Tamiya TAM26525 German Initial Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Heavy Tank - Afrika Korps, Turret No. 823, 8.Kompanie, schwere Panzer Abteilung 501, Tunisia, 1942 (1:48 Scale)
"The gun and armor of the Tiger were superb, making it in many ways the most formidable tank in service. Even so, it was poor in maneuver, it was slow, and its turret was a slow traverser in action. It was a tank which was, at its best, immobile in ambush, when its killing power was very frightening."
- Douglas Orgill, "German Armor"
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.
This particular 1:48 scale initial production Tiger I tank served with sPzAbt 501 under the command of the Afrika Korps during late 1942. The characteristics of early production Tigers included gun port on the side of turret and front fender composed of a skidproof-board. Other distinguishing features included, "Feifel" air pre-cleaners for desert use, the storage box behind the turret, and fenders on both hull sides. The distinctive feature of Tiger I tanks serving in sPzAbt 501 (501 heavy tank battalion) was their exhaust cover with heat dissipation slit. Sold Out!
Length: 6 inches
Width: 2 inches
Release Date: August 2007
Historical Account: "With the Fox" - The Afrika Korps was formed on February 19th, 1941, after the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) had decided to send an expeditionary force to Libya to support the Italian army, which had been routed by an Allied counteroffensive, Operation Compass. The German expeditionary force, commanded by Erwin Rommel, at first consisted only of the 5.Panzer-Regiment and various other small units. These elements were organized into the 5.Leicht-Division when they arrived in Africa in February.
In the spring, the 5.Leicht-Division was joined by the 15.Panzer Division, though it did not arrive until Rommel had already re-taken most of Cyrenaica and gone back over to the defensive. At this time the Afrika Korps consisted of the two divisions plus various smaller supporting units, and was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa (though Rommel had conducted his offensive without any authorization).
On October 1st, 1941, the 5.Leicht-Division was redesignated as the 21.Panzer Division, although it was still attached to the Afrika Korps. During the summer of 1941, the OKW invested more command structure in Africa by creating a new headquarters called Panzer Gruppe Afrika. On August 15th, Panzer Gruppe Afrika was formally activated with Rommel in charge, and command of the Afrika Korps was turned over to Ludwig Cruewell. The Panzer Gruppe controlled the Afrika Korps plus some additional German units that were sent to Africa, as well as two corps of Italian units. (A German "group" was approximately the equivalent of an army in other militaries, and in fact Panzer Gruppe Afrika was redesignated as Panzer Armee Afrika on January 30th, 1942.)