King Tiger Tank

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King Tiger tank, World War II

The Tiger II heavy tank (Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B, shortened to Tiger B), was also known by the Allies as the King Tiger Tank. It was used by the German Army and the most feared mobile armored vehicle deployed during World War II. It combined the thick armor of the Tiger I with the sloped armor of the Panther tank. Its front was nearly impenetrable, only giving way when repeatedly struck by armor piercing rounds. This tank caused great destruction to the Allies.

Design and production

Both the Henschel company and Porsche submitted a model of the tank to Adolf Hitler. The Henschel design was accepted for mass production. Its front armor was 150mm thick and sloped at a 50 degree angle. Its sides were 80mm thick and sloped at a 25 degree angle. Its main gun had an 88mm bore with a muzzle velocity of 1000m per second with armor piercing rounds. It was highly accurate, and able to penetrate 150mm of armor at distances greater than 2200m. The gun itself was 20 feet long. The tank was powered by a V12 gasoline engine, and due to its weight of 69 tons, consumed gas at a prodigious rate. With a 150 gallon tank it had a road range of 87 miles and a cross country range of 53 miles; 0.6 and 0.4 miles per gallon respectively.

Initially the King Tiger was prone to malfunctions and reliability problems due to the lack of post production testing, as the tanks were sent immediately into combat after leaving the factory. Most of the problems were fixed by the end of 1944. However, due to production difficulties and Allied air bombing of Henschel warehouses, production numbers fell and there were not enough spare parts to keep the these tanks running. Between 489 and 492 were produced. A heavy tank destroyer version was also produced in limited numbers and known as the Jagdtiger (Hunting Tiger).

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