The Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I was a German heavy tank from World War II. The Tiger has earned a legendary reputation as being indestructible. In reality, the tank was unreliable, slow and hard to manufacture.
OriginsEditWhen Germany attacked Russia in 1941, the Germans realised that their tanks were ineffective against the Soviet machines. Furthermore, Germany lacked a heavy tank, so Hitler agreed with Albert Speer to build a heavy tank. The tank was to mount the 88mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank gun and have thick armour. Two rival companies, Henshel and Porshe agreed to build two working prototypes by 1942. The two companies spent 11 months planning and building the prototypes and when the prototypes were unveiled, the Henshel tank was chosen, for it was believed that the Porshe tank was too ineffective. The Porshe chassis would be incorporated into the Ferdinand tank destroyer.
When the Tiger first appeared in North Africa at the end of 1942, there was no Allied weapon that could destroy it. The tank was deadly, for to destroy one, an M4 Sherman had to get within 600 metres. The Tiger could destroy a Sherman from over 2000 metres, which was a long distance. The Tiger tank was so powerful that their tank crews were ordered to destroy them to stop them from getting into enemy hands.
In January 1943, a group of 3 Tigers attacked the Allied base in Tunisia. A group of Allied tanks drove across a long field, with two hills in front of them, to engage the tanks. Unfortunately, there were two of the 3 Tigers on the hills. The entire Allied tank brigade was destroyed, with only one Tiger Tank destroyed. The next day, the Allies returned with a larger force and found a Tiger tank completely abandoned on the battlefield. The tank was intact, apart from one shell that had jammed the turret. This was Tiger 131. It was taken back to the UK for testing, survived the war and is now the only working Tiger I left.
The Eastern FrontEdit
The Tiger I would not see combat on the Eastern Front until 1943, where it was a great success. Against Soviet T-34 tanks it was extremely effective but against Soviet aircraft it was defenceless. At the Battle of Kursk, the Tiger I destroyed more Soviet tanks than all the other tank kills put together. One tank ace, Michael Wittman, navigated his Tiger tank into a swarm of Soviet KV-1 tanks and destroyed them all. Wittman would earn 100 tank kills on the Eastern Front before being transferred to Normandy.
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