Germany’s famous, and very heavy Tiger tank entered production Summer of 1942.
Time for a quick look at one of the very first to see combat.
The heavy tank program that led to the Tiger really had its origins in 1930s. But war with the Russians and the shocking discovery of how modern, or just plain big some of their armor was led to new urgency in the program.
By Summer of 1942 Hitler was getting impatient with testing of the new beast and ordered the type into combat immediately. This meant small detachments sent to Leningrad and Tunisia for their trial by fire.
This example represents one from a detachment of three Tigers that saw action on December 1, 1942 against US Army M3 Lee tanks. They destroyed two for no loss. In fact, no Tiger was lost to gunfire until January 20 when a British 6-pounder scored a kill.
No doubt the Tiger came as a shock to Allied tank crews. But it was never present in large numbers. Also, its strategic mobility was poor; that is, its ability to be moved from one battlefield to another. Those first Tigers in North Africa wore out very quickly from the harsh climate, and there was no ability to move them by rail. The vast majority became operational losses, of those destroyed in combat more were done in with mines than gunfire.
This is the Tamiya kit and was an easy build, except for the pure number of road wheels to paint! It sort of amuses me that they went to the trouble of kitting this pre-production example. It had different parts for the air filters in back, the gun mantlet, fenders and one half of the turret.
Another great article about a formidable weapon of war with its Achilles’ heel.
I don’t know if you have the programme over in the USA but if you ever come across “Combat Dealers” I’m sure you’d enjoy it. The star, Bruce Crompton deals in militaria, especially from WW2 and he recently restored a Tiger tank which he intends to sell for around £5 million. Here’s a newspaper article about him:
That does look interesting, I will check it out!
It’s certainly a beast and one wonders what may have happened had it appeared in greater numbers on the battlefield. You have a great example there.
Thank you! It is a very good thing we never had to deal with more of them.
Good to see the legendary Tiger back. We’ve talked about this before, but that poor strategic mobility was probably this types greatest weakness, along with some mechanical issues that required a highly trained mechanics crew be nearby. Not really an option for theaters like Russia and North Africa. I read once that Tiger formations rarely even deployed at full strength due to some of those issues, and once in combat were often only (sorry, I have to) paper tigers, i.e. they were only a platoon or battalion on paper. Still, I would not want to encounter one on th battlefield were I an allied or Russian tanker, especially in the early years before effective air support tipped the balance.
I think “paper Tiger” is often appropriate! I imagine it was a terrifying monster for allied tank crews; so dangerous, and your own vehicle seems so frail by comparison. But it was beyond difficult to get the things where they were needed, it’s like no one really considered that before building them.