Corgi CC60514 German Late Production Sd. Kfz. 181 PzKpfw VI Tiger I Ausf. H Heavy Tank - "300", schwere Panzer Abteilung 505, Eastern Front, Summer 1944 (1:50 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- 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 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 1:50 scale initial production Tiger I heavy tank was attached to schwere Panzer Abteilung 505, then deployed to the Eastern Front during the summer of 1944.
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Historical Account: "No Expense Spared" - For many with an interest in military history, the German Tiger I is still widely regarded as the epitome of tank design, beautifully conceived and manufactured, whilst at the same time proving deadly on the battlefield. Unrivalled by any opposing tank when it saw its combat introduction on the Eastern Front during September 1942, the Tiger I soon began to show its potential, using its highly effective sighting optics and accurate 88mm KwK 36 tank gun to take a heavy toll of Soviet armor. Capable of destroying enemy tanks at ranges which made it almost impervious to return fire, it was not uncommon to hear reports of small units of German Tigers destroying more than ten times their number in Soviet armor during engagements, as their opposition rushed headlong towards the German tanks in a deadly hail of armor piercing shells, with only the amount of ammunition held limiting the effectiveness of the Tigers killing spree. Indeed, if a Soviet tank did manage to get close enough to fire on its capable adversary, their shells would invariably ricochet off the thick frontal armor of these German beasts and attract the attention of the enemy tank commander in the process. During the spring of 1944, the Tigers of the 505th Heavy Tank Battalion adopted the distinctive 'charging heavy knight' as their unit insignia, an emblem which they would retain until the end of the war in Europe and one which drew inspiration from the fact that these armored behemoths were now performing the historic role of battlefield shock cavalry from years past.
Despite the fact that the mighty German Tiger Tank still retains its position as arguably the world's most famous armored fighting vehicle, its undeniable aesthetic appeal helps to mask a number of fatal flaws with a design which never stood a chance against the industrialization of modern warfare. Not content with producing the most fearsome tank on the battlefield, the German's adopted something of a 'no expense spared' philosophy when producing the Tiger, at a time when their tanks were needed on the battlefield and the Allies were placing ever increasing strains on their ability to wage war. Every example may have been beautifully manufactured to exacting standards, but at production costs which were simply staggering, to a point where every individual Tiger loss would become something of a minor military disaster. Indeed, the simple process of transporting these monstrous 57 ton beasts from the factory to somewhere close to the battle zone would pose significant challenges. Due to the width of the Tiger's hull and standard railway rolling stock wagons, each new Tiger needed two full sets of tracks, a narrow set for transportation and a wider, operational set for use during combat - these tracks would have to be interchanged every time the Tiger had to be moved other than under its own power. Although the Tiger went on to produce a WWII enigma which endures to this day, its design excellence and uncompromising manufacture would ultimately prove to be its armored Achilles heel.