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Tiger I Ausf. E
Sd.Kfz. 181


Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 Ausf. E

Service Data:

In Service: 1942 to 1945

Production Data:

Manufacturer: Henschel
Chassis No: 250001-251357
Number built: 1,354

Technical Data:


Crew: 5 man
Length: 8.45 m
Width: 3.7 m
Height: 2.93 m
Weight: 57,000 kg
Fuel Capacity: 534 liters
Engine: 1 × Maybach HL 230 P45 12 cylinder liquid cooled 60º Vee petrol engine producing up to 700 hp at 3,000 rpm
Gearbox: 8 forward 4 reverse
Speed: 38 km/h cross country km/h
Range: road 140 km cross country km
1 × 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56
2 × 7.92 mm MG 34 machine guns or MG 42
main 92 rounds
secondary 4,500 to 5,700 rounds
Armour: 25 mm to 100 mm
Electronics: FuG 5
Operators: Heer
12.8 cm (Sf) L/61 VK3001(H)
Bergepanzer Tiger Ausf. E
Bergepanzer Tiger (P)
DW I Panzer VI
DW II Panzer VI
Ferdinand / Elephant
Gw Tiger für 17 cm K 72 (Sf)
Tiger I Ausf. E
Tiger II Ausf. B
VK3001(H) Panzer VI
VK3001(P) Leopard
VK3601(H) Panzer VI
VK4501(H) Panzer VI
VK4501(P) Panzer VI

Other: Panzers
Tigerfibel manual
I Saw Our Shells Bounce off a German Tiger


Development of what finally became known as the Tiger Ausf. E was started in a meeting with Adolf Hitler on the 26th of May 1941. Although Medium and heavy tanks had been under development in the Third Reich since 1937. There were no immediate plans to replace or supplement the Panzer III and Panzer IV owing to the early campaign successes. But all this altered after the invasion of Soviet Union and the Wehrmacht came up against the Russian T-34 and KV I tanks. Both of the Russian tanks, out classed anything the Wehrmacht had either in the field or in development and it was this which gave the impulse to apply Adolf Hitler recommendations as promptly as possible. The demand was for a tank mounted gun, capable of penetrating the 100 mm of armour plate at 1500 m. The gun proposed for this vehicle was 8.8 cm Flak 36. Nevertheless, the ordnance department were in favour of smaller calibre weapons of either 6 cm or 7.5 cm provided similar armour piercing performance could be obtained by using a smaller calibre gun the total size and consequently the weight of the proposed vehicle could be lowered.

Although the performance of the 8.8 cm Flak 36 L/56, was well-known the smaller gun calibre still had to be developed. The arguments in favour of the smaller tank was so self-evident nevertheless it was decided to issue two individual specifications one to be given to Henschel for a 30 to 40 ton tank designated VK 3601(H) and to be armed with the tapered bore weapon.

The specification given to Porsche was for a 45 ton tank to be armed with the 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56 and was designated VK 4501(P) separate turrets for both designs were ordered from Krupp.

Since there was a shortage of tungsten steel essential for taper bore guns, Hitler banned the use of tungsten steel, for use with weapon 0725. Overall only seven VK 3601(H) prototype's were consequently produced. The last of these coming out in April 1942. With the cancellation of the weapon 0725 and to allow Henschel to make a tank with the necessary firepower within the allowed time. It was decided to use the turret and gun developed by Krupp, under the supervision of Professor Porsche for the VK 4501(P) and on the VK 3601(H) also. A point of interest about this turret is that the sides and back were forged from a single plate of armour 82 mm thick, bent round into the shape of a horseshoe. Owing to this turret, having a ring diameter of 185 cm against 165 cm ring diameter of the VK 3601(H) Henschel was required to alter their chassis so it would fit. This was done by extending the hull above the tracks and therefore altering the section from a rectangular form to T-shape. Because of the chassis modifications, the heavy gun and heavier turret. The weight of the vehicle was increased substantially, and the designation was consequently changed to the VK 4501(H).

This new project, vehicle had the same main components such as transmission final drive and road wheels as were developed for the VK 3601(H). In order to reduce ground pressure of this heavier vehicle. The track width was increased from 52 cm to 72.5 cm and an additional road wheel was added to each torsion arm for better distribution of weight on these wider tracks. As the VK 3601(H) had already been designed to make use of the maximum width permitted by rail transport some planning had to be made for reducing the overall width of the VK 4501(H) when being transported by rail. At one time it was intended to have two individual tracks, each side, one which could be removed, but this idea was abandoned in favour of standard battle and narrow transportation tracks.

During development of the VK 4501(H) two variants were finished the VK 4501(H1) which was built with the Krupp turret mounting the 8.8 cm KwK 36 and the VK 4001 (H2) which was to have had a Rheinmetall designed turret mounting the 7.5 cm KwK 42 L/70 this second variant was never built.

By the middle of 1941, Henschel had made preparations for production of 60 vehicles, and even before a prototype was finished they had increased their preparations to cover a further 1,300. The first prototype's the VK 4501(H) and the VK 4501(P) went through their first competitive tests at Rastenburg in front of Adolf Hitler. On his birthday, the 20th of April 1942. The results of these and following trials were supposed to have shown that the Henschel vehicle was better therefore production orders were placed for it. The Porsche vehicle, known within the company as the Tiger now falls by the wayside as a battle tank, but the 90 chassis that were already made up were put into use for the Panzerjäger (Elephant) and results of the various trials implemented on the two VK 4501(P) vehicles when compared showed very little difference.

Actual production of the Panzerkampfwagen 4501 (H) started in August 1942 at a rate of 12 units per month on Adolf Hitler orders production was to be improved so that by November 1942 the rate had increased to 25 units per month this increase continued and the maximum monthly output of hundred and four was obtained in April 1944. Production was stopped in August 1944 after a total of 1,355 had been built, including prototypes. Chassis numbers of production vehicles run from 250001 to 251350 in chronological sequence. The designation Panzerkampfwagen VI was changed through Hitler decree on the 27th of February 1944 the official designation from then on became Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E which had as a matter of fact, had appeared on official documents before this.

Because of the size and weight of these vehicles. It was anticipated that difficulties would arise when crossing rivers by normal methods. Not many bridges were officially capable of carrying their weight. In the original specifications, and also in the early production models there was a requirement for equipment to enable them to submerge up depths of roughly 4 m and cross on the bed of the river there's no evidence to prove that this feature was ever used combat situations, tank crews being very cautious to go underwater. When one thinks that all hatches open outwards, and that an engine failure would trap the crew without any fresh air being circulated and their fears were understandable. After 495 vehicles had been built with submerging equipment it was decided to discontinue fitting the equipment. In any case not all of the already produced had it fitted anyway. For submersion. All hatches ventilators, vision ports gun mantlet could be sealed comparatively easily a pneumatic tube was inflated to steal the turret ring and a telescopic snorkel pipe was raised from the rear engine compartment. This pipe supplied fresh air which first went through the crew compartment and then the engine. The temperature reduction of the engine, whilst submerged was achieved by flooding. These fan compartments were positioned on both sides of the engine compartment and sealed off after being disconnected. Clapper valves were fitted to the exhaust and backpressure from the engine was relied on to keep the water out.

When it was first introduced the Tiger Ausf. E was the most powerful tank anywhere in the world. The craftsmanship was of a extremely high standard but the transmission and steering were extremely elaborate requiring many hours to produce. With eight forward ratios in the gearbox, which was fully automatic, which made the Tiger Ausf. E very light to control. While first-class crew were still available. It made the Tiger an extremely effective battle tank. Because later in the war the standard of training dropped, and so mechanical failure rate increased. The main drawbacks apart from that difficulties in transportation were short range of action due to fuel consumption, and the slow turret traverse whilst the turret traverse was normally hydraulic. Just in case this became inoperative hand traverse wheels were provided for both the Commander and Gunner.

Whilst the original idea was for an offensive tank. Their lack of mobility, and the changing conditions of war led them to being used as a defensive weapon. In this role they proved to be an extremely formidable weapon being completely impervious to the British six pounder, and the American 7.5 cm, Russian 7.6 cm. Although at close range the British six pounder could effect a side penetration but not until the arrival of high velocity ammunition for the British six pounder with, and the American 7.6 cm and the introduction of the Russian 10 cm and 12.2 cm guns. However, the Tigers frontal armour was considered shock resistant.

The earliest variant of the Tiger didn't have an escape hatch in the right-hand rear wall of the turret but had a second pistol port. Similar to that fitted on the opposite side of all other variants. These early models, which appeared first in Russia, weren't fitted with air pre-cleaners, which became necessary, during the Russian summer, and in North Africa.

There were five mine dischargers located on the turret, these were for close fighting if infantry support was lacking. These fired a projected a canister, a short distance into the air, which then exploded, scattering a lethal shower of ball bearings. The next minor modifications seems to have been the fitting of a forward facing periscope on the turret roof for the gun loader.
The next modification was to the turret, which was the drum type cupola with vision slots being replaced by one with seven periscopes as fitted also to the Tiger II Ausf. B. The gun loader's periscope was continued, but the extractor fan was moved to the centre of the turrets top and its place taken by the Nahverteidigungswaffe an internally loaded smoke bomb anti-personnel mine discharger. From the beginning of 1944 the air pre-cleaners mounted on the rear of the vehicle were discontinued altogether.
The final variant had hardened steel tyred wheels were fitted which could carry a much greater capacity,
the fitting of steel wheels also had another benefit in which it did not allow a buildup of ice, which in the past had caused many wheels to freeze up, and in so doing broke the tracks. Also on the final variant the outside wheels were discontinued altogether.


Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 2
Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 3
Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 4
Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 5
Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 6
Tiger I Ausf. E  Sd.Kfz. 181 piture 7

Film Footage Gallery

Heer Comments


German Military Vehicles.
ISBN-10: 087349783X

Armoured Fighting Vehicles of Germany World War II.
ISBN-10: 0214203077

Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World Two.
ISBN-10: 1854095188

For a complete list of sources
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