UNROYAL DEBUT “THE ROYAL TIGER”

NON-PRINCELY DEBUT OF THE TIGERIn August 1942, the armaments Department of the land forces of the Wehrmacht developed tactical and technical requirements for a heavy tank designed in the future to replace the recently released “Fever” — Pz.VI Ausf.E (see “modelist-Konstruktor” No. 7, 2003). On the new machine was supposed to use the constructed in 1941 by the Krupp 88 mm KwK 43 gun with a barrel length of 71 caliber. In the fall of 1942 to the design of the tank began firm Henschel and the design office of Ferdinand Porsche, once again competing with Erwin Aders.

 
I must say that there is nothing fundamentally new Dr. Porsche was not offered. His tank VK4502(P) was a somewhat redesigned for the new tech-job tank VK 4501 (P). Borrowed from the last suspension, powerplant of two gasoline engines Simmering-Graz-Pauker power of 200 HP each and an electric drivetrain. We have developed two options for layout of the tank VK 4502(P): with front and rear tower. Rear placement of the turret, the engine was located in the middle of the hull, and the compartment — ahead. The main disadvantages of the project were under-wegenast and low reliability of electric transmission, the high cost and low processability. Chances to win in the competition with the car E. Aders he almost was not, however, in 1943, the plant Friednch Krupp AG in Essen had produced 50 turrets for the tank.
 
With regard to the project proposed by the firm Henschel, — VK 4503(H), it is significantly more likely to meet the requirements of the military. In particular, and extended in February 1943, the requirement of greatest possible unification with the tank “Panther II”. However, creating a new heavy tank, and Aders have not invented anything original: instead of “eastobrite” housing the old “Tiger” based of the new machine was based on the shape and proportions of the hull and turret of “Panther”. While 150-mm frontal armor on the hull positioned at an angle of 50° to the vertical, and 80-mm Board — 25°. In the chassis used nine double road wheels with internal shock absorption. Part of the chassis parts (particularly wheels) borrowed from “Tiger” and “Panther”. The legacy of the last new car got a 700-HP engine Maybach HL 230Р30 and cooling system with four radiators arranged in pairs left and right of the engine. “Panterovsky” in the power Department posted and fans. “Tiger” is borrowed from the driveshaft, and a gun mask and install exchange machine gun was unified with the “Panther II”.
 
In mid-January 1943 Hitler was shown the model of the tank VK 4503(H). “Toy” like, and work has started in full swing. In this case, as in the case of the Tiger tank, I have orders to use on a tank Henschel already made construction tower Porsche. As you can see, history repeated itself again.
 
20 October on the ground of ARIS in East Prussia, the Fuehrer showed a full-size wooden mock-up of the new machine. 18 November 1943 in the Assembly hall with the company Wegmann received the first three fully assembled towers and Assembly of the tanks. Until the end of the year were made three pre-production machines.
 
The new tank received the designation Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.B (Sd.Kfz.182), later replaced by the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B or Tiger II. The informal name Königstiger “king tiger” — the Wehrmacht used quite rarely, but it has become the most popular among opponents in Germany. For example, in our country the name “Royal tiger” is known to everyone, and “Tiger B”, or “Tiger II” in most cases, will cause surprise and confusion.
 
Serial production began in January 1944. In accordance with the custom Control arms supposed to make a 1237 tanks “Tiger II” with an average build rate of 120 cars per month. However, these plans from the very beginning was not to be. 23 October 1943, that is three days after the show at the site ARIS, 486 British bombers bombed Kassel. The city was destroyed by 80%, and went to the Henschel factories. As a result, by may 1944, the factory shop left only 20 the serial “the Royal tigers”.
 
Its maximum production was reached in August 1944, but did not reach the planned. Another major blow to the German tank factories allied aircraft struck in the autumn of 1944. The latest issue of the “Royal tigers” has decreased almost three times.
 
Since March 1945, their production had to connect the plants Niebelungenwerke to Saint Valentine, but, for obvious reasons, this did not happen. In the end, it made a total of 489 combat vehicles of this type. Some sources give a different number — 477 units.
 
As already mentioned, for the first 50 tanks were set construction tower Porsche. The first battles involving new machines revealed that she has some shortcomings. For example, the tendency of the shells to ricochet down when hit in the lower part of the mask, which threatened to hole in the relatively thin roof of the hull.
 
By may 1944, Krupp designed a new tower, which were installed in the tanks starting with the 51st machine. This tower had a direct 180-mm frontal plate, excluding a possibility of a rebound. The greater the amount booked the new tower has allowed to increase the ammunition from 77 to 84 shots.
 
In addition to the replacement tower, which has become the largest modernization in the design of the tank in the process of mass production made other smaller changes. Has been improved the design of the gun is enhanced with the booking of the engine compartment, installed a new sight. At the end of November 1944 on the “Royal tigers”, a new caterpillar, and in March 1945, introduced the natural pressure of the purging gun barrel. It was carried out by air special cylinder, where it is injected with the energy of recoil of guns. By this time machine guns MG34 was replaced by the MG42, and the installation of ball exchange machine gun for the installation of a machine gun MR40.
 
As you approach the end of the war in the design of the tank were made more simplifications. On the machines the latest releases of, for example, lacked even internal colour. For all serial production there were repeated but unsuccessful attempts to improve the side gears and the engine of the tank.
 
Pz. Kpfw. VI Ausf.B Tiger II
 
Pz. Kpfw. VI Ausf.B Tiger II
 
Heavy tank Tiger II
 
Heavy tank Tiger II:
 
1 — 88 mm cannon KwK 43; 2 — gun mask; 3 — mounting brackets spare truck; 4 — antenna; 5 — crank; 6 — air fan; 7 — recess coaxial machine gun MG 34; 8 — loophole sight TZF 9d; 9— lights with svetamaksimova nozzle; 10 — us exchange machine gun; 11 — Luc to load ammunition; 12 — exhaust pipe; 13 — towing of the earrings; 14 — Luke radio operator-gunner; 15—driver’s hatch; 16—loophole device melee; 17—hatch to eject spent cartridges; 18— commander’s cupola; 19 — hole air flow units; 20—hole vozdukhovody; 21 — plug holes for pouring the water in the cooling system; 22 hole cap for pipe fitting, OPVT; 23 — hole plug to access the fuel filler neck of the power system; 24— reservation air-vents for air flow to the air filters

 
“The Royal tigers” went into service a heavy tank battalions, e which they replaced the tanks “Tiger I”. No new parts to equip these tanks either in the Wehrmacht or in the Waffen SS was not created. Battalions responded from the front and in training centers for landfills in Order Fe and Paderborn had received new equipment and training was held Last facilitated by the use of the “Royal tiger” a large number of standard for other German tanks units and assemblies. In particular, controls are almost completely consistent with those in the simple “tiger”.
 
One of the first new tanks of the 503 battalion. 22 APR 1944 sPzAb 503 was withdrawn from the front to re-form. Its 1st company was armed with 12 “Royal tigers” tower-type “Porsche” In the other two battalions remained of the old “tigers Ausf.E. Such mixed weapons don’t have random, if you take into consideration that from January to April 1944 the Henschel firm was able to produce all 20 tanks “Tiger) Ausf.B (at the same time the shop left 378 “tiger” Ausf.E). At the end of June the battalion from Ohrdurf ruled out of France — battle at Normandy was in full swing.
 
Combat debut of the new tanks on the Eastern front was in August 1944, and this should be spelled out. The fact that in the postwar years in the national press this event has been described repeatedly and gradually acquired numerous and not always accurate details. Reliable was perhaps only the fact of the incident of the battle, and the rest of the authors disagreed even about the date, not to mention the amount involved and the lame “Royal tigers”.
 
To be brief, the most common version looked: at the Sandomierz bridgehead, the Germans threw into the battle tank battalion (sometimes regiment) “Royal tiger” to just 40 cars, and were defeated, losing half a tank. While a few tanks were captured by our troops in good condition. And finally, the most piquant detail: in the head tank killed its designer Ferdinand Porsche (in some publications— the son of the designer), the arrogant believers in the invincibility of his car.
 
The easiest way to deal with the “death of Porsche”. German designer died in 1951, his son — in 1998. Besides the Sandomierz bridgehead operated tanks with tower-type “Henschel”, which Porsche did not even have a partial relationship.
 
As for the rest, let’s try to describe the events, based on the facts. So, it all started July 14, 1944, when the area urdorf arrived to reshape the 501-th heavy tank battalion. Getting new tanks, the battalion departed for the front, and on 9 August 1944, disembarked at the railway station near the Polish city of Kielce. During the March to the front line many tanks broke down for technical reasons, so that on the morning of 11 August, the battalion had only eight serviceable aircraft. All day repairs were carried out, and part of the faulty tanks were put into operation.
 
The situation on this front by that time was the following: troops of the 1st Ukrainian front to 4 August 1944 captured the bridgehead to 45 km wide and 25 km deep on the left Bank of the Vistula. The enemy made desperate attempts to throw our troops, published in the district of Sandomierz. In the first place, the Germans launched a series of counterattacks on the flanks of the Soviet troops, situated on the right Bank of the Vistula. Counter attacks from the North and the South in the General direction of Baranów German troops tried to reach the area of the crossings, cut off our connections were over the Vistula, from the remaining forces and restore the defense field Bank. After the failure of the counterattack the enemy made an attempt to directly eliminate our bridgehead on the left Bank. The first counterattack by two Panzer and motorized divisions of the enemy struck on August 11 in the direction of Eindhoven and moved in two days at 8 km.
 
A foothold by this time was a rough semicircle, which goes ends to the Vistula. Around the middle of this half-ring, covering the direction to Staszów, was defended by the 53rd guards tank brigade. By the end of the day 12 August, the brigade left the first train station Siduv, and then the village Ogledov. It makes sense to consult the memoirs of the commander of the brigade V. S. Arkhipov, which is not without inaccuracies and contradictions (memories that were written 30 years after the events in question) reproduces the events of those days.
 
“On the night of August 13, the brigade no one slept. In the darkness, especially in summer, far and hear me well. And the sounds that we heard, saying that the morning will be a tough fight. Beyond the front line of the enemy, aside Openbve, continuously and together, all moving and growing, buzzing tank engines.
 
The terrain here was not just sand, but sand, weak and shivering. Suffice it to say that attempts tankers to acccess shelter for the cars were in vain — the walls of the trench were settled immediately. In the previous attacks we’ve seen how these men stalled the German “Panthers” as their drivers are forced to give us the side of the machine. In the battle for Siduv and Ogledow these truly turtle maneuvers “Panther” significantly inferior “thirty” in mobility, helped us to inflict a very considerable losses (only 11 of August, the brigade destroyed eight enemy tanks. — Approx.ed.). We must assume that the attack on the forehead along sandy open fields, he’d rather hack the movement. In front of our left wing (battalion Korobov) all terrain in sight. But on the right wing (battalion Mazurina) there is a deep and wide ravine, which of Opengov to Staszów, crossing the front edge extends field road. Across the ravine, where the defense held the small part of it, tanks will not work— there is a swamp. Hence, it is necessary to tightly cover the fire exit from the hollow.
 
Decided to put a few tanks into an ambush. There is the informal term: “playing a tank”. His goal is to force enemy tanks to turn around so they framed the sides under fire attack chief of the defence forces. The role we have ordered a group of tanks from the battalion Mazurina”.
 
Ambushed put three tanks, overlay them with compressed stacks of rye and camouflaged thus, under stack. Closer to the ravine was a tank T-34-85 of second Lieutenant A. P. Oskina, have received orders without a command not to open fire. The rest of the tanks of the brigade is located on the right and left of the road behind a ridge of low sand dunes. However, after several weeks of continuous fighting tanks in the 53rd guards was quite a bit— apparently, no more than 15 cars. But as the team was on the direction of the main blow of the enemy, on the night of August 13, the commander of the 6th guards tank corps major General V. V. Novikov gave a lot of artillery. Profit body 185th howitzer and 1645 th light artillery regiment and 1893 self-propelled artillery regiment SU-85. Then we came to the 385-th army regiment ISU-152. Although all these parts and had no staff, however, was a formidable force. In addition, in the rear the brigade was deployed to the 71st guards heavy tank regiment (11 is-2 tank and 1 EC-85). Thus, the output from the hollow under the sight of several dozen gun barrels caliber 76 — 152 mm.
 
Pz. VI Ausf. V. 502 th heavy tank battalion of the SS. Eastern front, 1945
 
Pz. VI Ausf. V. 502 th heavy tank battalion of the SS. Eastern front, 1945
 
Pz. VI Ausf. V. 501-th heavy tank battalion. Was captured Sandomierz bridgehead on the soldiers of the 53rd guards tank brigade of the red Army. Poland, August 1944
 
Pz. VI Ausf. V. 501-th heavy tank battalion. Was captured Sandomierz bridgehead on the soldiers of the 53rd guards tank brigade of the red Army. Poland, August 1944
 
Pz. VI Ausf.B. 503-th heavy tank battalion of the SS. District of Danzig, March 1945
 
Pz. VI Ausf.B. 503-th heavy tank battalion of the SS. District of Danzig, March 1945
 
Our tank was the fact that German aerial reconnaissance, took a second line of defense brigade (a battalion of machine gunners and artillery piece). The result leading up to the attack hit the enemy artillery and aviation was not to the tank battalions.
 
At 7.00 am on 13 August, the enemy under cover of fog went on the offensive forces of the 16th tank division with 11 (according to other sources, 14) tanks “Fever” Ausf.B 501st heavy tank battalion.
 
“His eyes were glued to the exit of the hollow, — says V. S. Arkhipov. — Monstrous size tank out of it. He crawled on the lift jerks, skidding in the sand.
 
Radioed from the left flank and major Boxes: “Go. Those unidentified”. (On the night of August 13, the brigade intelligence reported about the appearance in Szydlow tanks of unknown type. — Approx.ed.) Answer: “do Not hurry. As agreed: to beat with four hundred meters.” Will mejdu that of the hollow crawled the second the same Tomatina, and then it seemed the third. They came with significant gaps. Whether it is the distance they have statutory, whether the weak pound, they were arrested, but while out of the third hollow, the first already passed the ambush. See how moved a little to the side of the shock, where is the tank of second Lieutenant Oskina. Slid down the sheaf became visible gun barrel. He twitched, then another and another. Oskin fired. In the right-hand sides of enemy tanks, clearly visible in binoculars, appearing black holes. That seemed to smoke and flames erupted. The third tank turned it front to Oskin, but a ride on the shattered caterpillar stood up and were finished off”.
 
“Playing tanks” played a role. The German war machine, leaving the hollow, turning towards the ambush, putting his left side under the guns of the tanks and the heavy gunners of the regiment. Direct fire hit three dozen guns, howitzer battalions covered hollow fire half, and she’s all the way to Openbve disappeared in clouds of smoke and sand dust. On top of our stormtroopers “ironed” the German order of battle. The attack of the enemy failed.
 
In the afternoon of the 16th Panzer division resumed the attack, but, apparently, the “Royal tigers” they have not participated. In any event, among 24 shot down on this day, German tanks remaining in front of the defense team, and their was only three. And all three were burned and, according to B. C. Wheeler, burned their crew of second Lieutenant A. P. Oskina, in which besides himself consisted of the driver A. Stetsenko, the gun commander A. Mirkhaidarov (shot, in fact, it was he), radio operator A. Grushin and loader A. Kolychev.
 
However, the same V. Arkhipov writes about this fight: “Who was hit and how much — the question is difficult because fired and two tank battalions — Mazurina and Korobov, and gave us two artillery and two self-propelled artillery regiment. Worked perfectly and assault aviation, and not only in our field of vision, but also beyond”.
 
It is unlikely that the “thirty” Oskina, even with a very short distance, when every shot is on target, in minutes, if not seconds, managed to knock out three German heavy tank. The ambush was still two tanks, which are also fired. Finally, at the head of the German car barrage fire of the main forces of the 53rd guards tank brigade and parts of amplification. Judging by the photos literally riddled with shells “tigers” destroyed in this battle, the fire was conducted from different directions and not one tank. Apparently, exactly, it can be argued that the crew of the A. P. Oskina knocked the head of the “Royal fever”, which is not enough.
 
During this battle Alexander Axis-kin was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, and Abubakir Mirhaydarov napaden the order of Lenin.
 
Faced with powerful anti-tank defense (and by noon on August 13 at the disposal of the 53rd brigade in addition to the already generated parts of the gain were transferred several batteries 1666 th fighter antitank artillery regiment and division 272-th guards mortar regiment of BM-13), the Germans by the evening, retreated to their original position.
 
Adding the 1st and 2nd battalions (due to the 3-th and 10-th) tanks arrived from repair, about midnight the brigade without artillery preparation attacked Ogledow. By dawn the village was cleared of the enemy.
 
Among the trophies taken was and German tanks of unknown type. And then it turned out that the fight the day before had to fight with heavy tanks “Fever-B”. Learned about it from instructions found in abandoned tanks. In the morning, in the heat of battle, to understand it once. Therefore, in the first report, counting the burning tanks, reported the destruction of three of the “Panthers”. Given the resemblance that was not surprising.
 
Captured combat vehicles had the turret numbers 102, 502 and 234. Tanks No. 102 and # 502 were commander — they had additional radio station. Tank number 502 was found in the yard on the outskirts of the village. The reason the crew left technically serviceable car, prosaically clear and simple: to run does not interfere. In the tank were full of ammunition and sufficient fuel supply. Apparently, in the morning battle on August 13 this machine did not participate. When trying to start the engine it started up “with a half-turn”.
 
At 9.00 the 2nd battalion of the 53rd guards tank brigade in cooperation with the 2nd company of the 71st guards heavy tank regiment and 289th rifle regiment resumed the offensive. Located to the West of Openbve “Royal fever” met them with fire. Then a platoon of tanks is-2 guards senior Lieutenant Klimenkov moved forward and opened fire on the enemy tanks. After a short fight one “Tiger” was shot down and the other burned.
 
As the forward brigade of the 6th guards tank corps was not met by the organized resistance of the enemy. The battle disintegrated into separate skirmishes and sporadic counterattacks. On the outskirts of Sidlova in one of these counterattacks was attended by seven tanks “Tiger-B”. Were in the ambush in the shrubbery tank is-2 guards senior Lieutenant V. A. Udalova allowed the tigers to 700 — 800 m and opened fire on the head. After a few shots one tank was burned, and the second hit. Then deleted the forest brought my car to another position and again opened fire. Leaving another burning tank, the enemy turned back. Soon the attack of the “Royal tigers” again. This RAE they were standing in ambush is-2, guards Lieutenant Beliakov, who opened fire from a distance of 1000 m and the third shell lit enemy tank. Thus, on August 14, 71 tank regiment knocked out and burned six of the “Royal tigers”.
 
All in all, on the battlefield between Staszów and Sidlova left 12 hit, burned and serviceable, but left by the crew of the “Royal fever”. So sad for the Germans the result, no doubt, was the result of the competent organization of the battlefield from our side. The command of the 53rd guards tank brigade of the enemy imposed his script, forcing him to completely “play on our score”. During this battle the brigade commander, Colonel V. S. Arkhipov was awarded the second Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union.
 
Well captured the “Royal fever” No. 502 survived to our days. It can be seen in the exposition of the Military-historic Museum of armored vehicles and armament in Kubinka. So here was the final of that memorable fight.
 
M. BARYATINSKY

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