Dragon DRA60227 'Fatal Encounter': German Tiger I vs Russian T-34/76 Mod. 1940 Tanks Head-to-Head Diorama (1:72 Scale)
"We must do everything we can to promote anti-tank defense, and work just as hard to guarantee successful counter-attacks through the instrument of powerful tank forces of our own."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
The German Waffenamt issued an order to design the VK4501(H) (as the PzKpfw VI Ausf. E was then known) in May 1941, just one month prior to the commencement of Operation Barbarossa. Interestingly, Henschel und Sohn of Kassel was charged with building the heavily armored chassis while Krupp, by far the largest munitionwerks in Germany, was given the task of developing the turret. The PzKpfw VI Ausfuhrung E (type E) was one of the first German tanks to feature a torsion bar with eight interleaved wheels, which was designed to support the weight of the mammoth 57-ton tank. The Ausf. E mounted a huge 8.8cm KwK36 L/56 cannon and featured two MG34 machine guns for close support against enemy infantry. By war's end, 1,354 vehicles had been produced, some rolling off the Wegmann assembly line.
The first generation T-34 medium tank made its debut in combat during the summer of 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched its invasion of the Soviet Union. The T-34 easily outclassed the German PzKpfw III and IV models, thanks to its hard-hitting 76.2mm main gun, thick frontal armor, wide tracks, and overall superior mobility. The first T-34s were assembled at Kharkov, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, then moved behind the Ural mountains when the German advance encircled Leningrad, overran Kharkov, and invested the "City of Stalin". Legend has it that some T-34s rolled off the Stalingrad assembly line unpainted and even unfinished to prevent the Nazi invaders from capturing the city.
This 1:72 scale diorama scene features a Tiger I with an unusual camouflage scheme locked in mortal combat with a T-34/76 Mod. 1940 painted in a distinctive three-color camouflage scheme. Sold Out!
Length: 12 inches
Release Date: January 2006
Historical Account: "Death's Embrace" - On July 12th, 1943, with the Battle of Kursk already in full swing, German forces at the head of the advance were astonished to see masses of Soviet armor advancing towards them. What followed was the largest tank engagement ever, with over 1,500 tanks in close contact. The air forces of both countries flew overhead, but they were unable to see anything through the dust and smoke pouring out from destroyed tanks.
On the ground, commanders were unable to keep track of developments and the battle rapidly degenerated into an immense number of confused and bitter small-unit actions, often at close quarters. The fighting raged on all day, and by evening the last shots were being fired as the two sides disengaged. The Germans lost some 60 tanks and assault guns with the Soviets losing at least eight to ten times that number. If all tank battles were fought like those at Prochorovka, the Soviets would have totally run out of tanks in a short time.
In the most famous action of the day, the T-70 and T-34 tanks of the Red Army's 18th and 29th Tank Corps of the 5th Guards Tank Army charged headlong at the Tigers of the 1.SS Panzer-Division. The T-34s were faster but more lightly armored and armed, so they aimed to exploit weaknesses in the German machines' armor at close range. The Germans destroyed most Soviet tanks at long range, and relatively few became involved in short-range exchanges of fire. German units actually incurred relatively light casualties (only 2 Tigers were lost), and for most of the day they fought in good order.
The battle can best be described as a very costly tactical loss but an operational success for the Soviets. The Soviets lost 822 tanks (more than half of them beyond repair), had more than 1,000 dead and an additional 2,500 missing or wounded. German losses reached less than 10% of that and they had secured the battlefield by the end of the day. Nevertheless, the 5th Guards tank Army accomplished its mission of stopping the German attack. Significantly, elite Soviet Guards Airborne units were holding firm on the flanks of the very narrow German penetration. The Germans could not squeeze many units into this narrow front, nor did they have the combat power to widen the penetration. Shortly thereafter, Hitler cancelled Operation Zitadelle and with it the hope of destroying many Soviet units.