Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger II, SdKfz 182

PzKpfw VI Tiger II

Armaments Minister Albert Speer began thinking about an even more powerful tank than the Tiger and Panther. In January 1943, a specification was issued to Porsche and Henschel for a new heavy tank carrying an 88mm high-velocity gun. The two prototypes, VK.4502 (P) and VK.4503(H) were available by October. Porsche were so confident in their turret design that they put it in production. However, Henschel won the competition again and entered production at the end of December. The first 50 vehicles had the Porsche turret to avoid waste.
The PzKpfw VI Ausf B, also called Tiger II or Königstiger (King or Royal Tiger) was the most formidable tank in service until the introduction of the Soviet JS-3 just before the war's end. It was, however, miserably underpowered because it used the same Maybach HL 230 P45 engine as that in the Tiger I, which was 11 tons lighter! The power-to-weight ration was extremely poor. Although a maximum road speed of 41.5km/h was achieved during trials, it was almost certain that the vehicle would break down if it tried to sustain this. However, by the time the Tiger II entered combat in February 1944 Germany was defending, and heavy armor and a powerful gun were much more important than mobility.
The Tiger II had extremely thick armor that were also well-sloped, and a long-barrelled high-velocity 88mm KwK 43 L/71. It was the most powerful German tank of the war, and its gun enabled it to engage Allied tanks at long ranges. However, its poor maneuverability made it susceptible to attacks in the flanks or rear. In addition, the Tiger II was just as vulnerable to aerial attacks by fighter-bombers, and its size made it hard to hide. Only 487 were produced, and, like many other German weapons in the latter part of the war, they were too little, too late.

Click on one of the thumbnails below to view the full picture.
Technical data and/or diagram of Panzerkampfwagen VIB Tiger II.
PzKpfw VI Tiger IIs with Henschel Turret, sPzAbt Feldherrnhalle, Budapest, spring 1945.
PzKpfw VI Tiger IIs with Henschel Turret, sPzAbt Feldherrnhalle, Budapest, spring 1945.
Tiger IIs of sPzAbt 503. These have Porsche turrets. The men pushing the wheelbarrows are British prisoners.
A Tiger II with Henschel Turret rolled past some Allied POWs.

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