The Tiger tank is so synonymous with German armor that many seem to think every German Tank was one. Yet it was actually a very specialized heavy unit, that made an impression way beyond the 1300 units built.
So let’s look at an impressive German tank.
The genesis of the Tiger lay in the surprise the Germans got when they first encountered heavy soviet armor like the T-34 and KV-1. The Germans quickly discovered that their 88 mm anti-aircraft gun was the only weapon that could reliable knock out the heaviest Soviet tanks. So the game became to build a tank that could mount that gun in battle. This really was an engineering challenge for that time. The Germans took a “safe” route of designing a new medium tank mounting a 75 mm main gun (the Panzer V Panther) in addition to the new heavy Tiger with its 88.
The Tiger would be a beast in every sense. It weighed 54 tons, compared to 26 for the Soviet T-34 or 30 for the Sherman. It had 120 mm of armor on the front mantlet (compared to 76 mm on a Sherman). Combining the differences in guns with armor, it meant most allied tanks needed to be nearly point blank to penetrate a Tiger, while Tigers could score kills at over a mile.
No doubt the Tiger was a problem on the battlefield. We get epic tales like Michael Wittman, with just his one Tiger, ambushing the British 7th Armored Division and destroying 14 tanks, 2 anti-tank guns and 15 vehicles in 15 minutes. Wittman would be killed two months later by a Sherman Firefly.
Fortunately for the allies, the Tiger’s mechanical reliability and mobility were terrible. And even if the Germans could produce a tactically fearsome monster they were loosing badly on a strategic level; that is, the allies controlled the supply and transportation system. The best tank in the world is limited if it can’t be fueled and resupplied.
This example is the Tamiya kit. It fought in Russia in 1943.