Image Credit: Military Modelcraft International
Although Germany’s tanks had commanded the battlefield during the early stages of World War II, encounters with the Soviet T-34 and KV-1 proved to be less successful, the only effective anti-tank weapon being the 88mm FlaK 36. If the Wehrmacht were to regain the advantage, they would need something that could match (and more crucially) destroy any opposition. In response, an immediate weight increase to 45 tonnes, and an increase in gun calibre to 88mm was ordered, the due date for the new prototypes being set for 20 April 1942 (Hitler’s 53rd birthday).
Porsche and Henschel submitted prototype designs for the new tank, each making use of the Krupp-designed turret, and they were demonstrated to the Führer at Rastenburg. The Henschel version was accepted, mainly due to the Porsche design using a pair of petrol-electric engines that would require large quantities of copper (a strategic war material, then in short supply).
The initial designation for the new tank was ‘Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.H’ (‘H’ denoted the designer/ manufacturer ‘Henschel’). Today commonly referred to as ‘Tiger I’, it is interesting to note that the name ‘Tiger’ was actually given by Ferdinand Porsche, the Roman numeral ‘I’ only added when the Tiger II entered production. In March 1943, the Tiger was re-designated ‘Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.E’. Although sharing the same calibre as the
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