When comparing the small number of Tigers produced (only 1347), to the more than 120,000 T-34s and Shermans combined, one can appreciate the psychological impact of this model, at least from the Allied tank crew perspective. In its concept laid the very core of the German conception of a heavy tank. Something which targeted absolute excellence in design, combining lethality with the best possible protection, only given to elite crews, all this regardless of the cost. Excellent engineering and training versus numbers underlined all this philosophy and was reflected, later, in small tactical unit operations.
The Tiger was a formidable machine that pushed the boundaries of armored warfare and forced the Allies to devise better tanks. It powerfully symbolized all the might of the Nazi war machine, as dreamed off by Hitler, and later turned through propaganda into a “Wunderwaffe” (wonder weapon) in a mostly defensive war. The Tiger, like all new tanks, had teething problems at first and it was never an easy tank to maintain, but it was always deadly effective (with a 10:1 up to 19:1 kill ratio), earning a capital of fear that was unrivaled during the war. Allied crews found themselves hopeless with their inadequate machines, having to improvise costly tactics to deal with it. The Tiger gave fame to a few WWII tank aces, like Michael Wittman, something rarely heard of before, since the life expectancy of a tank crew was always quite shorter than that of fighter pilots.
The final Tiger was, consequently, a mix of the parts from previous prototypes by Henschel and Porsche. The turret and gun were retained from Krupp AG Essen’s design meant for the VK 36.01, but the chassis, engine, transmission and many components were from Henschel’s VK 45.01(H) final design, which was developed after a decision meeting at Berghof on May, 26, 1941. It was then decided that necessary numbers of the 7.5 cm (2.95 in) Waffe 0725 tapered-bore needed to be stockpiled, but the adaptation of the new 8.8 cm (3.46 in) KwK needed to be investigated.
The final armor thickness was fixed at 100 mm (3.94 in) frontal and 60 mm (2.36 in) sides and rear.
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