Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf E (Sd Kfz 181), also known as Tiger I, is one of the most notorious tanks of all time.
The thick armour, powerful gun and huge size of the Tiger along with skillful German propaganda made it a legend. The tank’s awesome reputation spread rapidly amongst Allied crews when it first appeared in 1942.
It was the result of Hitler’s insistence that the German Army have a bigger and more powerful tank. He made this decision after reading reports on the thick armour of British and French tanks such as the Matilda II and Char B.
In May 1941, manufacturers Henschel and Porsche were asked to submit designs for a 45 tonne tank to be demonstrated in June the following year. The turret of the new tank would be designed by Krupp and house the 8.8 cm gun derived from the famous anti-aircraft gun.
This system of having competing designs for tanks was well established in Germany, but Ferdinand Porsche, being a personal friend of Hitler, was overconfident that his design would win the contract and pre-ordered the building of 100 chassis.
The Henschel design was accepted for serial production because the Porsche design, with its troublesome petrol-electric power unit required large amounts of copper – a product in limited supply in wartime Germany.
“You don’t know anything about it – there’s no flash on the gun, you can’t see where it comes from and you don’t know it’s been shot until it hits you. From 2,000 yards away they could knock you out, we all feared the Tiger, we really did.” – Radio Operator Ernest Slarks, 23rd Hussars
The Tiger I at The Tank Museum, Tiger 131, was abandoned by its crew after being hit by a Churchill tank of the 48th Royal Tank regiment in Tunisia in 1942. You can still see the deep scratches and gouges in the main gun and turret.
Maximum Armour: 102mm (4in)
Max sustained speed on road: 40 Km/h (25mph)
Weight: 57.9 tonnes (57 Imp tons)
Weaponry: 8.8cm/88mm KwK 36 main gun, 2 x 7.92mm MG 34 machine guns
Range (on road): 195km (121 miles)
Fuel capacity: 540L (118.9 Imp Gallon)
Service Dates: 1942-1945
Manufacturer: Henschel and Sohn