That battle broke out near the village of Zanka, Zhytomyr Region, on December 7, 1943. At dawn, the Germans attacked their strongest Tanks Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H Tiger. Three combat vehicles were in the observation sector of the crew of the second lieutenant Vasily Ermolaev. Vasily Ermolaev didn’t beat them in the forehead, he let him in at close range, waited for one of the Tigers to set up the side, and opened fire. A few shots and he caught fire. Then another one broke out. There was nothing to fire at the third - the sub-caliber shells ended. Only they could break through the thick armor of the Tiger. Now Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H could deal with the T-34 without difficulty. A shot rumbled, and the flame swept Ermolaev’s “thirty-four”. But the crew continued to fight, the T-34 rushed at full speed towards the Tiger and crashed into it. Both cars exploded. Guard tank commander Junior Lieutenant Vasily Ermolaev and guard mechanic sergeant Andrei Timofeev was posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Of the 6 tanks destroyed by the crew in that battle, 4 were the strongest tanks of Nazi Germany — the Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H Tiger.
During the fierce battles of the Great Patriotic War, it was not up to consider which of our tankmen destroyed the newest heavy German tanks Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger", Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.В "The Royal Tiger", Рz.Kpfw V Ausf.G "Panther" (in the Wehrmacht was considered an average tank, weight - 45 tons). And to burn such cars was far from easy.
Let's compare the tactical and technical characteristics of Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H and T-34. The thirty-four weighs 28,5 tons, and the Tiger weighs more than 55 tons, the armor of the Soviet tank 52-45 is mm, and the Tiger is 102-82 mm. In service with the T-34 of the first editions was the 76,2-mm gun, while the Hitler machine had an 88-mm long-barreled gun. "Thirty" could hit "Tiger" only in the board with a distance from 300 to 500 meters, and then only with a sabot projectile. And the T-34 Tiger is from the 1,5-2 km distance, being out of range of the thirty-fours guns. In short, the tanks Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H were a very formidable opponent. In the Soviet press of the war years, they wrote that the "Tigers" were burning in battle, like matches. This is certainly not the case. And then, heavy German tanks were often confused with medium-sized Pz.Kpfw IV tanks that had been modernized to madness, in which, starting with 1942, they pulled out the barrel of the gun, strengthened the armor to at least equalize it with the T-34.
The Pz.Kpfw V Ausf.G "Panther" characteristics were inferior to the Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger", this tank was produced as an alternative to the T-34. However, it almost turned out to be a heavy tank, at the same time - the best tank of Hitler’s “Panzervaffe”, one of the strongest tanks of the Second World War, and posed a great threat to Soviet combat vehicles. The main tactical and technical characteristics of the "Panther" are as follows. Combat weight - 44,8 T. Crew - 5 man. Armament: one 75-mm cannon, two machine guns. Ammunition - 79 shells, 4200 cartridges. Armor: the front of the hull is 80 mm, the side is 50-mm, the tower is 110 mm. The maximum speed is 50 km / h, the range on the highway is 200 km. The fascist leadership planned to produce up to 600 machines per month, but the plans were unrealized. The record release - 400 pieces - came out only in the summer of 1944.
The commander of the Central Front, Army General K.K. Rokossovsky examines the captured German self-propelled gun "Elephant". On the armor are well visible dents from shells
The German self-propelled guns proved to be a dangerous opponent - tank destroyers "Elephant" ("Elephant", originally called "Ferdinand" in honor of designer Ferdinand Porsche). Armed with 88-mm cannon, they pierced 180-mm and 200-mm armor from 1000 meters with armor-piercing and sub-caliber shells, respectively. "Elephanta" participated in the battles on the northern face of the Kursk salient and in the autumn battles of 1943 on the right-bank Ukraine - near Nikopol and in the Zhytomyr region and proved to be a dangerous opponent of tanks. The Elephant self-propelled gun was released a little - 90 units, and of course they could not strongly influence the course of military operations.
German tanks Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger", Рz.Kpfw V Ausf.G "Panther", as well as tank destroyers "Elephant" on the Soviet-German front were massively used in July of the 1943 in the Battle of the Kursk Bulge. For half a year they were confronted by a heavy KV-1 tank (KV-1С) with a 76,2-mm cannon (barrel length 41,5 klb), with armor parts of the hull increased to 105 mm, medium T-34 / 76 tanks and even T-28, entered service in 1933 year. The crews of the Soviet machines had to show the highest skill in order to win the duel against the "Tiger". Our tankers from ambushes acted professionally. He was also rescued by the fact that, for example, the Thirty-Four was a very manoeuvrable machine. Yielding to the "Tigers" in the power of fire, she, in capable hands, often effectively opposed them.
In the winter of 1944, more powerful T-34 / 85 tanks began to be delivered to the Guards tank units (the T-85 long-barreled 34-mm cannon was installed in the T-quad with an increased thickness of armor). In parallel with the T-85 / 2, the heavy tank EC-122, later recognized as the strongest tank of the Second World War, was also sent to the troops. The 1943-mm semi-automatic tank gun of the 1,5 model of the year installed on it had muzzle energy 88 times as large as that of the 500-mm Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H gun. At a distance of 25 meters, a projectile weighing 790 kg and an initial speed of 140 m / s punched armor with a thickness of up to 2 mm. IS-120 itself had a booking 90-1944 mm. The baptism of "Joseph Stalin" received a baptism of battle near Korsun-Shevchenkovsky in February of XNUMX, where they showed their unrivaled fighting qualities. The command of the Wehrmacht forbade its tankmen to enter into open fights with them ... But in practice, the most massive Soviet combat vehicles - “thirty-fours” - often entered the duel with the strongest German tanks.
The crews of the Thirty-Fours of General Mikhail Katukov’s 1 Tank Army gained fame as real hunters on the Tigers in the Battle of Kursk, that is, when the Wehrmacht for the first time massively used their newest heavy tanks.
7 July 1943, the Oboyan highway near the small village of Yakovlev was defended by a company of guard Lieutenant Vladimir Bochkovsky from the 1 Guards Tank Brigade. At dawn, the Tigers 7 and two infantry regiments appeared on the highway. A little later, at about four o'clock in the morning, in the light of the rising sun, three more tank columns with “Tigers” appeared. Immediately I heard the roar of the bombers. Around 60, enemy aircraft came from different sides and began to hit the entire area in front of the tanks, "spreading" the "carpet" in front of their vehicles. This did not bother the Soviet tankers. All day eight “thirty-fours” fought off attacks.
Because of the shelters, they hit the enemy's cars neatly, not allowing themselves to be discovered. The determination of the Nazis diminished in the first minutes of the battle, which soon became chaotic. It was then that the crew of Lieutenant Georgy Bessarabov’s guard opened his account of the destroyed heavy fascist tanks. Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H became the third tank, which he burned by noon. Bessarabov destroyed him from ambush, when he set up the board. And then the crew won the duel with the crews of the two "Tigers".
“By evening, the fascists apparently guessed that only a handful of tankers were acting against them, and resumed attacks against the Bochkovsky company with tripled energy,” General Mikhail Katukov later told the commander. - “Messers” hung over the village. One of the bombs exploded next to the machine guard Lieutenant Sokolov. Tank, tilted, moved into a deep funnel. Lieutenant Bochkovsky took the padded “thirty-four” in tow, but the car did not yield. A German tanks very close. All this time, Georgy Bessarabov covered his comrades with armor of his car and fought back against the attacking "Tigers". Despite the dramatic situation, Bochkovsky handed the second tug to Sokolov. The rescue was already near, but one German shell landed in the car - the gun barrel flew away from it, the flame shot up above the engine. Guard lieutenant Sokolov was killed. Under a hail of shells, the caterpillar was torn off from Lieutenant Bochkovsky's tank. The company ordered his crew to pull the caterpillar, but another explosion — the languages of fire ran down the Bochkovsky car. Crews of wrecked tanks and four motorized infantry, to the last to defend their line, climbed onto the armor of the Bessar-Bova machine, and maneuvering among the gaps, she went to the villages.
In the morning, a company of five vehicles again stood in the way of the German offensive. In just two days of fighting, the tank crews of the company destroyed the enemy's 23 tank, including several Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger". 3 "Tigra" burned the crew of the guard Lieutenant George Bessarabov.
Heavy heavy tank Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. H "Tiger" on the road near Kiev
The brave officer will increase his account of the destroyed Hitler tanks in battles for the liberation of Ukraine. He will burn 12 enemy tanks, of which 4 "Tiger".
29 December 1943-th in the battles for the city Kazatin George Bessarabov was killed.
7 The Tigers destroyed the tank crew of the 1 Tank Army (200 Tank Brigade) Lieutenant Mikhail Zamula.
8 July 1943, his company held a defense near the village of Verkhopenie. When Zamula saw that two groups of enemy tanks bypassed the village, and the third was moving straight along the hollow to the position of the company, I realized that they wanted to take him into ticks. He sent one platoon to meet the enemy who was trying to bypass the company, and the other - hid in a hollow, his car - behind the smoky nearby "Tiger". Zamula saw the enemy well, remaining unnoticed by him. In vain the enemy tried to break through the village and its environs. The Thirty-Fours jumped out of their shelters and hit the Tigers' sides. Despite their superiority in strength, the Nazis never managed to bring down our tank barrier. Having left about two dozen cars on the battlefield, they were forced to retreat. 9 tanks (including the Tigger 4) and 3 self-propelled guns destroyed the crew of Lieutenant Zamuly.
In total for 8 and 9 in July 1943, he burned 17 enemy tanks (of which 7 Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger"), 5 self-propelled guns and 1 BTR. It was in those days that the radio communication of the German air reconnaissance aircraft was intercepted. Its text read: “Russians are not retreating. They stand at the same turn. Our tanks stopped. They are burning.
The tank assists also include the commander of the T-34 tank of the 1 tank army, Lieutenant Grigory Brazhnikov, and the commander of the EC-2 tank from the 2 shock army (30-I separate heavy tank brigade), Lieutenant Ivan Hitsenko.
Gregory Brazhnikov distinguished himself in battles at Kursk. Initially, his crew destroyed one medium tank Рz.Kpfw III and one Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger". But then, in one of the fights, Brazhnikov managed to shoot 350 “Tigger” with 400-4 meters from a distance, spending 8 shells on them. True, the lieutenant got carried away and, in the heat of battle, did not notice the fifth man, who managed to deliver a fatal blow to his Thirty-Four. Fortunately, the crew remained intact.
Padded German tank "Tiger II" with the Soviet trophy number 300
Lieutenant Khitsenko participated in the breakthrough of enemy defenses near the city of Ruzan (Poland). 15 January 1945-th crew of his tank entered into an unequal battle with the enemy's 10 heavy tanks and 5 of them hit. In the same battle, the brave tanker was killed.
The ace for the destruction of heavy fascist tanks can be considered the tank commander of the 13-th Guards Tank Brigade (4-th Guards Tank, Corps, 60-I Army) Guards Junior Lieutenant Ivan Golub. In December, he destroyed 1943 tank Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H "Tiger" and 3 tank Рz.Kpfw V Ausf.G "Panther" in battles near Zhytomyr in December.
On the 1-th Ukrainian front, Ivan Golub arrived on December 6 on the 1943-th after the end of the Orlovka armored school and soon distinguished himself in the battles near Zhytomyr. On one of the days of the “thirty-four” offensive, Ivan Golub rushed in with the other tanks into the village of Genovychi, destroying several guns and vehicles in ten minutes. However, the Nazis launched a counterattack. Ivan Golub was able to deftly put a tank into cover and disguise it well. When the two "Tigers" approached the village, the crew shot down the first tank from the first shot. Another tried to hide in a dell. Golub went around to the left high-rise and met him on a vantage point. This car also flashed.
24 December forty-third began Zhytomyr-Berdichev operation. Six days later, in the evening of 31, the “thirty-four” of Ivan Golub was the first of the advancing Soviet tanks to be on the outskirts of the village High Furnace of the Zhytomyr region, where Hitler’s technology was grouped. Skillfully using the surprise of his appearance, the crew destroyed three “Tigers”, two “Panthers”, 5 guns and many infantrymen with accurate shots.
Thus, Junior Lieutenant Ivan Golub for the twenty December days recorded at his own expense 5 destroyed the newest machines of the enemy, becoming one of the tank fighter aces. Unfortunately, Ivan Golub could not increase it. 5 January 1944 of the year in a battle near the village of Gordievka, Zhytomyr region, where his crew disabled several guns of an enemy battery, a young officer was killed. In his last attack, having spent the ammunition, he sent the tank to the enemy firing positions.
Hero of the Soviet Union Guards Junior Lieutenant V.Ermolaev
The 4 of the Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H tank was destroyed by the tank commander of the 12 Guards Tank Brigade (1 of the Ukrainian Front) junior lieutenant Vasily Yermolaev. 3 "Tigra" on the account of the commander of the T-34 tank, Lieutenant Grigory Chesak from the 10 Guards Urals Volunteer Tank Corps, distinguished himself in battles in Ukraine, outside the city of Fridrihivka (now Volochinsk) in March 1944. The same number of menacing machines on the account of the platoon commander of the 14-th tank regiment (1-I tank army), Lieutenant N. Laiseikin. Of the nine tanks destroyed by him in one of the battles on the Kursk Bulge, three were Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H. Three “Tigers” and two medium tanks Рz.Kpfw III in the 3-s hour battle at Kursk destroyed the crew of tank Lieutenant M. Frolov from the 178-th tank brigade (10-th tank Dneprovsky Corps of Suvorov). 3 "Tiger" was struck during the fighting on the Kursk Bulge crew tank of the same brigade of guards foreman Alexander Milyukov. 3 "Tigra" from 18 destroyed on the account of the platoon commander and crew of the T-34 tank 45-th Guards Tank Brigade (1-I tank army) Guards Lieutenant Vladimir Maksakov.
Hero of the Soviet Union guard sergeant A.Timofeev
In August, the 1944 of the year on the Sandomierz bridgehead, the German command sought to defeat the formation of Soviet troops entrenched on the west bank of the Vistula. A German 501 heavy tank battalion with super heavy tanks Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.In the Royal Tiger arrived in the frontline strip, near the Polish village of Ogljanów, which was pre-cordoned off by the SS, ... The Royal Tiger ...
In the tank crew "thirty" (T-34 / 85) there were five of them. The commander is junior lieutenant Alexander Oskin, mechanic-driver senior sergeant Alexander Stetsenko, gun commander sergeant Abubakir Merkhaidarov, gunner-radio operator Alexander Grudinin and charging junior sergeant Alexey Khalychev. One evening, the order was received by the commander of the 53 Guards Tank Brigade (she was part of the 6 Q. Tank Corps, 3 of the Guards Tank Army, 1 of the Ukrainian Front) to go to the Polish settlement Oglendov and conduct reconnaissance. Oskin gave the command, and the thirty-three went to the west. On the armor of the car settled down. It was not possible to enter Oglenduv. On the outskirts the crew noticed German tanks, there were more than a dozen of them, there was no point in engaging in combat. After driving a safe distance, Oskin contacted the brigade headquarters, from where he received an order - to take a comfortable position, continue observation, act according to the situation.
"Thirty-four" froze on a sloping field in front of the village. He was separated by a deep ravine, followed by the road to the east of Oglendów, so that control could be maintained. The crew immediately began to mask the car sheaves. For credibility, they laid down the same large stacks in other places in the field. The night passed quietly. At dawn, Oskin noticed how a column of heavy, clumsy cars appeared from the Oglenduva side. They looked unusual and formidable.
Soviet officers inspect the destroyed heavy tank "Royal Tiger". Balasnodi Road - Armat, Hungary
“They look like Tigers,” Merhaidarov said. - But not they. Maybe the Panthers?
The commander of the crew understood: you will not take new cars in the forehead. It is better to hit the sides. Such an opportunity presents itself, heavy tanks will go on the road. And he was not mistaken. Soon the column stretched out along the ravine, moreover, it somehow stopped. Immediately fourteen cars framed the side under the 85-mm gun "thirty-four." Oskin decided to hit the lead tank. Shot rang out. Hits - right under the tower.
The second shell hit the side. Having destroyed armor, he set fire to the fuel tanks. The flame danced over the broken machine. It mercilessly devoured the new brainchild of the Henschel company. Another torch flared on the opposite side of the ravine.
The Nazis swept panic. Their tanks began to depart in Ogleduv. And only the third giant, who stood directly against the Thirty-Four, got ready for battle, sending a cannon to the Soviet machine. Now everything was decided by seconds.
- I do not see the goal! - excitedly reported Merhaidarov.
Camouflage sheaf closed the lens sight. Oskin leaned to the waist from the tower, the sheaf flew off to the side. A shot rang out, and the third “Royal” broke out in the predawn gloom.
By that time, reinforcements arrived. Soviet tankers went on the offensive. "Thirty-Four" Oskina on the shoulders of the retreating Hitler unit broke into Oglenduv. The royal tiger 3 stood in a village without movement. Crews, apparently, were preparing for an offensive, but they expected that they would be brought into battle secondarily, and therefore tankers were not there. The SS, guarding the tanks, did not provide significant resistance. The enemy's 3 tank was captured. Already later, the crew of Alexander Oskin found out that they had shot down and captured the newest Hitler machine Pz.Kpfw VI Ausf.X in the “Royal Tiger” 6.
Trophy German technology in CPKIO them. Gorky in Moscow in the autumn of 1945 year
“Royal tigers” were shown to the commander of the 3 tank army Pavel Rybalko. He was amazed at their size and extremely surprised that the Thirty-Four managed to deal with these menacing tanks. Soon one of the giants was exhibited in the Moscow Gorky Park of Culture and Recreation - for public viewing. (According to other data, the crew of Oskin in that battle destroyed the tanks Pz.Kpfw IV)
Unfortunately, this is still the only known result of the fights of the Soviet tankers with the strongest enemy tanks. True, the memoirs literature describes an episode when our tankers captured the 13 serviceable "Royal Tigers".
During the fighting on the same Sandomir bridgehead, the tank battalion of Major Vladimir Zhukov (1-I Guards Tank Army) during a night attack in one of the settlements came across 16 unknown German tanks. The crews were not there - they slept in village houses. The attack was so sudden that only three crews managed to jump into the hatches of their tanks and carry away what is called legs.
Note: in his article, the author used the simplified notation of German tanks, used previously in the domestic literature - T-VIH, T-VIB, T-VG. In the text, they are replaced by Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.H, Рz.Kpfw VI Ausf.В and Рz.Kpfw V Ausf.G respectively.