Monday, 4 August 2014
Tigers in Tunisia
The British were the among first to encounter the Tiger tank, during the fighting in Africa. This intelligence was shared with Britain's allies, and made it to the American Tactical and Technical Trends magazine (Issue #18, February 11th, 1943).
Not very much information, but more becomes available shortly, in Issue #20, March 11th, 1943:
Well, that's definitely a Tiger, although the writer is being cautious. For preliminary information, they get a lot of things right, like armour thicknesses, the presence of transport tracks, etc. The writer has not succumbed to "Tiger panic" that has allegedly gripped Allied soldiers, remarking that the tank is "an effective weapon, but not necessarily formidable". The British obtain somewhat poorer results than the equivalent Soviet trials, achieving only 5 penetrations out of 20 at a range of 500 yards (457 meters) with a 6-pounder (the Soviets penetrated the side of a Tiger 3 times out of 5 at ranges of 625-1000 meters).
The wheels of intelligence keep turning, and in another few issues (#24, May 6th, 1943), more information is available.
About the suspension, at least, and nothing else. Disappointing, no doubt. At least, this issue comes with a better picture.
The tank appears again in a series of armour diagrams of known German tanks (Issue #29, July 15th, 1943). No new information is given.
The next issue has nothing on the technical specifications of the vehicle, but at least reveals some information on how it came into British possession.
Ah, well that explains why the British had such poor results, they were firing at a sharp angle, and from 600 meters, not 500. The issue also had some tactical information on the tank and very optimistic production figures.
Not until Issue #34 (September 23rd, 1943) does the magazine give a detailed report on the Tiger, but I bet it was well worth the wait.
And a nice new picture, showing off the underwater driving equipment.
Again, the article does not appear exceptionally impressed with the tank. The crew compartment is described as cramped, both the gunner and loader sections, and the armour is described as low quality and prone to crack and flake, as was shown in Soviet tests. Other items of note are penetrations through the driver's compartment roof from ricocheting 75 mm shells and weak tracks, prone to breaking. The gun is also described as unbalanced, and difficult to elevate.