[Lone Sentry: German Heavy Tank, Tiger I: WWII U.S. Intelligence Bulletin, June 1943] [Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
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"New German Heavy Tank" from Intelligence Bulletin, June 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Printed by the U.S. Military Intelligence Service during WWII, the Intelligence Bulletin was designed to inform officers and enlisted men of the latest enemy tactics and weapons. The June 1943 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin contained a report on the new German heavy tanks encountered in North Africa, the Pz. Kw. 6 Tiger.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on WWII German weapons and equipment is available in postwar publications.]


[German Tiger Heavy Tank Page 1]

[German Tiger Heavy Tank Page 2]

[German Tiger Heavy Tank Page 3]

[German Tiger Heavy Tank Page 4]

[German Tiger Heavy Tank Page 5]

In Tunisia the German Army sent into combat, apparently for the first time, its new heavy tank, the Pz. Kw. 6, which it calls the "Tiger" (see fig. 3). The new tank's most notable features are its 88-mm gun, 4-inch frontal armor, great weight, and lack of spaced armor. Although the Pz. Kw. 6 has probably been adopted as a standard German tank, future modifications may be expected.

The "Tiger" tank, which is larger and more powerful than the Pz. Kw. 4,1 is about 20 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 9 1/2 feet high. The barrel of the 88-mm gun overhangs the nose by almost 7 feet. The tank weighs 56 tons in action (or, with certain alterations, as much as 62 tons), and is reported to have a maximum speed of about 20 miles per hour. It normally has a crew of five.

The armament of the Pz. Kw. 6 consists of the 88-mm tank gun (Kw. K. 36), which fires fixed ammunition similar to, or identical with, ammunition for the usual 88-mm antiaircraft-antitank gun; a 7.92-mm machine gun (MG 34) which is [Figure 3: Tiger Heavy Tank Armor PzKw 6] mounted coaxially on the left side of the 88-mm; and a second 7.92-mm machine gun (MG 34) which is hull-mounted and fires forward.
[Figure 4: German Tiger Tank Suspension]     
In addition, a set of three smoke-generator dischargers is carried on each side of the turret.

The turret rotates through 360 degrees, and the mounting for the gun and coaxial machine gun appears to be of the customary German type.

The suspension system, which is unusually interesting, is illustrated in figure 4. The track is made of metal. To the far right in figure 4 is the front-drive sprocket and to the far left the rear idler. There are no return rollers, since the track rides on top of the Christie-type wheels, which are rubber rimmed. It will be noted that there are eight axles, each with three wheels to a side, or each with one single and one double wheel to a side. There are thus 24 wheels -- 8 single wheels and 8 double wheels on each side of the tank. The system of overlapping is similar to the suspension system used on German half-tracks.

The tank is provided with two tracks, a wide one (2 feet, 4.5 inches) and a narrow one (just under 2 feet). The wide track is the one used in battle, the narrow being for administrative marches and where maneuverability and economy of operation take precedence over ground pressure. The dotted line in figure 4 indicates the outer edge of the narrow track. When the narrow track is used, the eight wheels outside the dotted line can be removed.

The armor plating of the Pz. Kw. 6 has the following thicknesses and angles:

Lower nose plate_________  62 mm (2.4 in), 60° inwards.
Upper nose plate_________102 mm (4 in), 20° inwards.
Front plate_____________62 mm (2.4 in), 80° outwards.
Driver plate____________102 mm (4 in), 10° outwards.
Turret front and mantlet_____Possibly as much as 200 mm (8 in), rounded.
Turret sides and rear_______82 mm (3.2 in), vertical.
Lower sides (behind bogies)__60 mm (2.4 in), vertical.
Upper sides____________82 mm (3.2 in), vertical.
Rear________________82 mm (3.2 in), 20° inwards.
Floor________________26 mm (1 in).
Top_________________26 mm (1 in).

The angular (as opposed to rounded) arrangement of most of the armor is a bad design feature; reliance seems to be placed on the quality and thickness of the armor, with no effort having been made to present difficult angles of impact. In addition, none of the armor is face-hardened. The familiar German practice of increasing a tank's frontal armor at the expense of the side armor is also apparent in the case of the Pz. Kw. 6.

Undoubtedly the Germans developed the "Tiger" tank to meet the need for a fully armored vehicle equipped with a heavy weapon capable of dealing with a variety of targets, including hostile tanks. Although the "Tiger" can perform these duties, its weight and size make it a logistical headache. It is entirely probable that the Germans, realizing this disadvantage, are continuing to develop tanks in the 30-ton class. Further, it is interesting to note that the Pz. Kw. 6 has proved vulnerable to the British 6-pounder (57-mm) antitank gun when fired at a range of about 500 yards.

1 To date there is no record of a Pz. Kw. 5 having been used in combat.



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