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Tiger Tank Construction


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The WW2 German Tiger tank is easily one of the most well known tanks from the conflict, although powerful and deadly, it was a very complex and mechanically challenging vehicle to produce and maintain. Production was ordered to start in August 1942. It began at a rate of 25 tanks per month and peaked in April 1944 at a rate of 104 per month. It took 300,000 man hours to build one Tiger, almost twice as much time as a Panther required. By comparison, the Sherman tank required about 48,000 man hours and the T-34 took about 55,000 hours to build. 

The average cost of a Tiger was 250,000 Reichsmarks. In comparison, a PzKpfw III cost RM 96,200, a PzKpfw IV RM 103,500, and a PzKpfw V Panther RM 117,000; all these figures are exclusive of weapons and radios. The Tiger cost $100,000 in 1941 U.S. dollars. Adjusted for inflation, a Tiger I today would cost approximately $1,282,051. By comparison, the United States current M1A1 Abrams tank costs $4,300,000.

On May 26th May 1941, during a Germans armament meeting, Hitler ordered for the creation of heavy Panzers which were to have an increased effectiveness to penetrate enemy tanks; possess heavier armor than was previously achieved; and attain a maximum speed of at least 40 km/h. Another condition was the prototype had to be completed and presented to Hitler in time for his birthday on April 20, 1942. These key decisions led to the development of a new heavy tank, the Tiger 1. This project was known as the "Tiger program". Porsche and Henschel were contracted to build the tank, and the turret and main weapon was awarded to Krupp. 

The main idea around the building of the tank was the main gun. The Germans selected to 88mm, which had proven a very capable anti aircraft gun as well as effective in anti armor applications. This was important as the Germans were encountering heavy Russian tanks, which the 88 had a proven track record against. So once the gun was selected they could build the tank around it, which is a process used in later tank designs as well. 

Despite the overall excellent design, the Tiger tank suffered from mechanical and logistical problems for a tank of its size. It was prone to mechanical breakdowns and needed constant repairs and maintenance to keep it operational. It was at one point forbidden to run the Tiger tank for long extended marches due to the overtaxed drivetrains. Fuel requirements were enormous, a resource which Germany was in short supply of. The massive size of the tank could not fit into the standard rail compartment.

The influence of the Tiger on Allied morale, known as Tigerphobia, was so powerful that British General Montgomery banned all reports mentioning it's prowess in battle. Perhaps the Tiger's greatest fame was gained in a single action in Normandy where the famous commander SS Obersturmführer Michael Wittman destroyed an entire column of 25 tanks, 14 half-tracks and 14 bren-gun carriers in a few short minutes with one Tiger. Due to Allied air superiority, the Tigers in Normandy and France were employed mainly in a static defensive role. This conserved fuel as the Tiger normally consumed huge amounts of petrol. It also kept the mechanical breakdowns to a minimum.

Below are some photo's of the Tiger tank under varying stages construction. 

Source: Internet










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