PzKpfw VI Tiger Heavy Tank

Last updated on April 30th, 2022 at 09:08 pm

The PzKpfw VI Tiger 1 Heavy Tank is probably the most well known of all the German tanks that were active in World War II.

In fact, the Germans built many more Panther tanks than Tiger tanks.  They built about 6,000 Panther tanks, but only about 1,350 Tiger 1 tanks.

Panzer VI Tiger 1 P German Tank

Production of the Pzkpfw VI Ausf E Tiger 1 heavy tank began in July 1942. This model of the Tiger tank first saw action near Leningrad in August of that year.

Inside a captured Tiger tank (Panzer VI Tiger I) with driver's position on the left and the hull machine gunner's position on the right.
Inside a captured Tiger tank (Panzer VI Tiger I) with driver’s position on the left and the hull machine gunner’s position on the right.

The Tiger 1 heavy tank weighed 56 tons. Its main gun was a 3.46 inch (8.8 cm) KwK36 L/56 gun which could pierce 4.33 inches (110mm) of armor from a distance of 6,561 feet (2,000 meters.)

Civilians on top of a neutralized PzKpfw VI Tiger 1 Heavy Tank during the Battle of Normandy
Although the Tiger had a reputation among Allied soldiers for being practically invincible, it did have some flaws. For example, its turret traverse had a very low gear, which meant that it took a long time to move the main gun so that it was bearing down on the target.

PzKpfw VI Tiger 2 King Tiger Heavy Tank near Vimoutiers, France 1944

The PzKpfw VI Tiger 2  heavy tank, which was known as the Königstiger (King Tiger), was heavier than the Tiger 1 and had a more powerful main gun.  Tiger 2 Ausf B  first entered production in December 1943. It weighed over  68 tons (69,090 kg).  Its main weapon wa s a long-barreled 3.46 inch (8.8cm) KwK43 L/71 gun.  This gun could pierce 5.19 inches (132mm) of armor from 6.56 feet (2,000 meters) away, making it more than a match for the largest Allied tanks.

Nevertheless, the size of the King Tiger made it difficult to maneuver cross country.  It also tended to be unreliable and hard to maintain.

The Germans only built about 485 King Tiger heavy tanks. They were used mostly for defense when the Allies advanced into Germany.

Nazi Germany

PzKpfw VI Ausf E Tiger

Active: 1942
Crew: 5
Weight: 56 tons (56,900kg)
Length: 27ft 8.5in (8m)
Height: 9ft 10in (3m)
Width: 11ft 8in (3.6m)
Weapons: Main – 3.46in (8.8cm) KwK36 L/56gun, Secondary – 2 or 3 x 0.312 inch (7.92mm) machineguns
Armor Maximum – 3.94in (100mm)
Engine: Maybach HL210P45 2 V12 gasoline, 100hp
Speed: 22.9 mph (37kph)
Range: 121 miles (195 km)