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Thread: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

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    !! Achtung Panzer !! Senior Member PanzerJaeger's Avatar
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    Default In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    ACIN's post in the Watchtower and Lysimachus' recent contributions have inspired me to create some semi-original content of my own for my favorite subforum of the .org. While contemplating a subject to write about, I happened to glance at my sig and a topic became clear. The following is my educated opinion on the German Tiger II tank that operated in the later stages of WW2. It is not meant to be an exhaustive history, but more of a refutation of some common myths about the tank - and an opportunity to share some interesting pictures I have collected of it. It is based primarily on the work of historians Thomas Jentz and Christian Ankerstjerne, with some Wiki quotes (that are also based on Jentz) thrown in for emphasis. Feel free to criticize my work as much of this is from memory, and my apologies for my rather lacking writing skills!



    German Propaganda Newsreel Featuring the Tiger II


    In WW2 media the Tiger II is often portrayed as a slow, lumbering behemoth that took up valuable resources that would have been better spent on smaller tanks. Countless History/Military Channel top ten shows and pop history 'Tanks of WW2' books from less than reputable publishers reinforce this popular myth, yielding scores of discussion threads on the interwebs that mimic it. In reality, the Tiger II was a very capable, potent fighting machine with a proven combat record of success.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I personally believe the myths surrounding this machine have arisen out of the natural bias towards the Western Allies that is common in much WW2 literature. It is far more flattering to promulgate the belief that the Allies deliberately chose a strategy of producing vast numbers of smaller, less sophisticated, and faster tanks whilst the Germans chose a strategy of pursuing smaller numbers of heavily armored, over engineered AFVs. In such a scenario, the Allies appear to have chosen wisely. However, the reality is that both sides had medium and heavy tank programs and produced as many of the former as possible. Allied industry simply won out. The German heavy tank program filled a small scale, specialized role in the Panzerwaffe and had little effect on industrial output. The fact that Shermans and Cromwells were forced to fight Panthers, Tigers, and King Tigers was not part of any grand strategy. The Western Allies simply didn't have anything capable of matching them.




    Tiger II in Ambush camouflage Pattern


    Example of Ambush Pattern Colors

    The culmination of everything the Germans had learned about tank development during WW2, the Tiger II, often referred to as the "King Tiger", and more seldomly the "Royal Tiger", was the last German heavy tank to see service during WW2. It debuted in the battle of Normandy and fought on both the Western and Eastern Fronts in the Wehrmacht and SS heavy tank battalions in limited numbers throughout the rest of the war. As a heavy tank meant to replace the original Tiger, its role was to attack obstacles and enemy strong points, create breakthroughs, and engage enemy armored formations.

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    The heavy armor and powerful long-range gun gave the Tiger II an advantage against all opposing Western Allied and Soviet tanks attempting to engage it from head on. This was especially true on the Western Front, where until the arrival of the few M26 Pershing in 1945 neither the British nor U.S. forces had brought heavy tanks into service. Only the British QF 17 pounder (76.2 mm) gun using Armour-piercing discarding sabot shot was theoretically capable of penetrating the front of the Tiger II's turret and nose (lower front hull) at 1,100 and 1,200 yd (1,000 and 1,100 m) respectively.[28] Flanking maneuvers were used against the Tiger II to attempt a shot at the thinner side and rear armor, giving a tactical advantage to the Tiger II in most engagements.[47] Moreover, the main armament of the Tiger II was capable of knocking out any Allied tank frontally at ranges exceeding 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi), beyond the effective range of Allied tank gun.


    Tiger II Cutaway (1)


    The tank had a 5 man crew, including the commander, driver, gunner, hull machine-gunner, and radio operator. It incorporated sloped armor (which, by the way, was present in German tank designs long before encounters with the T-34 - another myth), Germany's (and arguably the world's) best gun during WW2 - the KwK 43 L/71, a wide-track suspension system that made it even more maneuverable in muddy and sandy conditions than the Sherman and many other allied vehicles due to reduced ground pressure, and a more modular platform designed for ease of production. It was in every way an advancement upon its predecessor, the already formidable Tiger I. More notably, it was a better performing tank than it’s more lauded little brother, the Panther.



    Tiger II Exploded (2)


    Despite this, the King Tiger is often criticized incorrectly on a number of factors.

    Speed:

    This is probably the most propagated, yet demonstrably false, myth about the Tiger II (and Tiger I btw).

    Despite being a heavy tank, the Tiger II was as fast as the Panther and faster than all other German AFVs.

    Tiger II - Maximum Speed = 41.5 km/h, Road Speed = 38 km/h, Cross Country Speed = 15-20 km/h

    Panther - Maximum Speed = 46 km/h, Road Speed = 30-35 km/h, Cross Country Speed = 20 km/h

    Pz.IV - Maximum Speed = 38-42 km/h, Road Speed = 25 km/h, Cross Country Speed = 20 km/h

    StuG - Maximum Speed = 40 km/h, Road Speed = 20 km/h, Cross Country Speed = 12-15km/h

    For comparison, the top speeds of the main Allied medium tanks were:

    T-34 - 53.5 km/h
    Sherman - 38-46 km/h (dependent on the variant)

    And their heavy tanks:

    IS-2 - 37 km/h
    M26 Pershing - 40 km/h, 8.4 km/h (off-road)

    (Apologies for not having detailed speed information on road speed and cross-country speed for these models.)

    Obviously, the Tiger II was not a slow tank by any objective standards.

    Size:



    Tiger II at Rest in Budapest

    At nearly 70 tonnes, 6.4 meters in length and 3.75 meters in width (platform only), the Tiger II was an enormous tank for the period. However, myths about limitations due to size are greatly exaggerated, specifically those about bridge crossing. The tank’s designers took the structural limitations of European bridges into consideration when developing the tank, and German combat engineers in the field were highly skilled at determining a bridge’s structural limits. In most cases, bridges too small and/or too weak to hold a Tiger II were built over rivers that could easily be forded, due to an advanced snorkel system. In the rare event that a Tiger II could not cross on a bridge or ford one, the standard German 16-ton engineer bridge could carry it.



    Navigating Tight Urban Streets


    Certainly tanks of all sizes and makes got bogged down or fell through bridges on occasion, but the Tiger II did not do so at greater rates than other AFVs. Further, combat operations were not compromised in any significant way to accommodate the Tiger II.

    Mobility:



    Propaganda Shot


    Despite its weight, the Tiger II's advanced suspension system and powerful engine provided it not only superior mobility to Allied heavy tanks, but to their medium tanks as well. Crews loved the Tiger II for its maneuverability over virtually any terrain.

    According to historian Thomas Jentz:

    The Tiger II was remarkably agile for such a heavy vehicle. Contemporary German records indicate that its mobility was as good as or better than most German or Allied tanks.
    Reliability:



    Maintenance


    As with every new tank design during the war, including the much vaunted for reliability T-34, the Tiger II went through a teething process. The main cause of these issues was the added stress to the engine, which was essentially the same one used in the 12 tonne lighter Tiger I. This was exacerbated by inexperienced crews who were sent directly from the classroom into combat.

    As the issues were identified, a number of strengthened engine components and new crew guidelines were developed and distributed. After these initial fixes, the Tiger II design proved to be a very reliable, far more so than the Tiger I. In fact, the Tiger II’s teething process was far shorter than that of the T-34 and the Panther which both ate transmissions for a year or more after development, or its direct competitor, the M26 Pershing, which was so inherently unreliable that it still couldn’t function competently in Korea and had to be pulled from combat.

    Jentz says:

    Reliability was improved over time with the continuous introduction of modified seals, gaskets and drive train components, driver training, and sufficient maintenance. Statistics from 15 March 1945 compare the availability of Tiger IIs with respect to other tanks: 62 percent of Panzer IVs, 59 percent of Tiger IIs and 48 percent of Panthers were operational by this period of the war.
    Fuel Consumption:

    This criticism has some basis, but has been blown way out of proportion. While indeed high at 4.9 l/km, the Tiger II’s consumption was not inordinately so.

    Here are fuel consumption rates of some common late war tanks.

    Medium
    T-34/85 = 1.8 l/km
    Sherman = 2.0 l/km
    Panzer IV = 2.35 l/km
    Panther = 2.8 l/km

    Heavy
    IS2 = 3.5
    Pershing = 4.32

    While the Tiger II is often singled out as a fuel hog, the reality is that its fuel consumption was in line with other vehicles of its size. The truth is that after Romania fell, German AFVs of all shapes and sizes were lost due to fuel shortages towards the end of the war. Under more normal circumstances, the Tiger II's fuel consumption would not have been such an acute weakness.

    Cost efficiency:

    This is the murkiest myth to debunk against the Tiger II as it does include a bit of subjectivity. I don’t know how many times I have read some variation of “the Germans should have made more low quality tanks instead of a few high quality ones”.

    First, who would crew these tanks? Despite the Allied bombing campaign and the huge stresses on German industry, towards the end of the war there were always more tanks available than crews to fill them. Wartime pressures including fuel shortages and Allied air raids crippled the flow of trained crews to the Panzerwaffe. It became so dire that fresh crews with only minimal classroom training were given command of expensive, technologically advanced AFVs such as Panthers and Tiger IIs, with predictable results.

    Second, the Germans learned early on that the most valuable component of a tank is its crew. The Tiger II preserved and enhanced the one advantage the Panzerwaffe had that endured throughout the war – their experienced tank crews. Under the command of these crews, the tank delivered devastating results on the battlefield far beyond its limited numbers – which will be discussed below.

    Finally, that oft-quoted sentiment betrays a lack of understanding about German armored doctrine. Said doctrine dictated the need for a heavy tank, and the German heavy tank program was a limited endeavor meant to fill a limited role in the overall armored structure. Only 1500 Tiger II's were ordered, and it replaced the Tiger 1’s production lines on one floor of the Henschel plant. One may disagree with the need for a heavy tank at all, but the program did not significantly affect other tank production in any meaningful way. Germany produced 50,439 AFVs during WW2, only 1839 of which were Tiger I and II heavy tanks (1347 Tiger I's and 492 Tiger II's).

    Despite this, the Tiger II is often held up as an example of German waste, when in reality the decision to replace the PzIV with the Panther is far more debatable.


    Of course the Tiger II did suffer from some weaknesses. However, these were attributable far more to German late war circumstances than any inherent design flaws.

    Late war German logistics: Tiger II's were far more likely to be lost due to a lack of fuel or spare parts than to enemy fire.

    Crews: As could be expected, Tiger II performance varied greatly based on crew experience.

    Deployment: Much like the first two weaknesses, the late war German position(and Hitler's interference) forced commanders to deploy their weapons systems in less than optimal situations. Tiger II's attempting to navigate the densely forested Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge would be the most obvious example.


    Combat Record



    Moving into Position: D-Day + ?


    The Tiger II's combat record is often written about purely in terms of its performance on the Western Front, and then only during the Ardennes Offensive. The tank performed well in Normandy in the defense of Caen, particularly during the blunting of Operation Atlantic. However, the dense hedgerows that characterize the area were certainly not ideal "tank country" and the Tiger II's main advantage - its standoff capability - was rendered virtually useless, as engagements were conducted at very short range. Still, the tank's superior armor made it a fearsome opponent. Again in Operation Market Garden, the Tiger II was called on to help blunt an Allied armored offensive.



    Under Cover in Normandy

    One day a Tiger Royal tank got within 150 yards of my tank and knocked me out. Five of our tanks opened up on him from ranges of 200 to 600 yards and got five or six hits on the front of the Tiger. They all just glanced off and the Tiger backed off and got away. If we had a tank like Tiger, we would all be home today.
    - Report by tank commander Sergeant Clyde D. Brunson from 2nd Armored Division, 1945.



    Of course, the Tiger II's most widely known campaign - and the one from which most "evidence" of its failings is drawn from - was in support of Operation Watch on the Rhine. There the Tiger II faced a "perfect storm" of the three weaknesses mentioned above - poor logistics, inexperienced crews, and deployment in less than suitable conditions. The dense forests negated the tanks advantages even more so than the Hedgerows of Normandy.



    American Inspection


    Stories of Tiger II's being disable by determined American bazooka crews, getting bogged down, and running out of fuel abound - and are all true. What is not said, however, is that the same fate befell German and Allied (minus the fuel shortage) AFVs of all shapes and sizes. The terrain was simply not hospitable to armored warfare - which was the reason it was neglected by the Allies in the first place.



    Knocked Out in the Ardennes



    Not Penetrated


    Further, what is not often mentioned is that the Tiger II performed very well in its role as a breakout tank during the Bulge. While a few tanks were lost to enemy action, and a greater number to mechanical issues and terrain difficulties, the majority of Tiger IIs sliced through Allied lines nearly imperviously until German forces inevitably ran out of fuel. That fuel shortage was predicted by German commanders before the operation and effected the whole of the German forces. It was certainly not unique to units operating the Tiger II.



    Working with Fallschirmjager in the Ardennes



    American POWs File Past a Tiger II


    Despite the unfavorable conditions previously discussed, the lead element of the German assault, Kampfgruppe Peiper, utilizing Tiger IIs, left a path of destruction in its wake, including decimating American defensive positions and tank battalions. The kampfgruppe was later cut off and ran out of fuel, forcing its men had to abandon their equipment and retreat back to German lines on foot. The eventual fate of the kampfgruppe, however, was the result of logistics and operational issues that were the natural results of the insanity that was the Ardennes Offensive- not the Tiger II.



    Artist's Rendering of the Infamous Kampfgruppe Peiper



    American Use During the Bulge


    Left out of many discussions about the tank is the Tiger II's service on the Eastern Front. Here in more suitable conditions and under the command of well trained, experienced crews, the tank's abilities were fully exploited. The tank's reliability actually surpassed that of the Panther, and Wehrmacht and SS heavy tank battalions were used both on the defense and the offence to great effect.



    Tiger II in Budapest (1)



    Tiger II in Budapest (2) Accompanied by German Infantry


    Of particular note is the SS Heavy Tank Battalion 503, which played a key role in the critical Battle of Debrecen, which kept Hungary in the fight for Germany.



    Street Fighting in Budapest

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    The 503rd remained in the Hungarian theater of operations for 166 days, during which it accounted for at least 121 Soviet tanks, 244 anti-tank guns and artillery pieces, five aircraft and a train. This was at the loss of 25 Tiger IIs; ten were knocked out by Soviet troops and burned out, two were sent back to Vienna for a factory overhaul, while thirteen were blown up by their crews for various reasons, usually to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Kurt Knispel, the highest scoring tank ace of all time (162 enemy AFVs destroyed), also served with the 503rd, and was killed in action on 29 April 1945 in his Tiger II.

    The Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung 503 (s.SS Pz.Abt. 503) claimed approximately 500 kills in the period from January to April 1945 on the Eastern Front for the loss of 45 Tiger IIs (most of which were abandoned and destroyed by their own crews after mechanical breakdowns or for lack of fuel.


    Operating on the Eastern Front


    On the road from Bollersdorf to Strausberg stood a further 11 Stalin tanks, and away on the egde of the village itself were around 120-150 enemy tanks in the process of being refuelled and re-armed. I opened fire and destroyed first and last of the 11 Stalin tanks on the road….My own personal score of enemy tanks destroyed in this action was 39.
    -SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Körner, schwere SS Panzer Abteilung (103) 503 / III SS Panzer Corps, East Germany, April of 1945.



    In many ways, the Tiger II, like the Panther, represented the realization of the main battle tank concept. The traditional dynamic of speed, armor, and firepower where one had to be sacrificed to achieve gains in the other two no longer held. Technology had progressed to such an extent that the Tiger II boasted formidable specifications in all three areas. Operated by an experienced crew in the role it was intended to fill, the Tiger II was nearly invincible on the battlefield, and boasted a combat prowess beyond anything the Allies fielded during the war. Of course, the Tiger II was not flawless, but it was a very capable amored fighting vehicle - arguably the best performing tank of the war - and it merits some historical revision.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 01-07-2011 at 11:04.

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    Nur-ad-Din Forum Administrator TosaInu's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Interesting post PanzerJaeger,

    I don't know much about thanks, only bits, and likely also information that isn't the best.

    I do know about (some of) the too big arguments and I can see that big isn't the best in all conditions. 'But when that is so bad, why do we still make big tanks today?' So, it was nice for me to read this.
    Ja mata

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Yes, very interesting -thanks PJ. Interesting contrast to the Panther too and your points addressing criticism of German manufacturing & priorities is pertinent, given the manpower constraints they faced.

    One myth you don't mention -and may or may not have affected the Tiger II, is cases of defective armour due to low grade steel. Part and parcel with the shortage of other strategic resources felt by Germany.

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    Nur-ad-Din Forum Administrator TosaInu's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    What was the normal way to make high grade steel back then alh_p? Did the Germans make it anyway or was there a nifty work around?
    Ja mata

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by TosaInu View Post
    What was the normal way to make high grade steel back then alh_p? Did the Germans make it anyway or was there a nifty work around?
    ahem, wish I knew tbh although my first question was actually due to experience of playing the beta of "World of Tanks", a psuedo-realistic MMO where HE shells are available as a purchaseable extra.

    In game, the HE shells tended to immobilise or damage vehicles quite easily. The accuracy of this effect of HE shells compared to standard AP ammo was discussed on the forums, the consensus/winning argument (not neccessarily correct!) was that degrading quality of steels used by the German armaments industry resulted in a fragility to extremes of heat (or another effect of HE shells) in German tank armour.

    Here's an exeprt from wiki on the Panther tank:

    As the war progressed, Germany was forced to reduce or no longer use certain critical alloy materials in the production of armor plate, such as nickel, tungsten, molybdenum, and manganese; this did result in lower impact resistance levels compared to earlier armor.[51] Manganese from mines in the Ukraine ceased when the German Army lost control of this territory in February 1944. Allied bombers struck the Knabe mine in Norway and stopped a key source of molybdenum; other supplies from Finland and Japan were also cut off. The loss of molybdenum, and its replacement with other substitutes to maintain hardness, as well as a general loss of quality control resulted in an increased brittleness in German armor plate, which developed a tendency to fracture when struck with a shell. Testing by U.S. Army officers in August 1944 in Isigny, France showed catastrophic cracking of the armor plate on two out of three Panthers examined.[52][53]

    Basicaly, (and assuming I correctly remember basic metalurgy from my degreee!) Steel is iron mixed with a small ammount of carbon to make it harder. Different alloys of steel are created with different proportions of carbon and the addition of other small quantities of fancy materials -for example Chromium, Tungsten, Molybdenum... Here's a quick explanation based on the steels used in bicycles. If you don't have access to these materials, some of which were quite exotic at the time, you can't make steel as strong without choosing different materials -which might lead to altogether different properties, e.g. higher weight, more fragmentation, harder to weld/manufacture...
    Last edited by al Roumi; 01-07-2011 at 15:45.

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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Most of what you have to say is very clear and I tend to agree that the Tiger II was a fine AFV.

    It did have mobility problems, in that it took excellent bridges and infrastructure to support its movement.

    Germans still over engineer almost everything using machined parts where cast parts will serve just as well. This ,naturally, lead to slower production.

    The M-26 was the only allied tank mounting a 90mm gun and it only arrived in small numbers at the end of the war. But the allied tank destroyers were equipped with better guns and better ammunition to deal with German Armor.

    On a whole, I would say that the western allies philosophy on armor was seriously flawed. Their doctrine was to have tank destroyers deal with tanks while the tanks dealt with infantry support tasks.

    The flaws in that strategy were apparent, or should have been by the American entry into the war in 1942.

    Self appointed experts often find fault, particularly with the losing side but if you asked an armor crewman which tank he would rather go into combat in I don’t think the allied tanks would have many takers.

    I would treat most of the criticism as sour grapes. The allies sacrificed their crews while the Germans sought to preserve them. Of course they would say it is an extravagant use of resources.


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    Member Member Alexander the Pretty Good's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    The flaws in that strategy were apparent, or should have been by the American entry into the war in 1942.
    (Cherry picking because I generally agree with the rest of your post)

    I was under the impression the western allies were evenly matched with German units facing them until the invasion of Italy. The cruisers and then the shermans were quite capable in Northern Africa, and consequently evenly matched with the most widely produced German models anyway.

    As for the KT, at least the Germans figured out how sloped armor works (that is, well) halfway through the war. But give me an inconspicuous StuG III/IV any day of the week. :P

    /also you tank nerds should check out World of Tanks even if it's fairly "arcadey" and the Russian Belarus devs give Russian tanks the advantage. ;) It's a blast (har!).
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    !! Achtung Panzer !! Senior Member PanzerJaeger's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by TosaInu View Post
    I do know about (some of) the too big arguments and I can see that big isn't the best in all conditions. 'But when that is so bad, why do we still make big tanks today?' So, it was nice for me to read this.
    That is a good point. The American Abrams and German Leopard II tank, built to fight on the same European battlefields (and in many cases cross the same bridges) as the Tiger II, both weigh around 65 tonnes compared to the 70 ton Tiger II. The hull length of the Abrams is 7.93m and 8.49m for the Leopard II, compared to 6.4m for the Tiger II. The Abrams is 3.66m in width and the Leopard II is 3.75m, compared to the Tiger II at 3.755m.


    Quote Originally Posted by alh_p
    One myth you don't mention -and may or may not have affected the Tiger II, is cases of defective armour due to low grade steel. Part and parcel with the shortage of other strategic resources felt by Germany.
    I knew I forgot something. There is actually quite a controversy surrounding the Tiger II's armor.

    During August 1944, a number of Tiger II tanks were captured by the Soviets near Sandomierz and were soon moved to their testing grounds at Kubinka. The Soviet team gave the opinion that the tests revealed the tanks to be severely defective; the transmission and suspension broke down very frequently and the engine was prone to overheating and consequential failure. Additionally, the Soviets opinion was of deficiencies in the armor after firing many anti-tank rounds at the same target. Not only did they report that the metal was of shoddy quality (a problem not particular to the Tiger II—as the war progressed, the Germans found it harder and harder to obtain the alloys needed for high-quality steel), but the welding was also, despite "careful workmanship", extremely poor. As a result, even when shells did not penetrate the armor, there was a large amount of spalling, and the armor plating cracked at the welds when struck by multiple heavy shells, rendering the tank inoperable.[39][48]
    While German metallurgy had certainly deteriorated to some extent towards the end of the war, the sloped nature of the Tiger II's armor along with its sheer thickness seem to have compensated for it. Ankerstjerne argues that the tests - even if wholly accurate, which is in doubt - cannot be used as evidence of a critical deficiency in the armor as the tank was shot at literally hundreds of times, far more than would be experienced in combat. Each time a tank's armor is hit, it weakens the whole structure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ankerstjerne
    The mere number of shots would have weakened the armour structure so much it is admirable that the vehicle held together for so long in the first place.
    Further, there are no field reports of cracking or spalling (which is of particular danger to a tank crew) in combat. In fact, IIRC, there are no recorded incidences of a Tiger II's frontal armor being penetrated in combat by any weapon during the war.


    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking
    The M-26 was the only allied tank mounting a 90mm gun and it only arrived in small numbers at the end of the war. But the allied tank destroyers were equipped with better guns and better ammunition to deal with German Armor.
    IIRC, only the M36, which debuted also in '44 in very limited numbers, could conceivably defeat a Tiger II, and then only with a very lucky shot.

  9. #9
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJaeger View Post
    As a heavy tank meant to replace the original Tiger, its role was to attack obstacles and enemy strong points, create breakthroughs, and engage enemy armored formations.
    And that is the first point on the list of problems. A tank designed for a role that just did not exist anymore as Germany was on the defensive.

    Some of the following comes from Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II

    It used same engine as the Tiger I and the Panther, so it had the lowest HP/weight ratio of the three.

    It also had the lowest operational range. That is not the best thing for a tank and especially not when Germany was heavily outnumbered and needed to shift armoured forces to stop enemy breakthroughs.

    Its weight did cause issues as seen in Operation Konrad III where the bridge over Sarviz Canal were blown up by the Russians, forcing IV SS-Panzer Corps to fight on without Heavy Tank Battalion 509.

    The deep fording equipment was only installed on a few tanks for testing.

    The reliability might have ended up being better than the Tiger I but that does unfortunately not say much as the Tiger I was bad. I don't know about the statistics from March 1945 as it would depend a lot on whether units were in action or in reserve.

    Either way, good reliability less than 2 months before it was all over did not help much when it was needed in summer/autumn '44: in early August nearly all the Tiger II of Battalion 501 broke down during a 50 Km roadmarch and delayed a counter attack for several days.

    The Russians tested a few captured Tiger II: http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?...282&Itemid=124

    They could only get a 90 km range instead of the 120 claimed in the manual. Nor was the speed really impressive.

    I don’t know how many times I have read some variation of “the Germans should have made more low quality tanks instead of a few high quality ones”.
    Well, it should perhaps read more like "Germany should have made cheaper and reliable tanks instead of fewer overly complex tanks"

    It seems one of the easiest way of killing a Tiger was to attack somewhere else and force the heavy battalions to die by mechanical breakdowns in the retreat. And it was rather easy to find a spot to attack, as Germany did not have high numbers of such tanks.

    The manpower problem was similar to the lack of trained fighter pilots: not running out of men but rather not training enough men. And it is always better to have easy to maintain tanks for lesser skilled crews anyway.

    Tank crews might be saved by its heavy armour but how many frontschwein had to die while waiting for armour support?

    Without doubt the heavy Tigers were good at killing stuff but it did come at a cost. Was the cost worth it? That is a good question. Could all that labour and steel have been used for a better purpose? What Germany so desperately needed in the last 2 years were more tanks and assaultguns and they never had enough to plug the holes.
    Last edited by CBR; 01-08-2011 at 04:24.

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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    The only weakness that thing had was at the factory. Very expensive to produce, tank itself was a beauty but you got to make them first
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


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    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Allied doctrine was for TDs to kill tanks and tanks to kill everything else. The only time the TD doctrine worked was in North Africa when two Bn.s stopped the 10th pz div.

    Both the Germans and the Allies estimated that it took 17 M4s to kill a Tiger. Funny enough, (which is not funny at all), 17 tanks was the number of tanks in US Army company. That means that a platoon of Tigers was a match for a whole Bn of tanks. That generally applied to the Tiger I. Most were actually killed by aircraft. The Panther was easier, that only took about a dozen.

    The TD units had different organization and tactics that added up to better results, as well as better guns and ammunition. Still, the light armor and open tops were far from ideal tank killers.

    To prevent them being used as tanks, they lacked coax and hull mounted machineguns.. Crews and some Bns built armored tops and moved the 50 cal. machineguns to the front of the vehicles to provide protection from ground attack by infantry.

    The M-36 carried the very same gun as the M-26. The M-18 mounted a 76mm purpose built anti-tank gun, the same as the firefly. In fact the M-18 was the only AFV designed from the ground up to be a TD built by the allies. It had a road speed of 97km/h and was the fastest AFV of the war. The M-10 mounted a 3 inch (76mm) gun that was later fitted to the M4A3 but the tank destroyers had better AP ammunition not given to tank crews. By the end of the war in Europe most TD Bns were using the M-36.

    The criticism more rightly placed on the German war machine was that they produced too many types of AFVs. Rather than replacing the production of older models with newer ones, the older models were still produced or converted to tank destroyer variants which lead to logistical problems, in the supplying of parts and maintenance for a wide range of vehicles.

    All AFVs are prone to breakdown. It is still a truism that a tank requires 8 hours of maintenance for every hour of operation.

    Much of what is said using hindsight is not applicable to a vehicles worth. The Tiger II was successful in its role. Most of the shortcomings frequently cited have more to do with Germany’s position. Had it been built by an allied nation I am sure it would have been viewed as an unqualified success, as was the M-26, which was quickly replaced by first the M-46 and then the M-47. All of these were phased out by the late 1950s and replaced by the M-48, all having had a service life of under 5 years.

    My conclusion is that the Tiger II was not a dog. The overall design was good and it filled it role on the battle field. It was not perfect but it did what it was meant to do.
    Whether it was better to build one of these or two Panthers is a whole other topic in its self.


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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    Most were actually killed by aircraft.
    Of the 134 Tiger tanks involved in Normandy, 60 was destroyed by direct or indirect fire, 58 destroyed or abandoned by crew and 13 destroyed by air attack. The Tigers knocked out 510 Allied tanks. The kill ratio in direct combat was 10.6 to 1 and 3.9 to 1 when losses from all causes are included.

    Two heavy battalions (504 and 508) were involved in Italy. Battalion 504 lost 87 tanks and about 13 of them from combat. Of the 74 tanks destroyed by own crews, 30 were in the final month so perhaps not so important. They destroyed 100+ Allied tanks and in direct combat the ratio was 7.7 to 1. For battalion 508 the loss was 78 Tigers and 48 of them were by own crews. They also destroyed about 100 Allied tanks.

    Italy was the least successful deployment for the Tigers and the rugged terrain caused high losses in retreats.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Self appointed experts often find fault, particularly with the losing side but if you asked an armor crewman which tank he would rather go into combat in I don’t think the allied tanks would have many takers.
    Statistically, you were more likely to survive a penetration hit in a Sherman than in most any other tank. The US TD's (M10, M18, M36) had the lowest casualty rate of any AFV in the ETO, yet had the thinnest armor. At least 50% of casualties suffered by tank crews happened after they exited the tank...from MG, small arms and mortar fire.

    It seems one of the easiest way of killing a Tiger was to attack somewhere else and force the heavy battalions to die by mechanical breakdowns in the retreat. And it was rather easy to find a spot to attack, as Germany did not have high numbers of such tanks.
    A tactic used by the Soviets for Operation Bagration. No small coincidence that most of the Soviet armored breakthroughs were in areas where there were no Tigers of any kind.

    Both the Germans and the Allies estimated that it took 17 M4s to kill a Tiger. Funny enough, (which is not funny at all), 17 tanks was the number of tanks in US Army company. That means that a platoon of Tigers was a match for a whole Bn of tanks. That generally applied to the Tiger I. Most were actually killed by aircraft. The Panther was easier, that only took about a dozen.
    I would suspect that this is an offshoot of the 5 for 1 (Sherman vs. The Cats) myth. I would like to see some statistical evidence to support this.

    Still, the light armor and open tops were far from ideal tank killers.
    And yet, US TD's achieved a 3 :1 kill ratio across the board for all units, with some having kill ratios up in the 10 : 1 range, which would place them in the same position as some of the elite Tiger battalions.

    The M-10 mounted a 3 inch (76mm) gun that was later fitted to the M4A3 but the tank destroyers had better AP ammunition not given to tank crews.
    Point of note: the M10 mounted a 76mm M7 L/53 derived from an anti-aircraft gun; the M4A3 used the 76mm M1A2 L/55. The ammo for the guns was not interchangeable.

    Both Tiger variants made for excellent defensive platforms, as proved repeatedly on both the Eastern Front and in Europe. This pretty much fit in with the position that Germany found itself in when the Cats began appearing on the battlefield in numbers. But as an offensive weapon....not so good. Breakdowns were frequent on forced marches, and the fuel consumption would be something fierce. Something never mentioned for figures of AFV fuel consumption numbers is that they are usually given for road travel. Off-road consumption is much higher.

    It has been sometimes mentioned that the Tigers would have been more useful if they had been distributed in company size to Korps assets instead of being used individually in battalion strength. The idea being that it didn't take many Tigers to make an impact on the battlefield, and this would save the forced marches that were often necessary. It made it more likely that the Tigers would've been much closer to the action, and harder to avoid.
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 01-08-2011 at 14:37.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    The M-26 was the only allied tank mounting a 90mm gun” Err, USSR was part of the Allies and various JSU 122 or 152 (Tank Destroyer) had, as the Reference shows it, a bigger gun than 90 mm.
    The JS2 (IS2) “Joseph Stalin” had a 122 mm gun in 1944.

    I was under the impression the western allies were evenly matched with German units facing them until the invasion of Italy.” I would say that in 1939-40, the Allies Tanks were as good ad the Germans/Allies tanks, as most the people forget the excellent Czech T35 was as good as the PZ 2 and 3.
    French tank were even better than the German counter part but having serious flaw as the number of crew, and the fuel issued… The British had always under gunned theirs and the Mathilda was now to be very slow, even if was very difficult to destroy.
    Recognising this, the German installed longer barrel and increase the calibre of the gun, which will end with the excellent PZ-IV 75 mm that will stay the vertebral of the German Armies during the entire WW2.

    If you include the Russian Tanks, well, you have to remember that the Panzer V “Panther” was an answer to the T-34, and the Tiger and “Royal” Tiger were an answer to the Russian Tanks and new abilities and tactic.

    A tank designed for a role that just did not exist anymore as Germany was on the defensive.”
    They were not for offensive. They were an answer to the growing superiority of the Red Army and its new ability in manoeuvring their Armoured Armies.

    The Tigers (both) were included in a tactic (the wedge) where they were supposed to engage the enemies from far (as in Kursk) having their flanks protected by the Pz. IV.
    They were slow, not really agile and their turrets were too slow in turning. So at short distance they were vulnerable as again proved in Kursk.
    The new German Machines were design to keep the enemies at bay and to destroy them before they can be effective. This is true for all the latest tanks or Tank Destroyers.

    That is a good point.” Not really. We built this kind of tank to confront a Red Army menace… If you look at a Merkava, one of the best tank ever built but fo face other menace, you will see a lot a difference as the terrain of war is different.
    And I am sorry to say that the heavy tanks were never engage in a battle they were built for, as Iraq was not USSR… So, it is worth to have this kind of machine in the asymetric war? I don’t know, but it is still a powerfull message to insurgents when one is on the field…

    Well, it should perhaps read more like "Germany should have made cheaper and reliable tanks instead of fewer overly complex tanks" This was not only true for the tanks but for all the German war machine e.g. planes.

    The kill ratio in direct combat was 10.6 to 1 and 3.9 to 1” Well, the German were in a defensive, crews were trained and knew their machines and the job. The tactical mistake of the early day after the D-Days had a cost.

    I would suspect that this is an offshoot of the 5 for 1 (Sherman vs. The Cats) myth. I would like to see some statistical evidence to support this.” I would as well…
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire.

    "I've been in few famous last stands, lad, and they're butcher shops. That's what Blouse's leading you into, mark my words. What'll you lot do then? We've had a few scuffles, but that's not war. Think you'll be man enough to stand, when the metal meets the meat?"
    "You did, sarge", said Polly." You said you were in few last stands."
    "Yeah, lad. But I was holding the metal"
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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    They were not for offensive. They were an answer to the growing superiority of the Red Army and its new ability in manoeuvring their Armoured Armies.
    That is not correct. The concept of the Tiger tanks and the schwere Panzer-Abteilung was meant to act as spearheads for breakthroughs of enemy defensive lines.

    The concept and early designs dates back to 1937 but it indeed became more urgent after encountering T-34 and KV tanks.

    Well, the German were in a defensive, crews were trained and knew their machines and the job. The tactical mistake of the early day after the D-Days had a cost.
    Yes but the point is that A) it did have better kill ratio than other tank types they used, which is to be expected with thick armour and powerful gun and B) looking at results for direct combat is just one aspect of the overall effectiveness of a tank.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    The concept of the Tiger tanks and the schwere Panzer-Abteilung was meant to act as spearheads for breakthroughs of enemy defensive lines.” The concept of heavy tank was a common to all powers and all were for breakthroughs. It was Char Bis “de Rupture” means in French.
    And the Char Bis (or the KV1) had the same effect in 1940 on the German Soldiers who had to fight it. They fled as their projectiles couldn't penetrate the Char Bis.

    The concept and early designs dates back to 1937 but it indeed became more urgent after encountering T-34 and KV tanks.” This is more a surprise as I read that the Tiger series were built around the 88mm canon. The AT potential of this canon (designed for AA) was discovered during the war, so I would be grateful to have more info on this.
    If the German had developed the design of the Tiger before 1939, why did they copy (and upgraded) the T34 in making the Panther?

    The Tigers were formidable machine due the 88 mm and the armour. But as they were too complex for heavy production, too fragile (changing caterpillars too often and as a person who had to change caterpillars in the past I can tell you it is big flaw), too slow and having a problem with the turret electric motor they couldn’t (heaven if they were intended to be) be a really doing in offensive when only their armour would be a real advantage. That is why they were included in specific formations including PZ IV.

    Concerning the kill/ratio it can go from 6.67 (13 Panzer Regiment Gross-Deuchtland) to 2.23 (Schwere Panzer Abteilung 506) and I really don’t know how it was calculated, considering that all sides exaggerated the enemies lost (ignoring tanks can be repaired) and Allies seeing Tiger every where…
    Thanks to the German estimate, Hitler taught the Russians were all killed and reaching Moscow depended only on how long it would take to the German Grunts to walk there…
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire.

    "I've been in few famous last stands, lad, and they're butcher shops. That's what Blouse's leading you into, mark my words. What'll you lot do then? We've had a few scuffles, but that's not war. Think you'll be man enough to stand, when the metal meets the meat?"
    "You did, sarge", said Polly." You said you were in few last stands."
    "Yeah, lad. But I was holding the metal"
    Sergeant Major Jackrum 10th Light Foot Infantery Regiment "Inns-and-Out"

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    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    I would rate the cost effectiveness of German war machines like this:

    U-boat
    Stuka
    Bf-109 (all variants)
    MG42
    StuG III

    The Tiger(s) cost and complexity insured that they would never make much of a difference on a strategical level. In contrast, if the U-boats had won the "Battle of the Atlantic", England would have been forced out of the war.

    The KT could certainly make an impact at a tactical level, but they weren't a "war-winner", IMHO.

    The concept of the Tiger tanks and the schwere Panzer-Abteilung was meant to act as spearheads for breakthroughs of enemy defensive lines.
    By 1944, even the Germans had realized that tactics had changed drastically from 1940-41, and tanks, even the heavies could not break through a heavily fortified defensive position on their own. While the Tiger(s) could certainly assist in such operations, they were too prone to breakdowns to help in exploiting a breakthrough, as well as restricted in operational range. They would never have been able to keep pace with the exploitation of the St. Lo breakout at Normandy, for example.

    Given Germany's strategical position in 1944, the Tiger was at it's best as a defensive platform, not as a breakthrough tank.
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 01-09-2011 at 15:17.

  18. #18
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    The concept of heavy tank was a common to all powers and all were for breakthroughs.
    Yes indeed. It was only USA that focused purely on a medium tank.

    This is more a surprise as I read that the Tiger series were built around the 88mm canon. The AT potential of this canon (designed for AA) was discovered during the war, so I would be grateful to have more info on this.
    If the German had developed the design of the Tiger before 1939, why did they copy (and upgraded) the T34 in making the Panther?
    Some of it is described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_I#Design_history although it does not provide the actual citations.

    It's mentioned in Tiger 1 Heavy Tank 1942-45 (New Vanguard) that Porsche was commissioned to do a 45 ton design in autumn '40. The development started without knowing what gun was to be used. Some months later both the 88 and 105mm were considered and finally they decided on the 88 in April '41.

    There is also a lot of technical details in Germany's Tiger Tanks D.W. to Tiger I: Design, Production & Modifications and also for the developments before the war.

    The Panther was meant to be their main battle tank, for use in the Panzer divisions, while the Tiger was for a specialised role to be used in fewer numbers.

    That is why they were included in specific formations including PZ IV.
    Tigers were used in two different battalion structures. Only the early organisation included Panzer III but the later organisation dropped the lighter tanks. The early lasted from mid '42 to mid '43.

    A few SS division did have their own integrated Tiger units though.

    In Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II it is described how the Germans at first thought about adding a heavy company within a standard panzer regiment but such plans were never made formal.

    When the tank design had been finalised, and production figures were clear, they found it better to establish independent battalions. Part of the reasoning also had to do with concerns over the tactical mobility.

    ...they couldn’t (heaven if they were intended to be) be a really doing in offensive when only their armour would be a real advantage.
    If you think that is bad then you can add the problem of mines. The best approach the Germans came up with was basically to keep sending Tigers in until they got through. Compare that to the Allies who used dedicated mine-clearing vehicles.

    The Tiger had very thick side armour, so it was meant to be this armoured box that could handle everything for its time.

    About kill ratio then yes there might be some issues. SS battalion 503 had an impressive 50 to 1 but the records appear to be incomplete, so impossible to verify. The accuracy against the Western Allies are ok I guess.
    Last edited by CBR; 01-09-2011 at 17:23.

  19. #19
    Moderator Moderator Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    The operational readiness rate of the Tiger II by the time of the Ardennes was at 60% that exceeded all types except the Pz. IV which was no tank to exploit a breakthrough by this time in the war.

    In reply to the rest:

    Quite right CBR. 0.6% of German AFVs destroyed by airpower. I was working from memory and an old book that was clearly wrong.

    As to kill rates and the US TD force:

    With those kill rates you would expect to find a few high scoring allied tankers or TD men, wouldn’t you?

    The top scoring American tanker is credited with 12 tanks and losing 3 tanks himself.

    The top gun for the western allies had 18.

    Another problem with using allied tanks destroyed statistics is battle damage assessment.

    As you can see in German statistics most of their tanks seem to be lost to mechanical failure forcing the crew to destroy the tank. On the other hand an allied vehicle was not destroyed unless it was blown to bits or melted to the ground. Damaged tanks could also be cut apart and the 2 usable hull parts welded together therefore resulting in one lost tank though it could be listed as scraped and not destroyed.

    Even at that US tank and TD losses show up as 3 to 1 in favor of the Germans.

    I would like to believe that the TD force killed three to one but I have read too many unit combat histories to take it at face value.

    So often you see something like “two guns knocked out closing on the enemy” before a shot is fired in return. The casualties always seem like one killed two seriously wounded per vehicle. It is almost cliché. Of course the ending citation usually reads that the damaged vehicles were put back into service.

    The American data is so sketchy as to be worthless. 3 to 1 could mean that they lost 3 tanks for every German AFV built. They list the very round figure of 4400 M-4s lost in Northern Europe start to finish. The UK lists by type and say they lost 15844 AFVs 7700 something odd of US makes.

    I found one not so reliable source of TD losses which lists 439 M-10s, 120 M-18s, and no listing for M-36s with US total losses as 55033 in Northern Europe June 44 to May 45. Soviet losses seem to be around 93000 AFVs of all types.

    US and Soviets both put their losses at 3 to 1. This is the acceptable figure for attacking armies.

    Other than that we have no information on how many times allied AFVs were put out of action and brought back so we don’t have a clear picture of tank to tank engagements.

    But it was no where near so good as we might tend to think it was. I will paraphrase a statement by Creighton Abrams (for whom the M-1 tank is named and a tank Bn. Commander during WWII)

    Never again should American Solders be sent into battle with such inadequate equipment. ( speaking of the American armored forces of WWII)

    Obviously the former Army Chief of Staff had something of a bone to pick with doctrine and equipment from that era.


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    the vast limits of their knowledge.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    It's mentioned in Tiger 1 Heavy Tank 1942-45 (New Vanguard) that Porsche was commissioned to do a 45 ton design in autumn '40. The development started without knowing what gun was to be used. Some months later both the 88 and 105mm were considered and finally they decided on the 88 in April '41.”
    I have a problem with this early design.
    Porshe was probably asked to design A heavy tank. But I really doubt of a Tiger Early design for two main reasons:
    First, the gun calibre is a problem. You don’t start a tank and a design not knowing what gun will be on it. Size of the turret, weight, loads of munitions, crew etc… Too much things depends only on this…
    The second thing I find strange is the entire Panzer series until the Panther are on Vickers type caterpillars (small wheel to support the caterpillar above medium set of wheel). The panther being designed on the T 34, the German adopted the Christie System and double the number of wheel supporting the caterpillars.
    And they did the same for the Tiger.
    So, I don’t believe that in 1937 or 40, the German designers decided out of the blue to opt for the Christie System after having used the Vickers for all the others.

    The German were not at the head of the tank design in 1940. They were ahead in the use of tanks…
    The Royal Tiger was the last of the attempt to balance the number superiority from the Allies and the cost was weight and mechanical fragility.
    The armour and the canon were not enough to fill the gap. In ambush and waiting for the (mainly) Soviet attack, engaging from a long distance where the slowness of the turret won’t be a problem, hoping to destroy enough of enemy tanks before it becomes a problem, that was the purpose.
    The Tigers were not able to close a gap or to encircle other tanks units as the PZ did. The opponents were just faster…
    And not mentioning the maintenance…
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire.

    "I've been in few famous last stands, lad, and they're butcher shops. That's what Blouse's leading you into, mark my words. What'll you lot do then? We've had a few scuffles, but that's not war. Think you'll be man enough to stand, when the metal meets the meat?"
    "You did, sarge", said Polly." You said you were in few last stands."
    "Yeah, lad. But I was holding the metal"
    Sergeant Major Jackrum 10th Light Foot Infantery Regiment "Inns-and-Out"

  21. #21
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    As you can see in German statistics most of their tanks seem to be lost to mechanical failure forcing the crew to destroy the tank.
    Are you referring to Tiger tanks or all German tanks?

    Even at that US tank and TD losses show up as 3 to 1 in favor of the Germans.
    I do not know what data you are referring to to make such a statement....but it is not a correct assessment. Being that this thread is to discuss the KT, such a debate should be brought up elsewhere. But I will quote a few examples for you:

    From Harry Yeide's book on the history of the US TD's in WWII The Tank Killers:

    The champ: 823d TD Battalion: 113 tanks (68 Mark IV's, 27 Panther's, and 18 Tiger's) at the loss of a dozen TD's [just under a 10 : 1 ratio.]

    And a direct quote:

    A US Army study of thirty nine TD battalions of all types indicated that they, on average, destroyed thirty four tanks, seventeen towed guns, and sixteen pillboxes. Total TD losses (as measured by replacements) in the entire ETO were 539 M10's, 215 M18's, and 151 M36's
    [for all SP units].

    Tank destroyer battalions in Third Army alone claimed the destruction of 686 tanks and 239 SP guns.
    [Theatre-wide, the tally of kills amounted to nearly 3000, giving an overall ratio of close to 3 : 1 in favor of the US TD's]

    The American data is so sketchy as to be worthless.
    Not going to get into a debate over sources...but that statement is wrong. American sources are no more reliable or unreliable than those of Germany, the Soviet Union, or any other combatant.

    Other than that we have no information on how many times allied AFVs were put out of action and brought back so we don’t have a clear picture of tank to tank engagements.
    There are very clear numbers for the Battle of Arracourt in Sept 1944, the reduction of the Roncey pocket in July 1944, the near destruction of 9th Panzer in the Foret d'Ecouves in August 1944, the destruction of 2d and 9th Panzer at Celles in Dec 1944 during the Ardennes Campaign. All resounding US victories, all with German losses being much higher than US losses. These battles are easily Googled for the details. If you still can't come up with satisfactory data, I'd be more than happy to provide...

    If you happen to have access to a copy of Steven Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt, there are very detailed lists for tank losses for both the British Shermans and all the US armies. They are broken out into "strength available" and "loss" numbers for a given date so you can get a pretty good idea of what was available, and when. I highly recommend it.

    For a pretty thorough look at tank loss numbers, look here:

    http://208.84.116.223/forums/index.php?showtopic=30346
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 01-10-2011 at 02:58.

  22. #22
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    I have a problem with this early design.
    Porshe was probably asked to design A heavy tank. But I really doubt of a Tiger Early design for two main reasons:
    First, the gun calibre is a problem. You don’t start a tank and a design not knowing what gun will be on it. Size of the turret, weight, loads of munitions, crew etc… Too much things depends only on this…
    I'm no automotive engineer but from what I can read both Krupp and Henschel were working on turrets for 105mm guns. So I guess they had a good idea of what was required: weight, turret ring diameter etc. A 45 ton tank is also quite large so should have been able to fit whatever gun they decided on.

    Porsche was not the only design for heavy tanks and in the end the Tiger came from a redesigned Henschel (VK 36.01) and using the Krupp designed turret from the competing Porsche design.

    The second thing I find strange is the entire Panzer series until the Panther are on Vickers type caterpillars (small wheel to support the caterpillar above medium set of wheel). The panther being designed on the T 34, the German adopted the Christie System and double the number of wheel supporting the caterpillars.
    And they did the same for the Tiger.
    AFAIK the Tigers and Panther used torsion bar suspension and the T-34 used a Christie type with coil-springs. I guess they look very similar with their large road wheels but they are not the same system.

  23. #23
    Iron Fist Technical Administrator Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Interesting thread, partly.

    What makes me curious is that PJ said the KingTiger wasn't as slow as is usually thought, that this is a myth, yet a lot of people here use it's supposed slowness as an argument without even bothering to address PJ's points. So was it slow now or not?
    And while World of Tanks takes quite a few liberties with the tank designs, prototypes etc. it is a fun game and today I rediscovered the KingTiger for me in it, inspired by this thread.

    Even if it isn't the best tank ever designed, it certainly is one of the most "beautiful" ones of WW2 from an aesthetical POV.
    Last edited by Husar; 01-10-2011 at 01:46.


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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    What makes me curious is that PJ said the KingTiger wasn't as slow as is usually thought, that this is a myth, yet a lot of people here use it's supposed slowness as an argument without even bothering to address PJ's points. So was it slow now or not?
    I mentioned the power/weight ratio as well as Russian tests that suggested the German manual was optimistic. Even if we dismiss the Russian test the power/weight ratio speaks for itself. So, slower than most but perhaps not too slow, although I guess that is a bit subjective.

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    !! Achtung Panzer !! Senior Member PanzerJaeger's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    And that is the first point on the list of problems. A tank designed for a role that just did not exist anymore as Germany was on the defensive.
    Strategically, yes, but the Germans launched several major (the number would be dependent on one's definition of "major") offensives after the Tiger II debuted to regain the initiative. One can certainly question the wisdom of launching said offensives, but the Germans were in the war to win - not to prolong it for a few more months or years.

    As I discussed in the OP, despite the most unfortunate of conditions, the Tiger II actually performed well in its role during the Ardennes Offensive, breaking through American fixed and armored defenses. It was Tiger II's that made it the furthest West, and were only conclusively stopped after their supporting formations were defeated and they were cut off.


    It also had the lowest operational range. That is not the best thing for a tank and especially not when Germany was heavily outnumbered and needed to shift armoured forces to stop enemy breakthroughs.
    A valid point. In fairness, while the tank had to be used in this role, the heavy tank was a special purpose vehicle and was not intended for fire brigade duty.


    Its weight did cause issues as seen in Operation Konrad III where the bridge over Sarviz Canal were blown up by the Russians, forcing IV SS-Panzer Corps to fight on without Heavy Tank Battalion 509.
    I was referring to normal conveyance. Certainly a blown bridge would stop AFVs of all sizes. Also, according to the War Diary of Heersgruppe Sud (p.230), the Tiger II's were able to ford the canal by means of a reinforced railroad tie technique, although they were delayed.

    The deep fording equipment was only installed on a few tanks for testing.
    Quite right. I think I got that from the front of a Tamiya military model direction booklet that had it as an accessory.


    The Russians tested a few captured Tiger II: http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?...282&Itemid=124

    They could only get a 90 km range instead of the 120 claimed in the manual. Nor was the speed really impressive.
    As I noted, that particular test has been disputed on a number of levels. There is little information about the condition of the tanks before capture and they were being operated and maintained by Russians with no experience on the vehicles and no spare parts. Also, more generally, Russian estimates of German military equipment have been less than accurate.


    Well, it should perhaps read more like "Germany should have made cheaper and reliable tanks instead of fewer overly complex tanks"
    Indeed, but my point was that the heavy tank program had little impact on overall tank production.

    It seems one of the easiest way of killing a Tiger was to attack somewhere else and force the heavy battalions to die by mechanical breakdowns in the retreat. And it was rather easy to find a spot to attack, as Germany did not have high numbers of such tanks.

    The manpower problem was similar to the lack of trained fighter pilots: not running out of men but rather not training enough men. And it is always better to have easy to maintain tanks for lesser skilled crews anyway.

    Tank crews might be saved by its heavy armour but how many frontschwein had to die while waiting for armour support?
    All salient points, but I think that is more of an indictment against Germany's medium tank program and the overall late war situation. The normal panzer divisions were meant to hold the line and respond to enemy actions, while the heavy tank battalions were special purpose in nature. That those battalions were forced into normal tank roles was necessity, but cannot - in my mind - be used as a criticism of the tank design itself, as it was not being used in its intended role.

    As I mentioned, changing over production from the Panzer IV to the Panther mid-war caused a large disruption in output - so much so that some Panzer IV lines were kept. Of course even if Panzer IV production was kept at full steam, it would have done little to affect the overall course of the war considering Allied production capabilities.

    Without doubt the heavy Tigers were good at killing stuff but it did come at a cost. Was the cost worth it? That is a good question. Could all that labour and steel have been used for a better purpose? What Germany so desperately needed in the last 2 years were more tanks and assaultguns and they never had enough to plug the holes.

    According to Jentz, it took about twice as long to build a Tiger I than other German tanks. As mentioned, Germany produced 1839 Tiger I and II's, meaning that 3678 Panzer IV or Panthers could have been produced. Considering the Tiger II was designed to be manufactured quicker, I would assume the number would be even less - a drop in the bucket compared to overall AFV production and certainly not enough to fill the gaps during the major Soviet offensives of '44.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReluctantSamurai
    From Harry Yeide's book on the history of the US TD's in WWII The Tank Killers:
    Harry Yeide is more of a historical novelist than an historian, and his numbers should be taken with about a 10 pound bag of salt.

    For example, on page 256 of Tank Killers he credits American tank destroyers from the First and Third armies with knocking out more than 500 "panzers" - a remarkable number considering total German AFV losses (including tanks and assault guns) to all causes during the offensive were approximately 600.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 01-10-2011 at 07:49.

  26. #26
    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Actually I wonder about how the Panther disrupted (at least directly) the production of Panzer IV?

    Based on what I can find it was not the same factories that were involved. The Panzer IV production was hurt by one factory changing over to Sturmgeschütz IV and another to Jagdpanzer IV, leaving just one factory to keep up production.

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    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    It was Tiger II's that made it the furthest West, and were only conclusively stopped after their supporting formations were defeated and they were cut off.
    IIRC, it was elements of 2d Panzer that made the furthest western advance towards the Meuse, near Celles. And they did not have KT's if my OOB's are correct. Peiper's Kampfgruppe, which is what I'm assuming you are referring to, were halted in the Stoumont-Stavelot-La Gleize vicinity....some 25-30 mi to the east

    Harry Yeide is more of a historical novelist than an historian, and his numbers should be taken with about a 10 pound bag of salt.
    I gather you didn't enjoy Harry's book much...

    All salient points, but I think that is more of an indictment against Germany's medium tank program and the overall late war situation. The normal panzer divisions were meant to hold the line and respond to enemy actions, while the heavy tank battalions were special purpose in nature. That those battalions were forced into normal tank roles was necessity, but cannot - in my mind - be used as a criticism of the tank design itself, as it was not being used in its intended role.
    A valid assessment, IMHO. The fact that the German economy wasn't put on a true 'war footing' until Speer came onto the scene can be considered more of a failure than than any supposed drain on AFV production by the "heavies".

    Certainly tanks of all sizes and makes got bogged down or fell through bridges on occasion, but the Tiger II did not do so at greater rates than other AFVs. Further, combat operations were not compromised in any significant way to accommodate the Tiger II.
    Here's what Training Pamphlet 47A/30 had to say about the employment of Tigers (in part):

    [Section B]
    I. Marches
    1. As the decisive-point weapon, the Tiger battalion is usually to be positioned towards the front of the order of march.
    2.The march routes are to be especially carefully chosen.
    3.The Battalion Commander is responsible for thorough scouting. Scouting and construction of bridges, fords and narrows on the line of march are especially important. Exact study of maps and careful interpretation of available aerial photographs, as well as timely deployment of the Scouting and Combat Engineering Platoons, are necessary.
    4.During long marches, the Tiger units are not to be integrated into other armored units, for technical reasons.
    5.When crossing bridges, the capacity of which is unknown or suspect, the lighter tanks and their combat supplies are to cross before the Tigers.
    6.The average speed of the march during the day is 10-15 kmph; during the night, 7-10 kmph.
    7.Many maintenance halts are necessary during the march. Maintenance halts are to be ordered after the first 5km and every 10-15km thereafter.
    8.Roads with hard surfaces and high crowns are to be avoided.
    Obviously, there were special considerations that had to be given to Tigers on the move, especially maintenance halts, and ways to reduce wear and tear on road wheels and tracks. Probably a lot of these recommendations were ignored (especially the maintenance halts) in the heat of battle, and because so much time had to be expended changing tracks after detraining, many times Tigers went into battle on their transport tracks.

    In reality, the Tiger II was a very capable, potent fighting machine with a proven combat record of success.
    When the Tiger I went into combat, there certainly was a perceived need to counter the growing arsenal of Soviet tanks at the time, and what might be fielded in the future. But was the KT necessary given the strategic situation of Germany at the time the KT's came into service, and might pushing up the service date of the JagdPanther (which carried the same gun as the KT, and did not require engineering a whole new tank) have been a better alternative? Just a thought......
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 01-10-2011 at 20:25.

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    !! Achtung Panzer !! Senior Member PanzerJaeger's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    Quote Originally Posted by CBR View Post
    Actually I wonder about how the Panther disrupted (at least directly) the production of Panzer IV?

    Based on what I can find it was not the same factories that were involved. The Panzer IV production was hurt by one factory changing over to Sturmgeschütz IV and another to Jagdpanzer IV, leaving just one factory to keep up production.
    I distinctly remember reading that the Panther slowed down output relative to what it would have been if Panzer IV production had been the sole priority, so much so that Panzer IV production was never stopped. Possibly the author was referring to the time it took to create new machine parts and develop best practices at the factory for a different vehicle instead of setting up new Panzer IV production lines. I will try to find the source and the quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReluctantSamurai
    IIRC, it was elements of 2d Panzer that made the furthest western advance towards the Meuse, near Celles. And they did not have KT's if my OOB's are correct. Peiper's Kampfgruppe, which is what I'm assuming you are referring to, were halted in the Stoumont-Stavelot-La Gleize vicinity....some 25-30 mi to the east
    I was referring to Peiper's specific thrust to make the example that it was not the Tiger II that faltered, but the supporting troops. I was unclear in the post.


    I gather you didn't enjoy Harry's book much...
    It was a bit dryer than his other works, but it was fine for what it is - a semi-historical novel.

    The problem I have with Yeide, much like Stephen Ambrose, is that they are focused more on a narrative than reality. They are storytellers more than historians. They decide on a storyline before the book is written, and try to find facts and accounts that back it up.

    Such an approach habitually depends on firsthand accounts from veterans and primary sources such as after action reports that yield the kind of fantastical battle accounts and kill ratios(without disclaimers) that are present throughout Tank Killers, which are then repeated as fact.

    It is not hard to take such numbers apart. In the example in my post, Yeide essentially claims that American tank destroyers alone accounted for more than 83% of all German AFV losses during the Ardennes Offensive. That doesn't leave many AFVs for American tanks, self-propelled artillery, stationary artillery, anti-tank guns, bazooka teams, and aircraft; much less non-combat losses such as mechanical breakdowns, fuel shortages, and terrain related incapacitation.

    I remember reading of another such engagement in the book where Yeide claims American tank destroyers killed not just more Tigers than were lost in the specific battle, but more Tigers than were present in that sector!

    Obviously, there were special considerations that had to be given to Tigers on the move, especially maintenance halts, and ways to reduce wear and tear on road wheels and tracks. Probably a lot of these recommendations were ignored (especially the maintenance halts) in the heat of battle, and because so much time had to be expended changing tracks after detraining, many times Tigers went into battle on their transport tracks.
    Indeed, the heavy tanks were special purpose vehicles with special support requirements. However, even being used as normal tanks, after the teething issues were worked out German records indicate the tank was in fact reliable (at least by German standards ).

    When the Tiger I went into combat, there certainly was a perceived need to counter the growing arsenal of Soviet tanks at the time, and what might be fielded in the future. But was the KT necessary given the strategic situation of Germany at the time the KT's came into service, and might pushing up the service date of the JagdPanther (which carried the same gun as the KT, and did not require engineering a whole new tank) have been a better alternative? Just a thought......
    As evidenced by the Ardennes Offensive and the Lake Balaton Offensive, the Germans had need for the heavy tank role even into late '44 and '45.

    Limited-traverse gun mounted tank destroyers, such as the Jagdpanther, were highly inflexible in their function due to the need to move the entire vehicle to fix on a target, taking more time and exposing the less-armored sides. Doctrine stated that they were meant to operate on the flanks of an attack or in a staggered angle formation to counter an enemy advance in the defense. The vehicle's manual went so far as to explicitly say that the vehicle was not a tank and was not to be used in that role.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 01-11-2011 at 09:41.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Senior Member ReluctantSamurai's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    My apologies, in advance, for the length of the following post. However, the author makes some very astute observations concerning the use of the heavy Tiger battalions (IMO), and they deserve quoting. If you wish to view the original document, go to the Combined Arms Research Library (C.A.R.L). If you have any interest in military history, this is the place for you....it's been on my bookmark list for a very long time. At any rate, go to the Digital Library section and search for Maj. Christopher W. Wilbeck and/or the title of his work "Swinging the Sledgehammer". CARL doesn't allow links, hence the long-hand method of pointing out where the article is. You'll need the latest version of Adobe Acrobat to view the 149p thesis.

    Highlighted text is by me:

    The doctrine for the employment of the heavy tank battalions did not change officially during this time. This doctrine continued to be focused solely on the offensive, even though the battalions participated primarily in defensive battles. The principle of concentration, extremely important and valid in the offense, was also stressed in these defensive battles. This may have been a valid principle in the defense conceptually. In reality the limitations of the Tiger and Tiger II, along with the vast defensive frontages along which they were employed, invalidated this principle in many situations.

    When heavy tank battalions were concentrated in the defense, they were generally easier to bypass and/or were targeted for destruction by Allied armored units or from the air. The enemy naturally preferred to avoid the concentrated heavy tank battalions. When concentrated, the movement of the battalions to the threatened area reduced the operational number of Tigers because of their high maintenance requirements.

    In the defense, heavy tank battalions were most effective when employed as a reserve force to counterattack enemy penetrations instead of as a frontline force. They were also most effective when they were dispersed along the breadth of the defensive front to cover more avenues of approach. This was especially true when the terrain restricted vehicular movement to a few avenues of approach.

    When employed in the offense, heavy tank battalions achieved mixed results. Their failure can be attributed primarily to poor terrain but credit also has to be given to their enemy’s increased ability to destroy the Tiger and Tiger II by the fielding of higher caliber and velocity weapons. Also, the widespread employment of mines severely degraded the heavy tank battalion’s effectiveness in breaking through the enemy’s defenses. Operation SOUTHWIND and s.Pz.-Abt. 509’s involvement in Operation SPRING AWAKENING are two notable exceptions and examples of successful employment of heavy tank battalions in the offense. During Operation SOUTHWIND specifically, heavy tank battalions were extremely effective and important in breaking through several echelons of prepared defenses.

    The German military developed and fielded the heavy tank battalion to break through an enemy’s tactical defensive belt. These heavy tank battalions were rarely employed as a breakthrough force as originally envisioned, but rather the Germans used them primarily in the defense. Whether in the offense or the defense, its primary purpose was the destruction of enemy tanks in furtherance of operational goals.

    There are only a few examples of heavy tank battalions employed as a breakthrough force. Therefore, it is difficult to assess their effectiveness accurately in the offensive role for which they were developed, organized, and fielded. In the few instances where the German leadership employed a heavy tank battalion as a consolidated unit in the offense, it achieved credible results and was successful in penetrating at least one echelon of the defensive zone. These attacks were successful tactical breakthroughs, but they did not lead to the successful operational breakthrough that German theorists originally envisioned. The heavy tank battalions cannot, however, be entirely blamed for the failure to break through at an operational level of war as those theorists envisioned.

    If a heavy tank battalion was employed as a consolidated unit in the offense, it was capable of accomplishing its portion of breaking through the initial defensive echelon. Whether other German forces could have accomplished this task is arguable and dependent upon the situation, primarily the terrain and composition of enemy forces.

    A Tiger equipped heavy tank battalion had three major deficiencies in the breakthrough battle. First, when the Tigers attacked, the enemy was able to correctly deduce the area of the German main effort. Secondly, Tiger equipped heavy tank battalions were unable to achieve a quick breakthrough, usually requiring an extended amount of time to overcome enemy antitank guns, tanks, and mine fields. If the Tigers had been able to quickly break through the enemy defenses, the first deficiency may not have mattered because other German armored forces would have been able to exploit the breakthrough before the enemy could react. Even these two deficiencies might have been overcome if the Tiger had the ability to exploit their own breakthrough. Although these units were not developed for this, the limited radius of action and high maintenance requirements precluded them from exploiting any breakthrough achieved.

    When theorists conceived heavy tank battalions, they thought that defenses would only consist of one, or at most a few, defensive lines. As the war progressed, armies of all sides extended their defensive depth so that there were many defensive echelons to penetrate. This extension of the defense was an effective counter to the heavy tank battalions.

    The increased number and effective ness of antitank guns, as well as the prolific use of mines, also limited the effectiveness of the heavy tank battalions in the offense. These measures, employed in depth, made achieving a deep breakthrough extremely difficult. The Tiger helped in penetrating heavy defenses, but never really solved the problem of restoring offensive mobility and movement to the German Army on a tactical or operational level.

    In the defense, heavy tank battalions achieved mixed results depending upon many different factors. Heavy tank battalions performed defensive missions far more often than offensive missions. These defensive missions included counterattacks forward to re-establish the front line, occupying front line defensive positions with or without infantry support, and as a reserve force to counter-attack enemy penetrations behind the front line. Generally, even a portion of a heavy tank battalion could defend against an enemy force much more numerous in tanks. If there was an alternative, enemy units bypassed heavy tank battalions rather than attacking them. After being bypassed, the heavy tank battalions became a liability because they could not be repositioned easily and required a large amount of logistic support to do so.
    Despite its shortcomings, a measure of the heavy tank battalion’s effectiveness, in the offense or defense, can be gauged by the emphasis and level of attention accorded them by their opponents. The Soviets fielded many new weapons and implemented numerous organizational changes to counter the heavy tank battalions. The British conducted several studies of the Tiger, and of the heavy tank battalions, in an attempt to identify weaknesses of each. The Allied intelligence estimate of German forces in the west prior to D-day shows that the heavy tank battalions were the only unit below divisional size that the Allies posted on their theater intelligence map. These examples show that Germany’s enemies took the threat of the heavy tank battalions very seriously and thus provide testimony to their effectiveness.

    Despite the success of the heavy tank battalions in destroying enemy tanks, there were deficiencies in the organization and equipment and areas that could have been improved. Almost all of these deal directly or indirectly with Tiger and Tiger II technical and mechanical problems.

    These tanks were effective as tank killing weapons, which is evident from the kill ratios. Another virtue of the tanks was that they were very survivable. Frequently when a Tiger was damaged and was subsequently destroyed by its crew, the crew managed to escape capture and return to its unit. This had the benefit of creating experienced crews. These benefits came at a cost in other areas however.

    The high degree of maintenance required to keep the Tiger and Tiger II tanks operable was one of their biggest deficiencies. This usually resulted in a low operational rate for tanks within the heavy tank battalions, especially after extended periods of combat. The tendency of the Tigers to break down, coupled with the weight of the tanks, made recovery difficult. The failure to field a suitable recovery vehicle, with the exception of the Bergpanther, or to field them in sufficient quantities, resulted in the loss of Tigers in many instances.

    Another deficiency of the Tiger was its extremely limited radius of action. When this was included with the Tiger’s maintenance requirements, heavy tank battalions were limited in their ability to conduct mobile operations across an extended area. The Allies exploited this fact during the numerous and frequent operational and strategic withdrawals of the heavy tank battalions. The result of these deficiencies is clearly seen by the number of tanks destroyed by their own crews.

    After considering the limitations of the Tiger and realizing that the preponderance of missions given to heavy tank battalions were defensive in nature, it is puzzling that the Germans did not develop and publish more guidance and doctrine to meet these facts. The German military leaders stressed the concept of concentration, whether in the offense or the defense. In several instances when the German Army adhered to this principle in the defense, the heavy tank battalion was unable to respond in time or with sufficient combat power to stop the enemy penetrations.

    A prerequisite for employing heavy tank battalions as a mobile reserve or as a counterattack force to defeat enemy penetrations was for them to have greater, or at least comparable, mobility and radius of action than the enemy formations they were attempting to defeat. If this criterion was met, then the principle of concentration in the defense might also be applicable. In many instances, because of the deficiencies and limitations of the Tiger, this criterion was not met. In these cases, enemy armored formations attacked in areas absent of heavy tank battalions. This led to many forced operational and strategic withdrawals, during which many Tigers broke down or ran out of fuel. Often, because they could not be recovered, this led to their destruction.

    In light of these facts, heavy tank battalions may have been more effective if they had adopted a principle of dispersion in the defense in order to cover more avenues of approach or more defensive frontage. A prime example of the effectiveness of this tactic was s.Pz.-Abt. 502, which operated primarily with Army Group North around Leningrad and in the Baltic states. This area was heavily wooded and swampy, and armored mobility was reduced to the roads. Because of this, the battalion rarely operated as a concentrated unit. Instead, it was spread out and broken down to very small elements to effectively cover all the available armored avenues of approach. This battalion achieved the second highest kill total of all of the battalions and produced the highest overall kill ratio.

    The German heavy tank battalions were an effective combat unit during World War II for killing enemy tanks. They achieved a high kill ratio during both offensive and defensive missions. The German military developed the heavy tank battalion and the Tiger and Tiger II tanks to destroy enemy tanks, whether in the offense or defense. Heavy tank battalions were successful in this area, but their overall kill ratio was reduced because of forced withdrawals over extended distances. These withdrawals caused the loss of many Tigers and highlighted the deficiencies in the Tiger and in the lack of recovery assets within the heavy tank battalions themselves.

    The heavy tank battalions were hindered by the failure to adhere to German doctrine on their employment in the offense. German commanders, in several instances, failed to commit a consolidated, concentrated heavy tank battalion in a major attack. During their few offensive missions, heavy tank battalions failed to achieve an operational breakthrough, although they were able to penetrate the first echelon defenses. The German heavy tank battalions were also hindered by the lack of a coherent, published defensive doctrine based upon the realities and weaknesses of the Tiger.

    German commanders continued to stress the importance of concentration in the defense. This was not always an invalid concept, but the lack of dispersal in the defense often denied heavy tanks the ability to counter enemy penetrations in time and with sufficient force. Conversely, in numerous cases where heavy tank battalions dispersed their forces behind the entire frontage, they were very successful at destroying enemy tanks and thus, had a better chance to stop the enemy penetration.
    Last edited by ReluctantSamurai; 01-11-2011 at 19:12.

  30. #30
    Member Member KrooK's Avatar
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    Default Re: In Defense of the German Tiger II Tank (Warning - Pic Heavy Post)

    I have a question - maybe not directly connected with "Tiger Cry" presented above but ... :)
    Were later German tanks (Leopard and Leopard II) being based on Tiger or Panther line? Or they were completely inconnected projects?
    John Thomas Gross - liar who want put on Poles responsibility for impassivity of American Jews during holocaust

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