TIGER E development gallery

(VK 3001 image). In 1939, the design bureau of Dr.-Ing.h.c.F. Porsche, KG of Sttutgart was requested to design a vehicle of about 30 tons for a new medium tank programm. This was the first armoured vehicle designed by the company and was designated as VK 3001 (P), although it would be better known as “Typ 100” or “Leopard“. The prototypes would be manufactured by the Austrian firm Nibelungenwerke in St. Valentin.
(VK 3001 image). In 1940-41, 2 prototypes were presented, which carried out numerous tests, showing that the vehicle had problems with the engine but was generally satisfactory. However, the program was abandoned in 1941 in favor of VK 45.01 (P) design, although the prototypes were widely used during the development of the latter. The “VK 3001 Leopard” weighed 30 tons, measured 6.58 x 3.80 x 3.05 meters, had a maximum armour of 80mm on the front of the turret and 75mm on the front of the hull. It had two Porsche Typ-100 petrol engines of 210 hp each for a top speed of 60 km/h. The main armament was a 75mm KwK L/24 gun or a 105mm Kwk L/28 gun.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). In Autumn 1940, the Heeres Waffenamt commissioned Porsche KG to independently develop a 45-ton Panzerkampfwagen. In adittion, in November 1940 Nibelungenwerke was asked to assemble the test series of the Panzerkampfwagen VI (Porsche).
(VK 45.01 (P) image). In February 1941 Porsche KG and Krupp signed an agreement for the adoption of one of the Krupp guns for the new tank. After considering an existing 88mm or two future 88 and 105mm guns, the 88mm KwK L/56 was chosen in April.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). At the end of April, Krupp placed a firm order with Nibelungenwerke for six turrets armed with the 88mm KwK L/56 gun and three armoured hulls according to Porsche design. The first hull should be finished by November 1941, so on May 20, Krupp gave Nibelungenwerke a turret’s wooden model so that they could begin to work.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). On May 26, 1941 the meeting with the presence of Hitler took place, in which it was decided to give impetus to the Porsche and Henschel heavy tank developments so that in Summer 1942 there would be 6 vehicles of each firm ready for the field tests.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). On June 21, 1941 to carry out Hitler’s order, Porsche KG was asked whether it was possible to install the most capable 88mm Flak 41 gun in the already designed turret of the VK 45.01 (P) prototype, and the answer was negative. It was then decided that only 100 Krupp-designed turrets with the 88mm KwK L/56 gun would be installed on the first VK 45.01 (P), changing the gun on the following tanks.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). The Krupp’s turret had to be modified so that it could house the Flak 41 gun as Hitler ordered because this gun was capable of penetrating a 100mm thick steel plate at 1,500 meters distance. Krupp was awarded a contract to manufacture 100 hulls and 100 complete turrets of the VK 45.01 (P) tank. Of these turrets, 8 were of the original design and the other 92 had higher sides and the sloping roof typical of Tiger tanks.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). Since March 1942 the Porsche prototype was officially designated as “PzKpfw VI (VK 45.01 P) (Ausführung P)“. In the training and maintenance manuals and in the organization tables it was “Panzerkampfwagen VI (88 mm) (SdKfz 181) Ausführung P“, beginning to suggest names like “Tiger P“, “Tiger P1” or “Porsche Tiger“.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). The first complete Porsche prototype was completed in April 1942. It was ordered that on Hitler’s birthday (April 20), the Porsche and Henschel prototypes would perform a demonstration before him. It should be noted that since the development order for the new heavy tank was given, not a year had passed and on the day of the demonstration it was clear that rushing is never good for almost anything.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). On April 19, the VK 45.01 (P) arrived at the place chosen for the stay of both prototypes, 11 km from Rastenburg, where Hitler had his HQ. It was unloaded from its transport by a crane, and as soon as it was perched on the ground, it was stuck because of the soft ground. This caused the hilarious situation that Henschel’s chief engineer, Kurt Arnoldt, offered his vehicle to take out the rival tank !!!!, which of course Dr Porsche refused in a very bad way.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). Finally, April 20 arrived and the 11 km road to Rastenburg was torture for both contestants, which were not able to drive for 1 km without having to stop to be checked ….., but they reached Rastenburg and the demonstration took place. The VK 45.01 (P) traveled 1 km at maximum speed, about 50 km/h, while Henschel’s vehicle could not exceed 45 km/h on its 850 meter run.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). The demonstration to Hitler left a false sense of Porsche model’s superiority among the authorities and industry professionals, but in reality the VK 45.01 (P) was plagued with mechanical problems. The novel and complicated gasoline-electric traction system for each track was prone to failure. In addition, it had serious problems with the suspension and some with the chassis and the lack of mobility of the vehicle was more than evident.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). In June 1942 a second prototype was completed and sent for shooting tests in Kummersdorf, which suffered constant mechanical breakdown. However, Porsche KG, without even waiting for the final result of the contest, started serial production of its VK 45.01 (P) in July 1942. Unfortunately, production had to stop in September as Nibelungenwerke had no engines and certain parts of the suspension because Porsche was trying to fix the constant failures.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). The Tiger-Kommission, created to evaluate both prototypes, met between October 26 and 31, 1942 and decided that the VK 45.01 (P) would not be manufactured as the new Wehrmacht heavy tank. There were 10 vehicles completed in Nibelungenwerke of which 4 were purchased for testing and training at Döllersheim, 3 hulls were transformed into Bergetiger P recovery vehicles and the other 3 were used for the canceled “Ramm-Tiger” project.
(VK 45.01 (P) image). From the 100 VK 45.01 (P) ordered, 90 of its turrets were modified and fitted to the Tiger tank and 90 hulls were transformed to create the Ferdinand tank destroyer. Due to mechanical problems with the transmission, Porsche had been working on a more conventional hydraulic transmission before October 1942, but it was not finished on time. However, work continued until February 1943, when Porsche announced that it had completed a Tiger tank with a new hydraulic transmission.
(VK 36.01 (H) image). On May 28, 1941, Heeres Waffenamt commissioned Henschel to design a vehicle capable of carrying a turret with an 88mm KwK gun according to the conclusions of the meeting with Hitler on the 26th. In addition, this vehicle should have on the front a new armoured piece to protect the tracks and the traction wheel called “Vorpanzer”. Henschel had to modify its VK 36.01 (H) design to comply with the required specifications in the established time. The original VK 36.01 (H) was a 30-ton prototype built for a previous medium tank program that was canceled.
(VK 36.01 (H) image).  The VK 36.01 (H) was conceived to mount a weapon that could penetrate 100mm of armour at 1,500 meters distance, and that could withstand impacts from a similar weapon. The weapon intended for the VK 36.01 (H) was the 75mm Waffe 0725 conical bore gun, which fired a tungsten-core projectile. Finally in July 1941 this vehicle was canceled, although it was used as the basis for the VK 45.01 (H). The modified VK 36.01 (H) (without turret) weighed 40 tons, measured 6.05 x 3.14 x 2.70 meters, had a maximum armour of 100mm, and was powered by a 550 hp Maybach HL-174 gasoline engine for a top speed of 40 km/h.
(VK 45.01 (H) image). Rather than building a new vehicle, Henschel focused on hastily coupling a bunch of components from its DW I and DW II projects started in 1937 and 1938 on the VK 36.01 (H) vehicle. The new vehicle was designated VK 45.01 (H) and was built with the transmission, the steering, the suspension and the entire running gear of the DW heavy tank prototypes to which a new Maybach engine, new fuel tanks, a new deep fording system and a new cooling system were coupled. The turret was the same as the VK 45.01 (P) with minimal modifications to the clamping lock and the swing motor, which was hydraulic rather than electric. The turret had two access hatches and an exhaust fan behind the loader hatch and had different elements of vision to observe the 360 degrees. The front was 100mm thick and the sides were 80mm. At the end of January 1942 an order was placed for 3 Krupp turrets with the KwK 88mm gun for Henschel’s pre-series vehicles, the first of which was mounted in mid-April 1942 on the VK 45.01 (H) Nr. V1 chassis.
(VK 45.01 (H) image). The hull of VK 45.01 (H) was obtained by modifying that of VK 36.01 (H). The engine compartment was watertight and allowed it to wade through deep waterways. The required Vorpanzer element was installed in the front, which was not finally installed in the series tanks. The armour of the hull reached 100mm on the front and 80mm on the sides. The vehicle carried 92 rounds of 88mm distributed in several areas of the hull such as the superstructure, the sides, next to the driver and under the turret’s floor. The VK 45.01 (H) had a Maybach HL 210 P45 650hp petrol engine coupled to an eight-speed Maybach Olvar 40 12 16 transmission that allowed it to reach just over 45 km/h. The official designation, applied from March 1942, was “Panzerkampfwagen VI H (88 mm) (SdKfz 182) Ausführung H1“, although in March 1943 it was definitively changed to “Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (L/56 88 mm) (SdKfz 181) Ausführung E“.
(VK 45.01 (H) image). Like the Porsche vehicle, the VK 45.01 (H) was conmited to take part in a demonstration before the Führer on April 20, 1942, during his birthday. For such an event, the vehicle arrived the day before at the unloading point located 11 km from Rastenburg where it spent the day between revisions and preparations. The next day while on its way to the demonstration site it suffered the same problems as the Porsche prototype but worse, especially with the final drive mechanism. But it seemed that luck was on its side, as it was announced that demonstration would be delayed until 2:00 p.m., giving Henschel’s mechanics time to disassemble and repair the troublesome mechanism. Unfortunately for them, the Führer showed up at the scene at 11:00 a.m. and they were on the verge of not being able to install the final drive again and not showing his vehicle capabilities, which could have resulted in the almost certain choice of the Porsche model for production. However, the test was not favorable for them as they could not reach the same speed as the VK 45.01 (P) and on the way back to the authorities place, the engine overheated so much that chief engineer Kurt Arnoldt feared that the tank would catch fire. Arnoldt had the intelligence and the audacity, (seeing that Porsche’s tank had been superior that day), to suggest to Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments, a mobility test, because he knew perfectly well that Porsche model was much less maneuverable than yours. Arnoldt succeeded and his cunning earned him the jackpot, as the Henschel model was the winner of the competition for the new heavy tank and finally would be mass-produced as the Tiger E tank.
(VK 45.01 (H) image).  After a series of exhaustive tests, the VK 45.01 (H) proved to be superior to the Porsche model, which continued to suffer a number of mechanical problems that became almost endemic and that Porsche KG were not able to solve during the entire test period. An initial order of 100 vehicles was placed, which in July 1942 was raised to 300. The 90 turrets already manufactured for the Tiger Porsche were used for the new Tiger E, with the firms Wegmann and Krupp responsible for their final assembly on the Henschel’s chassis. There were small delays in initial production due to minor problems with the steering and brakes, but these were quickly resolved and production continued to grow from the initial 300 to 1,346 tanks delivered.

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