TIGER I gallery 1

Henschel had fully adequate facilities for the production of a heavy vehicle like the Tiger, since this company was dedicated to the manufacture of locomotives and dock cranes. In addition, the firm had a facility to carry out complete tests with the finished tanks.
Despite its excellent facilities, Henschel did not have machinery to bend or weld the thick armour plates, so the hulls were made by Krupp and Dortmund-Hoerder Huettenverein and the turrets were made by Wegmann. They were then sent to Henschel for finishing and final assembly.
The firm employed about 8,000 workers during the war. They worked 12-hour shifts during the day and night. Each 6 hour period in the manufacturing process was referred to as a “takt” and it took at least nine of them to produce a Tiger. However, it took about 14 days to complete a tank, including the turning process.
Usually, about 20 hulls could be mounted at the same time while 10 tanks were finished on the final assembly line. It was estimated that the manufacture of a Tiger tank required about 300,000 man hours.
The first serial Tiger (Fgst Nr. 250001) was completed and sent for testing on May 17, 1942. Since then, production remained constant until August 1944 when it was finished. It reached its delivery peak in April 1944 when 104 new Tigers entered service.
The main reason for the small number of Tigers manufactured is that it was a very mechanically complicated and very expensive tank. For example, a M-4A3 Sherman cost about 109,000 Reichmarks, a Pz-IV about 116,000, a Panther 117,000, and the Tiger …. 300,000 Reichmarks!!
Of course, it can be argued that a Tiger tank could be “tactically more effective” than 3 Shermans or 3 Pz-IVs, but it is more than questionable that a single Tiger was more effective than 2.5 Panther tanks.
In any case, the Tiger tanks delivery maintained an average of 51 vehicles delivered during the 26 months in which it was manufactured. It should also be noted that as the war progressed, the German withdrawal and the Allied bombardments were making the manufacture of weapons increasingly difficult.
The Tiger E (Sd Kfz 181) tank that arrived at the units was a vehicle of about 57 tons, the World’s heaviest in 1942, with a maximum armour of 100mm thick, a Maybach gasoline engine of 650hp and a 88mm KwK36 L/56 gun. A tank unmatched and unbeatable at normal combat ranges by any of its enemies in service at that time.
The mobility of the Tiger was originally entrusted to the Maybach HL 210 P45 650hp engine, which although powerful, due to the enormous weight of the vehicle always seemed to be underpowered for a 57 ton vehicle. However, despite the general belief of many tank enthusiasts, the engine was generally reliable and the tank did not suffer from excessive damage from this element.
It is true that the first series Tiger tank destroyed 3 engines in a month and a half of tests in Kummersdorf, but after the necessary adjustments, a fourth engine was installed in mid-July 1942 and until August 1943 it traveled almost 8,000 km without serious breakdowns. Also, it should be noted that this kilometers were done in demanding test programs.
It was usual that due to the lack of heavy recovery vehicles, it was the Tiger tanks themselves that had to tow other Tigers to the nearest workshops. In most cases this was done without any problem, with the consequent overstrain of the engine, but this demonstrated its strength and reliability.
On the occasions when there were recovery vehicles, the problem was solved … more or less, since due to the weight of the Tiger, it was necessary to use two of them. Furthermore, even using two vehicles, it was not uncommon for one of them to be damaged by overstrain, which added more work to the saturated maintenance units.
The performance of the Tiger can be summarized as follows; 45 km/h top speed, sustained road speed 20 km/h, cross country speed 15 km/h, range of 195 km on road and 110 on cross contry. It could cross trenches of 2.50 meters wide, vertical obstacles of 79 cm and slopes of 35%. Its power/weight ratio was 12.3 hp/t and its pressure on the ground was 0.735 kg/cm2 with 725 mm wide tracks.
The running gear suffered from constant breakdowns at the beginning of its entry into service because it was designed for a vehicle of about 40 tons and not 57. In addition, the size of the brakes was less than necessary and the joints of certain elements were prone to losses by overload. Once again, the necessary elements were quickly changed and reinforced, giving the Tiger a reliability similar to that of the rest of the tanks of the time.
Henschel redesigned the clutch and brakes and adapted the British Merritt-Brown regenerative unit and coupled it to a pre-selector Maybach Olvar gearbox with eight forward speeds. This mechanism resulted in easy tank driving, but it had to be carefully maintained due to its technical complexity.
Despite its 57 tons, the Tiger was more maneuverable than any heavy tank of its day thanks to its transmission. To repair or replace both the transmission and the final drive, the turret had to be removed, so the design of the hydraulic system allowed it to be done quite easily. The hydraulic system was fed by the transmission, therefore disconnecting it, the turret was without power and could be removed.
The suspension consisted of eight transverse torsion bars on each side of the hull. The drivetrain was composed by 8 sets of 3 interleaved 80cm road wheels installed in the axles of both sides of the hull, being the first German tank to carry this arrangement. This design allowed the Tiger a stable and smooth ride on any type of terrain.
Overlapping wheels gave a lot of trouble in the extreme Russian winters. During the night it was usual for the drivetrain to freeze, becoming a block with the tracks. The Soviets, aware of the problem, used to attack at dawn to catch the Tigers stuck or with enormous difficulties to move.
Each Tiger tank was delivered with two sets of tracks. The combat tracks were 725mm wide and were normally removed when the tank had to travel by train. For these trips there was another narrower set of 520mm wide, and to install them, the external roadwheel was removed from each axle. This took a long time and if the tank was going to travel through open country, they tried to leave the combat tracks so that the vehicle would be ready for combat quickly.
The internal layout of the tank was conventional with the driver’s compartment, the gunner/radio-operator compartment, the combat compartment and the engine compartment. The front of the hull also housed the transmission and final drive. The driver steered the tank using a power steering system, but there was an emergency manual system in case the previous one failed. He had a vision block on the front armour plate, which could be closed for added protection, and could then use a binocular periscope. In addition, he had a periscope fixed to the hatch that allowed him to see the left front.
In the front of the hull, next to the driver but separated by the transmission, sat the gunner/radio operator operating a 7.92mm MG-34 installed in a Kugelblende (ball mount). He had a Kugelzielfernrohr 2 telescope for the MG-34 in the same Kugelblende and a fixed periscope in its hatch. Radio equipment was installed to his left, above the transmission.
The turret occupied the entire central part of the hull and housed 3 crew members. The gun’s breech was so large that divided the turret into two spaces and reached almost the rear of the turret. The gunner had a TZF9b binocular gun sight and also there were two small holes in the barrel mantlet for the optical sights.
The gunner had a dial type indicator marked 1-12, (as a clock), to aid in quick aiming of the gun and in selecting targets more quickly. For turret’s movement a hydraulic system was used, but for the fine adjustment during aiming it had a handwheel. The traverse speed depended on the engine speed and the turret took 60 seconds to turn 360º, it also had a manual emergency turning system. The elevation of the gun was totally manual by means of a steering wheel.
The loader sat on the other side of the barrel next to the gunner and had the barrel ammunition stored in bins. The 92 projectiles were stored on the floor of the turret, on the sides of the hull superstructure and beneath the turret basket.

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