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PzKpfw VI Tiger I file photo [9310]

PzKpfw VI Ausf. E 'Tiger I'

ManufacturerHenschel und Sohn GmbH, Kassel, Germany
Primary RoleHeavy Tank


ww2dbaseUp until the PzKpfw IV tank design, the German Army had always favored a balance between mobility, armor, and firepower, however, studies for designs focusing on certain elements existed, such as a project that started in 1937 for a new heavy tank design which did not have any production schedule associated with it. When the front line tankers reported that they were unexpectedly and significantly outgunned by new Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks, army leadership looked into its heavy tank programs with a renewed interest, seeking a specialized tank design that would focus on armor and firepower, while having a powerful engine so that mobility would not be sacrificed. On 26 May 1941, shortly prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the firms Henschel and Porsche were already requested to submit designs for such a heavy tank by Jun 1942; the discovery of advanced Soviet tanks pushed the deadline date to 20 Apr. During this time, Ferdinand Porsche nicknamed this project "Tiger", which would evolve into a common name for the resulting project. Henschel's VK4501(H) design defeated Porsche's VK3001(P) design to win the contract. Henschel's design, which would later be designated Panzerkampfwagen VI or Tiger I, called for between 97 and 120 millimeter of armor on the front of the tank and 8.8-centimeter dual purpose guns as the primary weapon. These upgrades meant that, as combat experiences would soon show, these soon-to-be-deployed heavy tanks could penetrate the armor of enemy tanks at a long range where the enemy tanks' guns would not be able to penetrate that of the Tiger I tanks. While the heavy weight of the Tiger I design indeed took away from the performance, the Maybach engine still provided the Tiger tank competitive mobility. In fact, Tiger I heavy tanks could typically travel off-road in comparable speeds as the American M4 Sherman and Soviet T-34/85 tanks (Tiger I 20-25 kilometers per hour, M4 Sherman 17-32 km/h, T34/85 19 km/h), had a tighter turning radius (Tiger I 3.44 meters, M4 Sherman 18.6m, T-34/85 unknown), and had a lower ground pressure (Tiger I 0.735 kilograms per square centimeter, M4 Sherman 0.96 kg/cm2, T-34/85 0.85 kg/cm2). One notable weight-related weakness for the Tiger I heavy tank design was its inability to travel over many bridges; to address that issue, they were designed to be able to converted to wade through rivers up to 1.5 meters deep without a snorkel and 4 meters deep with a snorkel (the snorkel was deleted in later variants to reduce cost).

ww2dbaseProduction for the design, initially called PzKpfw VI Ausf. H, began in Aug 1942, and units were deployed to the field without extensive testing due to war demands, thus revisions were frequent, which slowed down production. Some of the revisions to the design included the removal of the frontal armor shield (Apr 1942), addition of bolted mudguards, addition of smoke discharge canisters (Aug 1942), and changing bolted mudguards to removable mudguards (Sep 1942). The designation later changed to PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in Mar 1943.

ww2dbaseTiger I tanks were first used in combat on 23 Sep 1942 near Leningrad, Russia; many of these first tanks broke down due to mechanical problems. These problems continued to plague them as they were deployed to North Africa. In fact, crews would continue to be plagued by mechanical issues through the end of the war. It was rare to see any unit equipped with Tiger I tanks to operate at full strength due to the extended maintenance and repair periods. Nevertheless, they were fearsome in combat. On 7 Jul 1943, tank commander SS-Oberscharf├╝hrer Franz Staudegger of the 2nd Platoon, 13th Panzer Company, 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler claimed to have engaged about 50 T-34 tanks and knocked out 22 of them. Similarly, SS-Haupsturmf├╝hrer Michael Wittmann's platoon of schwere SS-Panzerabteilung 101 claimed to have destroyed over 20 Allied vehicles at the Villers-Bocage confrontation during the Allied Normandy invasion.

ww2dbaseWhen the Americans first encountered PzKpfw VI Tiger I heavy tanks, they decided to not devote any effort in dealing with them, because they were only seen in small numbers. The British took a different approach, upgrading anti-tank weaponry throughout the entire war to deal with the continual improvement in German armor. The Soviets also worked on developing heavier anti-tank weapons to deal with the new threat, culminating in the late-war SU-100 and SU-152 self-propelled guns with 100-millimeter tank guns and 152-millimeter howitzer guns, respectively, that could easily penetrate a Tiger I heavy tank's frontal armor at usual combat distances.

ww2dbaseIn 1943, Japan purchased several German tanks for study, which included a Tiger I heavy tank. It was never delivered to Japan, however, as it was difficult for German submarines break through Allied lines to the South Atlantic. As demands for tanks increased for Germany, the Japanese Army officially loaned the purchased Tiger I tank to the German military out of friendship.

ww2dbaseThe design's high cost kept the production numbers low; a Tiger I tank cost twice as much as a PzKpfw IV tank and four times as much as a StuG III assault gun. Only 1,355 PzKpfw VI Tiger I heavy tanks were built between Aug 1942 and Aug 1944. After Aug 1944, the Tiger II successor design which was finished in Jan 1944 completed the take over the production lines.

David Fletcher, David Willey, and Mike Hayton, Tiger Tank Owners' Workshop Manual

Last Major Revision: Feb 2010

PzKpfw VI Ausf. E 'Tiger I' Timeline

26 May 1941 Adolf Hitler met with tank generals and tank designers at his residence Berghof in southern Germany. In a similar meeting three months prior he had asked for 75-millimeter guns for Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks. Because 75-millimeter guns relied on special tungsten shells, Hitler now asked for 88-millimeter guns to be used for future heavy tanks. He also demanded 100-millimeter frontal armor and 60-millimeter side armor.
16 Sep 1942 German 502nd Tank Battalion, stationed near Leningrad, Russia, received the first batch of Tiger I tanks.
23 Sep 1942 Tiger I tanks saw combat for the first time, operated by German 502nd Tank Battalion near Leningrad, Russia.
21 Apr 1943 Troops of 48th Battalion of British Royal Tank Regiment captured German Tiger I heavy tank "131" near Medjez-el-Bab, Tunisia.
8 Oct 1943 British merchant ship Ocean Strength arrived at Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom with a supply of iron ore and captured German Tiger I heavy tank "131".
20 Oct 1943 Captured German Tiger I heavy tank "131" arrived at the village of Chobham, Surrey, England, United Kingdom via a Scammell 100-ton truck.
25 Sep 1951 Tiger I heavy tank "131", captured by British troops in 1943, was given to the Tank Museum in Bovington Camp, Dorset, England, United Kingdom.


Ausf E
MachineryOne Maybach HL 210 P45 water-cooled V-12 engine rated at 650hp
SuspensionTransverse torsion bars
Armament1x8.8cm KwK 36 L/56 tank gun (92 rounds), 1x7.92mm coaxial MG34 machine gun, 1x7.92mm ball-mounted MG34 machine gun
Armor97mm hull upper front, 102mm hull lower front, 82mm hull upper side, 62mm hull lower side, 82mm hull rear, 26mm hull top/bottom, 102mm turret front, 82mm turret side/rear, 120mm gun mantlet, 26mm turret top
Length6.32 m
Width3.72 m
Height1.78 m
Weight56.0 t
Speed20 km/h off-road; 45 km/h on-road
Range80 km off-road; 125 km on-road


A German Tiger I heavy tank and a damaged Soviet T-34 medium tank, Russia, 1942German tank crew and a Luftwaffe sergeant next to a Tiger I heavy tank, Russia, 1942
See all 208 photographs of PzKpfw VI Ausf. E 'Tiger I' Heavy Tank

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
7 Dec 2009 04:32:05 PM

The Tiger, or PzKpfw VI was the Wehrmacht's answer to the Russian T-34 and KV Tanks. However,Porsche and Henschel turned to the designs and prototypes they have been working on since 1937. The Henschel design did not have sloping armor, but it was heavily armored, and mounted the 3.5 inch /8.8 cm weapon the famous 88!, this weapon was able to penetrate the armor of any opponent. Production started in 1942 the first Tigers were sent to North Afrika and the Eastern Front. As a result of hasty development, the tank was mechanically unrelible, it was heavy at 60 tons However once the problems were taken care of, the Tiger proved to be a greatly feared weapon. The thickness of its armor of 3.9 in/100mm at the front,and 3.1 in/80mm at the sides meant it could take hits, and continue to fight, the 88mm gun could destroy a Russian T-34 at a mile or 1.5km away. During one battle, a single Tiger was able to destroy 25 Allied Tanks, and holding up an entire division,before it was destroyed Production was around 1,354 not enough of them, but consider the legendary reputation the tank had acquired. The numbers were too few, for them to really make any difference. Because of its weight at 60 tons, it could not cross many bridges. Transport by rail,it took hours to load a Tiger on a flatcar, and needed special equipment. When a Tiger broke down, the only machine that could do the towing was another Tiger! A number of special recovery Tigers were built. Another variant was the "Sturmtiger" the turret was replaced with an armor plated superstructure mounting a 15in/38cm rocket mortar 18 of these weapons were built before the end of the war. Today you can see a Tiger and a Sturmtiger on display at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Other Tigers are on display in Europe, at the British Army Tank Museum and the French Army Tank Museum, the French keep a number of German tanks and other vehicles in working condition.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
17 Dec 2009 12:49:43 PM

Production of the Tiger was slow about 25 tanks per month, but peaked to 104 per month by 1944. German Industry fell short in its production of the Tiger, for many reasons man hours to build, cost, it was just over- engineered. The Tiger was a powerful machine, but it had too many weaknesses mechanically, it was just underpowered, it was heavy over 60 tons!, short operating range, slow speed. On the other hand, it was a machine designed for the attack, needed air support, but was slow and this could hold up the Division when it needed to move fast and flank the enemy. Against other tanks, it was a tanker's worst nightmare. Over 1,000 Tigers took part in battles on the Eastern Front, and destroyed over 8,000 Russian tanks, but they were just too few to make any difference. The kill ratio was high in favor of the Tiger, but the Russian could make up those losses and build thousands of T-34'S and the Germans could only build Hundreds, such low production does not win wars,or support the Army in the field. The design was never copied because it was just too complex for the cost of one Tiger the Russians could out produce the Germans in the number of tanks they could build. Tanks built during wartime have a operating time in hours, days, months before they are knocked out of action or destroyed. During one 6 hour battle on the Eastern Front one Tiger was hit over 200 times, and was damaged, but it was able to drive back 40 miles to repair. As the Allies were moving through Normandy a few Tigers and Panthers were able to knock out 80 Sherman Tanks, before being destroyed.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
16 Jul 2010 06:36:26 PM

Each Tiger cost 250,000 marks, and each Tiger lost in combat sometimes with highly experienced crews, both were difficult to replace. By the end of the war,the Russian heavy tank Joseph Stalin II, and the American Pershing tank outclassed the Tiger.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
16 Jul 2010 07:48:31 PM

"The(Real)Tiger and the(Reel)Tiger" The Tiger tanks featured in the WWII Movie "Saving Private Ryan", were reproductions the vehicles were built on Russian T-34 tank chassis. If you look close you can see the(Reel)tanks have five main road wheels repo T-34's. The(Real)Tiger had overlapping road wheels. Operational Tiger tanks, are rare, and could not be used in the movie let alone be destroyed! The (Real)Tiger tank, had armored glass to protect the driver. This would have prevented Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) from sticking his submachinegun into the viewport. The use of a .45 Automatic against a Tiger, I'm not gonna go there. If someone has any information post it on the ww2bd I would like to know. The use of the Tiger in the movie, does much more to do with its reputation, than it does with Historical accuracy. The Tiger's had markings of 1st.SS Panzer this unit would not have been near the Merderet River, June 13, 1944.
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
30 Jul 2010 07:57:28 PM

ACHTUNG TIGER! Did you know... The Tiger tank, was developed on Hitler's Birthday in 1942. The first Tiger tanks the Allies faced were in Tunisia, 75mm rounds bounced off firing at fifty meters away. Dispite its design flaws, the Tiger was a terror weapon, and earned itself a reputation. It was expensive to build in fact, German Industry could build (4) StuG assault guns for the price of one Tiger. A Battle Tank must have three things going for it: Firepower Armor Manueverability The Tiger had only the first two, as for its manueverability, it was slow top speed was 23mph, it was heavy and it suffered from engine and suspension problems. The Tiger was a breakthrough weapon it needed its flanks protected by Infantry and other tanks, it also needed air-support. The Germans didn't teach the world how to use tanks, to showed the world how to use them. Final note, I don't claim to be an expert, and from time to time I'll get dissenting opinions, all I ask is to use some courtesy. Bill Next time, your driving your automobile try driving at 23mph / 37km/h, you'll get there.
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Nov 2010 03:11:28 PM

Enter the Elefant, this vehicle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, used as a heavy tank destroyed. Ninty One (91) were built over-engineered it had high fuel consumption, poor overall performance and mechanical problems maximum speed 10km/h off road, and 30km/h 19mph on road. It was powered by two 300hp Mayback gasoline engines. During the Battle of Kursk in 1943 many of the Elefant's broke down, destroyed by mines, or by Soviet infantry attacks. Within the first four days of the Battle, half were out of action. WHAT NO MACHINE GUNS! The Elefant had one big problem, it didn't have any machine guns for protection against infantry attack, the Germans couldn't support each other by firing at the Soviet infantry climbing on the tanks. LETS OVER-ENGINEER IT SOMEMORE The surviving vehicles were modified with machine guns for protection, anti-tank paste called Zimmerit was applied, other design changes and modification added the weight to 70 tons! Another variant an armored recovery vehicle they were rebuilt from damaged vehicles. Today you can see a Elefant/Ferdinand at the US Army Ordnance Museum, Aberdeen, Maryland
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Nov 2010 06:27:43 PM

THE ARMORED DINOSAUR: The Elefant/Ferdinand was armed with the famous 88mm gun, after the Battle of Kursk many were modified and for self-defence they carried 2x7.92mm MG-34 machine guns with 6,200 rounds of ammo. More armor was added,the front armored plate was 3600lbs! the Elefant had a crew of six to operate her. The Elefant's 88mm had about 50 rounds, and gave the Elefant superior firepower, but I'm sure crews carried more than that. Some crews even mounted a third machine gun on top of the commanders position, and added even more ammo, those MG-34s put out a lot of lead. Elefants were given a covering of anti-magnetic paste called Zmmerit, to keep those mines from sticking to the hull. During the Battle of Kursk about twenty of the Elefants were lost to Russian anti-tank teams. Others were abandoned due to mechanical failure. The first Elefants didn't have any machine guns for protection or, to provide covering fire for each against the Russian infantry climbing on top and place a mine to knock it out. The slow speed, made them a target and others were lost to mechanical problems. The Germans wasted a lot of time and material on over-engineered machines, the more complex the more things that can go wrong. Last four Elefant's took part in the defence of Berlin, April 1945. The Elefant at the US Army Ordnance Museum Aberdeen, Maryland USA, was captured at Anzio, Italy. It has been restored complete with Battle damage. The other Elefant is at the Russian Tank Museum Kubinka, Russia. It was captured at the Battle of Kursk.
8. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
4 Jan 2011 06:57:57 PM

Can you imagine a tank larger and heaver than a Tiger or even the King Tiger. It wasn't built but it could have been a monster, from a monsterous regime. KRUPP LANDKREUZER P.1000 RATTA (RAT) This was a monster of 1000 tons development started in 1943, but no prototypes would ever leave the drawing boards. Think about it a vehicle 1000 tons/2,000,000,000lbs WUNDERWAFFE: It would have been armed w/2x280mm naval guns, and its secondary armament would have been 1x128mm gun, 8x20mm cannons and 2x15mm cannons. Powered by 8xDaimler-Benz 20-cylinder diesel engines. These are the same engines, that powered the German E-boats and U-boats the with a top speed 40 km/h about 25mph I would guess maybe on even ground, over rough ground about 15mph, but that's my guess. How could you support such a machine in the field, were could you deploy it, hide it and maintain it. It would have been crewed by over 20 men. I can imagine to knock it out you would have to drop the RAFs 10 ton Tall Boy "Grandslam" Bomb on it. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! The smaller brother named the Maus (Mouse) or the Panzerkampfwagen VIII went on to become the largest tank built in prototype form only, no production machines were ever built The Maus was 100 tons, but ballooned to 180 tons, armor was 31 inches thick, or 800mm! armed w/ 1x128mm gun. Another design was the E-100 similar in design to the Mous, but was smaller none were built, it was in prototype form only.
9. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Feb 2011 08:12:13 PM

BIG OOPS!.......ON NUMBER 8, JAN 4, 2011 My mistake the the Krupp Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratta (Rat)was 1000 tons that's 1,000,000lb! gotta get more sleep sometimes, I forget to proof read.
10. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
22 Feb 2011 10:20:08 AM

SACRIFICES AT HOME: Mrs. Niland received three telegrams, from the Dept. of the Army, notifying her of the two sons killed in action, and one missing in action. First son, Robert died in Normandy June 6, 1944. Second son, Preston died June 7, 1944. Third son, Eddie reported missing in the Pacific but, was later rescued from a POW camp. Forth son Fritz was sent back to the USA. The Niland story, was the basis for the WWII film Saving Private Ryan. How many thousands of families suffered such loss, another reason they are call "THE GREATEST GENERATION".
11. FF says:
20 Apr 2016 01:26:05 AM

Like any new tank, the Tiger suffered from mechanical problems, but they were solved. In 1944, currently some 70 % of the Tiger tanks were available : this heavy tank was then as reliable as a medium one (see Thomas L. Jentz' book). Its performances were very good for an heavy tank, hardly lower than those of a medium tank. Its price, 250,000 RM, (c. US$ 95,000), was very high, but, compared to a medium tank (c US$ 50,000 for a Sherman), cheap, as a Tiger, on the battlefield, was equal to some four Allies tanks. However, it wasn't good enough to counterbalance the Allies gigantic number.
12. Anonymous says:
8 Feb 2018 10:01:59 AM

good content
13. Anonymous says:
22 Feb 2020 09:43:37 AM

good content

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PzKpfw VI Ausf. E 'Tiger I' Heavy Tank Photo Gallery
A German Tiger I heavy tank and a damaged Soviet T-34 medium tank, Russia, 1942German tank crew and a Luftwaffe sergeant next to a Tiger I heavy tank, Russia, 1942
See all 208 photographs of PzKpfw VI Ausf. E 'Tiger I' Heavy Tank

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