd conditions, was
also achieved by the 88mm KwK 36 L/56, therefore conversion to the 75mm KwK 42 L/70 was no longer
necessary, and conversion to the 88mm KwK L/71 would ocurr at the end of the same year. This decision
resulted in the entire production run of the Tiger being outfitted with turrets mounting the 88mm KwK 36
L/56. As a matter of fact, this increase of the penetration abilities of the 88mm KwK 36 L/56 resulted
exclusively from changes to the design of the armor piercing (APCBC) ammunition. Greater armor penetration
was achieved by decreasing the size of the explosive filler cavity inside the shell, which also increased the
weight to 10.2 kilograms (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op.

Behind the decision to retain the the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 as the main gun of the Tiger I, instead of the
Rheinmetall 75 mm KwK 42 L/70, was the fact that at that time armor penetration was mainly a function of
thickness to diameter (T/d) ratio. During World War II, the Armor Piercing (AP) round relied on its own weight
(and a 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 gun APCBC shell weighed 10.2 Kilograms, as opposed by an 75 mm KwK 42 L/70
gun APCBC shell, which weighed 6.8 Kilograms) to penetrate the enemy's armor. Theoretically, the higher the
muzzle velocity, the more penetration any kind of AP round would have, all other variables remaining
constant. In real World War Two tank combat, however, other important variables intervened, such as the
thickness to diameter (T/d) coefficient, which means that the bigger the diameter of any given round relative
to the thickness of the armor it is going to strike, the better the probability of achieving a penetration.
Furthermore, if the diameter of the armor piercing round overmatches the thickness of the armor plate, the
protection given by the inclination of the armor plate diminishes proportionally to the increase in the
overmatch of the armor piercing round diameter or, in other words, to the increase in this T/d overmatch. So,
when a Tiger hit a T-34, the 88 mm diameter of the Tiger's round overmatched the 45 mm glacis plate of the
T-34 by so much that it made no difference that the Russian tank's glacis was inclined at an angle of 60
degrees from vertical.

For those facts, the 88mm KwK 36 L/56 was a better choice for a breakthrough tank such as the Tiger,
according to the German doctrine, as stated in the Manual for Combat and Combat Employment of Smaller
Units: "The heavy tanks form the core of the spearhead and their main objective is the enemy tanks and
antitank guns that can be eliminated only by using the greater range and larger caliber gun of those tanks.
The mission of the first wave is to penetrate into the enemy lines as deeply as possible while the second wave
enlarges the penetration, never losing sight of the first wave in order to provide fire protection to that
wave" (Source: WILBECK, Christopher W., Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Heavy Tank
Battalions in World War II).

And more: "Armor obliquity effects decrease as the shot diameter overmatches plate thickness in part
because there is a smaller cylindrical surface area of the displaced slug of armor which can cling to the
surrounding plate. If the volume which the shot displaces has lots of area to cling to the parent plate, it
resists penetration better than if that same volume is spread out into a disc with relatively small area where it
joins the undisturbed armor. Plate greatly overmatching shot involves the projectile digging its own tunnel, as
it were, through the thick interior of the plate. It was found experimentally that the regions in the center of
the plate produced the bulk of the resistance to penetration, while the outer regions, near front and rear
surfaces, presented minimal resistance because they are unsupported. Thus, an overmatched plate will be
forced to rely on tensile stresses within the displaced disc, and will tend to break out in front of the attacking
projectile, regardless of whether the edges cling to the parent material or not. Plate obliquity works in
defeating projectiles partly because it turns and deflects the projectile before it begins digging in. If there is
insufficient material where the side of the nose contacts the plate, stresses will travel all the way through the
plate and break out the unsupported back surface. The plate will fail instantaneously rather than gradually".

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"You can angle the armor any way you want, and beyond a certain point of shot overmatching plate,
the obliquity will cease to be relevant. In fact, at certain conditions of shot overmatching plate, the cosine
rule is broken and the plate resists less well than the simple cosine relationship would predict (LOS thickness
is greater than effective thickness). The above only applies to WWII era AP and APC/APCBC, and WWII sub
caliber ammunition. The long rod penetrators of today are greatly overmatched but they bring so much
energy to the plate that they penetrate by "ablation" - in which both projectile and armor behave like fluids.
Hollow charge also enters the field of fluid dynamics, with a very thin jet penetrating overmatching armor
with ease, regardless of obliquity" (Robert Livingston; excerpts of a response to a question posted on the old
"Tanker's Forum (Heavy Metal Website)", back in 1998).

The Tiger I crossing a devastated battlefield, in full killer-hunting action. Note the BT 7, in the
background, destroyed. A second Tiger follows just behind.These Tigers are from sPzAbt.502.

The 13.(Tiger) Kompanie, of Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland, reported on the performance of the 88
mm KwK 36 L/56, when their Tigers engaged the T-34: "First round hits were usually achieved at ranges
between 800 to 1,000 meters. At these ranges, the Panzer Granate (they are referring to the PzGr. 39
APCBC ammunition) absolutely penetrated through the frontal armor, and usually still destroyed the engine
at the rear of the T-34 tank. In 80 percent of the cases, shots from the same range hitting the side of the
hull toward the rear of the tank resulted in the fuel tanks exploding. Even at ranges of 1,500 meters and
longer, during favorable weather, it is possible to succeed in penetrating the T-34 with minimal expenditure
of ammunition" (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.). Many
more reports like this one attest to the precedent arguments on the superior performance of the 88 mm KwK
36 L/56 gun.

The Tiger I, with its 88 KwK 36 L/56 gun, coupled with superior optics, could accurately hit
targets at ranges the enemy could not even aim at.

Accuracy and Penetration Tables for the 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56.

The 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56 was a very accurate gun capable of first round hits at over 1,000 meters - the
Tiger I actually started first round killing at 1,200 meters, under combat conditions. Considering that the

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Tiger I was nearly impervious to penetration by most tank and anti-tank guns at normal combat ranges
(+/- 800 meters), these were the two main assets (Firepower + Armor Protection) that made it possible for
the Tiger I to virtually dominate the battlefield. The long and powerful 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 could outrange
and outshoot nearly all Allied tanks, and this allowed the Tiger I to stand off and engage targets as it chose.

On 21 July 1943, General der Panzertruppe Breith, commander of the III.Panzer - Korps, issued the
following directive: "Based on experience in the recent battles, I issue the following instructions for the
cooperation of Tigers with other weapons: As a result of its high performance weapon and strong armor, the
Tiger should be used primarily against enemy tanks and anti-tank weapons and secondarily - and then only
as a complete exception - against infantry units. As experience has shown, its weapons allow the Tiger to
fight enemy tanks at ranges of 2,000 meters and longer, which has especially worked on the morale of the
opponent. As a result of the strong armor, it is possible to close to short range with the enemy tanks without
being seriously damaged by the hits. Still, the Tiger should attempt to start engaging enemy tanks at ranges
over 1,000 meters".

According to Jentz (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op.
cit.): "These accuracy tables are based on the assumptions that the actual range to the target has been
correctly determined and that the distribution of hits is centered on the aiming point. The first column shows
the accuracy obtained during controlled test firing to determine the pattern of dispersion. The figures in the
second column include the variation expected during practice firing due to differences between guns,
ammunition and gunners. These accuracy tables do not reflect the actual probability of hitting a target under
battlefield conditions. Due to errors in estimating the range and many other factors, the probability of a first
hit was much lower than shown in these tables. However, the average, calm gunner, after sensing the tracer
from the first round, could achieve the accuracy shown in the second column".

Gun 88 mm KwK 36 L/56
Ammunition Type Pzgr. 39 Pzgr. 40 Gr.39 HL
500 m 100 (100) 100 (100) 100 (98)
1000 m 100 (93) 99 (80) 94 (62)
1500 m 98 (74) 89 (52) 72 (34)
2000 m 87 (50) 71 (31) 52 (20)

2500 m 71 (31) 55 (19)

3000 m 53 (19)
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat
Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

Gun 88 mm KwK 36 L/56
Ammunition Type Pzgr.39 Pzgr.40 Gr.39HL
Shell Weight 10.2 Kg 7.3 Kg 7.65 Kg
Initial Velocity 773 m/s 930 m/s 600 m/s
100 m 120 mm 170 mm 90 mm
500 m 110 mm 155 mm 90 mm
1000 m 100 mm 138 mm 90 mm
1500 m 91 mm 122 mm 90 mm
2000 m 84 mm 110 mm 90 mm
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat
Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

Please note that 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 means: The diameter of the bore (caliber) of this gun is 88
mm; this is a Tank Gun (Kampfwagenkanone); that the year the development of this gun was finalized was
1936; and that the length of the gun equals 56 times the diameter of the bore (caliber) of the same gun. This
measurement was done from the rear face of the breech to the end of the muzzle, not counting the muzzle
brake. This was the main gun installed on the Tiger I.

Ammunition used with the 88mm KwK 36 L/56 gun.

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This drawing illustrates how the APCBC round (the main type of armor piercing ammunition
used by the Tiger's crews) works. The first cap, the aerodynamic one, makes possible an
efficient trajectory. Then, it disintegrates when the target is hit. The second cap, the blunt
one, designed for ballistic performance, takes over and avoids the projectile from
ricocheting off inclined armor. The projectile penetrates the armor and then explodes inside
the tank, causing catastrophic damage.

As far as the Tiger I is concerned, the two main types of armor piercing ammunition were the APCBC
and the APCR. The Armor Piercing Capped, Ballistic Capped (APCBC) round relied not only on its own weight
to penetrate the enemy's armor, but was also filled with high explosive that caused great internal damage.
The APCBC round has two caps covering the main body of the round. The first one is a cap designed for
ballistic performance, and is a blunt cap, because a projectile with a blunt nose has less chance to ricochet
off inclined armor. This is covered by the second cap, a sharp one, a "windshield" made of light metal,
designed to give the round a better aerodynamic shape. The Armor Piercing Composite Rigid (APCR) round
was made with a tungsten core. For flight performance effects and to aid the shot from shattering against
armor plating, the APCR round was surrounded by a ballistic cap. The APCR rounds had a higher penetration
capacity, but were less lethal than the APCBC after penetration, and also had a shorter effective range.

The Panzergranate 39 - the APCBC ammunition

used with the Tiger's high-velocity 8.8 cm KwK
36 L/56 gun.

The Tiger I carried 92 rounds of ammunition, although it is known that experienced crews frequently
broke the regulations, by storing more than that. The recommended and most usual mix was 50 percent
APCBC (Pzgr.39) and 50 percent HE (Sprenggranaten - high explosive shells). A few rounds of the rare (due
to the shortage of tungsten carbide) APCR (Pzgr.40) ammunition might be carried for use against the
heaviest armored Russian tanks and tank destroyers. The Gr.39 HL (Hohlgranate) based on the hollow
charge principle (HEAT), was less accurate and much less destructive than the APCBC rounds, but could be
carried in place of the HE rounds and used either to combat armor or as effective high explosive ammunition
against soft targets.

The Tiger I optics, by Zeiss: The Turmzielfernröhr 9b.

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The sights that equipped the Tiger I up to 1944 were the binocular Turmzielfernröhr 9b mounted
parallel and on the same axis as the main gun. The Turmzielfernröhr 9b was an articulated binocular sight,
with 2.5x magnification. The range scale was graduated at 100 meter intervals up to a maximum range of
4,000 meters.

The commander (right), exposed in the open cupola hatch using binoculars to scout the far horizon. He
determined the target selection, type of ammunition, and range. The 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56 was a very accurate
gun (left), capable of first round hits at over 1,000 meters - the Tiger I could actually start first round killing at
1,200 meters, under combat conditions.

The commander ordered the target selection, type of ammunition, and range. The gunner observed the
tracer and the strike of the round and reported his observations to the commander, who then ordered
corrections. To quickly traverse onto a target, the Tiger I was outfitted with a hydraulic motor for the turret
drive. The hydraulic drive traversed the turret at a maximum rate of 360 degrees in 60 seconds, dependent
on the engine speed. Placing the target on the point of a triangle allowed the gunner to aim without
obstructing the view of the target. The triangle height and separation distances in mils were used as an aid in
estimating the range to the target, by comparing them with the size of the target. Tiger gunners knew the
size of their targets from target tables and later, by practice, instinctively knew distances. The pattern in the
right reticule also contained the 7 triangles plus adjustable range scales that allowed the gunner to register
the exact range to the target. The gunner adjusted the range through this sight by lowering or raising the
gun to set the aiming sight again on target. The range scale was graduated at 100 meter intervals out to a
range of 3,000 meters for the APCR rounds, 4,000 meters for the APCBC rounds, and up to 6,000 meters for
the HE rounds.

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The Tiger I, firing at long range on the vast Russian plains, and scoring a hit!

The 88 mm KwK 36L/56 gun had a very high muzzle velocity and the shell traveled in a stretched arc,
which gave the Tiger I more advantages than just penetration power. Besides providing a higher penetration
power it also allowed a higher margin of error in range guessing, because the gunner could guess wrong up
to 200 meters and still hit the target, since aiming too high simply raised the striking point by less than a
meter, too little an error to miss a 3 meter high tank when aimed at its center.

From April 1944 on, the monocular Turmzielfernröhr 9c (sighting telescope) replaced the binocular
Turmzielfernröhr 9b.This sight allowed the gunner to select two magnifications, 2.5x and 5x. The lower
magnification was intended for target acquisition, as it showed a wider field of view. The higher magnification
allowed precise aiming at longer ranges. The range scale was graduated in the same way as the
Turmzielfernröhr 9b sight - at 100 meters jumps up to 3,000 meters for APCR rounds, up to 4,000 meters for
APCBC rounds, and up to 6,000 meters for HE rounds. Tiger platoons could open fire (concentrated platoon
fire) for effect against stationary targets at up to 3,000 meters. When firing against moving targets, the rule
was to open fire starting at 1,200 meters and up to 2,000 meters.


Tiger I, tactical number 217, of 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius , negotiating rough ground. Companies from
sPzAbt.502 sometimes fielded 28 Tigers each, which explains such high numbers.

High maneuverability, low operational mobility.

Much have been said about the Tiger's maneuverability, that the Tiger was a "lumbering monster", or
that "it could barely move", but that is not exactly the truth. The Tiger I was very maneuverable for its
weight and size, and superior to the Sherman in muddy terrain, despite its size and weight, as it had less
ground pressure. This capability was provided by the the combat tracks of 755 mm width, which resulted in a
ground pressure of 15.0 psi, or 1.05 kg/cm².

The Tiger I engine was developed by Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH. Maybach produced the engines for
all medium and heavy German tanks. The Tiger's engine, the Maybach HL 210 P45, was a V-12 water-cooled
gasoline engine with a capacity of 21.33 liters and a power output of 650 bhp at 3,000 rpm. This engine was
mounted in a sealed compartment at the rear of the Tiger.

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However, it could not be reliably operated at its maximum power output of 3,000 rpm because the
transmission, the Maybach OG 40 12 16 A, with 8 speeds forward and 4 reverse, although a surprisingly light
set of controls for the driver, had a tendency to breakdowns if adequate preventive maintenance was not
done. The weight of the Tiger (the combat weight was 57 tons) was too much for the German transmissions
available at the time. Since it was not always possible to do this preventive maintenance as required, many
Tigers broke down and had to be destroyed and then abandoned. The recommendation was that the driver
should not exceed 2,600 rpm, when operating the Tiger. Only the first 250 Tigers received the Maybach HL
210 P45 engine.

In May, 1943, the Maybach HK 230 P45 engine with two air filters was installed, and the transmission
was improved. The new engine, also a V-12 water-cooled gasoline engine, with a capacity of 23.88 liters, had
a power output of 700 bhp at 3,000 rpm. With this upgrade the Tiger's performance improved in normal use,
but the transmission was still weak for the stress of the power generated by the engine moving the weight of
the tank at maximum output, and preventive maintenance continued to be an imperative.

Tigers, like all German tanks, used regenerative steering, hydraulically operated - the separate tracks
could be turned in opposite directions at the same time, so the Tiger I could neutral steer (pivoting in place) ,
and completely turn around in a distance of 3.44 meters (11.28ft). This used to take by surprise many
unlucky enemy crews. As a result of all those facts, the reality is that the Tiger I was not slow at all: The
Panzer IV road speed was 40 km/h. Cross country speed was 20 km/h. The Panzer III (Ausf E to N) road
speed was 40 km/h. Cross country speed was 18 km/h. The Tiger I road speed was 38 km/h. Cross country
speed was 20 km/h.

The only german tank that was faster than the Tiger I was the Panther, with a road speed of 46 km/h
and a cross country speed of 24 km/h. But, overall, the Panther was not more reliable than the Tiger I. The
table below demonstrate that the percentage of Tigers operational at the Front was about equal to the
PzKpfw. IV and as good as or better than the Panther.

Percentage Operational At The Front:

Pz IV Panther Tiger Pz IV Panther Tiger
31 May44 84 77 79 88 82 87
15 Sep44 65 72 70 80 74 98
30 Sep44 65 60 81 50 57 67
31 Oct44 52 53 54 74 85 88
15 Nov44 72 66 61 78 71 81
30 Nov44 78 67 72 76 71 45
15 Dec44 79 69 79 78 71 64
30 Dec44 72 61 80 63 53 50
15 Jan45 71 60 73 56 45 58
15 Mar45 54 49 53 44 32 36
Overall 68 62 70 71 65 65
Source : JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat
Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

This fact is evidenced by the following excerpt from the Experience Report of the Tiger Abteilung 506,
dated 15 January 1944: "During long term operations, which stretched over 12 days, time for care and
maintenance of the Tigers was too short and losses were correspondingly high. On 2 January 1944, the
Abteilung went into action with 13 Panzers. Not a single Tiger was still operational on the evening of 14
January. The last two Tigers had driven a distance of about 340 kilometers. Without being given any time for
care and servicing, most of them managed to cover 250 kilometers" (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER
Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.).

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The Tiger I was a very maneuverable tank, especially for its weight and size, but had its shortcomings. The necessity to
change tracks for rail travel was one of those.

But there were still other complications. Given the characteristics of the Tigers as a battlefield
superiority weapon, they were constantly being transferred form one point to the other on the battlefield -
and even front to front - as "fire brigades". Long road marches implied in mechanical problems, and Tigers
consumed high quantities of precious gasoline (the Tiger had a maximum combat radius of 195 Kilometers,
using 540 liters of fuel in the process) - thus, the preferred method of movement across great distances was
by rail. As the war went on, the German rail net was progressively more and more disrupted by Allied
strategic and tactical air attack. This eventually limited transportation of Tigers by rail to the night. Rail
movement of Tigers, however, involved more complications, because special cars were required to transport
Tigers, and the tracks were too wide for rail transport - narrower ones were fitted for normal road and
railway transport, when the outer set of road wheels was also removed. This limited the transfer of Tigers
from one sector to another without a great deal of lead time and careful coordination. Beyond the great
additional effort by the crewmen that was required, such a complicated transport process took even more
time from the Tiger's combat availability. This process implied in a heavy logistical burden on the Tiger units,
as they had to necessarily maintain two sets of tracks for each tank (WILBECK, Christopher W., op cit).

The bottom line is that the Tiger had high maneuverability, but low operational mobility. Tigers were
prone to transmission problems, if they did not received adequate periodic maintenance. This high degree of
maintenance required to keep Tigers operational was one of their biggest deficiencies, and usually resulted in
a low operational rate of combat available tanks within the schwere Panzer Abteilungen - especially after long
marches or extended periods of combat. The tendency of the Tigers to break down, coupled with the weight
of the tanks, made recovery of broken down Tigers difficult. The outcome was low operational mobility as a
result of those problems, which meant that Tiger units frequently had a very limited radius of action. The
Allies exploited this fact during the numerous and frequent operational and strategic withdrawals of the Tiger

That, and the overwhelming Allied air power, were the main reason of the destruction of Tigers, more
than any tank versus tank combat, specially on the Western Front. On the East Front, the main causes of
destruction of Tigers were the transmission problems (with consequent abandon and/or destruction by the
crews), the Russian air attacks, and being terribly outnumbered and fighting to the very end.

In the absence of special recovery vehicles, and in violation of regulations, Tigers

sometimes had to tow other broken tanks. These Tigers are of the 2 nd Kompanie, sPzAbt.


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Tiger tanks, rolling out of the production line, May, 1943.The second Tiger, from the right, is still in the
red oxide primer. In the distance, at the right, a Panther, also still in the red oxide primer. Panthers
were assembled alongsite Tigers at Henschel for a period in 1943.

Henschel und Sohn, of Kassel, Germany, was a well-known manufacturer of heavy industrial and
railroad equipment, especially railroad locomotives and large dock cranes. Because of the size and weight of
the Tiger, Henschel was considered to be the ideal manufacturer, having all the facilities needed to produce
such a heavy vehicle. Henschel also had a fine engineering staff, and a complete vehicle test facility.

The final assembly hall at Henschel's plant dwarfed the tanks being produced there and the final
assembly line was capable of producing several tanks a day. Although much of the installed equipment on
the Tiger was subcontracted, Henschel manufactured most of the major components in their plant. Hulls,
turrets, and other contract items and assemblies were brought into the assembly building where final
machining operations and detail assembling were done. Henschel's facilities allowed the firm to machine the
turret rings and other critical areas of the hull within the plant without outside assistance.

Lowering the turret onto the hull was done near the The finished product - a new Tiger - left the assembly line at the
end of the assembly process. Henschel works in Kassel.

Tiger I Production Statistics April 1942 - August 1944

Month and Year Monthly Goal Accepted Normal Befehls Rebuilt Chassis Nr.
April 1942 0 0+V1 1 0 0
May 1942 0 0 1 0 0
June 1942 5 1 0 0 0 25001
July 1942 15 0 0 0 0
August 1942 10 8 9 0 0 25009
September 1942 15 3 2 0 0 250012
October 1942 16 10+V2 8 0 0 250022
November 1942 18 17 14 0 0 250039
December 1942 30 37+V3 35 0 0 250076
January 1943 30 35 30 0 1 250111
February 1943 30 32 30 3 0 250143
March 1943 40 41 35 4 0 250184
April 1943 45 43 42 5 0 250230
May 1943 50 50 43 4 0 250280

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June 1943 60 60 49 6 0 250340

July 1943 65 65 53 4 0 250405
August 1943 70 60 63 11 0 250465
September 1943 75 85 48 7 0 250550
October 1943 80 50 82 3 0 250600
November 1943 84 56 34 2 0 250656
December 1943 88 67 80 0 0 250723
January 1944 93 93 78 9 0 250816
February 1944 95 95 96 6 1 250911
March 1944 95 86 84 4 1 250997
April 1944 95 104 88 6 3 251101
May 1944 95 100 79 6 5 251201
June 1944 75 75 100 4 5 251276
July 1944 58 64 63 2 8 251340
August 1944 9 6 13 3 11 251346
TOTAL 1441 1349 1260 89 35
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-

Like all German Panzers, the Tiger I was subject of continuous changes and additions, as it became
obvious that improvements could be made in the performance and effectiveness of the Tiger. Gradually the
various problems reported were worked out, although some were never solved completely.

The problems with ice and snow freezing on the interleaved road wheels were not solved until the
introduction of the Tiger II with overlapping, not interleaved, road wheels In May, 1943, the Maybach HK 230
P45 engine with two air filters was installed in place of the Maybach HL 210 P45, and the transmission was
improved, and with this upgrade the Tiger performance improved in normal use. In July 1943, the turret was
extensively redesigned. A new commanders cupola with periscopes and a swivel hatch was installed, and
along other modifications, an improved spring counter balance connected with a chain was installed for the
88 mm main gun.

Starting in September, 1943, Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating was applied at the factory to all upright
surfaces that could be reached by a man standing on the ground. The surface was rippled to increase the
distance to the steel surface without increasing the weight of the coating.

From January 1944 on, the Nahverteidigungswaffe (close defense weapon) was mounted on the turret
roof. This weapon could fire smoke cartridges, signal cartridges, and grenades, but due to shortages, was not
mounted on the Tiger I until March 1944. In February 1944, steel road wheels with internal rubber
cushioning, adopted from the Tiger II, were mounted in the Tiger I. These were chosen because of their
ability to bear the weight of heavy armored vehicles.

From March 1944 on, the 25 mm roof plate was increased to 40 mm, to prevent penetration by large
caliber artillery shells (over 150 mm), and the loader's hatch originally designed for the Tiger II turret was
installed in the thicker turret roof. Finally, in April 1944, The monocular Turmzielfernröhr 9c sighting
telescope replaced the previously used binocular Turmzielfernröhr 9b.

From August 1943 on, and in order to simplify production, Henschel and
Wegmann were ordered to to cease installation of deep fording
components. To ensure that the Tiger I could ford streams up to a depth
of 1.5 meters, gaskets continued to be installed where components

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penetrated the hull.

While the Germans stayed close to their original production schedule for the Tiger, it is interesting to
note that, for example, during Operation Zitadelle (the Kursk Offensive - July 1943) there were a total of
only 133 Tigers available at the start of the offensive - 45 serving with sPzAbt.503, 13 with 13.Kp.SSPzRgt1
(LSSAH), 14 with 8.Kp.SSPzRgt2 (Das Reich), 15 with s.Kp.SSPzRgt3 (Totenkopf), 15 with 13.Kp.PzRgtGD
(Großdeutschland), and finally 31 with sPzAbt.505.

A total of 19 Tigers arrived as replacements during Operation Zitadelle: 5 for 13.Kp.SSPzRgt1 (LSSAH),
and 14 for sPzAbt. 505. From 5 July to 20 July 1943, 13 Tigers were lost (total writeoffs): 4 by sPzAbt.503, 1
by 13.Kp.SSPzRgt1 (LSSAH), 1 by 8.Kp.SSPzRgt2 (Das Reich), 1 by s.Kp.SSPzRgt3 (Totenkopf), and 6 by

Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.

Conclusion: The Successes and Failures of the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, of the s.SS.PzAbt.101 - Late Model - Normandy, 1944, destroyed.

The Tiger dominated the battlefield, and this occurred basically because the it managed to maintain a
stand off ability which was made possible by a combination of thick armor and a high-velocity, very accurate
gun, coupled with superior optics - thus being capable of first hits at ranges well beyond 1.000 meters. As it
was, the Tiger could choose its targets at will, and destroy them at ranges they either couldn't hit; or if they
could hit, couldn't defeat the Tiger's thick armor. The Tiger I maintained this stand off capability until nearly
the end of the war, as it was only outclassed by the Russian Josef Stalin heavy tank.

On the other hand, Tigers were maintenance intensive tanks - and prone to mechanic failures if
periodic maintenance procedures were not done - and because of that, plus the weight of the tank, had low
operational mobility - a problem that was magnified during retreats, when damaged or broken Tigers couldn't
be recovered, and had to be destroyed by their crews.

By February 1944, sPzAbt.502 had 71 Tiger I tanks. At the same time, sPzAbt.503, 507, and 509 had
respectively 69, 56 and 58 Tigers. This was due to transfers from other units training with the Tiger II, or
due to the delivery of the last production Tiger I models. Tiger I production reached its peak between
January and May 1944. Anyway, the maximum degree of success attained by the Tiger units was limited
and/or localized tactical superiority.

The truth was that the German industry simply couldn't produce Tigers in sufficient numbers to make
any difference in the big picture - it was a task well beyond wartime German industry capabilities. Just as a
comparison on productive capabilities, the Russians produced 23,937 T-34/76 from 1942 to 1945. The
American Pershing tank was built at a rate of 1,350 tanks over a six month period.

When production ceased in June 1945, 49,234 Sherman tanks had been built - more than all the
German tank production during the entire war. In the end, it was this difference in production philosophy and

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faster Allied production that made the difference between defeat and victory. The real failure of the
German very heavy tanks was that they exceeded the capabilities of the German industry to produce them in
sufficient numbers.

All this said and done, the Tiger was very sucessful in fullfilling its doctrinal mission - to destroy other
tanks - and its reputation has grown up on the battlefield as the war went on. The basis for this is the
kill/loss ratio attained by the Tiger battalions. The overall ratio for all Tiger battalions is a respectable 5.74 to
1 kill ratio.

Kill/Loss Ratio of the Tiger Battalions (1942 - 1945):

Unit Losses Kills Kill/Loss Ratio
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501 120 450 3.75
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502 107 1,400 13.08
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503 252 1,700 6.75
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 504 109 250 2.29
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 505 126 900 7.14
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 506 179 400 2.23
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 507 104 600 5.77
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 508 78 100 1.28
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 509 120 500 4.17
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 510 65 200 3.08
13./Panzer-Regiment Großdeutschland 6 100 16.67
III./Panzer-Regiment Großdeutschland 98 500 5.10
13./SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 42 400 9.52
8./SS-Panzer-Regiment 2 31 250 8.06
9./SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 56 500 8.93
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101 (501) 107 500 4.67
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 102 (502) 76 600 7.89
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 103 (503) 39 500 12.82
TOTAL: 1,715 9,850 5.74
OBS. Those numbers probably include Tigers that were send back to undergone heavy repair,
and latter send to another unit, plus total writ offs. That's why the totals above are higher than
the overall production figure.
Source: Alan Hamby's excellent Tiger I Information Center web site.

The Last Stand, late 1944.

The Tiger I was phased out in 1944. By August of that year 1,300+ had been made, not many in view
of their reputation and effect on Allied morale. Perhaps this is the best epitaph the Tigers could have.

Tiger 131, Bovington Tank Museum, 2004

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Tiger number 131, of the Bovington Tank Museum. This Tiger was restored to running condition, with work
beginning in 1999. The full restoration process, an epic battle which showed that the famous British willpower
remains at its best, ended in 2004, and Tiger Number 131 could finally be seen running again. Photo: Author
unknown. Visit the BovingtonTank Museum - Tiger Tank Restoration Website!


Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E - Specifications:

Date of first acceptance August 1942 Total acceptances 1346

5 men:

 Commander in turret left rear

Manufacturer Henschel & Sohn AG Crew Gunner in turret left front

Loader in turret right rear

 Driver in hull left front
 Radio operator in hull right front

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E - Dimansions

126,000 lbs 118.1"

Combat weight Height
57,000 kg 300.0 cm

241.6" 83.31"
Length without gun Gun overhang forward
631.6 cm 211.6 cm

145.9" 111.1"
Width with track guards Tread with combat tracks
370.5 cm 282.2 cm

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18.5" 86.42"
Ground clearance Fire height
47.0 cm 219.5 cm

72.05" 15.0 psi

Turret ring diameter Ground pressure with combat tracks, zero penetration
183.0 cm 1.05 kg/cm²

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E - Armament

Max traverse
Type Mount Ammunition Traverse Elevation

8.8cm KwK.36 +15° to -8°
Turret 92 rounds (manual and 6°/sec
L/56 (manual)

+15° to -8°
7.92mm M.G.34 Coaxial to 8.8cm gun (manual and 6°/sec
4800 rounds
30° +20° to -
Kugelblende 100 in right
7.92mm M.G.34 (15° left and right; -- 10°
manual) (manual)

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E - Armor




Location Thickness Angle from vertical

Upper front 9°
100 mm

Lower front 25°
100 mm

Upper sides 0°
80 mm

Lower sides 0°
60 mm

Rear 9°
80 mm

Top 90°
25 mm

Floor 90°
25 mm


Location Thickness Angle from vertical

3.94" to 4.72"
Gun mantlet 0°
100 mm to 120 mm

Front 8°
100 mm

Sides 0°
80 mm

Rear 0°
80 mm

Top 90°
25 mm

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E -- Automotive Specifications

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Engine Maybach HL230P45; 12 cylinder, 60° in "V" gasoline

143 gal
Horsepower 700@3000 rpm Fuel capacity
540 L

Transmission Maybach OG 40 12 16 A, 8 speeds forward, 4 reverse

Steering Henschel & Sohn double-radius L600C, steering wheel

Brakes Mechanical, disc


Type Road wheels Track return rollers

Torsion bar 8 independently sprung interleaved triple/track Flat track

Drive sprockets Idlers Shock absorbers

20-tooth front drive Dual adjustable at rear of track On first 2 and last 2 road wheels/track


Kgs 63/725/130

Dual center guide, single pin, steel

29.7" 5.12" 141.9"

Width Pitch Shoes/track 96 Ground contact length
75.5 cm 13.0 cm 360.5 cm

Kgs 63/520/130

Dual center guide, single pin, steel

20.5" 5.12" 141.9"

Width Pitch Shoes/track 96 Ground contact length
52.0 cm 13.0 cm 360.5 cm


28 mph 98.4"
Max level road speed Max trench
45 kph 250 cm

Max grade 78% Max vertical obstacle
79 cm

Min turning diameter Pivot Max fording depth
160 cm

~120 mi, roads

Cruising range
~195 km, roads

The Tiger I Specifications table is courtesy of Chris Conners' American Fighting Vehicle Database web site.

1. Germany's Tiger Tanks: Vol. 1 - D.W. to Tiger I: Design, Production and Modifications; Thomas L.
Jentz & Hilary L. Doyle;
ISBN 0-7643-1038-0
2. Germany's Tiger Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; Thomas L Jentz;
ISBN 0-7643-0225-6
3. An Illustrated Guide to World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles; Salamander Books Ltd.
ISBN 0-86101-083-3
4. Tiger I Heavy Tank 1942-1945; Thomas L Jentz, Hilary Doyle and Peter Sarson; Osprey Publishing
ISBN 1-85532-337-0
5. The Tiger Tank; Roger Ford; Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers;
ISBN 0-7603-0524-2
6. TIGER in action - Armor Number 27; Squadron/Signal Publications;
ISBN 0-89747-230-6
7. TIGER I on the Eastern Front; Jean Restayn; Histoire and Collections;
ISBN 2-908182-82-3
8. SLEDGEHAMMERS - Strenghts and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II; Christopher W.
Wilbeck; The Aberjona Press, 2004; ISBN 0-9717650-2-2
9. Tigers I and II and their Variants, Walther J. Spielberger and Hilary L.Doyle. ISBN 978-0-7643-2780-3

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You can find Mr Jean Restayn's books at J.J.Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. and
Histoire and Collections:
5, Avenue de la Republique
75541, Paris, cedex 11

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle Web Site.

Sledgehammers, by Christopher W. Wilbeck.

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" PANZERHELD" - Hauptsturmführer Michael Wittmann - art by Jody Harmon.

Blood and Iron - Kursk 1943 - art by Jody Harmon.

All pictures above are © Copyright 2004-2006 Jody Harmon - All Rights Reserved.

The Tiger I, during the Kursk offensive, in two computer-generated art pictures by Gary J. Nemeth.

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All pictures above are © Copyright 2003-2006 Gary J. Nemeth - 3D Modelmother. All Rights Reserved.

Download the Tigerfibel, the original Tiger tank manual, in Adobe PDF Format.

Download the Michael Wittmann's Tiger I Movie (AVI)

Download the Bovington Tank Musem's Tiger 131 presentation movie (WMV)

Every bit of information on is for the purpose of information, criticism, comment, news reporting,
teaching, scholarship, and/or research.

The ARMOR Site! is © Copyright 1997-2008 Fabio Prado . All Rights Reserved.

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