"Tiger" in the Royal Museum of Armored Vehicles in Bovington.
But this is a homemade "Tigr" by V. Verevochkin, unfortunately, now deceased, from the village of B. Oyosh near Novosibirsk.
So today we have to collect crumbs from unpublished memoirs, which were written on the table, “for ourselves”, to seek out data in dissertations and archives. But again - such a work can afford a historian. But the filmmaker ... it is unlikely. He should trust someone, and to whom? A person in uniform or a historian from the archive? Or collect a “consultation” of experts, and let them decide together? Well, if not together?
And this is how it looks in Samur near Paris ...
In my time I read a number of books on tanks "Tiger", and I was struck by some specific circumstances of their combat use. And it is precisely these circumstances that this material is written in the form of a peculiar ... film script.
Tanks have arrived! Please note that the outer row of wheels on them is removed, and instead of combat tracks, transport ones are put on.
So, it all starts with the fact that somewhere in the fall of 1943 of the year a separate tank unit arrives on the line of the Soviet-German front, equipped with Tiger tanks, whose task is a counter-attack on the Soviet troops in the area where they are showing ever-increasing activity. "Russian should diminish arrogance" considers the command, well, and it is equipped with tanks directly from the factory, and their crews consist of both experienced and very young tankers. The commander is a young, but already having combat experience officer Pancervaffe on the tank "Happy Tiger". Other cars have the names: “Tiny Gratchen”, “Fat Gustav”, “Steel Drill”, “Infernal Chariot”, etc.
Let it be the protagonist of our film: obruleytenant Rudolf Knauf. Not a fascist, but devoted to the Führer and Germany, a soldier to the bone, accustomed to taking care of his subordinates.
Tanks begin to unload from the railway platforms, and it should be emphasized that they are “shod” in narrow, so-called “transport tracks”, and combat profits along with them. They are also unloaded, after which the tanks begin to “pereobuvat”, but since each such 2,5 caterpillar weighs tons, the work is slow and requires the efforts of all five crew members.
Of course, this is not a shot from “this film,” but the Tigers' tank crews spent their leisure time like this.
And it is here that the Pe-2 Soviet dive bombers hit the station, located about a hundred kilometers from the front line. It is clear that the Tigers from the ground are covered by anti-aircraft gunners, Messerschmitts are patrolling in the sky, but ... the pawns are attacking desperately and one of the bombs hits straight into the "ragged" tiger, which cannot even go to the nearest woods, because his crew of the best intentions, of course, hurried to remove the transport tracks from him, but I did not have time to put on the combat because of their weight! So part of it loses its first tank literally a couple of hours after unloading, without making a single shot. “Welcome to the war!” Say infantry soldiers to young smart tankers.
“Something is not knocking like that ...”
With a delay of four hours, the movement begins. Along with the tanks, several “251” soldiers are moving, including 20-mm anti-aircraft guns, a tractor, a mobile repair shop, that is, a whole caravan. But it moves slowly. The road is solid dirt, in which more than one car is stuck. In principle, you can go through the fields of winter crops, but there is also the famous Russian black soil, for the first tank to drive past there are layers of black, twisted earth that is packed between the wheels. The situation is not saved by the wide tracks, so that until nightfall this tank unit does not go even half the intended distance.
Damaged and outdated "tigers" had to be towed like this. By the way, two wheels from the outside row have already lost this tank somewhere!
Overnight stay in a small village with thatched houses. True, in the courtyards, where the German units were already quartered, there are comfortable and clean latrines built from the boards of the owners' sheds, since the German soldiers cannot use what the masters themselves use because of disgust.
Tankers are so tired that they fall asleep, barely reaching the warm houses, which, by the way, policemen from the local guard. Meanwhile, two partisans make their way to one of the houses through the thickets of dry nettle. The benefit of the “booth” for the Germans is near the fence, they dig a trench under it and, because ... it is rarely used and the contents are still slightly in it, one of them climbs into the pit! And now one of the tankers in the middle of the night goes to the toilet and ... a captured German bayonet plunges him into one place right up to the handle!
The commander notes that there is no guy for a long time, he goes in search, and as a result he finds a corpse! The next morning they bury the poor man, write in his letter home that he fell in a fierce battle, and the policeman who was guarding this house ... was shot so that others could serve as they should. Depressed by such a ridiculous death of their comrade, tankers are trying to continue, but this was not the case. At night, a severe frost unexpectedly hit, causing the dirt that had piled up between the wheels to freeze so that the wheels of the tigers could not be turned. Two tanks flew transmissions while attempting to move them, while one tank had a toothed crown in the drive wheel. Another two tanks burst torsion. As a result, only four tanks could move on and that only after the dirt between the wheels was washed off with hot water, which had to be heated with buckets, and five cars had to be repaired immediately. In order to replace the torsions, it was necessary to remove six wheels from each of them, and then another 12 from two adjacent ones in order to be able to get close to it. The ring gear is changed fairly quickly, but it is impossible to replace transmissions in field conditions, so the 251, together with the towing vehicle, tows these tanks back to the station.
Four tanks, and then the fifth tank that caught up with them, move on, and it turns out that fuel consumption has exceeded all standards and tanks are at risk of reaching the front line with completely dry tanks. The tank trucks are urgently called, and they arrive, but not all — the damned partisans are undermining one along the way.
So “Tiger” had to be refilled from the barrel, and he needed a lot of barrels!
Tanks become at a gas station, which is observed by Soviet intelligence from the nearest forest through binoculars, and immediately reports this by radio. True, the commander of the tank unit is not very worried that they have to refuel during the day and not at night - after all, cloud cover is very low, and in such weather aviation usually does not fly.
Absolutely terrible Russian roads!
And here on a low-level flight from the nearby fishing line Soviet attack aircraft appear. They lead by the farm, near which there are tanks and gasoline tank trucks, heavy fire from cannons and machine guns, they release ereses, drop bombs with a clockwork mechanism. Tankers rejoice: the shells of Russian aviation cannons only sparks from Krupp armor, the erasi fly inaccurately and do not fall into the tanks, the bombs also fall past the target, so all the tanks seem to be intact. Not lucky tankers! All of them are riddled with bullets and flare up like torches, one takes off into the air and the tank standing next to it lights up! As a result, there are only four tanks left, and the supply of fuel for them is limited.
The speed at the level of a pedestrian, and it is not surprising: you cannot accelerate chernozem!
The commander of the unit agrees with the command that refueling will be carried out at night by the river, seven kilometers from the front line, which they will have to force to get there.
Since the ground is frozen, the tanks go quickly and stay to the place of the crossing even before the pontoon park manages to get there. Have to wait. Snow crumbled from the sky, but then a thaw suddenly begins and everything around again turns to dirt. Even tankers have to cope with the need while standing on a tank, because otherwise poods of dirt are guaranteed on boots, and how will you get into the tank with such legs?
Then the pontoon park arrives, the pontoons are lowered into the water, but it turns out that tanks cannot enter them on combat tracks and again they have to be “re-packed”. Only now, when they are all in the dirt, it is much more difficult to do.
And it was possible and so stuck, for the most "I do not want"!
Unable to withstand, the tank commander "Fat Gustav" suggests trying to move to that bank on a wooden bridge located nearby. The bridge looks quite strong, and if the tank is lightened to the limit, freed from ammunition, machine guns, drained the fuel, and then accelerated to maximum speed, then he may be able to slip through to the other side. Of course, the instruction of such experiments forbids, but the commander sees that here in Russia no instructions are valid, and he allows his tankman to act at his own peril and risk, all the more so since he referred to Jules Verne as a child — the novel Around the World in eighty days ”, where exactly the railway train crosses the bridge over the precipice. "Fat Gustav" "exposes", his commander himself sits in the driver's seat, accelerates his tank, drives off to the bridge, and ... falls through the flooring in the very middle of it!
Well, to change the torsion in such mud was real torture! Photo is, however, made in Italy, but the dirt, and in Italy it is dirt!
He is unable to get out of the tank, and it is hardly possible to save him - because the water is icy, and the tank, in addition to everything else, has fallen upwards with caterpillars and is stuck in thick mud.
To replace the torsion - and they, because of the large weight of the "tigers", broke down quite often, again, it was required to remove entire 18 wheels, nine from each side.
Meanwhile, the Soviet army intelligence continues to observe and report, and now several Katyushas are being deployed right next to the advanced beam, and as soon as the first tank is on the pontoon in the middle of the river, they open fire. Missiles fly one after another, the river is covered with fountains of ruptures, and now one of the pontoon with the tank rolls over and sinks.
But froze, and the tanks went a lot faster!
Two tanks nevertheless are forwarded to that shore, they are met and ... the commander is asked with surprise, but where are the other vehicles? The next morning a tank attack on Russian positions is planned, even old Czech tanks will be involved, and there are only two so much awaited “tigers”!
To stop on the side of the road near the forest was not recommended to the German tankmen, especially if their tank was defective. You never know ...
The morning begins with the rumble of artillery preparation, after which the German tanks with two "tigers" at the head start moving. The artillery is beating at the approaching tanks from the Russian trenches, the PTRs are firing, the cars that come up close are being bombarded with grenades and bottles of flammable liquid. And there is no special "strain" in everything that happens. The infantry skillfully fires, the armored fighters shoot accurately, machine guns, as it should be, cut off the infantry from the tanks with fire. There is, in general, a fairly everyday combat work and it is gradually becoming clear: this is not the 41 now! One 38 (t) tank lights up, then the German T-III and T-IV with a short gun, but both “tigers” stubbornly creep forward. And then one of them practically beats the 122-mm corps gun, which still remained in silence, and with the very first blow it blows down the turret. However, she does not have time to make the second shot. She is noticed by the commander of the "Happy Tiger" and falls asleep in her position with shells.
Last preparations before the battle.
Russian defense seems to be broken, the infantry broke into the trenches. But in the rear they have five tanks T-34 arr. 42 of the year with Mickey Mouse hatches. They begin to move, and in a wide arc they embrace a crawling forward "tiger", accompanied by infantry supporting it. “Shoot like an exercise! “The commander orders, first at the far left, then everyone else in an arc!” And yes, indeed, at first, the shell of the Hitler tank breaks the caterpillar from the farthest and furthest tank. The crew throws a smoke bomb on the armor and pretends that the tank has been destroyed.
The second gets more. He shell hit the board, and he lights up in the present. Tankers in burning overalls jump into the snow and that’s the only way they escape. Two tanks, reaching to the right, are also being destroyed by the shells of the "Tiger" one by one, but the fifth, fifth, in the meantime, reaches the direct shot range and thrusts a projectile into his side. "Tiger" twitches and also begins to burn, and its commander, along with the rest of the crew run to flee to the rear. And here the tank smoked by a smoke grenade comes to life on the left flank, and it is accepted to peel at fleeing Fritz in black overalls from a cannon and a machine gun. One commander rescues, gets to the headquarters, where he finds out that Cossacks broke through to the rear, that the Russian tanks for some reason turned out to be larger than expected, their artillery was hurricane fire, and there were practically no reserves. the front line "along the river, because the Russians will not be able to force it right away.
Two "tiger" moved to the attack.
The loud “Hurray!” Of the Soviet infantry that had risen to the counterattack, is already heard very close, the IL-2 attack aircraft again appear in the sky and ... seeing that the situation is worse than ever, the commander of the “Happy Tiger” on the last staff vehicle runs across the river. Then he repeats all the way to the station and on it he meets all his broken and lagging tanks. None of their crews survived. The partisans killed someone at night, and their corpses were lying around with the cars standing, and someone just disappeared somewhere, and the tank was still stuck in mud, and it was. At the station, they ask him where his part is, where the people are, and he answers that both the people and the tanks remained all there, in the east, where at that very time a crimson sunset is burning in the sky.
Well, from our side, these machines will have to fight, and not the T-34 / 85 from the liberation film epic. Because this was twice as difficult as those that appeared later. And those who sat in them, because everyone knew about these tanks and knew about the “tiger” tanks, but they still did their job and did it well, no matter what!
The most interesting thing is that the events described here are not invented (even if it is a “cinema”), and all somehow took place in reality, although, of course, not at the same time and not in the same place