Tiger II

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Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-721-0398-21A, Frankreich, Panzer VI (Tiger II, Königstiger)
Tiger II, France, June 1944
TypeHeavy tank
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1944–1945
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerHenschel & Son (hull) / Krupp (turret)
ManufacturerHenschel & Son / Krupp (turret)
Unit cost321,500 ℛ︁ℳ︁ ($160,750 USD) in 1944–45[1]
No. built492[2]
Mass68.5 tonnes (67.4 long tons; 75.5 short tons) early turret
69.8 tonnes (68.7 long tons; 76.9 short tons) production turret[3]
Length7.38 m (24 ft 3 in) hull
10.286 m (33 ft 9.0 in) with gun forward)[3]
Width3.755 m (12 ft 3.8 in)[3]
Height3.09 m (10 ft 2 in)[3]
Crew5 (commander, gunner, loader, radio operator, driver)

Armour25–185 mm (0.98–7.28 in)[3]
8.8 cm KwK 43
Early Krupp design turret: 80 rounds[4]
Production turret: 86 rounds[4]
7.92 mm MG 34 machine guns
5,850 rounds[3]
EngineV-12 Maybach HL 230 P30 petrol engine
700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)[5]
Power/weight10 PS (7.5 kW) /tonne (9.89 hp/tonne)
TransmissionMaybach OLVAR OG 40 12 16 B (8 forward and 4 reverse)[5]
SuspensionTorsion bar
Ground clearance495 to 510 mm (19.5 to 20.1 in)[3]
Fuel capacity860 litres (190 imp gal)[3]
Road: 190 km (120 mi)[6][7]
Cross country: 120 km (75 mi)[6]
Maximum speed Maximum, road: 41.5 km/h (25.8 mph)[6]
Sustained, road: 38 km/h (24 mph)[6]
Cross country: 15 to 20 km/h (9.3 to 12.4 mph)[6]

The Tiger II was a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,[a] often shortened to Tiger B.[9] The ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 182.[9] (Sd.Kfz. 267 and 268 for command vehicles). It was also known informally as the Königstiger[9] (German for Bengal tiger, lit.'King Tiger').[10][11] Contemporaneous Allied soldiers usually called it the King Tiger or Royal Tiger.[citation needed]

The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, combining the latter's thick armour with the armour sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost 70 tonnes, and was protected by 100 to 185 mm (3.9 to 7.3 in) of armour to the front.[12] It was armed with the long barrelled (71 calibres) 8.8 cm KwK 43 anti-tank cannon.[b] The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless Jagdpanzer anti-tank vehicle.[13]

The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army and the Waffen-SS. It was first used in combat by 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion during the Allied invasion of Normandy on 11 July 1944;[14] on the Eastern Front, the first unit to be outfitted with the Tiger II was the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion, which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational.[15]


Development of a heavy tank design had been initiated in 1937; the initial design contract was awarded to Henschel. Another design contract followed in 1939, and was given to Porsche.[16] Both prototype series used the same turret design from Krupp. The main differences were in the hull, transmission, suspension and automotive features.[16]

Supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe General Eisenhower walks by an overturned Tiger II destroyed in Falaise pocket August 1944

The Henschel version used a conventional hull design with sloped armour resembling the layout of the Panther tank. It had a rear-mounted engine and used nine steel-tired, eighty-centimetre-diameter overlapping road wheels per side with internal springing, mounted on transverse torsion bars, in a similar manner to the original Henschel-designed Tiger I. To simplify maintenance, however, the wheels were only overlapping without being interleaved—the full Schachtellaufwerk rubber-rimmed road-wheel system that had been in use on nearly all German half-tracks used the interleaved design, later inherited by the Tiger I[17] and Panther.

The Porsche hull designs included a rear-mounted turret and a mid-mounted engine. The suspension was the same as on the Elefant tank destroyer. This had six road wheels per side mounted in paired bogies sprung with short longitudinal torsion bars that were integral to the wheel pair; this saved internal space and facilitated repairs. One Porsche version had a gasoline-electric drive (fundamentally identical to a Diesel-electric transmission, only using a gasoline-fueled engine as the prime mover), similar to a gasoline-electric hybrid but without a storage battery; two separate drivetrains in parallel, one per side of the tank, each consisting of a hybrid drive train; gasoline engine–electric generator–electric motor–drive sprocket. This method of propulsion had been used on the rejected Tiger (P) design, which had been rebuilt as Elefant, and in some US designs and was put into production in the French World War I era Saint-Chamond tank and post-World War I Char 2C. The Porsche suspension components were later used on a few of the later Jagdtiger tank destroyers. Another proposal was to use hydraulic drives; Dr. Porsche's unorthodox designs gathered little favour.[18]


A tank turret with a front face which curves up and down. The sides are slanted vertically and curved laterally.
A model depicting the curved front of the first version of the Krupp turret (erroneously called "Porsche turret")[19]

Henschel won the design contract, and all Tiger IIs were produced by the firm.[20] Two turret designs were used in production vehicles. The initial design is often misleadingly called the "Porsche" turret due to the misbelief that it was designed by Porsche for their Tiger II prototype; in fact it was the initial Krupp design for both prototypes.[19] This turret had a rounded front and steeply sloped sides, with a difficult-to-manufacture curved bulge on the turret's left side to accommodate the commander's cupola. Fifty early turrets were mounted to Henschel hulls and used in action. In December 1943 the more common "production" turret, sometimes erroneously called the "Henschel" turret, was simplified with a significantly thicker flat face (which eliminated the shot trap caused by the curved face of the earlier turret), and less-steeply sloped sides, which avoided the need for a bulge for the commander's cupola, and added additional room for ammunition storage.[21]

A tank turret with an almost square, flat, vertical face, the sides are almost vertical, and curve laterally only slightly.
The angular front of the "production turret" designed by Krupp (erroneously called "Henschel turret")[19] taken during Operation Panzerfaust in Budapest, 15 October 1944. The rough Zimmerit coating is evident, used to prevent magnetic mines from adhering to the tank's armour.

The turrets were designed to mount the 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 gun. Combined with the Turmzielfernrohr 9d (German "turret telescopic sight") monocular sight by Leitz, which all but a few early Tiger IIs used, it was a very accurate and deadly weapon. During practice, the estimated probability of a first-round hit on a 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high, 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide target was 100 percent at 1,000 m (1,100 yd), 95–97 percent at 1,500 m (1,600 yd) and 85–87 percent at 2,000 m (2,200 yd), depending on ammunition type.[citation needed] Recorded combat performance was lower, but still over 80 percent at 1,000 m, in the 60s at 1,500 m and the 40s at 2,000 m. Penetration of armoured plate inclined at 30 degrees was 202 and 132 mm (8.0 and 5.2 in) at 100 m (110 yd) and 2,000 m (2,200 yd) respectively for the Panzergranate 39/43 projectile (PzGr – armour-piercing shell), and 238 and 153 mm (9.4 and 6.0 in) for the PzGr. 40/43 projectile between the same ranges.[citation needed] The Sprenggranate 43 (SpGr) high-explosive round was available for soft targets, or the Hohlgranate or Hohlgeschoss 39 (HlGr – HEAT or High-explosive anti-tank warhead) round, which had 90 mm (3.5 in) penetration at any range, could be used as a dual-purpose munition against soft or armoured targets.[22]

Powered turret traverse was provided by the variable speed Boehringer-Sturm L4S hydraulic motor, which was driven from the main engine by a secondary drive shaft. A high and a low speed setting was available to the gunner via a lever on his right. The turret could be rotated 360 degrees at 6º/second in low gear independent of engine rpm, at 19º/second – the same as with the Tiger I – with the high speed setting and engine at 2000 rpm, and over 36º/second at the maximum allowable engine speed of 3,000 rpm. The direction and speed of traverse was controlled by the gunner through foot pedals, whilst a high torque low speed (useful when on slopes) or low torque high speed final gearing could be selected via a control lever near his left arm. This system allowed for very precise control of powered traverse, a light touch on the pedal resulting in a minimum traverse speed of 0.1 deg/sec (360 degrees in 60 min), unlike in most other tanks of the time (e.g. US M4 Sherman or Soviet T-34 medium tanks) this allowed for fine laying of the gun without the gunner needing to use his traverse handwheel.[23] If power was lost, such as when the tank ran out of fuel, the turret could be slowly traversed by hand, assisted by the loader who had an additional wheel, which could manually rotate the turret at a rate of one-half a degree per each revolution of the hand crank; a 20° turret rotation required 40 full cranks of the handwheel, and to turn the turret a full 360° the gunner would be required to crank the handwheel 720 full revolutions.[citation needed]

The overhanging rear face of a large tank, two laterally spaced exhaust pipes protrude from mountings, pointing upwards, curving away from the vehicle at their ends.
Rear view showing dual exhausts

Like all German tanks, the Tiger II had a petrol engine; in this case the same 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW) V-12 Maybach HL 230 P30 which powered the much lighter Panther and Tiger I tanks. The Tiger II was under-powered, like many other heavy tanks of World War II[citation needed], and consumed a lot of fuel, which was in short supply for the Germans. The transmission was the Maybach OLVAR OG 40 12 16 Model B, giving eight forward gears and four reverse, which drove the steering gear. This was the Henschel L 801, a double radius design which proved susceptible to failure. Transverse torsion bar suspension supported the hull on nine axles per side. Overlapped 800 mm (31 in) diameter road wheels with rubber cushions and steel tyres rode inside the tracks.[24] Late production Tiger Is received the same wheels, which were one of the few interchangeable parts between the two tanks.[25]

Like the Tiger I, each tank was issued with two sets of tracks: a normal "battle track" and a narrower "transport" version used during rail movement. The transport tracks reduced the overall width of the load and could be used to drive the tank short distances on firm ground. The crew were expected to change to normal battle tracks as soon as the tank was unloaded. Ground pressure was 0.76 kg/cm2 (10.8 psi).[26]

Command variant[edit]

The command variant of the Tiger II was designated Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf. B. It had two versions, Sd.Kfz. 267 and Sd.Kfz. 268. These had reduced ammunition capacity (only 63 rounds of 8.8 cm ammunition) to provide room for the extra radios and equipment,[9] and had additional armour on the engine compartment. The Sd.Kfz. 267 was to have used FuG 8 and FuG 5 radio sets, with the most notable external changes being a two-metre-long (6.6 ft) rod antenna mounted on the turret roof and a Sternantenne D ("Star antenna D"), mounted on an insulated base (the 105 mm Antennenfuß Nr. 1), which was protected by a large armoured cylinder. This equipment was located on the rear decking in a position originally used for deep-wading equipment.[9] The Sd.Kfz. 268 used FuG 7 and FuG 5 radios with a two-metre rod antenna mounted on the turret roof and a 1.4 metre rod antenna mounted on the rear deck.[27]


The Tiger II was developed late in the war and built in relatively small numbers. Orders were placed for 1,500 Tiger IIs—slightly more than the 1,347 Tiger I tanks produced—but production was heavily disrupted by Allied bombing raids.[28] Among others, five raids between 22 September and 7 October 1944 destroyed 95 percent of the floor area of the Henschel plant. It is estimated that this caused the loss in production of 657 Tiger IIs.[29] Only 492 units were produced: one in 1943, 379 in 1944, and 112 in 1945. Full production ran from mid-1944 to the end of the war.[2] Each Tiger II cost 321 500 Reichsmark. [30] The vehicle was the costliest German tank to produce at the time.[31]

The Tiger II served as the basis for one production variant, the Jagdtiger casemated tank destroyer,[13] and a proposed Grille 17/21/30/42 self-propelled mount for heavy guns which never reached production.[citation needed]

Proposed upgrades[edit]

The Maybach HL234, an engine born from the developments initiated by attempting to convert the Maybach HL230 to fuel injection, would have increased the power from 700 to at least 800 PS (hp). In January 1945 the Entwicklungskommission Panzer unanimously decided that HL234 be immediately included in the engine design and procurement program. The ZF AK-7-200 gearbox was also explored as an alternative to the Maybach Olvar-B semi-automatic gearbox, but Waffenamt research and development department Wa Prüf 6 found that it offered inferior driving characteristics and so the Maybach Olvar-B was retained.[32] There was also a program using the Simmering-Graz-Pauker Sla.16-cylinder diesel engine,[32] but the war's constraint on supplies and capitulation resulted in the cancellation of this program.[citation needed] Krupp proposed mounting a new main weapon, the 10.5 cm KwK L/68. Wa Prüf 6 was not supportive of this as the Heer had not accepted the cannon itself. Other suggested improvements included stabilised sights, a stabilised main gun, an automatic ammunition feed, a Carl Zeiss AG stereoscopic rangefinder, heated crew compartment, stowage for an additional 12 rounds, and an overpressure and air filtration system to protect against poison gas. However, these also never got beyond the proposal stage or did not enter production before the war ended.[32]


Tiger II 332 cutaway model at the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection
  • Gearbox: Maybach OLVAR OG 40 12 16 B (eight forward and four reverse)[24]
  • Radio: FuG 5, Befehlswagen (command tank) version: FuG 8 (Sd.Kfz. 267), FuG 7 (Sd.Kfz. 268)[9]
  • Ammunition:
    • 8.8 cm – 80 rounds (early turret),[4] 86 rounds (main production turret), usually 50% PzGr 39/43 and 50% SprGr 43, sometimes with a limited number of PzGr 40/43, or with the SprGr replaced by HlGr[4][c]
    • 7.92mm – up to 5,850 rounds[3]
  • Gun Sight: Turmzielfernrohr 9b/1 (TZF 9b/1) binocular to May 1944, then the 9d (TZF 9d) monocular.[33]
Armour layout (all angles from horizontal)[12]
Location Thickness Aspect
Hull front (lower) 100 mm (3.9 in) 40°
Hull front (upper) 150 mm (5.9 in) 40°
Hull side (lower) 80 mm (3.1 in) 90°
Hull side (upper) 80 mm (3.1 in) 65°
Hull rear 80 mm (3.1 in) 60°
Hull top 40 mm (1.6 in)
Hull bottom (front) 40 mm (1.6 in) 90°
Hull bottom (rear) 25 mm (0.98 in) 90°
Turret front (production) 180 mm (7.1 in) 80°
Turret front ("Porsche") 60 to 100 mm (2.4 to 3.9 in) rounded
Turret side (production) 80 mm (3.1 in) 69°
Turret side ("Porsche") 80 mm (3.1 in) 60°
Turret rear (production) 80 mm (3.1 in) 70°
Turret rear ("Porsche") 80 mm (3.1 in) 60°
Turret top (production) 44 mm (1.7 in) 0–10°
Turret top ("Porsche") 40 mm (1.6 in) 0–12°

Operational history[edit]


Apart from research, training, and a five-tank attachment to the Panzer Lehr, the Tiger II was only issued to heavy tank battalions (schwere Panzer-Abteilungen) of the German Army (Heer), or Waffen-SS.[34]

A row of seven large tanks lined up with their long guns pointing up at an angle, as if saluting.
Tiger II tanks fitted with the narrower "vehicle-transport tracks" of the Schwere Heeres Panzer Abteilung 503 (s.H.Pz.Abt. 503) 'Feldherrnhalle' posing in formation for the Nazi German wartime-propaganda newsreel at the armour-training ground in Sennelager, Germany, prior to the unit's departure for Hungary

A standard battalion (Abteilung) comprised 45 tanks:[34]

Battalion command
3 × Tiger II
1st company command
2 × Tiger II
2nd company command
2 × Tiger II
3rd company command
2 × Tiger II
1st platoon
4 × Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 × Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 × Tiger II
1st platoon
4 × Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 × Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 × Tiger II
1st platoon
4 × Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 × Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 × Tiger II

Units that used the Tiger II were as follows:[35]

Heer: (s.H.Pz.Abt) 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 511
SS: (s.SS.Pz.Abt) 501, 502, 503

Reliability and mobility[edit]

A large, turreted tank with dull yellow, green and brown wavy camouflage, on display inside Bovington museum. The tracks are wide, and the frontal armour is sloped. The long gun overhangs the bow by several meters.
A camouflaged Tiger II in display in Bovington Tank museum. The long gun overhangs the bow by several meters.

Early Tiger IIs proved unreliable, owing principally to leaking seals and gaskets, an overburdened drive train originally intended for a lighter vehicle, and teething problems with the final drive and steering unit, both of which had been newly designed for the Tiger II.[36][37] The final drive unit and the double radius steering gear were initially particularly prone to failures.[38][39]

The new double-link track proved to be vulnerable to sideways stresses when the tank was driving on uneven terrain, as well as causing only every other sprocket tooth to engage with the track, leading to their rapid wear and potentially damaging the final drive. The inspector general of panzer troops, Wolfgang Thomale, said in a briefing on November 4, 1944, "These complaints could be traced back to the new track, which, although a considerable production simplification, on the other hand entails a greater susceptibility of the Tiger." The engagement of only every second sprocket tooth was causing “sudden jerks in the final drive, which cannot withstand these blows".[40]

Tiger II 332 arrives at the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection, Fort Benning (now Fort Moore), Georgia

Henschel's chief designer, Erwin Aders, wrote, "The failure occurred because the Tiger II went into production without considering the test results."[41] Lack of crew training could amplify this problem; drivers originally given only limited training on other tanks were often sent directly to operational units already on their way to the front.[36]

The Schwere Heeres Panzer Abteilung 501 arrived on the Eastern Front with only eight out of 45 tanks operational; these faults were mostly due to final drive failures. The first five Tiger IIs delivered to the Panzer Lehr Division broke down before they could be used in combat, and were destroyed to prevent capture.[42]

Henschel worked closely with crews to solve the problems, and with the introduction of modified seals, gaskets, drive train components and a new track and sprocket wheel design, as well as improved driver training and sufficient maintenance, the Tiger II could be maintained in a satisfactory operational condition.[43] Statistics from 15 March 1945 show reliability rates of 59 percent for the Tiger, almost equal to the 62 percent of the Panzer IV and better than the 48 percent of the Panther that were operational by this period.[44]

The s.H.Pz.Abt 503 noted in an after-action report during operations in Hungary, November 1944:

...The battalion went into action in two battle groups with two different divisions on two different days. Provided the assault was successful in penetrating into the enemy rear, the battalion would then reunite. Both groups were extraordinarily successful. From 19-23 October 1944, 120 anti-tank guns and 19 guns were destroyed. The extremely tough and steadfast enemy (penal battalions) was shaken to the core by the energetic assault and his communications to the rear thrown into total confusion by the destruction of various columns and a transport train which, in the final analysis, forced the Russian Sixth Army from the Debrecen area. The total distance of about 250 kilometers covered during the operation was accomplished essentially without mechanical failure. The Tiger II proved itself extremely well, both in its armor and from a mechanical perspective. Vehicles which received up to twenty hits without becoming disabled were not uncommon ... In summary, the Tiger II has proven itself in every way and is a weapon that the enemy fears. When the formation is used as a single, unified entity and is employed in accordance with proper tactics, it always brings decisive success... [45]

Notwithstanding its initial reliability problems, the Tiger II was remarkably agile for such a heavy vehicle. Contemporary German records and testing results indicate that its tactical mobility was as good as or better than most German or Allied tanks.[46][d]

Lt Col H.A. Shields of the 66th Armored Regiment reported in 1945:

Wherever we have seen Tiger or Panther tanks, they have not demonstrated any inferior maneuverability. Near Puttendorf several Royal Tiger tanks were encountered. These Royal Tigers were able to negotiate very soft ground and their tracks did not sink in soft ground as did our own.

Combat history[edit]

Tiger IIs (with the first version of the Krupp turret) on the move in France, June 1944

The first combat use of the Tiger II was by the 1st Company of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion (s.H.Pz.Abt. 503) during the Battle of Normandy, opposing the Canadian offensive Operation Atlantic between Troarn and Demouville on 18 July 1944. Two were lost in combat, while the company commander's tank became irrecoverably trapped after falling into a bomb crater created during Operation Goodwood.[47]

On the Eastern Front, it was first used on 12 August 1944 by the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion (s.H.Pz.Abt. 501) resisting the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. It attacked the Soviet bridgehead over the Vistula River near Baranów Sandomierski. On the road to Oględów, three Tiger IIs were destroyed in an ambush by a few T-34-85s.[48] Because these German tanks suffered ammunition explosions, which caused many crew fatalities, main gun rounds were no longer allowed to be stowed within the turret, reducing capacity to 68.[49] Up to fourteen Tiger IIs of the 501st were destroyed or captured in the area between 11 and 14 August to ambushes and flank attacks by both Soviet T-34-85 and IS-2 tanks, and ISU-122 assault guns in inconvenient sandy terrain. The capture of three operational Tiger IIs allowed the Soviets to conduct tests at Kubinka and to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses[50]

A large tank with sloped frontal armour and a flat faced turret, by a column of marching soldiers wearing overcoats and helmets, in a wide city street. A large building to the rear shows the scars of battle.
A Tiger II of s.H.Pz.Abt. 503 and Hungarian troops in a battle-scarred street in Buda's Castle district, October 1944

On 15 October 1944, Tiger IIs of 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion played a crucial role during Operation Panzerfaust, supporting Otto Skorzeny's troops in taking the Hungarian capital of Budapest, which ensured that the country remained with the Axis until the end of the war. The 503rd then took part in the Battle of Debrecen. The 503rd remained in the Hungarian theater of operations for 166 days, during which time it accounted for at least 121 Soviet tanks, 244 anti-tank guns and artillery pieces, five aircraft and a train. This was set against the loss of 25 Tiger IIs; ten were knocked out by Soviet troops and burned out, two were sent back to Vienna for a factory overhaul, while thirteen were blown up by their crews for various reasons, usually to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.

The Tiger II was also used in significant numbers, distributed into four heavy panzer battalions, during the Ardennes Offensive (also known as the 'Battle of the Bulge') of December 1944.[51] At least 150 Tiger IIs were present, nearly a third of total production; most were lost over the course of the offensive.[52]

Some Tiger IIs were also present during the Soviet Vistula–Oder[53] and East Prussian Offensives in January 1945,[54] as well as the German Lake Balaton Offensive in Hungary in March 1945,[55] the Battle of the Seelow Heights in April 1945, and the Battle of Berlin at the end of the war.[56]

The 103rd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion (s.SS Pz.Abt. 503) claimed approximately 500 kills in the period from January to April 1945 on the Eastern Front for the loss of 45 Tiger IIs (most of which were abandoned and destroyed by their own crews after mechanical breakdowns or for lack of fuel).[57]

Gun and armour performance[edit]

A head-on view of a large tank with a flat-faced turret. Its sloped bow armour is scarred with several fist-sized dents, and there is a fist-sized hole in the front of the turret
A Tiger II with several failed penetrations in its front armour and a penetration in its turret.[58]

The heavy armour and powerful long-range gun gave the Tiger II an advantage against all opposing Western Allied and Soviet tanks attempting to engage it from head on. This was especially true on the Western Front where, until the arrival of the few M26 Pershings in 1945 and the few M4A3E2 Sherman "Jumbo" assault tanks with additional armour[e] that were scattered around Europe after D-Day, as well as a few late Churchill models[f], neither the British nor US forces brought heavy tanks into service. A Wa Prüf 1 report estimated that the Tiger II's frontal aspect was impervious to the Soviet 122 mm D-25T, one of the largest calibre tank guns of the war. However, Soviet testing contradicted this as they found that the frontal glacis could be destroyed by firing 3–4 shots at the weld joints from the ranges of 500–600m[59] which were found to be inferior in quality to that of previous German designs like the Tiger I or Panther.[60] An R.A.C 3.d. document of February 1945 estimated that the British (76.2 mm) QF 17-pounder gun, using armour-piercing discarding sabot shot was theoretically capable of penetrating the front of the Tiger II's turret and nose (lower front hull) at 1,100 and 1,200 yd (1,000 and 1,100 m) respectively although, given the lack of a stated angle, this was presumably at the ideal 90 degrees and in combat the Tiger II was never penetrated frontally by the QF 17-Pounder.[61]

As a result of its thick frontal armour, flanking manoeuvres were most often used against the Tiger II to attempt a shot at the thinner side and rear armour, giving a tactical advantage to the Tiger II in most engagements.[62] Moreover, the main armament of the Tiger II was capable of knocking out any Allied tank frontally at ranges exceeding 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi), well beyond the effective range of Allied tank guns.[63]

Soviet wartime testing[edit]

During August 1944, two Tiger Ausf B tanks were captured by the Soviets near Sandomierz, and were soon moved to the testing grounds at Kubinka. During the transfer, the two tanks suffered from various mechanical breakdowns; the cooling system was insufficient for the excessively hot weather, where the engine tended to overheat and cause a consequential failure of the gearbox. The right suspension of one of the tanks had to be completely replaced, and its full functionality could not be re-established. The tank broke down again every 10–15 km. The 8.8 cm KwK 43 gave positive results in penetration and accuracy, which were on par with the 122 mm D-25T. It proved capable of passing completely through its "colleague", a Tiger Ausf B's turret at a range of 400 m. The armour of one vehicle was tested by firing at it with shells between 100 and 152 mm calibre. The welding was, despite careful workmanship, significantly worse than on similar designs. As a result, even when shells did not penetrate the armour, there was often a large amount of spalling from the inside of the plates, which damaged the transmission and rendered the tank inoperable. Further testing showed that the armour plate itself exhibited deficiencies in quality compared to earlier German tanks such as the Tiger I and Panther. Lab testing found that the armour plates lacked molybdenum (ascribed to a loss of supply, being replaced by vanadium), resulting in low malleability.[60][64]

The expanded firing test states that the АР projectiles from the 100 mm BS-3 and 122 mm A-19 gun penetrated a Tiger Ausf B's turret at ranges of 1000–1500 metres, which suggests a quality factor of 0.86 for the Tiger Ausf B's turret. The firing test against the Tiger B turret front, however, was conducted after removal of the gun and mantlet, and resulted in penetrations close to armour openings, such as vision slits and gun location. The penetrations to the right gun opening were influenced by previous 100 mm projectile penetration hits or armour damage.[65] The 100 mm BS-3 and 122 mm A-19 could also penetrate the weld joints of the front hull at ranges of 500–600 metres after 3–4 shots.[59]

Surviving vehicles[edit]

The side of a large tank with wide, wavy green and grey striped camouflage, as it drives past, the commander sitting in the cupola.
The working Tiger II of the Musée des Blindés being displayed to the public, 2005

The only working example is displayed at the Musée des Blindés, Saumur, France. It has the production turret and is accessible to the public. This tank belonged to the 1st Company, 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. It was believed to have been abandoned by its crew on 23 August 1944, due to engine problems, at Brueil-en-Vexin, near Mantes-la-Jolie. It was salvaged by the French Army in September 1944 and then stored in a factory in Satory before being transferred to the museum in 1975. It was believed to have had turret number 123, but Colonel Michel Aubry, the founder of the museum, decided to put 233 on the turret in honour of the Tiger II that destroyed his Sherman tank at the end of the war. Unlike other captured German vehicles, this Tiger II was never used by the French Army.[citation needed] Other survivors include:

A frontal view of a large, pale-yellow tank in a white museum gallery.. Its curved-faced turret is pointing forwards, the long gun overhangs the front by several meters.
The Bovington Tank Museum's prototype Tiger II on display at the museum's Tiger Collection Exhibition, 2017
  • The Tank Museum, Dorset, UK: Tiger II with early production turret is on display. This vehicle was the second soft steel prototype made and did not see active service.[66]
  • Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Shrivenham, UK: Tiger II (production turret). This vehicle was from s.SS Pz.Abt. 501, with hull number 280093, turret number 104, and has a comprehensive coating of Zimmerit.[67] It was claimed by Sergeant Roberts of A Squadron, 23rd Hussars, 11th Armoured Division in a Sherman tank near Beauvais, although it had already been disabled and abandoned by its crew following damage to its tracks and final drive.[68] This item is currently on display at The Tank Museum, in Dorset, UK.[citation needed]
  • The Wheatcroft Collection, Leicestershire, UK. A private collector, Kevin Wheatcroft, is about[citation needed] to start a restoration/rebuild of a complete Tiger II. The project will include parts from many individual Tiger IIs, but many parts will be of new manufacture. Wheatcroft has stated that he has 70–80% of the original parts needed for a reconstruction and more parts are sourced continuously. Known and shown parts are a complete front glacis plate, 8.8 cm KwK 43 main armament, engine deck plates, approx. 1/3 hull (rear) in one part, a set of tracks, and approx. 2/3 of the left-side hull plate in two parts.[69] The aim of the project is a complete Tiger II in running order.[citation needed]
A three quarters view of a large tank with a flat-faced turret, dull yellow, green and brown wavy camouflage, on display inside a museum. The frontal armour is sloped. The long gun overhangs the bow by several meters. Two waist-high cartridges sit on their bases in front of it.
Tiger II with the production turret, at the Deutsches Panzermuseum, Germany
  • Deutsches Panzermuseum, Munster, Germany: Tiger II (production turret), hull number 280101.[citation needed] Originally bearing turret number 121 from s.SS.Pz.Abt 501, it was restored with a different number for unknown reasons.[citation needed]
  • Mantes-la-Jolie, France. A more or less complete, but wrecked, Tiger II (production turret) is buried under regional road 913. Parts of the turret were recovered in a limited exploratory excavation in 2001. Further excavation halted for financial reasons. There are plans to fully excavate and restore this Tiger II for a Vexin battle memorial.[70]
Tiger II at Kubinka Tank Museum
The side of a large tank, freshly painted in pale yellow, green and rust-brown camouflage, sitting in sunlight on a concrete plinth.
Tiger II at La Gleize, Belgium
  • December 44 Museum, La Gleize, Belgium: A cosmetically restored Tiger II (production turret), hull number 280273, built in October 1944. Turret number 213 from s.SS Pz.Abt 501. Displayed at the entrance to December 44 Museum Collections, a museum devoted entirely to the Battle of the Bulge. This tank was abandoned in La Gleize on 24 December 1944, where the advance of Kampfgruppe Peiper was halted. The front part, about 1/3, of the gun barrel is restored with a Panther gun barrel and muzzle brake.[71] It also has restored mudguards. It is stripped of exterior and internal fittings and most of the torsion bars are broken, but it still has its gearbox and engine in place.[citation needed]
  • U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection, Fort Moore, Georgia, United States: Tiger II (production turret), hull number 280243, built in September 1944. Turret number 332 from s.SS Pz.Abt. 501. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge by Sgt. Glenn D. George of the 740th Tank Battalion of the 1st US Army on December 24, 1944.[72] The left side was cut open for educational purposes at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in the late 1940s. Was on display at the former "Patton Museum of Cavalry & Armor, Fort Knox KY, then under BRAC transferred to Fort Benning as Fort Moore was then known.[citation needed]
  • Schweizerisches Militärmuseum Full, Switzerland. This Tiger II (production turret) was previously displayed in the Thun Tank Museum, and was loaned to the Schweizerisches Militärmuseum Full in September 2006). This tank was given to Switzerland by France after the war. Hull number 280215 from s.H.Pz.Abt 506.[73] As of 2021, it is in the process of being restored to working order.[74]

See also[edit]

Tanks of comparable role, performance and era[edit]

  • Soviet IS-3 heavy tank - entered service in 1945
  • United States T26E4 "Super Pershing" heavy tank
  • French ARL 44 - produced and served in limited numbers in the late 1940s and early 1950s
  • French AMX-50 - several prototypes produced in the late 1940s and early 1950s


Informational notes

  1. ^ Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. (English: "armoured fighting vehicle"), Ausf. is abbreviation of Ausführung (English: variant). The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B and Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf. B (for the command version) were used in training and maintenance manuals and in organisation and equipment tables.[8][page needed]. Also sometimes referred to as "Pz. VI Ausf B", not to be confused with "Pz. VI Ausf E”, which was the Tiger I.
  2. ^ KwK is abbreviation of Kampfwagenkanone – (literally 'fighting vehicle cannon')
  3. ^ the rounds were:
    • PzGr 39/43 Armour-piercing, hardened steel (APCBC)) giving longer range, lower penetration, explosive filler[5][22]
    • PzGr 40/43 Armour-piercing, tungsten carbide core (APCR)) with shorter range, higher penetration, inert[5][22]
    • SprGr 43 High explosive (HE))[5]
    • HlGr 39 Hollow charge (HEAT))[5]
  4. ^ The authors paid a visit to the Tiger II (Fgst.Nr. 280273, produced in October 1944) now located in the Ardenness in the village of La Gleize. Driving a modern car to the village on the narrow, steep and sharply curved roads, had required frequent use of low gears. That Tiger IIs had managed to make this same trip in the winter was indeed an impressive testimony to both their maneuverability and mobility.[citation needed]
  5. ^ and after February 1945 some with high velocity 76 mm gun
  6. ^ The Churchill Mark VII weighed 40 tons and had 152 mm of armour on hull and turret front but carried the same 75 mm gun as most Allied tanks in Western Europe


  1. ^ Zaloga 2015 p. 39.
  2. ^ a b Jentz 1996, p. 288.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jentz and Doyle 1997, pp. 162–165.
  4. ^ a b c d Jentz, Thomas; Doyle, Hilary (1993). Kingtiger Heavy Tank 1942–45. Osprey Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 185532282X.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 28 (figure D)
  6. ^ a b c d e Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 33.
  7. ^ Panther & its variants by Walter J. Spielberger p. 276.
  8. ^ Jentz and Doyle (1997)
  9. ^ a b c d e f Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 16.
  10. ^ Buckley 2004, p. 119.
  11. ^ Tank Spotter's Guide, Bovington 2011 p. 63
  12. ^ a b Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 12, 15.
  13. ^ a b Schneider 1990, p. 18.
  14. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 37.
  15. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 40.
  16. ^ a b Jentz & Doyle 1993, p. 3.
  17. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 10–12.
  18. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 8–10.
  19. ^ a b c Tank Chats#47 King Tiger, The Tank Museum, 2 March 2018, archived from the original on 2021-11-17, retrieved 24 January 2019
  20. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 17
  21. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 13–16.
  22. ^ a b c Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 23–24
  23. ^ Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius, by Otto Carious, Stackpole Books, 2003, ISBN 9780811729116, p. 23
  24. ^ a b Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 11–12.
  25. ^ "Tiger Wheels". Archived from the original on 2023-09-23. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  26. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 13.
  27. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 16–17.
  28. ^ Manchester 1968, p. 498.
  29. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 17.
  30. ^ PAWLAS, Karl R. Waffen-Revue W 127 - Datenblätter für Heeres-Waffen, -Fahrzeuge und Gerät. Nurnberg : Publizistisches Archiv für Militär- und Waffenwessen, 1976. 248 p.
  31. ^ "Panzer VI Ausf.B Königstiger (1944)". www.tanks-encyclopedia.com. Archived from the original on 2019-08-16. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  32. ^ a b c Jentz & Doyle 1997, p. 144-154.
  33. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 19.
  34. ^ a b Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 36.
  35. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 37–42.
  36. ^ a b Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 34
  37. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1997, p. 20
  38. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 11
  39. ^ sPzAbt 506, “Erfahrungen Mit Dem Panzerkampfwagen ‘Tiger’ B.”
  40. ^ "Tiger II V2 Extra: Off the Beaten Track | PanzerPlace". Panzerplace. 14 July 2021. Archived from the original on 13 July 2023. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  41. ^ Aders, Erwin (1961). 'Die Tigertypen E Und B: Entstehung Und Entwicklung', Panzer Kampftruppen Infanterie.
  42. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 35.
  43. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 18.
  44. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, p. 36.
  45. ^ The Combat History of Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503, p. 335
  46. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1993, pp. 33–34.
  47. ^ Schneider 2000, p. 133.
  48. ^ Zaloga 1994, p. 14.
  49. ^ Schneider 2000, p. 46.
  50. ^ Sledgehammers: Strengths and Flaws of Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II. Christopher W. Wilbeck. Aberjona, 2004. p. 135
  51. ^ Schneider 2005, pp. 214–216.
  52. ^ Green, Michael. "German Tanks of World War II". May 14, 2000. p. 73.
  53. ^ Schneider 2000, p. 47.
  54. ^ Schneider 2000, pp. 89–91.
  55. ^ Schneider 2005, p. 217.
  56. ^ Schneider 2005, pp. 300–303.
  57. ^ Schneider 2005, pp. 304, 324.
  58. ^ Pallud 2006, p. 152
  59. ^ a b Zheltov, Igor. TankoMaster Special Issues 02, 2002: Isoif Stalin. Tekhnika molodezhi. p. 33.
  60. ^ a b "Was the Tiger really King?: Testing the King Tiger at Kubinka". The Russian Battlefield. 19 September 2011. Archived from the original on 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2009-10-20. source: Tankomaster #6 1999.
  61. ^ Jentz and Doyle, 1993, pp. 34–36
  62. ^ Jarymowycz 2001, p. 274.
  63. ^ Jarymowycz 2001, p. 258.
  64. ^ Der riesige deutsche „Königstiger“ war ein Irrweg Archived 2020-05-10 at the Wayback Machine Von Sven Felix Kellerhoff. Veröffentlicht am 07.07.2014
  65. ^ Bird, Lorrin Rexford; Livingston, Robert D. (2001). WWII Ballistics – Armour and Gunnery. Overmatch Press. p. 90.
  66. ^ "The Tank Museum's King Tiger is loaned to museum in the Netherlands". Daily Echo. 28 January 2020. Archived from the original on 20 October 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  67. ^ Jentz and Doyle 1997, p.108.
  68. ^ Schneider 2005, p. 212.
  69. ^ "Gallery of parts". Wheatcroft Collection. Archived from the original on 2019-07-27. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  70. ^ "Memorial Vexin 44". vexinhistoirevivante.com (in French). Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  71. ^ "Tiger 213, December 44 Museum (accessed 2021-10-23)". Archived from the original on 2019-09-11. Retrieved 2021-10-23.
  72. ^ Miller, Harry (21 April 2021). "The Real Story of Tiger 332: How Americans Captured a German King Tiger, Mark VI Tank on Christmas Eve, 1944". Archived from the original on 8 September 2022. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  73. ^ "Tiger II". Schweizerisches Militärmuseum Full. Archived from the original on 2020-02-05. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  74. ^ Revill, John; Wiegmann, Arnd (31 March 2021). "Swiss museum restores German 1944 'King Tiger' tank to working order". Reuters. Archived from the original on 31 March 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021.


External links[edit]