The first prototype for the Tiger tank was set to be ready for Hitlers birthday on April 20, 1942. The Henschel Company, competing with Porsche, produced the superior model, and by August of that year the formidable Tiger--or Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. H.--was in full production.
This book takes us behind the scenes with the Tiger tank, reviewing the full history, the design and mechanics, and the mixed record of this machine, which was designed to outgun its Russian counterparts. Military writer Michael Green offers a close-up account--accompanied by photographs, diagrams, and maps--of how the Tiger tank operated, how it was armed, and where it succeeded brilliantly, as well as where it failed miserably.
His book fills a fascinating niche in the history of military technology, and of the impact of technology on history itself.
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About the Author
Michael Green is a freelance writer, researcher, and photographer who specializes in military, transportation, and law enforcement subjects, with more than 50 books to his credit. In addition, he has written numerous articles for a variety of national and international military-related magazines.
James D. Brown served twenty years in the U.S. Army as an armor officer, with secondary specialty in research and development. His active duty service includes a four-year tour as an assistant professor of engineering at the United States Military Academy, where he taught combat vehicle design and automotive engineering.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments
CHAPTER ONE Background and Description
CHAPTER TWO Firepower
CHAPTER THREE Protection
What People are Saying About This
Military Vehicles Magazine, August 2008
"Tiger Tanks at War is a clearly written and well-organized account of the Tiger I and Tiger II tanks...Books on Tiger tanks are plentiful and tend to repeat the same themes and historic photographs. This book has excellent close-up interior photos you won't find elsewhere. Further, it would make a fine intorductory book on the subject for a novice Tigerholic, or a handy, information reference for those already conversant in the subject."
WWII History, September 2008
"Tiger Tanks at War is filled with photos (scores of high-quality color views of restored tanks at museums and reenactments in the U.S. and Europe) that illustrate many points: the Tiger's design and development, armament, armor, mechanics, operation, performance, strengths, weaknesses, and tactical employment...the authors have done a fine job of providing the reader with a better understanding of how the vehicles and their crews actually functioned in combat. Anyone with an interest in armor will want Tiger Tanks at War on their bookshelf."
The Tiger tanks produced by Germany during World War II are legendary. As with all legends, however, there is as much myth as truth in their story. Part of their mystique originated during the war, when what little information the Germans gave out was tinged for propaganda purposes. The inflated German accounts were somewhat offset by Allied versions, which tended to understate their capabilities. As we shall see in the chapters, which follow, both sides had good reason to withhold the truth, for while the Tigers were not as good as the Germans had hoped they would be, they were far more formidable than the Allies had feared.
With the Panzer V ("Panther"), the Tigers were the first German tanks designed uncompromisingly as antitank platforms. Earlier German tanks were originally the product of tradeoffs, particularly in their armament, of a school of thought that considered dedicated antitank guns as the principal counter to enemy tanks. Only after some bitterly earned combat lessons did the Germans come to consider armor-defeating capability as the prime attribute of a tank gun. Ironically, the Tigers were armed with variants of an antiaircraft gun that was pressed into service as an antitank weapon when the Germans encountered unexpectedly heavily armored French tanks in what was otherwise an easy victory in the battle of France.
The Tigers are actually two distinct tanks, related by little more than the bore diameter of their guns, the basic design of their engines, and the curiously shared common title Panzer VI. The later Tiger B can in no way be considered a product improved Tiger E, and it remains something of a mystery why they shared a commonname. The Tiger E was a scaled-up expression of the armored-box-on-a-suspension architecture that had produced Panzers I through IV, and indeed, most contemporary Allied tanks. Although structurally easy to design and produce, the boxy hull took no advantage of the well-known properties of sloped armor and relied instead on raw-boned mass, and plenty of it, for its protection. Tiger B was a more modern concept, benefiting indirectly from the Russian T-34 design and much more directly from the Panther. Tiger E had an 88mm gun whose chamber design was almost identical to its antiaircraft antecedent. Tiger B's gun was not only considerably longer but fired a larger cartridge that was not interchangeable with those from a Tiger E. Although their suspensions may appear related, the eight-axle interleaved suspension of Tiger E was redesigned as a nine-axle overlapped layout on Tiger B.
Although tactically formidable, neither tank was a strategic success; both were far more heavily armed than their adversaries were. This allowed them to score kills at greater ranges, and both featured heavier armor, which allowed them to absorb hits. Tactically, they were nearly invincible, however, neither could be produced in sufficient quantity to strategically swing the war to the German side and neither was mechanically reliable enough to sustain their tactical advantages. The development and fielding of both was heavily influenced by the personal interference of a crazed dictator, and it may be argued that the Germans would have been better off to concentrate on the production and further development of the Panther.
What is inarguable, though, is that the Tigers brought a new dimension to warfare and that their presence in the German arsenal engendered an Allied response in both tactics and materiel development of tanks, which far outlasted the Nazis and is reflected even today in armies around the world. The legend of the Tigers was indeed as much myth as fact, but the central fact is that they were some of the most important designs in the history of armored warfare.
With that said the authors would also like to point out that this book is not the definitive technical or combat history of the Tiger tanks. Rather, the authors have strived to provide the reader a better understanding of how the vehicle and their crews actually functioned in combat, within the publisher's size and format restrictions.