The first records of a heavy Panzer are from 1937, when the first contract was awarded to Henschel. Porsche initiated their own design in 1939, using very advanced components, including a gasoline-electric drive. Henschels design was technically more simple, and for the same reason it was favoured by Wa.Prüf.6, the office responsible for the design of Panzers. On a meeting on 1941-05-26, the heavy Panzers were discussed. Until then, it had been decided that the weapon to be used was the 8,8 cm Kw.K.36 L/56, initially an anti-aircraft gun.
Both designs featured sloped armour. Because of this, it is clear that the design of heavy Panzers were not because of encounters with the KV-1 and T-34. Records actually indicate that it was in fact British tanks that were feared, leading to stronger armour. Furthermore, sloped armour wasn't used because the benefits were discovered after the encounters with the sloped armour of the Russian tanks.
The turrets were to be produced by Krupp, both for the Porsche and Henschel design.
On the meeting, it was decided that 20 heavy Panzers were to be made ready for each Panzerdivision immidiately. The heavy Panzer was to be able to attain at least 40 km./h., and the effectiveness of the 8,8 cm Kw.K.36 L/56 was to be increased so that it could penetrate 100 mm. armour from 1,500 meters. The Henschel vehicle was suggested to use the 7,5 cm Waffe 0725 (if sufficient Tungsten ammunition could be stockpiled), and the Porsche design, VK 45.01 (P) was to use the 8,8 cm Flak41, if possible. Porsche found it impossible to mount the Flak41 in the turret (designed by Krupp, having a turret diametre of 1,900 mm. as opposed to the 2,000 mm. turret suggested by Porsche), which was originally to use the 8,8 cm Kw.K.36 L/56. Krupp didn't like the idea either, because it was Krupp's competitor Rheinmetall-Borsig that produced the Flak41.
Hitler was, however, very fond of the idea of using the Flak41. He repeatedly asked to the progress to the turret, and insisted of its use without any significant modifications of the turret itself. This was supported by a number of other high-ranking officials.
In a letter from Oberst Fichtner, head of Wa.Prüf.6, it is mentioned (although untrue) that Krupp did decrease the turret diameter with 150 mm., despite the request for a large turret diametre by Porsche. Because of this, both Krupp and Rheinmetall-Borsig were to present a turret mounting the Flak41. Porsche initiated the production of 6 turrets with a diameter of 1,900 mm., mounting the 8,8 cm Kw.K.36, and did not ask for 2,000 mm. until it was discovered that the Flak41 would not fit inside the turret.
The design for a new weapon, the 8,8 cm Kw.K.43 L/71, was begun. Both Krupp and Rheinmetall-Borsig made prototypes. Krupps design was a completely new design, whereas Rheinmetall-Borsig just re-designed the Flak41. Krupps version was slightly shorter, but also used shorter (and thicker) rounds, and was altogether better for the role. Krupp designed a turret that could fit in both Porsches and Henschels design with only minor modifications. In the beginning, the barrel was constructed as a one-piece barrel, but later it was separated into two, thus giving both easier construction and longer living time to the barrel.
Because of the delay in the gun developement, it was decided that the first 100 VK 45.01 (P) (Fgst.150001-150100) should mount the Kw.K.36, using a longer 8,8 cm Kw.K. from vehicle 101. The first design for the Tiger II, the Tiger (H) Ausf.H2, followed the initial VK 45.01 (H) (with the Kw.K.36) after the meeting on 1941-05-26, using a L/70 gun. This design was, hwever, abondoned quickly.
Porsche made their design, VK 45.02 (P), featuring 80 mm. armour on all sides. This armour was, however, sloped heavily so to provide increased protection. The engine was relatively weak, and the maximum speed was only 35 km./h. The weight was 65 tons. The suspension was very similar to that of the Tiger (P) and Ferdinand, but used rubber tyres. The ground pressure was quite high, at 1.22 kg./cm2. The design still used the advanced gasoline-electrical drive. The production was to reach 15 vehicles a month, but because of several problems, the contract was cancelled 1942-11-03, and only 3 prototypes were delivered. These prototypes differed from each other to some extent, but were generally inferior to Henschels design.
Henschels design, VK 45.03 (H), was not initiated until Porsches contract had been canceled. After encouragement, Henschel did begin the design work, so that the provious design could be replaced. Because of several changes in the demand from Hitler, such as increased armour protection and better maneuvrebility, the work was slowed down. Many of these decisions were concerning the standardisation between the Tiger II and Panther II, but as production plans for the Panther II were cancelled, the specifications were changed again.
Both the Henschel and Porsche design were designed to host the Krupp turret. Because of the cancellation of the contract with Porsche, a number of in-progress turrets for the Porsche chassis were ordered to be completed for mounting on the Henchel chassis. As components were ready to produce 50 turrets for the Porsche chassis, these were mounted on the first 50 Henschel chassis so as to prevent further delays in the production program. Because no good solution could be given to the shot trap in the turret, the turret remained unmodified. The turret differed from the Henschel in that it had a rounded front and mantlet (which proved very strong against enemy fire), and a flatter angle on the sides, which meant that the comanders cupola left a bulge in the side of the turret.
Two command versions of the Tiger II was made. Both carried only 63 grenades, 17 less than the standard Tiger II. The first type, Sd.Kfz.267, had a Fu.G.8 radio, using a star antenna. The second type, Sd.Kfz.268, had a Fu.G.7 radio, using a 1.4 meter rod antenna.
3 prototypes, V1-V3, were made in November and January. From then on, the Fgst. numbers started at 280001, with the goal of 1,500 Tiger IIs. Because of bombing raids against the Henscel factory in September and December 1944, where almost the entire factory was destroyed, the production was severely damaged. Had these bombing raids not occurred, the total number of Tiger IIs produced would have exceeded 1,000 vehicles, despite the progress of the war.
The engine used was the Maybach HL 230 P30. This could seem like a weak engine for a vehicle weighing almost 70 tons, but bue to the advanced components, it gave a maximum speed of 41.5 km./h. The frontal armour was inpenetratable by any Allied gun, and although the side armour was more vulnarable, it still provided adequate protection against more guns.
Modifications to the design started as early as 1944-01. At this time, it was decided that curved front fenders should be used in stead of flat ones. February, bend exhaust pipes replaced straight one, so as to prevent the exhaust fumes from being sucked into the engine. A device to heat the cooling water was also installed, to easy the start during the winter. In May, a new type of track replaced the old, as the old type was worn very uneven, and had a tendency to climb off the drive sprocket. Furthermore, a new type of aiming device was mounted. In 1944-06, it was found that the Tiger II didn't need a submersion kit, and the use was therefore disbanded. 2 "Pilzen" mounts for a three ton crane were welded to the top of the turret. In July, four track link hangers were mounted to the side of the turret. This was also back-fitted to older vehicles. During August, it was ordered to paint 2-3 out of every ten track link on the transport tracks red.
In September, application of Zimmerit ceased at the factory. A disk was to be applied over the air intake, to prevent penetration of the fuel tank. By 1944-10, the 20 ton jack was no longer issued for the Tiger II, and therefore, the mounts on the rear plate were not installed. The Waffenamt approved a modification to mount armour plates over the air intakes, but the order was not carried out.
Starting in January, Tiger IIs began to appear having a small shields over the gunners sight, to prevent rain from ruining the view. In March, the last few Tiger IIs to be produced had the single-link Kgs.73/800/152 tracks. On some of the vehicles still left at the factory, 3 track link hangers for the late trak links were mounted. The mount for the commanders machine gun was removed. Small rings were mounted on the turrets to fasten branches.
At the beginnign of its career, the Tiger II, like the Panther, had a number of automotive problems. These problems were severe, and cause numorous engine fires and breakdowns. After being worked out, the Tiger II did prove to be an exellent machine. One of the main problems was the lack of skilled drivers. Many of the drivers came directly from the training grounds, and thus had no idea how to treat the Tiger II.
The units that recieved the Tiger IIs were heavy tank battalions of both the SS and Heer. The SS didn't recieve more than their fair share of the Tiger IIs, as it will appear from the table below. The maximum number of vehicles in a battalion was 45, separated in 3 companies of 14 Tiger IIs each, plus 3 command vehicles.
|Date of dispatch||Number issued||Unit||Notes|
|1944-05-11 to 1944-06-24||4||Ersatzheer|
|1944-05-09 to 1944-06-02||6||Wa.Prüf.|
|1944-07-07 to 1944-07-14||25||s.H.Pz.Abt.501|
|1944-07-27 to 1944-07-29||14||s.H.Pz.Abt.503|
|1944-07-28 to 1944-08-01||14||s.SS.Pz.Abt.101|
|1944-08-04 to 1944-08-07||14||s.H.Pz.Abt.501|
|1944-08-10 to 1944-08-29||39||s.H.Pz.Abt.505|
|1944-08-20 to 1944-09-01||17||s.H.Pz.Abt.506|
|1944-09-03 to 1944-09-12||28||s.H.Pz.Abt.506|
|1944-09-19 to 1944-09-22||43||s.H.Pz.Abt.503|
|1944-09-28 to 1944-10-03||11||s.H.Pz.Abt.509||Confiscated by s.SS.Pz.Abt.501, for Wacht am Rhein|
|1944-10-17 to 1944-11-11||14||s.SS.Pz.Abt.501|
|1944-11-26 to 1944-12-03||20||s.SS.Pz.Abt.501|
|1944-12-05 to 1944-12-07||9||s.H.Pz.Abt.509|
|1944-12-08 to 1945-01-01||36||s.H.Pz.Abt.509|
|1944-12-27||6||s.SS.Pz.Abt.502||Given to s.SS.Pz.Abt.503|
|1945-01-30||3||3.Kompanie/s.H.Pz.Abt.502||Given to s.H.Pz.Abt.507|
|1945-02-01||3||3.Kompanie/s.H.Pz.Abt.510||Given to s.H.Pz.Abt.507|
|1945-01-11 to 1945-01-25||29||s.SS.Pz.Abt.503|
|1945-02-14 to 1945-03-02||27||s.SS.Pz.Abt.502|
|1945-03-02 to 1945-03-06||4||s.SS.Pz.Abt.502|
|1945-03-09 to 1945-03-22||15||s.H.Pz.Abt.507|
|1945-03-31||13||s.H.Pz.Abt.510 and 511|
|schwere Heeres Panzer-Abteilungen||319|
The Tiger II was one of the best, if the the best, tank during World War II. It combined good mobility with heavy armour and the best German gun of the war - and one of the best of all the countries combined. Many people think that the Tiger II is a heavy beast that could not move at all. The capabilities of the Tiger II did, however, match or outclass many other Panzers, such as the Sturmgeschütze and Pz.Kpfw.IV, as can be seen from the table below. It was a vehicle the tank crews were glad to drive in, and which performed well in combat.
|Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B "Tiger II"||Pz.Kpfw.Panther Ausf.G||Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H||Sturmgeschütz Ausf.G|
|Maximum speed||41.5 km./h.||46 km./h.||38-42 km./h.||40 km./h.|
|Road speed||38 km./h.||30-35 km./h.||25 km./h.||20 km./h.|
|Cross-country speed||15-20 km./h.||20 km./h.||20 km./h.||12-15 km./h.|
|Range (on road)||170 km.||200 km.||210 km.||155 km.|
|Range (cross-country)||120 km.||100 km.||130 km.||95 km.|
|Trench crossing||2.5 m.||2.45 m.||2.3 m.||2.3 m.|
|Fording||1.6 m.||1.9 m.||0.8 m.||0.8 m.|
|Step clibing||0.85 m.||0.9 m.||0.6 m.||0.6 m.|
|Ground pressure||1.03 kg./cm2||0.88 kg./cm2||0.89 kg./cm2||1.04 kg./cm2|
Many times have Allied crews tried to engage a Tiger II, but seen that their rounds have just bounced of the armour. Although the armour on the Tiger II was inferior to that of the earlier Panzers in terms of quality, the thick, sloped armour prevented penetration. This meant that most Allied guns would have to be close to the Tiger II before they had a chance of penetrating the armour, which of course put them at a great risk of being knocked out as well.
|Length (without gun)||7.38 m.|
|Firing height||2.26 m.|
|Engine||Maybach HL 230 P30 12-cylinder water cooled 23 l. gasoline|
|Horse powers||600 @ 2,500 rmp.|
|Main gun||8,8 cm Kw.K.43 L/71|
|Secondary guns||2 * 7,92 mm M.G.34|
|Ammunition storage||5,850 * 7.92 mm.|
|Maximum speed||41.5 km./h.|
|Road speed||38 km./h.|
|Cross country speed||15-20 km./h.|
|Range (on road)||170 km.|
|Range (cross country)||120 km.|
|Fuel capacity||860 l.|
|Fuel usage (on road)||6.14 l./km.|
|Fuel usage (cross-country)||9.56 l./km.|
|Step climbing||0.8 m.|
|Trench crossing||2.5 m.|
|Ground pressure||1.03 kg./cm2|