At the end of May 1941, the German command once again revised the requirements for a promising heavy tank. The experience of several previous projects showed that the new machine should have even thicker reservations and an appropriate combat mass. When using armor with a thickness of up to 100 mm, the tank had to weigh on the order of 45 t. Also, it was necessary to use a powerful weapon capable of punching up to 100-150 mm of armor at a distance of about 1 km. In accordance with these requirements, the development of two projects, known as VK 4501, was started.
Two organizations were involved in the development of the new armored vehicle. The project from the company Henschel received the designation VK 4501 (H), from the company Porsche - VK 4501 (P). Subsequently, the first project, which had the letter “H” in the title, was approved by the customer, after which the new tank went into mass production. This machine is widely known under the name Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger. The second project was completed less successfully, with a smaller amount of built equipment.
Experienced tank VK 4501 (P) on the tests. Photo Rascarcapaco.blogspot.ru
At Porsche, the new project received its own designation Typ 101. In addition, different names were used at different stages of development. Notation used to reflect the combat weight of the vehicle (VK 4501), the sequence number in the troops (Pz.Kpfw.VI), etc. Most of the renaming was carried out in accordance with the orders of the customer in the face of the army.
In the new project it was proposed to maximize the use of existing developments in the light of updated requirements for equipment. It was planned to preserve the main provisions of the project, as well as make some changes to the reservation and weapons complex. This allowed us to speed up the development of the project, but at the same time to fulfill the existing requirements. This approach made it possible to reduce the number of newly developed components and assemblies.
The existing building, created in the framework of the previous project, received an enhanced reservation. Its frontal part was to be assembled from sheets with a thickness up to 100 mm, the protection of the sides and the stern was assigned to the 80-mm parts. In connection with the change in armor thickness, it was necessary to change the contours of the frontal part of the hull. In addition, the design of the upper part of the hull, which formed developed fencing niches, was adjusted. Between the upper frontal and side parts there were sloping cheekbones. The 25-mm horizontal hull roof aft of the machine was connected to a sloping sheet.
Scheme of the tank Tiger (P). Figure Rascarcapaco.blogspot.ru
The project also developed an updated version of the tower, used on a heavy tank of the previous version. The tower had a vertical frontal sheet, and was also equipped with a curved part that served as the sides and stern. In terms of protection, the turret of the new tank did not differ from the hull and consisted of sheets up to 100 mm thick.
The layout of the VK 4501 (P) tank was to be fully borrowed from the previous project. In front of the housing were placed electrical transmission units and some mechanical devices, behind which the control compartment was placed. The center of the corps contained the fighting compartment, and the power plant was located in the stern.
The VK armored vehicle 3001 (P) was equipped with two petrol engines with an 210 horsepower. To compensate for the growth of combat mass, the tank needed more powerful engines. In the framework of the VK 4501 (P) project, a new type 101 carburetor engine was developed. This product differed from its predecessor by one and a half times in the large volume and power of the HP 310. Two new engines were to be placed in the aft hull. Next to them were two Siemens sGV 275 / 24 electric generators with a capacity of 275 kW each. With the help of a set of cables, electric power was supplied to Siemens D1495a electric motors placed in front of the case. Through onboard transmissions, electric motors rotated the front drive wheels.
Perspective heavy tank retained the basic principles of control proposed in the previous project. The driver was able to change the operating parameters of two gasoline engines, but the main control tool was a set of systems that allowed changing the parameters of the current supplied to the traction motors. At the same time, gasoline engines could operate in the same mode.
An experienced chassis with a weight imitator of the tower on the tests. Photo of Chamberlain P., Doyle H. "Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War"
Chassis with modifications borrowed from the previous tank. It was proposed to use six double support rollers of large diameter on each side. The authors of the project abandoned the use of rubber tires, but retained the overall architecture of the chassis. The rollers were blocked in pairs, and their carts were mounted on torsion bars. To save space inside the car, torsions were placed outside, and also placed along the body. The drive wheels were placed in the front of the chassis with a noticeable excess over the support rollers. There were guide wheels in the stern. The upper branch of the caterpillar lay on the track rollers, without the need for supporting rollers. Two variants of tracks were developed for the VK 4501 (K) tank. The product with a width of 500 mm was intended for the transportation of equipment on roads and railways, and for operation in the field it was necessary to use the 600-mm track.
The main armament of the tank was to be placed in a rotating turret. Initially, it was supposed to use a promising 88-mm gun as the “main caliber”. Calculations showed that for such a tank gun it is necessary to increase the size of the combat compartment, and also bring the diagonal of the shoulder strap to 2 m. Due to the specific coordination of the work of different enterprises and the customer, an order was created to develop a tower for a smaller diameter that could carry only 75-mm the gun. In the future, problems with the fighting compartment were solved, and the customer and the developer chose the required type weapons.
The main armament of the heavy tank "Type 101" decided to make a tank gun 8,8 cm KwK 36 with a barrel length 56 caliber. This gun met the requirements of the customer regarding combat qualities, and also had acceptable dimensions and could be installed on a promising tank. It was proposed to complete the gun with a binocular telescopic sight and mount it on a swinging system. With the help of rotational turret drives, circular horizontal guidance was provided. Elevation angles varied from -9 ° to + 18 °.
It was proposed to mount a MG 34 MG 7,92 mm caliber machine gun on one machine unit. From the second machine gun in the installation of the front hull sheet was originally decided to refuse. Subsequently, the installation of the case is still introduced into the project. The gunner of the gun was supposed to control the paired machine gun, while the gunman-gunner had to control the course gun. Also at the disposal of the crew could have several submachine guns used as weapons of self-defense.
By increasing the size of the hull and the combat compartment in the tank, it was possible to place sufficiently large and bulky racks for ammunition. Ammunition 88-mm guns could consist of 64 shells. For use with a machine gun was proposed to transport over 4300 cartridges. There was also a place to transport six stores to machine guns with 192 cartridges.
The crew of the tank VK 4501 (P) / Typ 101 was to consist of five people. In front of the hull there was a driver and radio operator. They could observe the situation with the help of hatches in the front and cheekbones of the hull. At their workplaces there was a set of all the necessary controls. So, the driver had the controls of the machine, and the radio operator had two types of radio stations.
The study of technology. Photo of Chamberlain P., Doyle H. "Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War"
In the tower there were places for the gunner, the commander and loader. The commander could observe through a set of viewing devices on his own turret. Similar systems, but with smaller viewing angles, had a loader. The gunner was supposed to use the sight in his place. In the roof of the tower and on the turret, two hatches were provided for access inside the car.
An interesting feature of the new project was the ergonomics of the crew compartment and an unusual way for the crew to land in their places. For a number of reasons of a technical nature, the tank tower was shifted as far forward as possible, due to which its frontal part blocked the roof of the control compartment, not allowing it to be equipped with hatches. As a result, the entire crew of the tank had to get inside the car only through two hatches in the roof of the tower. First, the driver and the radio operator should have entered the tank, then the gunner, the commander and the loader had to climb into it. The landing was proposed to be made in the reverse order.
The growth of protection and firepower led to an increase in size and combat weight. The length of the tank "Type 101" on the hull was 6,6 m, taking into account the gun - 9,34 m. Width reached 3,4 m, height - 2,8 m. Combat weight significantly exceeded the required 45 t and reached 57 t. With this weight increase, the tank, according to calculations , had to reach speeds up to 35 km / h. Power reserve did not exceed 105-110 km.
Tank with a tower on the track. Photo Aviarmor.net
A preliminary version of the VK 4501 (P) project was ready by the end of June 1941. Soon there was a document stipulating the schedule for the subsequent work. Also during this period, the project was given the additional name Tiger. Subsequently, in order to avoid confusion with the competing project of the company Henschel, the tank from the Porsche was called Tiger (P). Also remained the existing designations. The signed documents, among other things, stipulated the participation of various subcontractors in the project, who were required to supply certain components.
According to reports, by the end of July, 41 had signed several agreements on the supply of a significant number of components for new tanks. So, for a given period, Krupp was supposed to assemble and send the same number of towers for the Tiger (P) tank to the 100 hull assembly. In accordance with these contracts and the approved plan, hundreds of new armored vehicles were to go to the customer from spring to autumn 1942. There is also a widespread opinion that the assembly of the first large batch of tanks was launched by the arbitrary decision of Ferdinand Porsche, but it contradicts other information.
The assembly of armor hulls for VK 4501 (P) tanks started at the very end of 1941 of the year. Production of such products continued until the middle of 42. The first towers, for various reasons, were released only in the middle of the spring 1942 of the year, after which they managed to start assembling the experimental machines. According to available data, in the first order, in total, no more than 65 chassis were built and only 15 towers, of which only 10 prototypes were assembled.
The first prototype of the promising heavy tank was put to the test at the end of the winter 1942. In view of the absence of the required combat compartment, it was decided not to equip the existing chassis with a tower, instead of which a weighing simulator should be used. The chassis showed not very high mobility characteristics. There were also problems with the work of individual units. The first prototype did not perform well during the factory tests, which was why it was sent back for revision. Instead, the customer for testing presented the following machine pilot batch in a similar configuration.
By this time, the shortcomings of individual elements of the armored vehicle were identified. Thus, the new type of engines had insufficient reliability and could not withstand long-term operation at maximum power, which could lead to the destruction of their parts. Also, the developers and the customer were not satisfied with the design of the tower, which should be improved. During May 1942, a voluminous list of the necessary changes that should be made to certain units and assemblies of the machine was formed.
Initially, the customer considered a heavy tank from the company Porsche as a favorite of the existing program. Nevertheless, as the tests were conducted, the opinion of army specialists changed. Over time, the VK 4501 (H) tank was considered a more promising development. At the beginning of July, 1942 of the year, a joint test report of the two armored vehicles was compiled, highlighting the advantages of the Tiger (H) tank. According to specialists, it took at least a year to refine the competing car. Because of this, it was considered unsuitable for adoption and mass production.
By the end of the test, the leadership of Nazi Germany had concluded that it was impossible to simultaneously build two heavy tanks of different types. The industry was loaded with a mass of other orders, because of which a choice had to be made. After the appearance of the test report, the decision became obvious, but the fate of the two heavy tanks was to be determined with the help of additional tests. In the middle of November, comparative tests of two tanks took place, during which both presented machines showed not only advantages, but also disadvantages. However, the Henschel tank proved to be better than its rival.
The development of the company Henschel decided to put in the series, while the further development of the Typ 101 project was considered unpromising. Soon the VK 4501 (H) tank was put into service under the name Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger. The Tiger (P) project was closed due to the lack of prospects for 22 on November 42. An official document on the completion of the project was signed a little later, in December. By this time, eight experimental machines had been built, differing from each other in terms of equipment, equipment, purpose, etc. In addition, two buildings were built for testing, not equipped with internal units.
December 10 Army demanded to develop two options for upgrading the existing tank using new engines and transmission units. The Tank Typ 130 was supposed to get one Maybach HL 120TRM engine instead of two separate engines, and the Typ 131 project involved replacing the electric transmission with hydraulic systems. After the completion of the development of the updated projects, it was planned to rebuild a number of VK 4501 (P) chassis available on them. In the future, new engines received almost all built armored vehicles.
SAU Elefant / Ferdinand. Photo of Wikimedia Commons
Built technique was used for various purposes. So, prototypes of the “Type 101” were used in various new projects as a platform for developing new ideas and solutions. One of the fully equipped tanks that received a turret and weapons, according to some data, was sent to the Eastern Front in the spring of 1944 for testing under real combat conditions. This machine was used until mid-summer, when it was destroyed during one of the battles.
After the project was closed, it was decided to finish the construction of VK 4501 (P) type chassis, as well as use them as the basis for a new technology. In total, 90 chassis were assembled, which were equipped with new type of engines during the completion and modernization. Later, these chassis were used in the construction of Sturmgeschütz mit 8,8 self-propelled artillery mount cm StuK 43 or 8,8 cm StuK 43 Sfl L / 71 Panzerjäger Tiger (P) with a 88-mm anti-tank PaK 43 gun. In the future, these machines are widely known under the name Elefant / Ferdinand.
Draft heavy tank Porsche VK 4501 (P) / Typ 101 did not give real results. Several prototypes were built, as well as a significant number of pre-production lot chassis. At the same time, only one fully equipped tank entered the army, which for some time was able to participate in the war on the Eastern Front. Other pre-production samples remained idle for a certain period of time, after which it was decided to use them in the construction of new SAUs. After this alteration of the existing chassis, the production of VK 4501 (P) did not continue as unnecessary. Henschel was able to create a more successful version of a heavy tank, which, after refining, was put into service and sent to mass production. In the future, Porsche attempted to improve the existing project, but it was too late to correct the existing situation.
Chamberlain P., Doyle H. Complete reference book of German tanks and self-propelled guns of the Second World War. - M .: AST: Astrel, 2008.
Baryatinsky M.B. Heavy tank "Tigr" // Armored collection. 1998. No.6.