History create tank very long and confusing. The development of a new heavy tank under the Panzerkampfwagen VI program began at the end of January 1937, when Henschel received an order for the design of a combat vehicle under the symbol DW1 (Durchbruchwagen - breakout vehicle). In parallel with the Henschel company, the Porsche company worked on the project of the new heavy tank (Dr. Porsche was generally the Führer’s favorite). Both companies created their own chassis options by 1941, the VK 3001 (H) and VK 3001 (P), by 1941. But in May 20, during a meeting at Berghof, Hitler proposed a new concept of a heavy tank, which had increased firepower and armor protection and was designed to become the shock force of tank formations, each of which was supposed to have XNUMX such vehicles.
In the light of the Fuhrer's proposals and taking into account the test results of experienced heavy tanks, tactical and technical requirements were developed, and then an order was given for the development of the VK 4501 tank. It was supposed to make prototypes by May - June 1942 of the year. Already finished tank platforms had to be created almost anew. The competition of both firms reached its climax in the spring of 1942, when both cars, equipped with the same towers from Friedrich Krupp AG, arrived at the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia for demonstration tests.
Third Reich Armaments Minister Albert Speer personally tests the chassis of the new Tiger tank
Both cars had their own (sometimes significant) flaws. So, for example, wet, unfinished electric transmission seriously hampered the maneuvering of VK 4501 (P), for example, with great difficulty the tank made turns on 90 °. When testing for speed, VK 4501 (H) accelerated at the site 850 m only to 45 km / h, while the engine overheated so much that there was a fire hazard. After weighing all the pros and cons, despite Hitler’s special location to Dr. Porsche, the testing commission made the decision in favor of the Henschel tank. The VK 4501 (P) chassis was used later for the Ferdinand self-propelled guns.
At the top is a prototype of the Tiger tank from Porsche, the construction of the rollers is clearly visible,
used later in the Ferdinands (below)
In early August, the 1942 began mass production of a new heavy tank, which, however, did not mean the end of the tests. They continued, but already on the main tank range of the Wehrmacht in Kummersdorf. The first tank passed by that time 960 km. In a mid-terrain area, the car reached a speed of up to 18 km / h, while the fuel consumption was 430 liters per 100 km.
In the process of serial production, changes and improvements were made almost continuously in the design of a tank produced in one modification. At the very first production machines, the box for equipment and spare parts, which was mounted on the stern of the tower, was changed. A box borrowed from the Panzerkampfwagen III was used on the prototypes. Manhole cover for shooting from personal weapons on the right wall of the tower was replaced by a manhole.
Figure: general view of the tank, the first models were just painted,
it was believed that the tanks were so powerful that they didn’t need any protective paint,
on the contrary, one of them was supposed to inspire fear.
For self-defense against enemy infantry, mortars for anti-personnel mines of the type "S" were mounted around the perimeter of the hull. This mine, the warhead of which included 360 steel balls, was fired at a low altitude and exploded. In addition, NbK 39 smoke grenades of 90 mm caliber were installed on the turret of tanks.
At that time, the Tigr was the only serial tank in the world, equipped in large quantities with underwater driving equipment (to overcome water obstacles - not all bridges could withstand the tank mass), which was widely used in tank construction only in 50-s. True, in the troops this equipment was practically not used and was eventually abandoned. The fact that during the tests at the factory site, where a special pool was built for this purpose, the tank with the engine running was under water for two and a half hours, says the quality of the system.
Two types of tracks were used on the "Tigers" - transport, 520 mm wide and combat, 725 mm wide. The first ones were used for transportation by rail in order to fit into the size of the platform (also specially reinforced - six-axle), and for driving under its own power on roads with hard surface outside the battlefield.
Replacement of shipping tracks for combat
The design of the tank was a classic version with the front of the transmission.
In front of the office was located. It housed a gearbox, a turning mechanism, controls, a radio station, a course machine gun, part of the ammunition set, and workplaces for the driver (left) and a gunner-radio operator (right).
The fighting compartment occupied the middle part of the tank. The turret installed a gun and a twin machine gun, observation and aiming devices, aiming mechanisms and the seats of the tank commander, gunner and loader. In the case in the niches, along the walls and under the tower polycom was placed ammunition.
In the front of the tower in the cast mask was installed the main armament of the "Tiger" - gun 8,8 cm KwK 36 caliber 88 mm, developed on the basis of the famous anti-aircraft gun Flak 18. The barrel of the gun had a length 56 calibers - 4928 mm; together with the muzzle brake - 5316 mm. From the prototype, the KwK 36 differed primarily in the presence of the electric trigger and a highly efficient muzzle brake, which significantly reduced the recoil of the gun when fired. The 7,92-mm MG-34 machine gun was paired with a gun. The course gun was located in the head-sheet of the turret box in a ball mount. On the late-type commander's turret, one more (anti-aircraft) machine gun MG-42 could be mounted on a special Fliegerbeschussgerät 34 device.
Eastern front. Loading shells in "Tiger"
The turret was driven by a hydraulic swivel mechanism on the bottom of the tank with a power of 4 kW. The power take-off was made from the gearbox using a special cardan shaft. At 1500 rpm of the crankshaft, the turret was rotated to 360 ° in 1 min. When the engine was not running, the turret was turned manually, but because of the long trunk, it was impossible to turn around manually when tilting in 5 °.
The engine compartment housed the engine and all its systems, as well as fuel tanks. The engine compartment was separated from the battle bulkhead. The tank was fitted with Maybach HL 210P30 engines in 650 hp. or Maybach HL 230P45 to 700 hp (from the 251 machine). Engines 12-cylinder, V-shaped, carburetor, four-stroke. It should be emphasized that the engine HL 230P45 was almost identical to the engine of the tank "Panther". Cooling system - liquid, with two radiators. On both sides of the engine were twin fans. In connection with the isolation of the engine compartment from the air inlets of the cooling system on both engines, a special airflow was applied to the exhaust manifolds and the generator. Fuel served as leaded gasoline with an octane rating not lower than 74. The capacity of the four gas tanks - 534 l. Fuel consumption on 100 km when driving on the highway - 270 l, on the road - 480 l.
The chassis of the tank in relation to one board consisted of 24 road wheels, staggered in four rows. Rollers 800x95 mm in size in the first 799 tanks had rubber bandages; all subsequent - internal depreciation and steel bandages. The weak point of the Tiger chassis, which could not be disposed of, was the rapid deterioration and subsequent destruction of the rubber bands of the road wheels.
Most of the Tigers produced went to the eastern front.
Starting with the 800 machine, they began to install track rollers with internal shock absorption and steel bands on the tank. In this case, the outer row of single rollers was removed. Due to the use of an automatic hydraulic servo to control the 56-ton tank, no significant physical effort was required. Transmission switched literally with two fingers. Turning was carried out by an easy turn of the steering wheel. The management of the tank was so simple that any member of the crew could handle it, which in a combat situation turned out to be important.
The hull of the tank - box-type, assembled from armor plates, connected in a spike and welded with double seam. Armor - rolled, chrome-molybdenum, with surface cementation. At the same time, having installed all the armor plates of the hull vertically, the tank designers completely ignored a simple and highly effective way of enhancing the armor through the inclined arrangement of the armor plates. And although the thickness of the hull frontal armor was 100 mm, and the sides and stern - 82 mm, the armor-piercing shells of the Soviet 76,2-mm ZIS-3 can hit the frontal armor of the tank with 500 m, and the side and stern armor - even from 1500 m.
Moscow, summer 1943 of the year. The first trophy "Tiger" at the exhibition in Gorky Park to them. Gorky.
Especially for the Tigr tanks, a new tactical unit was created - a heavy tank battalion (schwere Panzerabteilung - sPzAbt), which was a separate military unit that could act both independently and attached to other units or units of the Wehrmacht. Subsequently, 14 of such battalions were formed; one of them operated in Africa, the other in Italy, and the rest on the eastern front.
Column "Tigers" in the area of the city of Berdichev.
In August 1942, the first tanks were already “tested” on the outskirts of the besieged Leningrad (and already in January, the 1943 captured the first almost undamaged Tiger). The most massively "Tigers" were used during the Battle of Kursk, or, as the Germans called it, the operation "Citadel". By May 12, 1943 had to plan 285 combat tigers to participate in this battle, but this plan was not fulfilled, transferring only 246 vehicles to the troops.
Tigers go to Kursk. Transportation without moving to transport tracks.
By the time the Allies landed in Normandy in June of the 1944, the Germans were deploying Tigers in the West of the 102, consisting of three heavy SS tank battalions. One of them distinguished himself more than others, mainly due to the fact that one of his mouth was commanded by the most productive German tanker, SS Obertschurtmührer SS Michael Wittmann. His exploits to a large extent accounted for the glory of the tank, all in all, 138 tanks and SPG are listed on his account.
Michael Wittmann and the crew of his "Tiger" №S21
In general, the effectiveness of the use of the tank was based on its effective armament, supplemented by excellent optics and well thought-out internal layout. Most of the tanks of those years were inferior to the "Tigers" in range and rate of fire. Thus, the crew of the "Tigra" could start the battle from a distance safe for themselves and finish it, without letting the enemy get any closer. All known cases of victory in tank battles over the "Tigers" - with a significant numerical advantage. The same Wittman died eventually breaking through the Shermans, he was simply shot at close range by at least five tanks.
The main drawback of the tank was, undoubtedly, its armor, or rather its quantity and weight. By placing thinner armor plates at large angles of inclination, the Panther designers, for example, were able to achieve almost similar to the Tigger protection parameters, having reduced the mass by 13 tons.
Vertical armor "Tiger" - its weak point.
"Tigers" with the maximum engine power of that time of 700 hp, it was very difficult to efficiently move over rough terrain. Tank weighing 56 tons is an elementary elm on marshy soils. For comparison, the T-34, weighing 26 tons, was powered by a 500-horsepower diesel engine. In addition, this was the cause of many design complications and often led to problems during transportation and operation.
In urban battles on narrow streets, the Tigers lost almost all of their advantages.
"Tiger" is often called the best heavy tank of the Second World War (only the EC-2 can compete) and despite all its flaws, in terms of parameters it probably was - many concepts and technical solutions are used in tank construction so far.