Forces of Valor FOV912042D German Early Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E Heavy Tank - "Alwin", "121", schwere Panzerabteilung 501, Deutsches Afrika Korps, Tunisia, 1943 [Bonus Maybach HL 210 TRM P45 Engine] (1:32 Scale)
"The peril of the hour moved the British to tremendous exertions, just as always in a moment of extreme danger things can be done which had previously been thought impossible. Mortal danger is an effective antidote for fixed ideas."
- Generalfeldmarschal Erwin Rommel
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 Tiger differed from earlier German tanks principally in its design philosophy. Its predecessors balanced mobility, armor and firepower and were sometimes outgunned by their opponents.
While heavy, this tank was not slower than the best of its opponents. However, at over 50 tonnes dead weight, the suspension, gearboxes, and other such items had clearly reached their design limits and breakdowns were frequent if regular maintenance was not undertaken.
Although the general design and layout were broadly similar to the previous medium tank, the Panzer IV, the Tiger weighed more than twice as much. This was due to its substantially thicker armor, the larger main gun, greater volume of fuel and ammunition storage, larger engine, and a more solidly built transmission and suspension.
Pictured here is a 1:32 scale replica of an early production German Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. E heavy tank that was nicknamed "Alwin" and attached to schwere Panzerabteilung 501, then deployed to Tunisia during 1943. Comes with bonus Maybach HL 210 TRM P45 engine.
Now in stock!
Release Date: June 2022
Historical Account: "Enter Killing" - Schwere Panzerabteilung 501 was sent to North Africa following the Allied landings in Northwest Africa. The first tanks arrived in Tunisia in November 1942 with 16 Panzer IIIs while the second kompanie was used for the occupation of Vichy France.
Initially only three Tiger Is of the 501st landed at Tunis on November 23rd, 1942. These first elements of the battalion, along with four Panzer IIIs, were organized with other units into Kampfgruppe Lueder. They were involved in fighting just over a week later during the Axis counterattack on December 1st, destroying nine US and two British tanks on the first day while relieving German forces. On December 2nd, KG Lueder, with one Tiger and five Panzer IIIs, attacked Tebourba, stopping an Allied advance and knocking out six tanks and four anti-tank guns for the loss of three Panzer IIIs. On December 3rd, the lone remaining operational Tiger I was reinforced by three newly arrived Tigers, which, with infantry support, surrounded Tebourba. The next day, with Stuka support, Kampfgruppe Lueder took Tebourba but was then disbanded, all of its Tigers being knocked out of action. Of 182 tanks present, the Allies lost 134.
Reinforcements of one Tiger and one Panzer III arrived on December 9th, which along with repairs to battle damaged tanks, increased their ranks to seven Tiger Is and five Panzer IIIs. The next day, they moved out together with elements of the 10.Panzer Division on the road to Massicault, attacking towards Majaz al Bab, gaining 13 km (8.1 mi) and destroying 14 M3 Stuart tanks in the process. The next day, they covered the southern flank of the main attack and acted as a reserve element, 7 km (4.3 mi) east of Djedeida.
By the end of December 1942, the unit's strength was up to 11 out of 12 Tigers operational, plus 16 Panzer IIIs. On January 15th, 1943, eight Tigers and eight Panzer IIIs were assigned to work with the 756th Mountain Infantry Regiment, KG Lueder was re-established with five Tigers and 10 Panzer IIIs plus the 1st battalion of the 69th Mechanized Infantry Regiment. On January 18th, as part of Operation Eilbote I, the mountain infantry broke through enemy positions which were protected by anti-tank mines, and captured a crossing south west of Lake Kebir; one Tiger was scrapped due to a shortage of spare road wheels after hitting a mine. On January 19th, KG Lueder attacked along the road towards Robaa, then turned and took the crossing at Hir Moussa, capturing US personnel carriers which were turned over to their infantry. Skirmishes on January 20th resulted in the loss of a Tiger to a British 6 pounder anti-tank gun, and another blown up by British engineers. Over the next two days, British counterattacks were repelled; three enemy tanks destroyed for the loss of two Panzer III and one Tiger. On January 24th, more British attacks were repelled with heavy German losses.
Fourteen Panzer IIIs plus 11 out of 16 available Tigers were operational on January 31st, 1943. They were split between the 756th and 69th again; under KG Weber they began Operation Eilbote II, but it was stopped by strong anti-tank defenses and minefields, and forced to withdraw. The Tiger's armor was penetrated for the first time - two were knocked out; one burnt and was unrecoverable.
The battalion that took part in the Axis offensive of Operation Ochsenkopf on February 27th. It was stalled by numerous artillery bombardments, air attacks and mud. One Tiger also hit a mine. Continuing the attack overnight, seven more Tigers were immobilized by mines and Major Lueder was wounded. The next day, March 1st, all of the immobilized tanks were blown up, leaving one operational Tiger. The offensive failed with huge tank losses -- so much so that 501st had ceased to be an effective fighting force.
Over the next few days, more tanks were made operational, reaching six Tigers, 12 Panzer IIIs and seven Panzer IVs by March 10th. On March 17th, the remnants (11 Tigers) of the 501st were attached to the 504th, which had just arrived. On May 12th, 1943, the 501st were among over 230,000 Axis soldiers who surrendered at the end of the Tunisia Campaign following the Allied capture of Tunis.
The six Tigers and nine Panzer IIIs of the 1st Company of the 501st were attached to 10.Panzer Division on February 8th for Operation Fruhlingswind. After night marches, they joined KG Reimann near Bou Thadi on The next day, February 13th, they broke through the Faid Pass and joined the Battle of Sidi Bou Zid. Tigers knocked out 20 M4 Sherman tanks of the US 1st Armored Division. On February 26th, the 501st was re-designated III./Panzer-Regiment 7 of 10.Panzer Division at the end of the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. Each company received 15 Panzer IVs as reinforcement.