Dragon DRR62008 German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank with Henschel Turret and Zimmerit - 3./schwere Panzer Abteilung 501, Ohrdruf Proving Ground, Germany, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield. To achieve this, the thickness of the frontal armor was increased to 150mm, while the side armor remained constant at 80mm. A wooden mock-up showing the immense size of the vehicle was displayed on October 20th, 1943 and immediately became the center of attention to all that saw it. Production of the vehicle began soon thereafter in November 1943 although the first 50 vehicles sported the Porsche turret with its curved front plate.
On December 6th, the Waffenamt deemed that the shot-trap formed by the turret be eliminated. This was achieved by Henschel re-designing the turret and gun mantlet, in such a manner as to decrease the frontal area while at the same time incorporating a bell-shaped mantlet. By March 1945, 489 Royal Tigers (a.k.a.
Konigstigers or "King Tigers") had been produced. Apart from five vehicles issued to the Feldherrnhalle division, all of the Tiger II heavy tanks were assigned to independent schwere Panzer detachments due to the tank's staggering size and weight, as well as its relatively slow rate of maneuver.
This particular 1:72 scale Ausf. A King Tiger heavy tank w/ Henschel turret & Zimmerit was attached to the 3./s.H.Pz.Abt.501, then undergoing testing at the Ohrdruf Proving Ground during 1944.
Release Date: September 2009
Historical Account: "Trooping the Colors" - Today dis-used and strewn with shells and other military scrap, the military training ground at Ohrdruf in the Alsace region of northeast France is a large, rugged area of upland that can trace its roots to Imperial times. From 1936-'38, an Army underground telephone/telex exchange known as Amt 10 was built into the limestone strata below the Ohrdruf Truppenuebungsplatz (TUP). Its entrances were disguised as chalets and a bunker was created 50 feet down that spanned approximately 70 x 20 meters. Both floors had a central corridor measuring 3 meters in width with rooms on either side. End-doors were gas-proofed, the installation had central heating, air was supplied under pressure, and water was drawn from a spring 600 feet below. A 475 hp ship's diesel was on hand as the emergency electrical generator, and this piece of equipment plays an important role in understanding the Ohrdruf mystery.
One of the three full-time Reichpost maintenance engineers employed there from 1938-1945 stated that Amt 10 was never used until the last few months of the war when it was "more than it seemed" and "its clandestine purpose was fairly obvious."
Col Robert S Allen, a Staff officer with General Patton's Third Army described in his book "Lucky Forward - The History of Patton's Third Army," a completed, underground, reinforced-concrete metropolis 50 feet down intended "to house the High Command." It was on two or three levels and consisted of galleries several miles in length and "extending like the spokes of a wheel." The location of Hitler's FHQ was not stated and Amt 10 was described misleadingly as "a two-floor deep concrete shelter."
In 1944, however, a witness stated that there was an installation below the TUP which created an electro-magnetic field capable of stopping the engines of a conventional aircraft at seven miles. During the war, the Allies never photographed Ohrdruf from the air, nor bombed it, even though their spies must have assured them it was crawling with SS and scientific groups.