Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

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sandeepmukherjee196
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Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 06 Jan 2015 10:12

[Split from "Joachim Peiper's tactics"]
eindhoven wrote:
Cult Icon wrote:


Wittmann for instance cost the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung over 30% of all its combat losses in Tiger tanks in Normandy. Given that various sources state there were no more than 34 Tigers in action in Normandy do the math. He may have been a quick thinking tank commander but as a unit commander even under veteran Heinz Kling he could not measure up. Ultimately many of the faults evident in Waffen-SS training cost him and those with him that day their lives.
Hi ...

".....about 150 were present during the Normandy campaign (June – Aug 1944). About 60-80 were available at peak force. Only 4-5 Tigers escaped from Normandy, but it appears that they were all blown up/abandoned on their way back anyway."

This comes from a very well researched post on the Naval History Forum .. http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopi ... =26&t=3722

Ciao
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Marcus
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Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Marcus » 06 Jan 2015 10:24

The below was discussed in the Peiper thread and to keep that one on track I am creating a new thread for this discussion:
alecsandros - http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=43993#p43993 wrote:Hello all,

In the last weeks I’ve made an analysis of Tiger tanks deployment and operations. I am trying to share the most important findings, many of which, at least to me, were quite novelle:

1. Tiger tank deployment:

>>> 35-38 Tigers deployed in North Africa, nov 1942 – may 1943. The maximum number of Tigers operational at peak force in Tunis was about 15-20 units.

>>>180-190 Tigers deployed in Italy, jun 1943 – may 1945. The average number of Tigers available at any given time since their deployment in Italy was about 30-40 units, with a probable peak at about 50.

>>>230-240 Tigers deployed on the western front (France/Rhine defense)
Out of these, about 150 were present during the Normandy campaign (June – Aug 1944). About 60-80 were available at peak force. Only 4-5 Tigers escaped from Normandy, but it appears that they were all blown up/abandoned on their way back anyway.

The rest of 80-90 Tigers used on the western front were mostly Tiger II’s, deployed during the Ardennes offensive and subsequent battles (dec 1944 – may 1945). No more than 30 were available at any given time, and never en masse.

>>> ~ 1300 Tigers deployed on the eastern front (72%), between aug 1942 and may 1945. The maximum number of Tigers deployed in the east was about 350-400 units, in late 1943. Out of these, no more than 250 were operational at peak force.

I’ve added up the numbers starting from Schneider’s “Tigers in Combat” and Jentz’s “Tiger I Heavy tank 1942-1945”. I numbered deployed Tigers starting from their final resting place. So in Tunis about 35-38 were lost; in Italy – about 180-190, and so on. There were also several independent Tiger units, which spread the remaining 100-150 tanks between them. These units made many moves across the fronts, and there aren’t to many information about them.

2. Reliability

The number of operational Tiger I’s was about 50% of the batallion’s strength. So, from a 45 tank unit, only 22-23 were available at any given time. Most of the tanks in maintenance were there because of mechanical problems and not enemy activity.
There were rare instances when a battalion had 0% operational Tigers, although the battalion was quite large – over 30 tanks. There were also, extremely rare occasions, when 100% of a batallion’s tanks were available, for 2-3 days in a row.

The number of operational Tiger II’s was 25-30% of the battalion’s strength from mid-1944 to late 1944. Only after Dec 1944 the operational status went above 40%, on average, and did not exceed 50% allmost never. The reason was fairly simple – the engine and distribution were to underpowered to carry a 70-ton tank. Breakdowns were even more common than in the case of Tiger 1.
[Schneider]

3. Perfomance

Tiger 1 / Tiger 2 (Henschel prod.):
Max speed: 45,4km/h / 38km/h
Maximum sustainable speed: 20km/h / 20km/h
Cruise speed: 15km/h / 15km/h
Radius of action, road: 195km with cruise speed / 170km with cruise speed
Radius of action, cross-country: 110km with cruise speed / 120km with cruise speed
Smallest turning radius: 3.44m / 2.09m(?)
Trench crossing: 2.5m / 2.5m
Fording: 1.6m / 1.75m
Gradient climbing: 35* / 35*
Ground pressure: 0,735kg/cm2 / 1.034kg/cm2(?)

On snow, mud, and usually bad terrain, the Tiger 1 and 2 was more manouvreable than the Sherman/Churchill/Cromwell, due to its wider tracks and better length/wide ratio.
[Jentz]

4. Effectiveness of the main armament

The 88mm L/56 and 88mm L/71 were amongst the most powerfull tank guns available for their times. Coupled with extremely accurate sights and thorough training of the crews (up to 1 year for some units, and never below 6 months for all), the guns were deadly at all battlefield ranges and against all targets (for their time). The ammunition used was also top-quality, with APC shells using tempered round ballistic caps, favoring perforations at various obliquity angles.

The Tiger 1’s used both APCBC (pz gr 39) shells, capable of perforating ~ 90mm of homogenous armor plate, laid back at 30*, at 2km AND APCR (pz gr 40) shells, capable of perforating over 120mm of armor, at 30*, at 2km. (Jentz)
The accuracy of the shooting at 2km varied between 50-90%. This made the JS-1 (90mm) and Churchill MkIV (102mm), the tanks fielding the thickest-armor-plates up to mid-1944, vulnerable at 2km or more.
The Pz.gr 39 had a weight of 10,2kg, while the Pz.gr.40 – 7,3kg. The latter was a sub-caliber tungsten-core round with no filler. The damage was done by impact alone.

The sight for the Tiger I was the binocular Leiz “Turmzielfernrohr 9b”, mounted parallel and on the same axis as the main gun. From Apr 1944, the “T-9c” replaced the previous model.
Both sights were extremely accurate, each being capable of aquiring targets at up to 3000m for AT-combat and 5000m for HE coverage. The T-9c also featured 2 magnification levels 2.5X and 5X. With the latter, a unit at 5km away could be seen as one situated at only 1km distance.

The turret could be turned 360* in about 60sec, if the engine was turated to the max (3000rpm). For lower rpm’s, the turning time was consequently higher.

The Tiger 2’s used also APCBC/APCR shells. At 2km, they could perforate 132/153mm of armor laid back at 30*, with accuracies of 45-85%. This made the JS-2 (100mm), Churchill mkVII (152mm) and Pershing (100mm), the thickest-armored-tanks from mid-1944 to the end of the war, vulnerable at 2km or more. APCR shells were, however, in very short supply in 1944-1945, so I doubt they would be used to often in the final stage of the war.

The sight was Leiz Turmzielfernrohr - 9b.1 (binocular) and Turmzielfernrohr – 9d.1 (monocular). The T-9.d featured 2 levels of magnification: 3X and 6X. Target practice was done in testing grounds for 2x2,5m targets located at 500-4000m away. The accuracy at 4km was 25% during practice and 13% during combat (Jentz.)

The turret could be turned 360* in about 10sec, if the engine was turated to the max (3000rpm). For lower rpm’s, the turning time was consequently higher.

A few combat examples:

• 21Jul1944, area of Iwaczow (Poland): 1 Tiger I destroys 1 JS-1 at 4000m ! (Schneider)
• 6Mar1945, area of Seregelyes (Hungary). 2 Tiger II’s destroy 6 JS-2’s at 2000m (Schneider)
• 19Apr 1945, Bollersdorf (Germany): 4 Tiger 2 attacked and destroyed 120 T-34-85 and JS-2’s, at ranges of 1,5 – 3km. The battle raged for a few hours, with about 30 T-34s destroyed during the night. (All tank commanders were given the Knight Cross on the 28th of April)
• 20Apr 1945, Klostendorf, Germany: 1 Tiger 2 of the SS-103rd Panzer destroyed 13 soviet tanks at ranges of 2-4km.

The rate of fire for the main gun was good, at about 4-6 shells/minute for the KwK36 and about 2-3 shells/minute for the KwK44.

The HE ammo was also effective, the Tigers being used as artillery support many times.

[Schneider, Jentz]

5. Effectiveness of armor protection

Tiger 1
The armor used in the construction of the Tiger 1 was of very good quality homogenous steel. Brinell hardness for the face of the plates was ~ 260-280, significantly better than the Allies tank plates (200-240). A British study, performed on a captured Tiger in Tunis showed Tiger plate to be ~ 13% more resistant to perforation than a similar British plate.
The relatively high-Brinell hardness also served as a deterrent to some AP shells. Soviet AP shells ballistic caps especially had Brinell hardness of 225-250 until mid-1943, and they frequently bounced off the armor, even if, in theory, they should have perforated it.
Even in late 1943, problems with Soviet APC shells remained. In one action, 1 SU-122 hit a Tiger 1 8 times, at about 1km, without perforating it even once.

There were also cases in 1943 when Tiger tanks received 100+ shots, and still made it back to their own lines.

Contrary to popular belief, the “eastern” Tigers were not threatened in a larger extent than their western counterparts. Usualy, at least until mid-1944, the contrary was true.
Soviet anti-Tiger weapons were, on paper, quite effective. However, on the battlefield, there were numerous instances of 85, 100 and 122mm shells bouncing of the front and ever the side-armor of Tiger I tanks. This was mostly a problem of the soviet AP shells (see above), which was only remedied late in the war. Even soviet AT guns had big problems taking out Tigers.
In one engagement in 1943, 1 Tiger (T-121 of the 503rd Schw-tank battalion) received over 250 hits (from calibers 14,5mm to 100mm) and still managed to crawl back to base on its own power.
The most effective weapons available on the eastern front were the US-built 90mm AA/AT gun, firing, naturally, US-built ammunition. In one engagement of the 8th SS Pz-Regiment, out of 6 Tigers attacking, 4 were destroyed and 2 crippled by 4x90mm AT guns, near Owskanikowka, in Jan 1944.
Only with the arrival en-masse of Su/ISU-52 and JS-2’s, and the imporovement of APC shells, were the soviets able to knock-out/destroy numerous Tigers in battle. That’s why the number of Tigers lost in battle on the eastern front rises dramatically since Sep-1944.

In “the west”, 6pdr, 17pdr and the tank-destroyers yielding the same AT guns, were many times effective in destroying or knocking Tigers out of the battle. In Tunisia, even since Jan 1943, the British troops fielded several 17-pdr guns. 2 Tigers had their frontal armor perforated in an engagement in Fev 1943. However, there weren’t enough such weapons available, or they were rarely deployed in the battles were Tigers were involved.
For instance, on the 12th of July 1943, 6 Tigers of the 504th heavy tank battalion launched a counter-attack in Italy, towards Vittoria. They were met by 40-50 US tanks and surrounded. In the fierce battle that followed, 16 US tanks were knocked-out (10 burned), and 3 Tigers lost on the battlefield. The other 3 Tigers got away, although each suffered over 100 hits !
There were also cases in which M10 tank-destroyers and 6-pdr guns managed to damage Tigers, when firing from the sides, at ranges of 500-600m.
By late 1944, APDS ammunition became more common for the majority of British and US tanks. This type of ammo was based on a sabot-shell, firing a sub-caliber, non-filler round. The precision of the shot wasn’t to good, and the damage was done only by impact alone. But the concentration of allied armor made these problems less apparent. Also, the average range of western tank engagements was < 1000m, because of the hilly/rugged terrain. This made the precision problem even less apparent. Consequently, the number of Tigers destroyed in tank combats increased dramatically from Oct 1944 onwards.

So, it appears that the Tiger armor was very effective against tank/AT guns rounds up until late-1944. After that, most potential enemies had the necessary “punch” to put rounds inside the armored hull of Tiger tanks at ranges of about 1000m (and sometimes more. However, the quality of soviet optics was not to good, and generally a 1,2km hit was very uncommon even in 1945. But, in theory, a good quality 122mm APC shell could perforate Tiger 1 front at 1,5km. On the western front, hits at up to 1700y were reported, but they were non-penetrative hits AFAIK)

Tiger 2
The most important improvement in the armor pattern was the increase and sloping of frontal armor. The frontal hull of the T2 was sloped at 55* from the vertical, and had a thickness of 150mm. The frontal turret armor was 150-180mm thick (the first 50 Tiger 2’s had “only” 150mm of frontal armor, the others - 180). The gun mantlet had 150mm of armor.
The sides were protected similarly to the Tiger 1, with 80mm of armor. The top was better protected than the T1, with 40mm of armor.
Allthough some soviet sources claim inferior quality of the armor of Tiger 2’s, British 1944 tests performed at Chobbam testing grounds proved the armor to be of sound quality, comparable to the quality of British plates. However, the brinell hardness of the armor varied from 210-240, about 20% lower than that of the Tiger 1.

Despite those impressive characteristics, the Konigstigers faired worse than the Tiger 1’s on the battlefields of Europe, mainly because by the time they were rushed into service, the Allies had already learned many lessons from confronting the Tiger 1’s. On the one hand, Allied armor would almost always respond en-masse to German heavy-tank threats, and on the other hand, new weapons and ammunition were available, many capable to defeat at least some portions of the Tiger 2’s armor. Coupled with the first rule (attacks en-masse), this helped a lot in destroying King Tigers: the concentration of AT rounds on a single tank quickly worn out it’s armor, caused spalling, and almost always found a “weak-spot”, usually in the sides, through which one or more AP rounds would enter the armored hull.

By late-1944, most soviet AP shells had been improved, and thus had superior armor perforation capabilities. A large number of heavy tank destroyers and heavy tanks were also available to the soviets, thus decreasing Konigstigers survivability rate.

ISU-152: 2000 built; ISU-100: 2500 built; ISU-122: 2000 built; JS-2: 3000 built

The western allies also fielded new APDS, HVAP and HEAT ammunition, which was available for most of the tank guns (British 75mm / US 75mm/ US 76mm/ US 76,2mm/ US 90mm/ British 6-pdr/ British 17-pdr being the most common). All the above shells could perforate at least some portions of the Tiger 2 at ranges of at least 700-800m, and many times 1500-2000m (17 pdr firing APDS for instance).

Western tanks and tank destroyers, late war:

Sherman 76mm
Sherman Firefly – 2200 built
Achilles 17pdr – 1100 built (conversion of Wildcat)
M36 Hellcat 90mm
M10 76,2mm – about 6000 built
Comet 77mm HV
M26 Pershing 90mm, about 500 produced by the end of the war

Examples:
• 13th March 1945, Hungary: 16 King Tigers of the 509th Heavy Tank Battalion attack 24 entrentched ISU-152’s. In a ferocious battle, all the soviet SP artillery was knocked-out, but 3 Tigers were destroyed, 13 heavily damaged and put out of action for days or weeks.
• In another battle, waged on Lisow (Poland), in Jan 1945, 25-30 Tiger 2’s attacked the soviet positions. They fell in an ambush and were all destroyed by 76/100/122mm AT guns, T-34’s and JS-2s. A single Tiger (Tiger 111), which got stuck in the mud about 2km away from the enemy positions, managed to knock-out about 20 enemy tanks before being itself destroyed.
• In Dec 1944, in a forest in France, 1 King Tiger met 2 Sherman 76mm. The Tiger fired first and destroyed 1 Sherman, but in the mean time, the second Sherman scored 2 penetrating hits, which set the Tiger aflame. The engagement was fought at about 500m and the shells penetrated the lateral turret armor.
[Schneider, Jentz, Fprado.com, achtungpanzer.com ]

6 Operational achievements

6.1 Concept

90% of the Tigers used in the war were organized in Schwere tank Battalions, with a nominal strength of 45 tanks. These units fought independently most of the times. Rarely, they were subordinated to divisional commanders, but usualy only for brief periods of time. Only afew divisions received “permanent” Tiger battalions: Panzer Lehr, Totenkopf, Das Reich, Grossdeutschland.

6.1.1 Offensive
The Tigers were designed to break enemy defense lines, eliminate strong-points, pass over trenches and almost any kind of barriers (barbed wire, wooden structures, concrete structures), with the only problem being the purpose-built anti-tank “teeth”. The heavy tanks should have also absorbed enemy concentrated fire from machine-guns, AT rifles, AT guns, tanks, etc, leaving less mortal danger to be directed against the medium/light tanks and the panzer grenadiers, which were supposed to help in obtaining the breaktrough.
In tank battles, the Tigers were supposed to engage the largest and most dangerous enemies, preferably at long range, while leaving the lesser ones for the PzIIIs and PzIVs.
6.1.2 Defensive
Tiger battalions were expected to be kept at 12-15 km behind the front lines and deliver hammer counter-attacks immediately after the first waves of the enemy assaults were contained or threatened to penetrate to deep the defenses. They were to be kept as an operational reserve, used on a point of crisis.

6.2 Historical strenghts

The Tiger 1 was a formidable tank from Nov 1942 to spring 1944. Allthough some foreign designs were also built with the heavy-tank role in mind (KV-1, KV-2), and some even were purposefully built to destroy Tigers (JS-1), the battlefield advantage stayed with the Tigers for about 1,5 years.
The very high-quality armor cast, the very high-quality gun/sights/shells, and, of course, the very high quality tank commanders and excellent trained crew-members made this animal a ferocious predator. The tank was also surprisingly nimble for its size, being capable of turning on the spot in less than 15 seconds. Maximum speed was also very good, at over 43-44km/h on roads.

In those 1,5 years, Tigers were deployed in Tunis, Italy and the great Russian steppes – ideal tank countries. The large open-fields of the deserts, of the long Italian valies and of the almost neverending Siberian planes made enemy tanks visible and engageable from afar. Kills at 3km were reported; kills at 2km were not uncommon, and kills between 1-1,5km were the norm. In this kind of terrain, the Tigers could manouvre at will, engage and retreat with no fear of being stuck/blocked by various natural elements. But the key point remained visibility: as far as the enemy could be seen from the distance, the Tigers had the upper hand. Also, of crucial importance, was the air support available. The Luftwaffe played a good role in all theatres of operations until early 1944, and sometimes even after that (mainly on the Eastern front). But after spring 1944, over most of the battlefields, enemy jagd-bombers were mostly un-opposed and frequently harassed Tiger battalions. More about this on the “weaknesses” area.

Another remarkable “historical strength” was the incredible delay of the Allied response. Reports of heavy German tank prototypes were known in Britain and Russia from June 1942. The tanks were credited with 80mm of frontal armor, 88mm HV guns and 32-35km/h top speed. However, nobody moved a muscle. Worse still, after capturing their first Tiger in Aug 1942 (after the first Tiger assault, which was a fiasco due to the numerous teething problems a new model almost always has) the Russians concluded that it was a flawed design, cumbersome, and with to many mechanical problems so as to represent a real threat. The British-Americans, after encountering their first Tigers in Nov 1942 in North Africa (and even capturing 1 in Fev 1943) also remained dubiously un-moved in their tank designs and production priorities.
Mistakes in war cost lives.

• 14th of Fev 1943 – 6 Tigers of the 501st Schw.-tank battalion engaged and destroyed in open combat 20 Shermans and Stuarts for no loss in North Africa.
• 20th of March 1943 – 6 Tigers of the 504th Schw.-tank battalion attack elements of the 9th US armored division, destroying or knocking-out 35 light/medium tanks in battle of Maknassy Pass.
• 7th Fev 1943 – 3 Tigers and 3 Pz-IIIs engage a large soviet armored column during the Second Battle of Ladoga. The 6 tanks destroy 32 tanks and force the others to retreat (many of the retreating enemies being damaged). Only 1 Pz-III was lost.
• 17th of Fev 1943 – 1 Tiger of the 502nd of Schw.-tank battalion is guarding an area south of Leningrad from up a hill. It engaged a KV-1 formation, which broke and fled in a few minutes. 10 KV-1s were destroyed and exploded in the field.
• 21st of Apr 1943 – 6 Tigers support the defense in Tunis. They knock-out 40 tanks [unknown number of actually destroyed vehicles] of the 9th British armored Division, and force the others to retreat. Only 1 Tiger is lost to enemy fire.
• 5th of July 1943: 30 Tigers of the 505th Schw.-tank battalion cross the Oka river towards Podolian. Over 100 enemy tanks try to encircle them. The Tigers move coordinately and suppress enemy tank formations with killer accuracy. 42 T-34s are left burning, the others retreat. Left with no armored protection, 15th soviet Infantry Division collapses under the Tiger attack! One Tiger is lost.
• 6th of July 1943 – 10 Tigers of the 8th SS Pz-Regiment destroy 12 T-34s and 1 armored train which was backing the soviet tanks with its powerfull guns. No loss.
• 15th of July: 2 Tigers of the 505th Schw.-tank battalion knock-out 22 soviet tanks near Teploje.
• 25th of July 1943 – 1 sigle Tiger attacks and destroys 13 T-34s during the Third battle of Ladoga. Panic spreads across the soviet armor and retreats.
• 18th of Sep 1943: 12 Tigers counter-attack after a successful soviet breakthrough near Diatlowka, Rusia. 26 T-34 are left burning, the soviet attack is broken and beaten off. 1 Tiger lost.
• 18th of Oct 1943: Tiger C33 of 3rd Pz-Regiment Grossdeutschland is under attack by 40 soviet tanks. He destroys 17 while the others flee. The tank receives heavy damage, but the crew is alive. The tank gets back for mentenance on its own power. Repairs are scheduled to last about 1 month.
• 14th of Nov 1943. 4 Tigers of the 9th-SS Pz Regiment engage the full-strength 32nd Guards Soviet Division. 19 enemy tanks are destroyed on the spot, the others break away, fleeing in all directions. No losses.
• 27th of Dec 1943: Mr Wendoerff leads his single Tiger tank against a T-34 column. He destroys the first and last tanks and then picks off each of the others. 11 T-34s destroyed.
• 12th of Jan 1944. 5 Tigers from the 508th Schw.-tank battalion fall into an ambush set up with 5 T-34-85s near a forest. The leading Tiger takes 20 AP hits, none penetrates. The other 4 Tigers open fire and destroy all 5 T-34s.
• 7th of Fev 1944- 8 Tigers remain out of fuel while retreating near Tatjanowka, Ukraine. They keep the enemy at a distance until fuel-trucks arrive. 20 soviet tanks are destroyed. No tank manages to close at less than 1000m. No Tiger lost.
• 7th of April 1944 – 3 Tigers engage a soviet armored brigade. 24 enemy tanks are destroyed for no loss.

The most important Tiger losses I’ve noted for the period of Nov 1942 – May 1944 are the following:

• Jan 1943 – 7 out of 8 Tigers of 501st Schw.-tank battalion are imobilised in a mine field in North Africa, during operation Beja. Their repair takes a while.
• 18th of Oct 1943: 13 Tigers of the 505th Schw.-tank battalion attack towards Chwoschno, Ukraine, supporting the attack of the129th. Infantry-Division. “The offensive is stopped by the enemy; 9 out of 13 Tigers are heavily damaged. 3 total losses”.
• 18th of Oct 1943 (bad day for the Tigers). A train delivering 10 Tigers is captured intact by the soviets!
• Dec 1943 – 21 Tigers in mentenance facilities are blown up because of the soviet approach.
• Dec 6th 1943 – all 22 operational Tigers of the 509th Schw-tank battalion are imobilised in a mine field. All are damaged in various degrees. The regiment loses more than half its combat strength for more than 1 month.
• 16th of Jan 1944: 6 Tigers of the 9-th SS Pz-Regiment perform an attack near Owskanikowka. 4 are destroyed and 2 damaged by US-built 90mm AT guns.
• 21st of Jan 1944: 12 Tigers of the 502nd Schw-tank battalion are encircled by strong enemy armored formations in the vicinity of Gatschina. They try to figth their way out, but 11 succumb to enemy fire. They destroy 8 tanks and 6 AT guns before the end.
• 13th of Fev 1944 – 9 Tigers of the 501st Schw-tank battalion are lost in “abortive counter-attacks” against soviet lines.

For the given period, there are very rare reports of Tigers destroyed in tank to tank -combat, excluding AT-guns. Even concentrated enemy armor assaults, of either T-34+KV-1 or Sherman + Cromwell/Churchill were not always successful in destroying the German heavy tanks. There are at least 8 reports of Tigers hit 100 times or more, and still retaining their crews “intact” and being able to get back to base on their own power (although slowly). There are also at least 2 reports of Tigers receiving more than 200 strikes of various calibers, and getting back to base, albeit in very poor condition. These actions and events testify to the formidable staying power of the Tiger tanks, and their combat achievements are praise-worthy, to say the least.

As a tactical weapon, they were very valuable, and made a difference almost every time they were employed. There are no “mix results” for Tiger assaults or counter-assaults for this period. There are occasional setbacks and failures, but they are drastically overshadowed by the number and scale of successful engagements they were in (the decisive blows given during IInd and IIIrd battles of the Ladoga and early phases of Kursk and Kharkhov, amongst others). Also, most of the “failures” are attributable to poor deployment – either spreading the Tigers to thin amongst infantry, with insufficient recon and air cover, or throwing them away in mine fields.

Finaly, an often disregarded “Tiger strength” for this period was the overall strength of the German military. A very good supply chain, excellent information gathering, analysis and decisions, and very good combined-arms tactics made many German assaults or counter-assaults successful, even though severly outnumbered. After all, the Tiger was a weapon amongst other weapons, and their greatest successes usually came in connexion with other arms of the German military (Luftwaffe, motorized Infantry, “normal” panzers).
As the war raged, all the factors above gradually worn out: experienced battlefield commanders and generals perished, the supply chain was battered throughout its length (from the oil refineries to the transport of spare parts and new units to the battlefield, all military “movement” within the 3rd Reich was becoming increasingly dangerous because of the Allied Air Offensive and the Partisans sabotages), and the other arms of the military were hopelessly thinned: panzer divisions only had 50% or even 25% of their nominal strength; infantry divisions many times had only 2000-3000 fighting soldiers, etc.

Practicaly, the golden years of the Tigers mostly coincided with the golden years of the German military, albeit somewhat shadowed in North Africa and in the second half of 1943 in the east.

6.3 Historical weaknesses

As the Wehrmacht reached the zenith of its successes, so did the Tiger battalions. Essentialy an offensive weapon, the Tiger was difficult to retreat from the battlefield, due to its frequent breakdowns, high gasoline consumption and difficulty crossing bridges. The Tiger battalions needed to be loaded onto trains, which weren’t always available or close enough.
Worst still, by spring 1944 all the Allies managed to deploy anti-heavy tank units in much greater numbers than during late 1942-early 1944: in the east, the ISU-122 and ISU-152 proved effective in knocking-out, and sometimes even destroying Tigers with one single hit. The new JS-2 tank was also coming on the frontlines, although APC shells problems still remained (there are reports of Tiger tanks hit by JS-2s in fev – mar 1944 from distances of 500m or less. The 122mm APC shells bounced off the frontal armor) and various types of tank-destroyers had the capability of severely damaging Tigers. In the west, the 17pdr (UK) and 90mm (US) AT gun were becoming more numerous, and also were tank-destroyers such as the 17-pdr Achilles and 76-mm M10.

Tactics for all allies had improved, and so has combined-arms approach. The panzers were more frequently detected from the air, and later attacked by armored formations, many times supported by artillery. The terrain type was also different – the vast steppes of Rusia were replaced by forested, hilly or swampy terrain in Ukraine/Poland; the deserts of North Africa were replaced by the rapid valleys of northern Italy. And the bocage terrain of Normandy was also very bad tank terrain – as the enemy couldn’t be seen unless at 800-900m or closer (US and British tank crews noted average tank combats at 900m in Normandy until Aug 1944). Thus, the advantage of the long-barrelled gun was diminished.
Also, Lutwaffe no longer controlled the skies, and only seldom posed a threat on all theatres of operations, with only sporadic resurgences in the east.

Thus, great achievements of the Tiger battalions were less numerous:

• 22nd of June 1944 – Mr Rohrig leads 4 Tigers in the area around Maritima, Italy. They engage a formation of 25 Shermans. 11 are set alight, the remaining 14 crews open the hatches and flee, leaving the tanks to the Germans. No losses.
• 11th of July 1944 – battle of Colombelle, south of Caen. Commander von Rosen leads 12 Tigers against a formation of about 20 Sherman tanks. During the night, the Tigers approach at maximum speed and open fire. The Shermans respond, dozens of hits bouncing off the frontal armors. In 5 minuntes, 12 Sherman explode or burn, and 2 more are abandoned by their crews; the others retreat. No loss.
• 28-29th of June 1944 – 18 Tigers of the 505th counter-attack around the Bobr river (PL) against 2 soviet armored columns (60, 30 tanks respectively). 55 enemy tanks are knocked-out [unknown number destroyed], for the loss of 6 Tigers.
• 23rd of May 1944 – one of the very few massed attacks of Tiger tanks. 40 Tigers of the 508th attack towards Cisterna-Latina (IT). All 15 US tanks in the area are destroyed. 1 Tiger damaged.
• 8th of Aug 1944 – 7 Tigers of the 102nd destroy 15 Shermans near Chenedolle; 1 Tiger damaged.
• 9oth of Aug 1944 – battle for Hill140, Normandy. 13 Tigers and several Pz-IV of the 12th SS Panzer counter-attack against elements of the Canadian II corps (with 55 tanks). The Tigers take position on the hill and start pounding at long range. 47 Canadian tanks are knocked-out, no Tiger lost.

During this time, the combined effects of the factors enumerated above made Tiger losses to increase.

Another major weakness was the tanks weight and size. We often find mentions of Tigers “having difficulties crossing bridges”. In fact, at least 20 Tigers were lost after crashing through the bridges they were on.
The size was another disadvantage: the tank was easy to spot by the enemy and more easy to hit; it was wider and longer than normal tanks and thus had great problems tackling narrow passages, such as the Italian mountain ravines. At least 15 Tigers were lost in Italy after falling on the sides of the roads, into the ravines…

Finaly, these tanks were incredibly time consuming to maintain. Jentz mentions an average of 10 hours of mentenance for 1 hour of active combat. I find it hard to believe, but not impossible.
Also, the fuel consumption, lubricant consumption, and the special spare parts required for these beasts made them even harder to keep on the battlefield. Thus, not once were Tigers cannibalized for parts, or blown up/abandoned due to the lack of fuel.

7. Analysis of “kill-ratios”

There are very few “clean” Tiger engagements available for study. A clean engagement is one of pure tank vs tanks combat, with no other categories of forces present, and with no other types of German tanks in support.
Many times the Tigers were knocked-out and later abandoned (or blown up) by AT guns or mines. And also, many times Allied tanks were destroyed by PZ-IVs, Stugs or German AT guns, while they were focusing on tackling the Tigers. A broad discussion can be held regarding the merits of having a heavy tank to absorb the punishment of the enemy, so as to let the lesser forces to destroy the enemy at will. However, this is not the point we are trying to make. The point we are focusing on is exclusively the effectiveness of the Tiger tank battalion in tank vs tank combat, with no parts of the engaging forces on the defensive. That is, a pure head-to-head combat, with no traps, ambushes, casemates, etc, helping either side.

An engagement of at least 4 Tigers against any given number of enemies.

The battles I’ve came about are only a few:

Battle of Oka River, Russia, part of the battle of Kursk, 1943
30 TigerI engage a large (over 100 tanks) Russian armored formation on the open fields. They opened fire at over 2km, scoring hits early. 42 T-34 destroyed, the rest fled. 1 Tiger was lost to enemy tank fire.

Battle of Collombelle, Normandy, part of the battle for Caen, 1944
12 TigerI attacked in the night a formation of 75mm Shermans. 12 Shermans were destroyed, 2 captured, 3 Tigers lightly damaged (repaired in 3 days or less). The battle was in the open terrain, no ambush, no air cover.

Battle of Tatjanowka, Ukraine, part of the strategic German retreat, 1944
8 TigerI remain without fuel out in the open fields. A large (over 30) formation of soviet tanks approaches them. 20 are destroyed, the rest flee; no Tiger lost or severely damaged.

Battle of Maritima, Italy, part of the battles for the Gustave line, 1944
4 TigerI engage a formation of 25 US Shermans. 11 are burned, the rest are abandoned by their crews. All Tigers moderately damaged.

Battle for Grunow, Germany, part of the final drive to Berlin, 1945
8 TigerII, occupying a small hill, engage a formation of over 100 soviet tanks. They open fire from over 4km. 70 enemy tanks are claimed knocked-out for no loss.

Battle for Bollersdorf, Germany, part of the final drive to Berlin, 1945
4 TigerII are attacked on the open by 30 T-34-85s. All soviet tanks are knocked-out [unknown number destroyed]. No Tiger lost.

So my conclusion is that, when fighting head-on, and with no other enemy present (AT guns, trenches, jabos, etc), the Tigers were devastating in their role and got the fame they deserve.

Bibliography:
books
• Scheider, Tigers in combat, I and II
• Jentz – King Tiger heavy tank
• Jentz – Tiger 1 heavy tank
• Jentz – Germany’s Tiger 1 and Tiger II. Design. Production. Modifications.
• Buckley – British armor in Normandy campaign 1944

sites
• Fprado.com
• Achtungpanzer.com
• Battlefield.ru
• Wiki

Michael Kenny
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Posts: 6965
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Location: Teesside

Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Michael Kenny » 06 Jan 2015 10:47

The cited post from the other forum is far from 'well researched' and is full of errors. Worthless as a reference.

Unbelievable claims like:

19Apr 1945, Bollersdorf (Germany): 4 Tiger 2 attacked and destroyed 120 T-34-85 and JS-2’s, at ranges of 1,5 – 3km. The battle raged for a few hours, with about 30 T-34s destroyed during the night. (All tank commanders were given the Knight Cross on the 28th of April)

Absurd fairy tales for the gullible.

Germanicus
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Posts: 1615
Joined: 04 Jun 2009 13:26
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Germanicus » 06 Jan 2015 11:14

Loses of tanks for 1. Belorussian Front:

Date / Burned tanks / Hit tanks / Other losses / Total losses
16.4. / 71 / 77 / 40 / 195
17.4. / 79 / 85 / 15 / 179
18.4. / 65 / 86 / 13 / 164
19.4. / 105 / 76 / 8 / 189

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=48742

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gli ... t103-R.htm

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=124380

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=104100

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?p=925732

Michael Kenny
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Posts: 6965
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Michael Kenny » 06 Jan 2015 11:41

There is no way 4 tanks of any kind could take on and defeat 120.
This is just another Berlin myth of superhuman German fighting ability that lacks any credibility and more importantly not a single scrap of evidence to back the claims.
Even Wilbeck in 'Sledgehammers' (a man not overly bothered with checking Tiger kill claims) feels he has to comment on this unit and its claims:

Notes: S.SS.Pz.-Abt. 503’s claims lack credibility. This battalion was never fully
equipped and only fought from January 1945 until the end of the war. Committed to the
Eastern Theater, it was split apart to many different areas under many different
commands. Its records are incomplete and cannot be verified. This battalion fought in
places like Kustrin, the Seelow Heights and in Berlin in addition to many others. Jean
Restayn claimed that two Tiger IIs destroyed 64 JS-IIs and T-34s in a brief engagement
toward the end of the war but it is doubtful that in a little over three months of combat the
battalion destroyed more than 500 Soviet tanks.


I had hoped the forum had moved on since the days when tales like this were taken at face value.

RichTO90
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Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by RichTO90 » 06 Jan 2015 14:38

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
eindhoven wrote:
Cult Icon wrote:


Wittmann for instance cost the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung over 30% of all its combat losses in Tiger tanks in Normandy. Given that various sources state there were no more than 34 Tigers in action in Normandy do the math. He may have been a quick thinking tank commander but as a unit commander even under veteran Heinz Kling he could not measure up. Ultimately many of the faults evident in Waffen-SS training cost him and those with him that day their lives.
Hi ...

".....about 150 were present during the Normandy campaign (June – Aug 1944). About 60-80 were available at peak force. Only 4-5 Tigers escaped from Normandy, but it appears that they were all blown up/abandoned on their way back anyway."
A total of 12 Tiger II and 126 Tiger I were committed in Normandy. AFAIK all were lost. In any case, Wittmann only commanded a single company from one of the battalions committed. It started with 14 tanks, but by the time it got to VB there were just 6 operational, a measure of the operational mobility of the type. In his final attack on 8 August IIRC there were just 5 tanks under his operational command, all of which (?) were lost.

The reference to "over 30%" was to a baseline 45 tanks in Wittmann's battalion, not all of which necessarily were "combat" losses, although given that all were lost that argument is splitting hairs. In this case the 14 lost in 2. Kompanie were indeed Wittmann's responsibility, since he was the commander.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 22 Jan 2016 16:14

Michael Kenny wrote:There is no way 4 tanks of any kind could take on and defeat 120.
This is just another Berlin myth of superhuman German fighting ability that lacks any credibility and more importantly not a single scrap of evidence to back the claims.
Even Wilbeck in 'Sledgehammers' (a man not overly bothered with checking Tiger kill claims) feels he has to comment on this unit and its claims:

Notes: S.SS.Pz.-Abt. 503’s claims lack credibility. This battalion was never fully
equipped and only fought from January 1945 until the end of the war. Committed to the
Eastern Theater, it was split apart to many different areas under many different
commands. Its records are incomplete and cannot be verified. This battalion fought in
places like Kustrin, the Seelow Heights and in Berlin in addition to many others. Jean
Restayn claimed that two Tiger IIs destroyed 64 JS-IIs and T-34s in a brief engagement
toward the end of the war but it is doubtful that in a little over three months of combat the
battalion destroyed more than 500 Soviet tanks.


I had hoped the forum had moved on since the days when tales like this were taken at face value.

Hi everyone...

The following gives interesting and detailed information in the above context :

(http://www.flamesofwar.com/hobby.aspx?art_id=4968)
" King Tiger
schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503 (schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 103)

Formation and Training
schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 103 (103rd Heavy SS-Panzer Battalion) was formed on 1 July 1943 as the 2nd Battalion of the SS-Panzer-Regiment 11 of 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadierdivision ‘Nordland’ (11th SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division ‘North Land’). It was initially sent to Yugoslavia to fight as infantry. However, at the end of November 1943, the battalion was converted back into an armoured unit. They were earmarked to become the heavy tank battalion of the III. (Germanic) SS-Panzerkorps.

At the beginning of January 1944 the Abteilung was relocated to Zwolle in the Netherlands. On 4 February 1944, they were supplied with six Tiger IE heavy tank for training purposes. During February and March 1944 crews attended Panzer courses at Paderborn Panzer school. They lost their six Tiger in the spring of 1944 when they are issued to the 9th Company of SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. After training at Paderborn the Abteilung returned to the Netherlands to await their new equipment at Olde-Broek.

In the summer of 1944 they moved camp again, this time to Wezep in the Netherlands. There, training continued in a makeshift manner with three old Panzer Ausf C light tanks. On 15 May 1944, due to their lack of tanks, a number of their experienced and trained Tiger NCOs were reassigned to schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilungen 101 and 102 who had begun to receive their own tanks. During the Normandy campaign the Abteilung acted as training and replacement unit for the other two SS heavy tank battalions.

On 26 May 1944, the Abteilung received six more Tiger IE heavy tanks for training, two for each company. The total strength of 103. Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung on 30 June 1944 is 33 officers, 154 NCOs and 850 other ranks. On 22 August 1944, they received another four Tiger IE tanks. However, these, and the already acquired six, are reassigned to heavy radio-control tank battalion (FKL) 301.

In early September 1944 the Abteilung begins it conversion to the new Tiger II heavy tank around the area of Paderborn in Germany. The first four Tiger II tanks arrive on 19 October 1944. A further six are transferred from Schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 102.

King Tiger
However, they again supplied replacement trained crews and gave up their tanks to the other two heavy SS tank battalion as the Ardennes Offensive approached. They also provide replacement crews to their sister unit in the 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadierdivision ‘Nordland’. On 13 November 1944 they are re-designated schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503.
King Tiger On 1 December 1944 they are reported to have three tanks. In January 1945 they receive a steady stream of new tanks and by the end of the month they had received 31 Königstiger tanks and are busy training new crews for combat. Just eight day before they were due to be deployed in the field the Abteilung receives a new commander, SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Herzig. Despite the less than ideal timing, Herzig is an experienced and proven leader and goes on to lead his new Abteilung with skill and vigour.
To the East and Operation Sonnenwende

A total of 39 Königstiger heavy tanks were transported from Paderborn to the Eastern Front on 26 January 1945. 503. Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung placed under the command of Army Group Vistula. The railway transport to the east is divided into two groups: The first group with 12 Königstiger tanks and the Abteilung staff commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Herzig goes to Arnswalde in Pomerania, while the second group goes to area around Küstrin.

Part of the Abteilung was expected to arrive at Reetz (Recz) on the front by 28 January ready for Army Group Vistula Commander Reichsführer SS Himmler’s counterattack (Unternehman Sonnenwende, Operation Solstice). One part of schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 501 was to attack from Kalies (Kalisz Pomorski) near Neuwedell (Drawno) in Pomerania. Other parts of the Abteilung was to strike from Küstrin (Kostrzyn nad Odrą) on the Oder and Gdynia in eastern Pomerania. The result was the battalion was somewhat scattered and their fighting power was not concentrated where it could be best used.

SS-Untersturmführer Haake’s 2nd Company unloaded from its train at Schneidemühl (Piła) with three tanks and the battalion’s Flak. It turns out this is where Haake grew up and he knew the area well. He first fitted the tanks combat tracks and gave his tanks a quick coat of whitewash camouflage. Meanwhile, the Soviet artillery was shelling his position sporadically. Two of the tanks then took up positions on the nearby railway embankment, before repelling several Soviet infantry attacks. Unfortunately the third tank had to be left behind because of mechanical failure. During the night, the two tanks, with infantry riding aboard, move westwards. By early February, Haake’s small battlegroup, with the help of his local knowledge, had made it as far as Küstrin. The two tanks were then placed under the command of the Küstrin garrison.

Some tanks of 1st Company under SS- Obersturmführer Lippert were incorporated into Kampfgruppe Scherer facing the bridgehead at Driesen (Drezdenko). They are used to ward off several enemy attacks.

Six Tiger tanks were unload at Mückenburg (Sarbiewo) at the request of area commander Generalmajor Hauschulz. He immediately directed them towards Friedeberg (Strzelce Krajenskie). However, they instead move towards Stolzenberg (Sławoborze) on 29 January 1945, where they were ambushed at 04.00 hours and all six tanks were lost.

King Tiger
The II. Armeekorps under Generalmajor Munzel was assigned a group of Tiger II tanks from the Abteilung. This area was still relatively free of Soviet units as Generalmajor Munzel waited for his Tiger II heavy tanks to arrive. On 29 January 1945 six Tiger II heavy tanks and one self-propelled twin anti-aircraft gun arrived at Zatten. They were accompanied by an advance party of 365 Fallschirmjäger under Major Hörl from Fallschirmjäger-Regiment z.b.V. Schacht (later Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 25, 9. Fallschirmjägerdivision). The plan was for this force to breakthrough Reichsstrasse 1 (National Road 1) between Hochzeit and Woldenberg.

King Tiger Just before the attack was launched, the Soviets had begun their own attack. The troops assembled for the attack in Pomerania launched counter-attacks from their deployments around Zatten. At Heidekavel the Königtiger tanks encountered a large concentration of 80 to 90 Soviet tanks. The Soviet armoured attack was repulsed and by the evening Regenthin was in German hands. However, the 2nd Battalion of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment z.b.V. Schacht took very high officer casualties during the battle to take Regenthin.
On 31 January, 1st Company of schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503 under SS-Obersturmführer Max Lippert with four Königstiger tanks attacked from Regenthin with Fallschirmjäger in support. They advance about 15 kilometres, destroying 80 Soviet guns and inflicting heavy casualties on the Red Army infantry. During fighting in a forested area near Anmarsches SS-Oberscharführer Dienersberger was killed when he was struck in the head. At the time he was firing from his tank turret with his machine-pistol at Soviet infantrymen. The tank of SS-Untersturmführer Bromann was halted after several anti-tank guns hits. The other three tanks continued to advance from Regenthin towards the anti-tank positions. The leading tank, commanded by SS-Unterscharführer Lindl, was hit 22 times, but still pushed through the position! Another tank, under SS-Uuntersturmführer Meinl, which held the left flank, was hit by a Soviet tank and began to burn and crew suffered serious burns. The advance of the Fallschirmjäger battalion was carried out towards Woldenberg to Lämmersdorf without any significant enemy resistance.

The Soviets bypassed the German advance and threatened the battle groups rear, forcing them to retreat to the original positions in Regenthin that evening. Afterwards the Fallschirmjäger are withdrawn to the area of Neuwedell.

On 1 February SS-Obersturmführer Lippert’s 1st Company continued its thrust, advancing 10 kilometres, fighting skirmishes with Soviet tanks, and losing four crew to injury. The next day the 2nd Company joined the attack. The 1st Company advanced a further five kilometres to Deutsch Krone and Schneidemühl. The command of the 2nd Company, SS-Untersturmführer Schäfer, was wounded during the fighting. The Abteilung was forced to retreat due to the danger of encirclement by advancing Soviet forces.

King Tiger
On 3 February 1945 the four Königtigers had arrived at Arnswalde just in time to repel a Soviet attack on Kopplinsthal west of the city. In Arnswalde they came under the command of Generalmajor Hans Voigt’s Kampfgruppe (made up of 3,000 Nebelwerfer replacement troops, and 2,300 men various alarm and training troops). The newly arrived SS tanks were ordered to keep the city’s connection to the north open. The next day they counterattacked and relieved friendly infantry five kilometres from Arnswalde. During the attack they knocked out two Soviet tanks, but not before losing their tanks to immobilisation.

A second attack with another four Königtigers was stopped at Hohenwalde and north of Sammenthin by a Soviet tank counterattack. Several Soviet tanks were destroyed in the engagement and the Tiger II of Untersturmführer Bromann took a hit to its drive wheel and was immobilised. During the night the three other tanks towed it to the Marienkirche churchyard in Arnswalde. At the end of 4 February seven Königtigers were still operational in Arnswalde.

King Tiger
5 February saw increasing Soviet attacks on Arnswalde, which are all repelled. Generalmajor Voigt considers surrender, but the officers of schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503 argue for a breakout.

On 7 February, SS-Untersturmführer Fritz Kauerauf took command of three Königtigers at Zachen that had been repaired by the Abteilung workshop located at Stargard. He was ordered to attack from Reetz to relieve and break the encirclement of Arnswalde. Before reaching Reetz, which had been occupied by the Soviets, Kauerauf’s platoon was diverted to support Panzer-Abteilung 11 ‘Hermann von Salza’ in Jacobshagen. The tanks were then attached to 11. Armee under Kampfgruppe Munzel.

Meanwhile, the Königtigers in Arnswalde continue to hold off Soviet attacks.

In the early morning of 8 February SS-Untersturmführer Kauerauf was ordered to stop the advance of the Soviets across the Ihna Bridge, south of Jacobshagen (where the command post of Panzer Abteilung 11 ‘Hermann von Salza’ was located), towards Ziegenhagen and Klein Silber. The attack consisted of Kauerauf’s Königtiger and three StuG assault guns under SS-Oberscharführer Phillipp Wild. The advance was halted when they encountered a strong Soviet force on a ridge east of Ihna.

They were reinforced by another two Königtigers under SS-Obersturmführer Kaes, commander of the 503rd’s 2nd Company, and another 10 StuG assault guns of the 11. SS-Panzerdivision ‘Nordland’, as well as a company Fallschirmjäger. They attack at around noon towards Ziegenhagen. The Fallschirmjäger take an anti-tank gun position on the outskirts of Ziegenhagen, then carry on to along both sides of the road and over the Ihna bridge into Ziegenhagen. This is follow by some hard fighting for the town, during which the Königtigers knock our three IS-2 heavy tanks.

By the evening, the Kampfgruppe had taken defensive positions on the southern outskirts of Klein Silber facing towards Reetz. Later that night three drums of fuel arrive for the Königtigers (each drum contains 200 litres gasoline).

The group in Arnswalde hold off more Soviet attacks at Schönwerder and Sandow.

On the morning of 9 February, the three Königtigers in Klein Silber were ordered to push east from their positions. They soon came under fire. The tank of SS-Obersturmführer Kaes was set on fire by an infantry assault and blocked the road for following 11th SS StuG assault guns. The leading tank of SS-Untersturmführer Kauerauf, was hit as it reached the outskirts of Klein Silber, Kauerauf was seriously injured. He survived his injuries, but was severely burned and had to have his left leg amputated. The third Königtiger was immobilised when its electrical system failed and was destroyed by its crew.

King Tiger
The Königtigers in Arnswalde continued to repel attacks, but were eventually relieved when panzergrenadiers of 11. Panzergrenadierdivision ‘Nordland’ and Führer-Begleit-Division broke through the encirclement a week later (17 February), and the tanks were withdrawn to Zachan.

On 10 February, the rest of the Königtigers not trapped in Arnswalde, are sent to Zachen to join 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadierdivision ‘Nordland’ to take part in the attack towards Arnswalde. An attack was launched and the Königtigers knock out a number of T-34 tanks during their advance.

Though, the attack towards Arnswalde successfully allowed those troops and civilians trapped to withdraw, increasing pressure from Soviet forces forced any further attacks to be abandoned, and Operation Sonnenwende drew to a close. The last troops were withdrawn from Arnswalde on 22 February.

King Tiger
Withdraw to the Oder

From 17 February 1945, the 17 Königtiger tanks of the Abteilung located at Zachen and the Abteilung command (under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Natterer, Abteilung second in command) began loading on trains to be moved towards Danzig (Gdansk) and placed under the command of 2. Armee. The rest of the battalion withdrawing from Arnswalde.

Before the rest of the battalion could join the others heading towards Danzig, a Soviet attack broke through towards Stettin and cut the rail links. Twelve damaged Königtiger tanks were loaded on a train on 26 February to be brought across the Oder for repair. The train derailed on 3 March due to excess speed and more than 80 refugees were killed.

Any tanks in running order were hastily unload and driven to Neuendorf, which was already under German attack.

On the way out of Neuendorf one Königtiger was set ablaze by its crew after it runs out of ammunition and blocks the road. The following tank under SS-Oberscharführer Körner had to run down a tree to make room to get by to continue on to Gollnow. Körner soon passed another tank disabled and abandoned by its crew.

On 2 March 1945, the rest of the battalion withdrawn from Arnswalde, under the Abteilung commander SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Herzig, was operating with 11. SS-Feiwilligen-Panzergrenadierdivision. They advance through Trampke, Schönebeck and Vossenburg to the southeast of Stargard. The Herzig’s Königtiger tanks fought in support of 5. Jägerdivision against multiple Soviet attacks on 3 March east of Reetz.

More fighting occurred around Vossberg on 3 March, with two Königtigers operating in support of SS-Panzeraufklärungsabteilung 11. They destroy an entire Soviet tank company and another four enemy tanks later in the day.

Gradually the damaged tanks were towed to Gollnow by 4 March, where other running tanks had gathered. They were all loaded on another train and began shipment to Pasewalk. This train was further delayed at Christinenberg by damaged tracks on 7 March. SS-Oberscharführer Körner, commander of the damaged tank group, gets the train moved to the parallel undamaged tracks and the train continued its journey on 9 March 1945 through Gegengleis, to Altdamm and then on to Pasewalk. In the following days, the tanks remain on their flatcars security for Himmler command train. They were eventually unloaded at Zerrenthin.

Eventually ten tanks began repairs in Pasewalk, with two more needing more extensive repairs moved to Berlin. Only seven had been repaired by 28 March.

King Tiger
At Küstrin, the Königtiger of SS-Unterscharführer Hoffmann in Kuhbrücke ran out of fuel and SS-Oberscharführer Reitert’s Königtiger had broken a track crossing a road bridge over Oder, and had been abandoned by its crew. They were eventually taken prisoner by the Soviets. The platoon leader, SS-Untersturmführer Haake, left his post without permission, abandoning his troops, found time to get married, and in the following weeks he was hidden by his wife and smuggled in a horse-drawn carriage to northern Germany. His tanks had been refuelled with coolant instead of gasoline and suffered engine failure.
King Tiger
Tanks in Danzig

The battalion’s tanks shipped by rail to Danzig arrive on 20 February. Kampfgruppe Natterer consisted of 17 Königtiger, which were divided into four groups and used to support each of the defending infantry divisions. Tank spare parts were almost non-existent for the tanks, so Natterer order each tank commander to fight on the spot and defend his position until the bitter end if their tank suffered a technical problem, and not to immediately destroy it, as the Reich had invested so much time and money in each Königtiger. Ironically, Natterer was one of the first to blow his disabled tank up. In contrast, fuel and ammunition were available in good quantities.

The first six tanks to be deployed at the front arrived in the area of Preußisch Stargard (Starogard Gdański) after a short road march from the railhead on 22 February.

On 23 February some action was seen between Tczew and Gnieschau (Gniszewo). The following day Natterer’s tanks were placed in reserve at Gnieschau. On 27 February, SS-Obersturmführer Jakob Kaes, commander of the 2nd Company, was killed near Grabau (near Gdynia) when an anti-tank rifle round went through the vision block of his cupola. He had been engaged in an action to clear a village and had destroyed two Soviet tanks during the action.

The turret crew of SS-Oberscharführer Heinrich’s (from the 1st Company) tank was killed the following day when deployed in a blocking position on a slope front. A round hit the ventilation fan on the roof of the turret and the fragments kill the commander, gunner, and loader.

On 6 March more fighting occurred around Gnieschau and Lindenhof. The following day two Soviet T-34 tanks were captured and they were quickly put into action when a large Soviet tank force breached the front line. The two Königtigers were defending the position with a Panzer IV tank, a StuG and an 8.8cm FlaK36 gun. On his own initiative one of the Königtiger gunners, SS-Unterscharführer Reichl, climbed aboard a captured T-34 and fired on the approaching Soviets. Together the Königtigers, captured T-34, Panzer IV and 8.8cm Flak knocked out 57 soviet tanks. Despite this, the Soviets penetrated into Starogard. The two Königtigers continued to engage the attack and finally repelled it. One tank also relieved the encircled corps command post at Hermannshof estate. Unfortunately, the other Königtiger tank was hit and as it burned its crew were gunned down by the nearby Soviet troops. King Tiger
Mentioned in dispatches was SS-Untersturmführer Karl Brommann. On 10 April 1945 a communique stated: “In the combat area of Gdynia SS-Untersturmführer Karl Brommann, a company leader of schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503, proved his excellence. He and his tank crew, during the period of 2 February to 18 March 1945, despite being wounded three times, destroyed 66 tanks, 44 anti-tank guns and 15 trucks.”

By 20 March 1945 Kampfgruppe Natterer was down to just two operational Tiger II heavy tanks, with another three undergoing repairs. The tanks were engaged in a series of skirmishes until 22 March around the area of Groß Katz.

The repairs to the tanks was carried at the Danzig (Gdansk) Shipyard. They were then moved to Danzig itself. They were companied by observers from the heavy cruiser ‘Prinz Eugen’. Two tigers, those of Brommann and the intelligence officer, SS-Obersturmführer König, moved north of the city to scout towards Zoppot (Sopot), which is occupied by the Soviets, 25 March. The tanks took up defensive positions on the outskirts of Oliva (Oliwa) facing Zoppot.

King Tiger
On 26 March, the tanks repel several Soviet attacks and destroy six Josef Stalin IS-2 heavy tanks. One IS-2 was captured by StuG-Brigade 190 and put into use. When it finally broke down it was sunk in the harbour. That evening the last four tigers retire southeast to the corps headquarters at Weisshof Estate. On 30 March dismounted crews under the commander of SS-Obersturmführer Städler in the Danzig area fight as infantry until 1 May in the forest near Bohnsack.

Between 2 and 3 May some of the battalion’s elements in Danzig were shipped to Swinemünde to join the rest of the unit in Berlin Meanwhile, those that remained in Danzig are captured on 9 May.

The Actions of the rest of schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 503 on the Oder Front

The ten tanks of the battalion not in Danzig were positioned at Frauenhagen from 1 to 15 April 1945. There they were undergoing the process of joining with SS-Panzer-Abteilung 11 ‘Hermann von Salza’ form a Panzer-Regiment under the command of the 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadierdivision ‘Nordland’. The beginning of April saw the returned to the Abteilung Staff from Danzig to take over command. By the end of this restructuring they were up to 20 total tanks, with 12 Königtiger heavy tanks and 8 Flakpanzer tanks in strength.

The Abteilung was ordered on 16 April move into the area north of Strausberg (through Angermünde and Eberswalde). On 18 April the Abteilung, with supporting elements from Nordland, had taken up a blocking position on the road between Prötzel and Bollersdorf. A large Soviet armoured assault it repelled for the loss of just one Königtiger. The Soviet casualties were heavy with 64 Soviet tanks claimed by the defenders

King Tiger
On 19 April a Soviet attack overruns the Abteilung maintenance company and most of it fall into the Soviet hands.

On the same day the Soviets were pressing hard to breakthrough to Berlin and the Königtiger tanks of the Abteilung were committed to the fighting along the western approaches to the city. Königtiger 314 under SS-Unterscharführer Diers was positioned in the hills northeast of Klosterdorf (just east of Strausberg) when he engaged 13 Soviet tanks approaching from the northeast. Diers knocked out 13 tanks temporarily halting the attack. Despite damage to his turret’s roof, which interfered with the tanks firing mechanisms, he and his crew were able to with withdraw and even had time to tow the damaged Königtiger of SS-Unterscharführer Bootsmann to safety. Bootsmann’s tank had to be later abandoned.

King Tiger
As they withdraw they are called on to stop another attack, but soon find the enemy already taken care of. However, they become bogged down in some deep snow while returning to their original route. Fortunately some passing Panzer IV tanks from 10. SS-Panzerdivision ‘Frundsburg’ were able to pull them out.

At the same time five Königtiger tanks under the command of SS-Obersturmführer Müller held blocking positions on the high ground at Grunow. As the surge of Soviet tanks began to arrive at their positons they opened up a rapid exchange of fire, but soon began to run low on ammunition. Three more Königtigers held in reserve under SS-Oberscharführer Körner had to be brought forward to reinforce the firing position. In a short time they had destroyed around 70 Soviet tanks. SS-Obersturmführer Müller was killed during the engagement when he was caught outside his tank during a Katyusha rocket barrage.

King Tiger
SS-Oberscharführer Körner was soon in action again leading his reserve tanks counterattacking high ground near Bollersdorf. During his advance he spotted a Soviet column of IS-2 and T-34 tanks assembling for their next attack. The IS-2 heavy tanks were closely packed on a tree lined road to Strausberg, while over 100 T-34/85 tanks were crowded on the outskirts for Bollersdorf. Körner took his opportunity, knocking out the lead IS-2 tank, followed by the IS-2 tank at the end of the column. The other IS-2 tanks then couldn’t immediately respond because the tree restricted their long gun’s traverse. In short, one-sided, engagement the Körner’s three Königtigers knocked out all the IS-2 and T-34/85 tanks. Körner claimed 39 tank kills, while fellow tank commander SS-Hauptscharführer Harrer destroyed another 25. Having exhausted much of their ammunition the platoon returned to the rear to rearm with ammunition.

In the meantime, the rest of the Königtigers in the area had been withdrawn to Werneuchen.

In the late afternoon Körner’s reserve platoon was back in action, joined by a fourth tank under SS-Untersturmführer Schäfer. They defeat an attack by about 30 Soviet T-34 tanks, a following attack by infantry was also defeated with high-explosive rounds and machine-guns. During the night a third attack by IS-2 heavy tanks was stop when the advance was exposed with flares and the Königtigers were able to pick them off with the aid the flares’ illumination.

The following day the fighting continued to hold off the Soviet advance on Berlin. A fighting withdrawal was conducted back to Altlandsberg. On 21 April the 503rd’s Königtigers begin a full withdrawal into Berlin, travelling via Marzahn, Biesdorf and Lichtenberg. Once again Körner, after swapping tanks so his Königtiger could be repaired, was in the thick of the action. Alongside the tank of SS-Untersturmführer Feige, they broke-up another Soviet assault, resulting in another 15 burning Red Army tanks after a battle at very short ranges. As the pair of Königtigers withdrew into the Berlin suburb of Neukölln, Feige’s turret was hit with a rifle-grenade and he was decapitated in the explosion.

Once they had reached Berlin they then moved through the city on the following day, to take up positions on the Sonnenallee facing the Teltow Canal Bridge. They were soon pressed into action again, conducting counterattacks and shoring up defence in various areas.

~Wayne Turner

King Tiger"


Ciao
Sandeep

CNE503
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by CNE503 » 22 Jan 2016 19:05

AFAIK, there was no SS-Panzer Regiment 8, as stated twice in Marcus' quote... Another stone in this garden?

CNE503
Last edited by CNE503 on 22 Jan 2016 20:06, edited 1 time in total.
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sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 22 Jan 2016 19:34

Hi everyone....

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=45

The Master list of all Waffen SS units are provided here. Can't seem to find 8 SS Panzer Regiment either.

Ciao
Sandeep

Michael Kenny
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Michael Kenny » 22 Jan 2016 20:20

sandeepmukherjee196 wrote:
This comes from a very well researched post on the Naval History Forum .. http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopi ... =26&t=3722
The author of that post is also a member here

http://forum.axishistory.com/memberlist ... ile&u=6609

Michael Kenny
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Michael Kenny » 22 Jan 2016 20:25

King Tiger
SS-Oberscharführer Körner was soon in action again leading his reserve tanks counterattacking high ground near Bollersdorf. During his advance he spotted a Soviet column of IS-2 and T-34 tanks assembling for their next attack. The IS-2 heavy tanks were closely packed on a tree lined road to Strausberg, while over 100 T-34/85 tanks were crowded on the outskirts for Bollersdorf. Körner took his opportunity, knocking out the lead IS-2 tank, followed by the IS-2 tank at the end of the column. The other IS-2 tanks then couldn’t immediately respond because the tree restricted their long gun’s traverse. In short, one-sided, engagement the Körner’s three Königtigers knocked out all the IS-2 and T-34/85 tanks. Körner claimed 39 tank kills, while fellow tank commander SS-Hauptscharführer Harrer destroyed another 25. Having exhausted much of their ammunition the platoon returned to the rear to rearm with ammunition.

In the meantime, the rest of the Königtigers in the area had been withdrawn to Werneuchen.

In the late afternoon Körner’s reserve platoon was back in action, joined by a fourth tank under SS-Untersturmführer Schäfer. They defeat an attack by about 30 Soviet T-34 tanks, a following attack by infantry was also defeated with high-explosive rounds and machine-guns. During the night a third attack by IS-2 heavy tanks was stop when the advance was exposed with flares and the Königtigers were able to pick them off with the aid the flares’ illumination.
I wonder if the Soviets noticed than an entire Tank Army was wiped out in a couple of hours?

Art
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Art » 23 Jan 2016 13:38

Let's try to sort it out beginning with IS-2 tanks. Several units equipped with IS are identified in the area Grunow-Bollersdorf:
11 Guards Tank Brigade
67 Guards Tank Brigade, both brigades in 5 Shock Army
12 Guards Tank Corps which included 79 Guards Tank Regiment among other units.
According to the report on 5 SA's armored units situation on 16.00 18 April 11 GTBr had 50 operational IS-122, 67 GTBr - 48 IS-122.
On 16.00 19 April - 11 GTBr with 48 operational IS at Grunow, Pritzhagen; 67 GTBr with 47 operational IS at Pradikow, in the last 24 hours 1 IS is destroyed, 1 is damaged in combat.
16.00 20 April - 11 GTBr with 42 operational IS at Klosterdorf, Hazenholz, 2 IS destroyed, 2 more damaged. 67 GTBr with 24 operational IS at Wesedahl, losses - 12 IS destroyed, 5 damaged.
On the other hand from the same reports by the evening 18 April 11 GTBr had 7 IS-122 which were irreparable losses and 67 GTBr - 4. By 20 April- 12 and 20 they had write-offs respectively, which indicates the loss of 5 tanks in the 11 GTBr and 16 in the 67 GTBr, somewhat more than recorded in daily reports. In any case 67 GTBr seems to be the units that suffered heavy losses yet was apparently bypassing the area of interest from the north.
Unfortunately no situation or after-action reports from brigades themselves to get details on their actions.

Art
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by Art » 24 Jan 2016 16:44

An account of events on 19 April 1945 from after-action reports of 12 Guards Tank Corps and subordinate tank brigades:

12 Guards Tank Corps:by 18.00 19 April 49 Guards Tank Brigade has captured Prädikow and started a battle for Prötzel. 48 Guards Tank Brigade captured Reichenberg and Ihlow then followed behind 49 GTBr. 66 Guards Tank Brigade and 34 Guards Motor Rifle Brigade after a short artillery barrage took Grunow. West of Grunow enemy was holding a strongly fortified position with antitank weapons. An attempt to attack it without preparation and a shallow flanking maneuver failed with heavy casualties. On 19 April the corps lost 25 T-34 destroyed and 27 damaged, 3 IS-122 and 2 SU-76 damaged, total 57 AFVs. Personnel losses – 75 men killed and 227 wounded. Most losses suffered in failed attack west of Grunow. In the early morning of 20 April the corps started a march to Tiefensee bypassing the Grunow area from the north.

48 Guards Tank Brigade: by 11.00 Reichenberg is captured, then Ihlow is taken after a brief combat. Advancing with 49 GTBr the brigade reached a western edge of a grove west of Ihlow. 2 Tank Battalion with replacement tank joined the brigade at Ihlow at 13.30. Then the brigade advanced to Grunow. A strong defense position with many tanks and mortars was met on the eastern edge of a grove north-east of Grunow. Brigade’s loses at Grunow – 17 tanks destroyed and 2 damaged, 12 men killed and 73 wounded. One German “Tiger” tank is claimed (the only mention of Tigers I can find)

49 Guards Tank Brigade – Ihlow is taken in the morning, then an advance to Prädikow. A 7-hour long battle for Prädikow, heavy losses due to lacking infantry support. Prädikow is fully taken at 17.00 The brigade reached Prötzel meeting a fortified position and anti-tank obstacles there. An attempt to outflank Prötzel failed due to obstacles in a forest. By 22.00 the brigade is on a edge of a forest 2 km south-east of Prötzel. In the night – reconnaissance and search for bypass routes. Losses during the day – 16 men killed and 36 wounded, 4 tanks destroyed and 6 damaged.

66 Guards Tank Brigade – 35 tanks operational on evening of 18 April. During the night and morning of 19 April the brigade is fighting for Reichenberg in cooperation with 49 GTBr, 34 Guards Motor Brigade and 79 Guards Heavy Tank Regiment. After Reichenberg is captured the brigade pursues to the south-West meeting mines and fire from German rearguards. Especially intense resistance at Grunow which was an important road hub. Grunow is taken on the evening of 19 April. 30 tank operational.

Scheme of operations of the 12 GTC:
Image
Operations of the 49 GTBr
Image

Long story short two tank brigades (49 and 66) equipped with T-34-85 tanks were at Grunow on 19 April with probable support from SP guns and IS heavy tanks. The reports confirms strong resistance met at Grunow and west of it and heavy tank losses in the area (about 20 T-34 tanks destroyed). 49 GTBr suffered the most, while losses of the 66 GTBr were apparently moderate. Since attempts to advance from Grunow along a road to the west failed the corps executed a detour to the north on the following day.

The question remains what were heavy tank brigades were doing exactly during the day and what were the units met by "Tigers" at Bollersdorf.

sandeepmukherjee196
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by sandeepmukherjee196 » 24 Jan 2016 20:40

Hi everyone,

I have a humble question. According to Krivosheev, Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, the Soviet forces lost 8700 tanks in 1945, of these, 1997 in the Berlin area. Since the Tiger (Germany's main tank killer) is being claimed to be a dud with vastly exaggerated kill claims spun out by fanboys...I wonder what got all those Russian tanks so late in the day !?

The Luftwaffe had been shot out of the sky by 1945. German artillery was vastly outnumbered. We are certainly not being asked to believe that exploited child soldiers of the HJ with their ridiculous panzerfausts did the damage !! Perhaps the Russian tankers just vastly played up their losses to get brand new equipment ? :D

Ciao
Sandeep

EugE
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Re: Tiger tanks: Deployment and operations

Post by EugE » 24 Jan 2016 21:07

CNE503 wrote: <6th of July 1943 – 10 Tigers of the 8th SS Pz-Regiment destroy 12 T-34s and 1 armored train which was backing the soviet tanks with its powerfull guns. No loss.>
AFAIK, there was no SS-Panzer Regiment 8, as stated twice in Marcus' quote... Another stone in this garden? CNE503
Of course it means not 8th SS-Pz.Regiment but 8th company - though this also wrong, in that time there was "S" schwere coy without number . This happened not July 6 but July 7, one germans tanks group, with 4 Tigers, reached a settlement Kalinin where has met with russian tanks a little later two armoured trains has joined to the battle. In consequence of it two Tigers tanks were damaged one of them S24 heavy-and later it was write off. They can't defeat this train but could damage the railroad bed. After this the air support was called, armoured trains were destroyed by STUKA attack planes.
Look for it and you will find it...

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