SS King Tiger Last Stand: Berlin 1945

Two King Tigers staged an extraordinary last stand near the Reichstag in Berlin during the final days of the terrible battle for the capital. They destroyed literally hundreds of Soviet tanks, demonstrating that the King Tiger was probably the most formidable tank of WW2 and a superb defensive weapon in the right hands.

Mark Felton Productions

A row of seven large tanks lined up with their long guns pointing up at an angle, as if saluting.

Read about WWII here

Tiger IIs on the move in France, June 1944

Tiger II

The Tiger II is a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B, often shortened to Tiger B.

The ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 182. It is also known under the informal name Königstiger (the German name for the Bengal tiger), often translated literally as Royal Tiger, or somewhat incorrectly as King Tiger by Allied soldiers, especially by American forces. 

The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, combining the latter’s thick armour with the armour sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost 70 tonnes, and was protected by 100 to 185 mm (3.9 to 7.3 in) of armour to the front. It was armed with the long barrelled 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer. 

The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army and the Waffen-SS. It was first used in combat with 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion during the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 11 July 1944; on the Eastern Front, the first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion, which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational. 

Production 

The Tiger II was developed late in the war and built in relatively small numbers. Orders were placed for 1,500 Tiger IIs — slightly more than the 1,347 Tiger I tanks produced — but production was severely disrupted by (((Allied))) bombing raids. Among others, five raids between 22 September and 7 October 1944 destroyed 95 percent of the floor area of the Henschel plant. It is estimated that this caused the loss in production of some 657 Tiger IIs. Only 492 units were produced: one in 1943, 379 in 1944, and 112 in 1945. Full production ran from mid-1944 to the end of the war. 

The Tiger II served as the basis for one production variant, the Jagdtiger casemated tank destroyer, and a proposed Grille 17/21/30/42 self-propelled mount for heavy guns which never reached production.

Specifications 

  • Gearbox: Maybach OLVAR EG 40 12 16 B (eight forward and four reverse) 
  • Radio: FuG 5, Befehlswagen (command tank) version: FuG 8 (Sd.Kfz. 267), FuG 7 (Sd.Kfz. 268)
  • Ammunition:
    • 8.8 cm – 80 rounds (Porsche turret), 86 rounds (Henschel turret), usually 50% PzGr 39/43 and 50% SprGr 43, sometimes with a limited number of PzGr 40/43, or with the SprGr replaced by HlGr 
      PzGr 39/43 (Armour-piercing, hardened steel) (longer range, lower penetration, explosive filler) 
      PzGr 40/43 (Armour-piercing, tungsten carbide core) (shorter range, higher penetration, inert) 
      SprGr 43 (High Explosive) 
      HlGr 39 (Hollow charge) 
    • 7.92mm – up to 5,850 rounds 
  • Gun Sight: Turmzielfernrohr 9b/1 (TZF 9b/1) binocular to May 1944, then the 9d (TZF 9d) monocular. 
Armour layout: (all angles from horizontal) 
Hull front (lower) 100 mm (3.9 in) at 40° (upper) 150 mm (5.9 in) at 40°
Hull side (lower) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 90° (upper) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 65°
Hull rear 80 mm (3.1 in) at 60°
Hull top 40 mm (1.6 in) at 0°
Hull bottom (front) 40 mm (1.6 in) at 90° (rear) 25 mm (0.98 in) at 90°
Turret front (production) 180 mm (7.1 in) at 80° (“Porsche”) 60 to 100 mm (2.4 to 3.9 in), rounded
Turret side (production) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 69° (“Porsche”) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 60°
Turret rear (production) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 70° (“Porsche”) 80 mm (3.1 in) at 60°
Turret top (production) 44 mm (1.7 in) at 0–10° (“Porsche”) 40 mm (1.6 in) at 0–12°

Organisation 

Apart from research, training, and a five-tank attachment to the Panzer Lehr, the Tiger II was only issued to heavy tank battalions (schwere Panzer-Abteilungen) of the German Army (Heer), or Waffen-SS. 

A row of seven large tanks lined up with their long guns pointing up at an angle, as if saluting.

Tiger IIs with the narrower “transport tracks”, of Schwere Heeres Panzer Abteilung 503 (s.H.Pz.Abt. 503) ‘Feldherrnhalle’ posing in formation for the German newsreel

A standard battalion (Abteilung) comprised 45 tanks: 

Battalion command
3 x Tiger II
1st company command
2 x Tiger II
2nd company command
2 x Tiger II
3rd company command
2 x Tiger II
1st platoon
4 x Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 x Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 x Tiger II
1st platoon
4 x Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 x Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 x Tiger II
1st platoon
4 x Tiger II
2nd platoon
4 x Tiger II
3rd platoon
4 x Tiger II

Units that used the Tiger II were as follows: 

Heer: (s.H.Pz.Abt) 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, 509, 510, 511
SS: (s.SS.Pz.Abt) 501, 502, 503

 

35 comments

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  2. The Tactical Hermit · August 21, 2018

    Outstanding Post! Many thanks from a fellow WW2 History buff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Tactical Hermit · August 21, 2018

    Reblogged this on The Tactical Hermit and commented:
    Superb Post about the mythical King Tiger Tanks….

    Liked by 1 person

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    122mm BR-471B (25kg APBC projectile) at 780 m/s vs Tiger II front hull armor (150mm RHA at 50 degrees).

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