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Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B (Tiger II)

This Tiger II from the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 was captured by American troops and restored to running
condition by Company B, 129 th Ordnance Battalion by 15 December 1944.

Introduction

The Tiger I had hardly entered service before the German general staff requested a bigger and better
successor, superior in armor protection and firepower to anything the Soviets were likely to produce. Once
again Porsche and Henschel were asked for designs which were to incorporate the latest sloped armor and
the installation of the longer Rheinmetall 88 mm Flak 41. However, there was the sensitive question, for
Krupp, of mounting an arch rival's gun in their turret. Anyway, on 5 February 1943, Krupp was awarded the
contract for the development of the 88 mm KwK 43 L/71, a new gun specifically designed to the successor of
the Tiger I. The only similarity between this gun designed by Krupp and the Rheinmetall Flak 41 was that the
same penetration values were achieved when the same shell was fired with the same initial muzzle velocity.
All other characteristics of the two guns were different. Following the main specification to achieve equivalent
armor penetration, Krupp completely redesigned the gun for mounting in a tank turret. As compared to the
Flak 41 L/74, the KwK 43 L/71 was shorter with different rifling and had a muzzle brake to retard recoil. In
addition it had shorter, fatter recoil cylinders to fit inside a turret, had an air blast system fitted to evacuate
fumes from the gun directly after firing and chambered a shorter (but fatter) cartridge case for easier loading
inside a turret.

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Tiger II number 312, 3. Kompanie - schwere SS Panzer A.bteilung 501, in the springtime of 1945. This
Tiger took two hits on the 150 mm thick glacis plate. None penetrated.

Porsche updated its Tiger I design and this time was so sure of winning the contract, that it ordered a
first batch of 50 turrets from Krupp. Unfortunately, the Porsche ideas of electric transmission were once again
rejected, as the supplies of copper were too small, and the contract went one again to Henschel. However,
since 50 early-style turrets had already been made, they were fitted to the first units produced. The curved
front plate created a serious shot trap which deflected incoming rounds down into the driver's compartment.
The bulge for the cupola also was a weak area in the turret side armor. Krupp then modified the turret, and
the new design eliminated those deficiencies, was simpler and offered better protection while providing room
for 6 more rounds of ammunition. The new Serien-Turm (series production turret) designed for the Tiger H3
had a 180 mm thick front plate, 80 mm sidewalls, and 40 mm roof. The gun mantlet was specifically designed
to be immune to attack or being jammed. This new design did not create high explosive blast pockets and
prevented defections of projectiles down to the deck. The early-style turret is commonly referred to as the
'Porsche Turret'; and the series production turret, as the 'Henschel turret'. However, both turrets were
designed and built by Krupp, and this classification leads to misunderstandings. It is best to call the fist 50
turrets "early-production turrets", and from the 51st on as "series production turrets".

The early-style turret. The series production turret.

Another requirement of the specification was to coordinate production with MAN in order to standardize
as many parts as possible with the Panther II, which never went into production, and the subsequent delays
caused the production to never reach the planned levels until December 1943. The Tiger II was a massive
and formidable vehicle, designed to dominate the battlefield. The new hull design for the VK 45.03 (H)
consisted of sloping plates for increased protection. The front glacis plate was 150 mm at 50°, front nose
plate 100 mm at 50°, superstructure side plates 80 mm at 0° vertical, tail plate 80 mm at 30°, deck plates
40 mm at 90° horizontal, and rear belly plate 25 mm horizontal. Forty-eight rounds of ammunition for the
main gun were stored horizontally in panniers on each side of the hull. The rounds were stowed in three
groups, on both sides. Each group was separated by sliding metal panels. An additional ten to 16 rounds were

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stacked loose on the turret floor. The drive train consisted of a high performance Maybach HL 230 P30,
a 12-cylinder motor delivering 750 metric hp at 3000 rpm, through an 8-speed Maybach transmission,
designed to provide a maximum speed of 41.5 km/h. The combat weight of 68.5 metric tons was distributed
over nine sets of overlapping 800 mm diameter steel-tyred, rubber cushioned road wheels per side. The
combat tracks were 800 mm wide thus providing an acceptable ground pressure (when the tracks sunk to 20
cm) of 0.76 kilograms per square centimeter.

Tiger II, number 104, of schwere SS PzAbt. 501 was abandoned by it's crew due to a final drive failure. France, 1944.

Official Designation

Thomas L. Jentz, in "Germany's Tiger Tanks: Vol.2 - VK 45.02 to Tiger II" (Schiffer, 1998), presents a
list of official names given to the Tiger II, ordered by date, from 1942 to 1943:

Wa Prüf 6 Designations:
VK 45.02 (H) 15 April 1942
Tiger II for the VK 45.02 (H) 18 September 1942
Tiger III (VK 45.03) 12 October 1942
Henschel Tiger B 08 January 1943
Tiger II for the VK 45.03 03 March 1943
Pz.Kpfw. Tiger Ausf B 02 June 1943
Pz.Bef.Wg.Tiger Ausf.B 02 June 1943

The official designations were Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B and Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger
Ausf. B (for the command version), which originated in a WaPrüf 6 (Waffenprüfamter 6 - Weapons
Development and Testing Department - "6" being the number that corresponded to "Tanks and other
Vehicles") order dated 2 June 1943. The official designation was frequently shortened to Tiger B. The full
titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (8,8 cm Kw.K. L/71) (Sd.Kfz. 182), and Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger (Sd.Kfz.
267 und 268) Ausf. B were specified by the Inspecteur der Panzertruppen (In6) for use in training and
maintenance manuals, as well as in the K.St.N. (organization and equipment tables). The suggestive name
Königstiger (King Tiger) was an unofficial designation first used by the Reichsministerium für Bewaffnung
und Munition, in 11 December 1944. This was never an officially accepted designation during the war by
either the Panzertruppen or the Waffenamt.

Armor Protection

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Tiger II, s.PzAbt. 507, abandoned - March 1945. Note the massive, 150 mm inclined at 50° glacis plate.

The frontal armor of the Tiger II provided the best protection possible - the front turret was 180 mm
inclined at 10 degrees from the vertical, compounded with a special designed mantlet, which was immune to
penetration and being jammed. The glacis plate was a 150 mm thick plate inclined at 50 degrees from
vertical. There is no proof that this frontal armor was ever penetrated in combat, even tough the British 17
Pounder, when using a special APDS ammunition, could theoretically penetrate the Tiger II front armor (front
turret and lower front hull, only - the 17 Pounder could not penetrate the Tiger II glacis plate), but those
APDS rounds were terribly inaccurate and had a tendency of ricochet off inclined armor such as was the lower
front hull (100 mm inclined at 50 degrees from the vertical) of the Tiger II. Even the side and rear armor
protection was sufficient to eliminate any serious threat from the American 75 mm or the Russian 76 mm
tanks guns. The hull was welded, as was that of the Tiger I, but the armor was better sloped, using the
experience of the T-34. Hull layout was similar to that of the Panther, and the large turret was roomy
although the gun came right back to the rear wall and made a complete partition longitudinally. The thickness
and angles of the armor protection are shown in the Table below :

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B Armor


(slope in degrees from the vertical)
Turret
Gun mantlett: 150 mm @ 13°
Front: 110 mm @ 10°
After 51st Turret: 180 mm @ 10°
Side: 80 mm @ 21°
Rear: 80 mm @ 20°
Roof: 25/40/25 mm @ 50°
After 51st Turret: 40 mm
Hull and Superstructure
Driver's Front Plate (Glacis): 150 mm @ 50°
Lower Hull Front: 100 mm @ 50°
Side: 80 mm @ 25°
Rear: 80 mm @ 30°
Roof: 40 mm
Belly; Forward: 40 mm
Belly, Aft: 25 mm
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's Tiger Tanks - VK 45.02 to Tiger II
ISBN 0-7643-0224-8

Armor Scheme - Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B (slope in degrees from the horizontal)

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Source: SPIELBERGER, Walther J., DOYLE, Hilary L., Tigers I and II and their Variants. ISBN: 978-0-7643-2780-3

A Tiger II Ausf. B, from s-SS-PzAbt.503, captured by American troops during the Battle of the Bulge. An
interesting size-comparison with a 76 mm Sherman, parked behind the Tiger.

Fried Krupp A.G. was the primary fabricator of armor components for the Tiger II. Two additional steel
firms, DHHV and Skoda, also fabricated armor hulls and armor turret bodies for the Tiger II (Source: JENTZ,
Thomas L.; Germany's Tiger Tanks - VK 45.02 to Tiger II; ISBN 0-7643-0224-8).

Firepower

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A Prototype Tiger II (with the early-style turret), during firing tests with the new 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 gun.

Penetration Tables for the 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71.

The long and powerful 88 mm KwK 43 L/71 gun could outrange and outshoot the main armament of
nearly all Allied tanks, and this allowed the Tiger II to stand off and engage targets as it choose. Besides that,
the 88 mm KwK 43 L/71 was a very accurate gun, being capable of first round hits at well over 1000 meters.
Given its high muzzle velocity, the barrel wear was a difficulty with this gun, but this was solved by building
the barrel in two sections, so it was possible to change the faster wearing part easily.
The tables below represent the penetration capability of penetrating armor at an angle of 30 degrees from the
vertical, and the probability of hitting a target representing the front of a tank.

88 mm KwK 43 L/71 Penetration Data:


PzGr. 39/43 PzGr. 40/43 Gr. 39/3 HL
(APCBC) (APCR) (HEAT)
Shell Weight: 10.2 Kgs 7.3 Kgs 7.65 Kgs
Initial velocity: 1000 m/sec. 1030 m/sec. 600 m/sec.
Range
100 m 202 mm 238 mm 90 mm
500 m 185 mm 217 mm 90 mm
1000 m 165 mm 193 mm 90 mm
1500 m 148 mm 171 mm 90 mm
2000 m 132 mm 153 mm 90 mm
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Kingtiger Heavy Tank: 1942 - 1945; ISBN 185532 282 X

During World War II, the Armor Piercing (AP) round relied on its own weight to penetrate the enemy's
armor. The higher the muzzle velocity, the more penetration any kind of AP round would have, all other
variables remaining constant. The Armor Piercing Capped, Ballistic Capped (APCBC) round relied not only on
its own weight to penetrate the enemy's armor, but was also filled with high explosive that caused great
internal damage. The Armor Piercing Composite Rigid (APCR) round was made with a tungsten core. For flight
performance effects and to aid the shot from shattering against armor plating, the APCR round was
surrounded by a ballistic cap. The HEAT round, which was based on the hollow charge principle, used a
directed explosion, rather than mass or weight, to penetrate armor. The explosion is channeled forward into a
stream, which cuts through armor, melting it along the way and including it in the stream.

The designation 88 mm KwK 43 L/71 means that the diameter of the bore (caliber) of this gun is 88
mm; this is a Tank Gun (Kampfwagenkanone); that the year the development of this gun was finalized was
1943; and that the length of the gun equals 71 times the diameter of the bore (caliber) of the same gun. This
was the main gun installed on the Tiger II. Of the total ammunition load of 86 rounds (80 for the Tiger II with
"early-style" turrets), the recommended ratio was 50% Pzgr.39/43 (APCBC) and 50% Sprgr. (high-explosive
shells). The Gr 39/3 HL (HEAT) were rarely used. When available, but very rarely due to a severe shortage, a
few Pzgr.40/43 (APCR) rounds were carried for use against the heaviest armored Russian tanks and tank
destroyers.

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Tiger II of Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abt. 500 (Replacement and Training Battalion 500) on the firing range.
These Tigers are part of the first 47 units produced, which had the early-style turret.

Accuracy of the 88 mm KwK 43 L/71:


1500 2000 3500 4000
Ammunition Range: 100 m 500 m 1000 m 2500 m 3000 m
m m m m
PzGr. 39/43 Practice % 100 100 100 95 85 74 61 51 42
Combat % 100 100 85 61 43 30 23 17 13
PzGr. 40/43 Practice % 100 100 100 97 89 78 66 - -
Combat % 100 100 89 66 47 34 25 - -
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Kingtiger Heavy Tank: 1942 - 1945; ISBN 185532 282 X

The sights for most of the Tigers II that actually saw combat was the articulated, monocular
Turmzielfernrohr 9d mounted parallel and on the same axis as the main gun. The gunner could select two
magnifications, 2.5x and 5x. The lower magnification provided a wider field of view for target identification.
The higher magnification assisted in precise aiming at long ranges. Two adjustable range scales allowed the
gunner to register the exact range to the target. The range scale for the Pzgr.39/43 was graduated at 100
m intervals out to a range of 4000 m and the second range scale for the Sprgr.43 was graduated out to a
range of 6000 m.

Mobility

Most early Tiger II were destroyed in the retreat from After completing the camouflage, the crew fit the armored
Normandy during the Summer of 1944. mudguards.

Numerous statements have been made that the Tiger II was too heavy, too big, too slow, "a
casemate", etc. One is left with the impression that it was lucky to move at all. These banal generalities,
stated as incontrovertible facts, are never substantiated by actual specifications, test reports or after-action
accounts from the units that used the Tiger II. In spite of these frequently repeated remarks, the capability of
the Tiger II to negotiate obstacles and cross terrain was equivalent to or better than most German and allied

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tanks.

Performance Characteristics Compared: Tiger II and Panther


Tank Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B Pz.Kpfw. Panther
Maximum speed 41.5 Km/h 45.7 km/h
Average sustained road speed 38 km/h 30-35 km/h
Average cross country speed 15-20 km/h 20 km/h
Radius of action, road 170 km 200 km
Radius of action, cross-country 120 km 100 km
Smallest turning radius 2.08 m 4.7 m
Maximum turning radius 114 m 79 m
Trench crossing 2.5 m 2.45 m
Fording 1.60 m 1.90 m
Step climbing 0.85 m 0.90 m
Gradient climbing 35 degrees 35 degrees
Ground clearance 0.5 m 0.58 m
Ground pressure 0.78 kg/cm2 0.73 kg/cm2
Power to weight ratio 10.7 metric hp/ton 15.5 metric hp/ton

The Tiger II initially experienced numerous automotive problems which required a continuous series of
minor modifications to correct. These problems can be traced to two main causes: leaking seals and gaskets
and an over taxed drive train originally designed for a 40 metric ton vehicle. The problem of keeping a Tiger
II in running condition was compounded by a shortage of skilled drivers many of whom may have never
experienced driving any vehicle prior to entering the service. In addition they were provided only limited
driver's training, and then usually on a different type of panzer, and received their own Tiger II usually within
a few days before being shipped to the front. But, with mature drivers, taking required maintenance halts,
and modification of key automotive components, the Tiger II could be maintained in a satisfactory operational
condition. Status reports from the Western Front, dated March 1945, showed that the percentage of Tigers
operational at the Front was about equal to the PzKpfw IV and as good as or better than the Panther.

Percentage Operational At The Front:


EASTERN FRONT WESTERN FRONT
Pz IV Panther Tiger Pz IV Panther Tiger
31 May44 84 77 79 88 82 87
15 Sep44 65 72 70 80 74 98
30 Sep44 65 60 81 50 57 67
31 Oct44 52 53 54 74 85 88
15 Nov44 72 66 61 78 71 81
30 Nov44 78 67 72 76 71 45
15 Dec44 79 69 79 78 71 64
30 Dec44 72 61 80 63 53 50
15 Jan45 71 60 73 56 45 58
15 Mar45 54 49 53 44 32 36
Overall 68 62 70 71 65 65

Production

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Those five completed turrets, ready to be mounted on Tiger II chassis, were still at Henschel when occupied by
American forces in late March 1945.

Following an initial order for Three prototype chassis, an initial production series of 176 Tiger II was
ordered in October 1942. Following cancellation of the Porsche Tigers in November 1942, the contract (with
Henschel) was quickly expanded by an additional 350. Later extensions to the contracts increased the total
order to over 1500. In accordance with the original production plans from October 1942, the first Tiger II was
to be completed in September 1943. The number produced each month was to be expanded to reach a target
of 50 per month in May 1944. This production schedule satisfied the Inpekteur der Panzertruppen who
wanted 100 Tiger II available for a spring offensive in 1944. Due to delays, the first prototype V1 was
accepted by Waffenamt inspector in November 1943. Two further prototypes, V2 and V3, and the first three
production series Tiger II were accepted in January 1944. The production run continued through March 1945
for a total of three prototypes and 489 production series Tiger II produced by Henschel.

Only one model was built, and despite the heavy Allied bombing, Henschel always had at least 60
vehicles being assembled on its tank assembly line floors at any time. At the peak it was taking only 14 days
to complete a Tiger II. Severe fuel shortages and heavy Allied bombing forced the factory to use bottled gas
for testing, as all available fuel were supplied for operations.

The Tiger II and Entfernungsmesser (Range Finder) Development

The Tiger II with the Entfernungsmesser (range finder).

The war in North Africa and in the large plains of Russia had shown that range measurement in wide
areas such as the desert or the Russian steppes would be most useful, as guessing the range could be
misleading. When the tank halts before firing and the range to the target is under 1000 meters, the elevation
of a high velocity gun such as the 88mm KwK 43 L/71 (whose muzzle velocity was equal or more than 1,000
m/s) is not affected much by range, and range measurements can be dispensed with. The great advantage of
using a range finder lies in the possibility of opening fire at longer ranges. Without the range finder, precious
time and ammunition were lost when the elevation of the gun must be corrected by observing the effect of
fire.

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Front view of the Tiger II with the rangefinder (left), and a diagram of the Entfernungsmesser (right).

As the tank commander was preoccupied with other tasks, the gunner would take charge of the range
finder. After locating the target with the periscope and aligning the target in the sight, the gunner operates
the range finder, reads the range, and adjusts the range scale to the correct range which provides the
additional elevation associated with the range. The range scale was seen at the bottom of the field of the
right eyepiece. It was graduated in meters from 550 to 20,000 and marked as follows:

Ranges: Graduators: Numbered every:


550 - 600 meters 5 meters 10 meters
600 - 900 10 20
900 - 1200 10 50
1200 - 1500 20 100
1500 - 2000 50 100
2000 - 3000 100 200
3000 - 4000 200 1000
4000 - 20000 500 10000
Source: JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat
Tactics; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6

On 28 February 1945, the armor manufacturers were asked when turrets modified to mount the
Entfernungsmesser (range finders) would be produced . It was stated that they should strive to complete
their first turret by 31 March and Krupp planned to start by mid July 1945. Therefore, the effort was initiated
too late to complete any Tigers II with range finders, before the factory in Kassel fell into the hands of Allied
troops (JENTZ, Thomas L.; Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; op. cit.).

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B Specifications

Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B Specifications:


Weight: 68000 kg
Crew: 5 men

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Engine: Maybach HL 230 P 30 / 12-cylinder / 700 hp


Speed: Road: 35-38 km/h; Cross-Country: 17 km/h
Range: Road: 170-120 km; Cross-Country: 80 km
Fuel Capacity: 860 litres
Length: 7.26 m (w/o the gun); 10.28 m (with the gun)
Width: 3.65 m (w/o aprons); 3.75 m (with aprons)
Height: 3.09 m
Armament: 88 mm KwK 43 L/71 and 3 x 7.92 mm MG 34/42; (1 x MG - hull); (1 x MG - coaxial); (1 x MG - cupola)
Ammo: 88 mm - 80 (early-style turret) / 86 (Serien-Turm) rounds; 7.92 mm - 5850 rounds
Armor: 40 mm(Top); 80 mm(Side and Rear); 150-180 mm(Front)

Bibliographical References
1. Germany's Tiger Tanks: Vol. 2 - VK 45.02 to Tiger II ; Thomas L. Jentz & Hilary L. Doyle, ISBN0-7643-
0224-8
2. Germany's Tiger Tanks - Tiger I & II: Combat Tactics ; Thomas L Jentz; ISBN 0-7643-0225-6
3. An Illustrated Guide to World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles ; Salamander Books Ltd. ISBN 0-
86101-083-3
4. King Tiger Heavy Tank 1942-1945 ; Thomas L Jentz, Hilary Doyle and Peter Sarson; ISBN 185532 282
X
5. TIGER in action - Armor Number 27; Squadron/Signal Publications; ISBN 0-89747-230-6
6. The TIGER Tank; Roger Ford; Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers; ISBN 0-7603-
0524-2
7. The King Tiger Tank; Horst Scheibert; Schiffer Publishing; ISBN 0-88740-185-6
8. The "King Tiger" Vol. II - Development - Units - Operations; Wolfgang Schneider; Schiffer Publishing;
ISBN 0-88740-287-9
9. Germany's Panther Tank - The Quest for Combat Supremacy, Thomas L Jentz., 1995, Schiffer
Publishing Ltd, ISBN 0-88740-812-5
10. Tigers I and II and their Variants, Walther J. Spielberger and Hilary L.Doyle. ISBN 978-0-7643-2780-3

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle Web Site:

PanzerTracts!
Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle Web Site.

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