THE VICTORIOUS OPPOSITION

THE VICTORIOUS OPPOSITIONThe real work of creating a new heavy tank in the program Panzerkampfwagen VI began in late January 1937, when the company Henschel was commissioned and started to design the combat vehicle under the symbol index DW1(Durchbruchwagen — car break). From September 1938, the firm began to develop a variant of the DW2, which had differences from its predecessor in design of the gear box, brake, caterpillars, airborne transmission, wheels and suspension. The tank was supposed to install the turret from the Pz.IV with 75mm gun and coaxial machine gun MG 34. The second gun should have been installed in the hull on the right. But in both cases it was limited only to the construction and testing of the chassis.

 

Experienced tank VK 3001(H) following the first two prototypes and created, as they, under the supervision of the chief of perspective development Department of the company Henschel Erwin Aders, the thickness of the frontal armor of the hull was adjusted to 60 mm, used caterpillar width of 520 mm and placed rollers in a staggered manner. Were made three prototype chassis, which were used to test various components and assemblies.
 
In parallel with the Henschel firm on the project of a new heavy tank worked and Porsche. Machine VK 3001(P) is first created in the workshops of the new plant Nibelungenwerke — has received the trade name “Leopard” (Leopard) and designation of Tour 100. Were built two prototypes of the chassis, left without the towers, and not received from Krupp. The main feature Parchevsky chassis was the Electromechanical transmission. The tank was supposed to receive a modified turret from the Pz.IV with short-barreled 75-mm gun. In the future, for the Leopard was planned to install 105-mm gun with a barrel length of 28 calibers. In 1941-1942, both cars were tested, often interrupt due to numerous problems in the transmission.
 
In may 1941, during a meeting at the Berghof Yugoslav Hitler offered a new concept of a heavy tank, who had increased firepower and armor protection, designed to be a striking force of tank units, each of which was supposed to have 20 such machines. In the light of the proposals of the Fuehrer and based on the results of tests of prototypes of heavy tanks have been developed tactical and technical requirements, and then issued the order the Porsche for the development of the tank VK 4501 (P) with 88-mm cannon and the firm of Henschel — on the VK 3601 (H) with a gun with a tapered barrel. To make prototypes expected by may — June 1942.
 
Work on the Assembly of machine Sonderfahrzeug II, or Tour 101, officially called the office of arms as Panzerkampfwagen VI, VK 4501 or (P) or Tiger (P) was carried out on the shop floors Nibelungenwerke. The layout of both the tank and the engine-transmission compartment remained the same as the VK 3001 (P). Two are located parallel to each other the engine capacity of 320 HP each with V-belt transmission drives the rotation of the rotors of the two generators. From the latest electric power supplied to two electric motors rotating drive wheels of the tank. The entire electrical part of the transmission set firm Siemens-Schuckert. As for the tower, it was developed proactively by Krupp in close cooperation with Porsche.
 
Meanwhile, the firm Henschel quickly designed, manufactured and brought to test your VK 3601(H) and held on to the documents as well as Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.B. From chassis no problems: engine-transmission group and chassis have been well established in previous models. Combat vehicle weight of 36 tonnes, protected by a 100-mm frontal armor, reached a speed of 40 km/h. as for the towers and armaments, for this tank they were never created. The fact that the firm Krupp offered a 75-mm cannon with a tapered barrel. But when it became clear that the armor-piercing shell of this gun includes a tungsten core with a mass of one kg, from her hastily refused — the ammunition this gun “ate” all the tungsten would limit the Wehrmacht. Has successfully passed the tests, which, incidentally, was attended by Minister of armaments A. Speer, the machine was out of work. However, for a while…
 
Since the original version of arms proved unsuccessful, and time was running out, we had to find a new solution. And found the tank was installed Krupp tower, designed for VK 4501 (P). However, it was necessary to increase the diameter of the tower overhead in the light from 1650 to 1850 mm, which caused a change in the upper part of the body. Have a VK 3601 (H) appeared only niche, and the weight increased to 45 t design changes resulted in a shift of the index: the tank was called VK 4501(H). But the main thing was that the car E. Aders as well as on the tank F. Porsche, “registered” 88-mm tank gun.
 
This weapon was designed by the firm of Friedrich Krupp AG, using a swinging part of anti-aircraft guns 8,8-cm Flak 18/36 — the famous “achtacht” (“eight-eight”), without a doubt, the most famous artillery guns of the Second world war. In a tank version, getting the muzzle brake and the electric trigger, the gun became known as 8,8 cm KwK 36.
 
In March 1942, Hitler offered to send prototypes of heavy tanks to the front, in order to test in real combat conditions. Shortly after this highly questionable proposal he announced how many tanks should be ready by October 1942 and by March 1943. It was a complete detachment from reality to claim by the end of September 1942 receipts 60 cars from Porsche and the 25 — Henschel, and by the end of February 1943 — 135 combat vehicles from both firms. It should be noted that both tanks before the start of any serious tests in fact, already been put into production. On the factory floor Nibelungenwerke began assembling a pilot batch right out of ten machines VK 4501 (P), and the Krupp firm ordered 90 towers. Following this, F. Porsche planned to release 35 tanks by January 1943 and 45 by April. Went even further its rival: the first 60 production machines VK 4501 (H) began in mid 1941, and although by the spring of 1942 was ready only one instance, units and other units are not lost — they were used later in the Assembly serial tigers.
 
In Hitler’s birthday, 20 April 1942, both tanks were shown to Hitler in his headquarters “Wolf’s lair” (Wolfschanze) in East Prussia. However, this demonstration essentially solved nothing — it was ahead of the real tests at the site of Burke, where in may 1942, arrived two VK 4501 (P) and one VK 4501 (H). As a result of tests in the tank of the Porsche, as was the case with the VK 3001 (P), showed low reliability of electric transmission. In addition, the machine had unsatisfactory patency and a small range — only 50 km away. As Hitler wanted to use the new tanks in North Africa, this figure had to be at least 150 km. to Accommodate the additional amount of fuel in the tank was impossible because of lack of space. It was easy to predict and many difficulties that could arise during the operation of the combat vehicle at the front. Unusual transmission required re-training of drivers and specialists of repair services. After weighing all “for” and “against”, despite the special arrangement of Hitler to Dr. Porsche, who conducted the test, the Commission decided in favor of a tank company Henschel. Hitler was forced to agree. Machine received the designation Pz.Kpfw.VI (Sd.Kfz.181) Tiger Ausf.HI, and after adopting in 1944, the tank Tiger II the name was changed to Tiger Ausf.E or Tiger I. Already manufactured Njb^lungenwerke 90 chassis VK 4501 (P) decided to use as a base for heavy assault guns, armed with 88-mm anti-tank gun, created on the basis of anti-aircraft guns Flak 41 with a barrel length of 71 caliber — future “ferdinandov”.
 
Heavy tank Pz.VI Ausf.E
 
Heavy tank Pz.VI Ausf.E
 
The heavy tank Pz.VI Ausf.E:
 
1 — morderca to start antipersonnel mines of the type “B”; 2 — mortice for firing smoke grenades; 3 — hatch with a porthole for firing personal weapons; 4 — drawer for equipment; 5 — fan cover; 6 — a cap over the window vozdukhoochistka; 7 flip cover over the access hole for the installation of pipe, OPVT; 8 — air filters Feifel type; 9 — side sliding; 10 — surveillance device; 11 — eye

 
18 August 1942 produced the first four “tiger”. The fifth and sixth cars on 27 August, was sent to Fallingbostel, where he formed 501 and 502 heavy tank battalions. Collected tanks at the plant of the company Henschel in Kassel. To the production of the towers attracted the firm Wegmann. In the production process, in the design of the tank is produced in one modification, almost continuously make changes and improvements. From the first mass-produced cars have changed the box for equipment and spare parts were fastened to the stern of the tower. The prototypes used a box borrowed from Pz.Kpfw.lll. A hatch with a porthole for firing a personal weapon on the right side of the tower was replaced on the manhole. For self-defense against enemy infantry on the perimeter of the body mounted anti-personnel mines mortice for “S” type. This mine, the warhead which contained 360 steel balls, were fired at low altitude and exploded. In addition, the turret of early releases installed smoke grenade launchers NbK 39 Caliber 90 mm (three on each side). The latter could also be used for firing mine-type “S”. On cars of late releases for this purpose were mortica mounted inside the tank and shoot through the recess in the turret roof behind the loader hatch.
 
Since the second half of 1943 at the “tigers” (with 391-first car) began to install a new commander’s cupola, unified with a turret of “Panther” and had the device for mounting anti-aircraft MG 34 machine gun and periscope surveillance device in front of the hatch charging. Changes were made to the trigger mechanism of the gun, locking the gun in its stowed position, coaxial machine gun mount, seats, crew members and others On her side placed laying spare truck that was located only on the lower front hull. Five trucks were attached to the left and three on the right side.
 
Has undergone changes and propulsion tank. On the first 250 machines installed engine Maybach HL 210Р30, on the other — Maybach HL 230Р45. For use in African desert and in the southern regions of Russia on the aft hull mounted air filters Feifel.
 
The first 495 tanks were equipped with equipment for underwater driving, which allowed to overcome its course along the bottom of water obstacles to a depth of 4 m On a special hatch in the roof of the engine compartment mounted three-meter telescopic pipe for supplying air to the engine. The exhaust is made directly into the water. All the hatches of the tank had a rubber seal. At that time “Fever” was the only production tank in the world, features in droves the equipment for underwater driving, which has found wide application in tank only in 50-ies. However, in the army’s equipment was not employed and he eventually refused.
 
The weak point of the chassis “Tiger”, which could not manage to get rid of, was the rapid deterioration and subsequent destruction of the rubber tires rollers. Starting with the 800-th machine on the tank started to install track rollers with internal amortization and the steel rims. In this case the outer row of rollers single shot.
 
“Tigers” was used two types of caterpillars: a transport — width 520 mm and the fighting — of a width of 725 mm. the First were used for transport by rail in order to fit into the envelope of the platform and for its course on paved roads outside of combat. (When transporting tanks often filmed and outer rollers.) When using transport tracks specific ground pressure increased to 1.53 kg/cm2.
 
In 1942-1943 the Germans formed ten heavy tank battalions of the Wehrmacht and the four companies for the divisions “grossdeutschland”, the “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, “Reich” and “Totenkopf”. On the basis of these companies then battalions were formed.
 
T-34 model 1942
 
T-34 model 1942
 
Most heavy tank battalions fought on the Eastern front. Never showed sPzAbt 504, which operated first in Africa and then in Italy, and sPzAbt 508, also fought in Italy. On the Eastern front were all the company, and also one of formed on their basis, the 3rd battalion of the motorized division “Great Germany”. Other battalions fought in the West.
 
Most massively “tigers” were used during the operation “Citadel”. By may 12, 1943 for participation in this battle was planned to have 285 combat-ready “tigers,” but this plan is not fulfilled by passing the troops only 246 cars. A considerable part of them was concentrated in the Orel-Kursk salient. Directly in the operation “Citadel” was attended by two heavy tank battalion (503 and 505) and four companies in the composition of the motorized divisions.
 
On the Northern fase Kursk bulge against our Central front had been only one — 505-th heavy tank battalion (45 “tigers”). Together with the 2nd German Panzer division, under the operational control which he was, the battalion attacked positions of our 70-th army in the direction Podolyan ‘ — Saburovka Warm. In the fighting, according to German reports, have been irretrievably lost three “typhus”, which in General coincides with our data, because between the settlements of Samodurovka, Kashar, Butyrki, Warm, height 238,1, the field size 3×2 km after the fighting was discovered 74 wrecked and burned-out German tanks, self-propelled guns and other armoured vehicles, including four “tiger”. It should be noted that, even though the number of lost “tigers”, the number involved in the fighting machines of this type was small due to the large number of failures, breakdowns and malfunctions. For example, on 13 July in the ranks of the battalion had only 14 combat-ready “tigers.” The rest of the required repairs of varying complexity.
 
In the 503rd heavy tank battalion to the beginning of the battle, there was a 42 “tiger.” The battalion was on the southern face of the Kursk bulge, composed of the 3rd Panzer corps of the operative group “Kempf” and acted in our line of defense of the 7th guards army. His loss in these battles was, according to German reports, four of “typhus”.
 
As for the battle of Prokhorova, the direct participation of 11-12 July 1943, adopted the “tigers” motorized divisions “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, “Reich” and “Dead head” — a total of 42 machines of this type. Even 15 “tigers” had motorized division “Great Germany” advancing on Obeanska direction.
 
Thus, in the operation “Citadel” was attended by only 144 heavy tank “Tiger”, which is only 7.6 percent of the total number of German tanks involved in the attack at Kursk. Significant impact on the course of events, they of course have could not, moreover, been applied quite separately. If you believe the German data, during July — August 1943 irrecoverable losses amounted to 73 of the tank “Tiger”, and by the end of the year 274 of the tank. Thus in 1943 to service after repairs he returned only 19 tanks of this type!
 
In contrast to the Panzerwaffe that was used at Kursk three new products — the “Tiger”, “Panther” and “Ferdinand” tank troops of the red Army met the enemy shot in the same composition. However, by the summer of 1943 changed the structure of the tank fleet that reduced the number of light combat vehicles and significantly increased the number of averages. The main Soviet tank was T-34, while its design during two years of war has undergone significant changes.
 
THE VICTORIOUS OPPOSITION
 
Tanks produced in June 1942, got a new tower so-called “improved” forms (but not less close than previous and for their close to the correct hexagon shape nicknamed the “nut”) round two boarding hatches in the roof. This tower was manufactured as cast and stamped (UZTM). Alloy tower had warnow a flat roof with a thickness of 20 mm. regardless of the manufacturing technology between the hatches in the roof of the tower had a removable jumper allows you to take out through the front hatches, fuel tanks, without removing the tower. Among other innovations introduced on the T-34 in the summer of 1943, include a five-speed transmission, air cleaner “Cyclone”, increased to 100 artillery rounds of ammunition, tower fan, landing handrails, aft external fuel tanks are rectangular or cylindrical side (on the issue of tanks of ChKZ) forms and many other smaller innovations. Serial production of tanks T-34 model 1942 (informally, but most often they are referred to in the literature) were carried out at the plant number 183 in Nizhny Tagil, № 174 in Omsk, UZTM in Sverdlovsk and the Chelyabinsk Kirov plant in Chelyabinsk. Prior to July 1943 was released on 11 461 machine.
 
These tanks carried the brunt of the fierce tank battles at Kursk (in parts of the Voronezh and Central fronts “thirty” was 62 percent), including the famous Prokhorovka battle. The latter, contrary to the stereotype, did not take place on any single field, like Borodino, and carried at the front extending up to 35 km and represented a number of individual tank battles.
 
The evening of 10 July 1943 the command of the Voronezh front received the order of the Rate VGK of holding a counterattack on the group of German troops advancing on the Prokhorovka direction. For this purpose from the reserve Steppe front to the Voronezh front was transferred to the 5th guards army of Lieutenant General A. S. Zhadov and the 5th guards tank army Lieutenant-General of tank troops P. A. Rotmistrov, the first Panzer army uniform composition. Its formation began on 10 February 1943 and the battle of Kursk, it was deployed in the district of Ostrogozhsk (Voronezh region). The army consisted of 18 TC 29 TC 5 GW. MK.
 
The sixth of July at 23.00 it was ordered that required to concentrate the army on the right Bank of the river Oskol. At 23.15 the vanguard had begun to move, and after 45 minutes started and the main force. It should be noted irreproachable organization of the March. In the columns were forbidden oncoming traffic. The army was the clock, with short halts for refueling machines. March securely covered with anti-aircraft artillery and aircraft and thus remained undetected by enemy intelligence. For three days the army moved to 330-380 kg is almost no withdrawal of military vehicles from service for technical reasons that the evidence of both the increased reliability of the tanks and proper maintenance of equipment.
 
The ninth of July 5 guards. SHE focused in the area of Prokhorovka. It was assumed that the July 12, army of two mandated tank corps — 2nd and 2nd guards — 10.00 a.m. strike on German troops and in conjunction with the 5-th and 6-th guards combined-arms armies and the 1st tank army will destroy wedged on Oboyan direction of the enemy, not allowing her retreat to the South. However, the preparation of the counterattack, which began on July 11, was thwarted by the Germans, which caused our defense two powerful blows, one in the direction of Oboyan, the second Prokhorovka. The partial withdrawal of our troops, the artillery, which in the counter-attack would play a significant role, suffered losses, and the deployment positions and in movement to the front line.
 
Early on the morning of July 12 due to the application of the Germans to strike in the strip of the 69th army threatened the left flank of the unfolding South-West of Prokhorovka, the main forces of the 5th guards. TA. This is the 6th and 19th Panzer division (about 200 tanks) from the 3rd tank corps of the enemy went on the offensive from the area of Melekhovo for Rzhavets. In this regard, in the band of the 69th army had advanced two brigades of the 5th guards. MK tank brigade 2 guards. TK and reserve 5 GW. TA (tank, motorcycle, anti-tank and howitzer regiments). These forces, United in a group under the command of major-General K. G. Trufanova (about 100 cars, including 71 T-34) not only stopped the advance of the enemy to the North, but almost completely rejected it in its original position.
 
The main force of German troops as part of the motorized divisions “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, “Reich” and “Totenkopf”, numbering up to 500 tanks and assault guns, including 42 “Tiger”, July 12, at 8.30 went on the offensive in the direction of Prokhorovka station. At the same time, after a 15 minute artillery barrage, the German group was attacked by the main forces of the 5th guards tank army, which led to the deployment of the oncoming tank battle in which both sides involved about 1,200 tanks, and medium and heavy vehicles the enemy had more.
 
Despite the surprise attack, the Soviet tanks were met with concentrated fire anti-tank artillery and assault guns. However, on 18 TK at high speed broke in sovkhoz Oktyabr’skiy, suffering heavy losses, and captured him. Further progress, he met tank the enemy group, which had 15 heavy tanks “Tiger” within a few hours led to them meeting engagement and by 1800 moved to defense.
 
During the day 29 TK led the fight for the height 252,5 tanks division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, but after 16.00 was pushed away by the approaching tanks of the SS division “Dead head”, and after dark, also went on the defensive.
 
14.30 2 GW. TK advancing towards the village of Kalinin, suddenly faced with moving towards a motorized SS division “Reich”, which threw him to the starting position. Covering the joint between the 2 guards. TK 29 and TK, 2 TK was able to press a few German units, but fell under the fire of the fit of the second echelon of the assault and anti-tank guns, suffered losses and stopped.
 
Despite the fact that 5 GW. THE one that operated in the band of 17-19 km, were able to achieve the density of the attacking combat formations up to 45 tanks per 1 km, to complete the task failed. The loss of the army without taking into account group General Trufanova was 328 tanks, and together with attached compounds made up 60 percent of the original number. The German army only 12 of July lost, according to the report of the command of the Voronezh front, about 320 tanks. The German statistics reduces this number to 218, and even up to 190 combat vehicles. However, the evening of 12 July, the Germans at Prokhorovka direction went on the defensive, and on July 14, Hitler gave the order to cease operation “Citadel”. On the night of 17 July, the Germans began a withdrawal to the original borders.
 
M. BARYATINSKY

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