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Weapons of World War Two

Panzerkampfwagen VI B Konigstiger

Panzerkampfwagen VI B Konigstiger

When the Germans launched the offensive in the Ardennes in 1944, the Allies were taken almost completely by surprise, first of all because they did not expect the offensive, and also because they did not think that Germany, bled by the war and torn apart by the bombings, were still capable of such effort. Naturally, the German propaganda started a large campaign to praise the efforts of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, trying to demonstrate that the Germans advanced towards the "final victory". To prove this were very distributed the photos of new "absolutely invincible" tanks, which would thwart the Allied ranks.

The so praised tanks were the Panzerkampfwagen VI B "Konigstiger" (Royal Tiger), the most recent stems of the great family of tanks produced by Germany during the conflict. Indeed, the propaganda did not lie when it mentioned them as invincible weapons, for in the Allied side did not exist any tank that could face these monsters of almost 70 tonnes, with a turret of 180 millimeters in thickness and armed with an 88/71 cannon. In the battlefield the Konigstiger could move with good or bad weather. Nothing nor nobody could stop it in any way. Only in the Eastern Front it had some difficulties when facing the "Stalin" tanks, armed with a 122-millimeter cannon.

But what the propaganda did not say was that, with a full load of 860 liters of fuel, the tank could travel only 110 kilometers on road and 85 on countryside, nor did it say that the invulnerable steel mass had a turning radius of 4.8 meters, and so it was enough a slightly narrow or weak bridge, or a too low overpass, or a very tight curve on a bend or a village to frustrate the unstoppable march. And this without counting that the Allied aviation had in its sights the supply columns which continuously were needed to deliver to the tanks the precious and scarce gasoline. These circumstances have divided into two groups those who have taken interest about the problems that are inherent to armored elements: an enthusiastic one and another one prone to negative considerations.

But let us see the tank from an exclusively technical standpoint. The interior of the powerful body (from 80 to 180 millimeters of armor in the turret and 100 to 150 millimeters in the fore part of the hull) housed a crew of five men. The engine, of gasoline, was a Maybach HL 230 of 600 horsepower, water-cooled. Sometimes it originated problems, because the notable weight that it had to move and several other technical reasons tended to shorten much its life. The turret had been chosen from two projects: one from Porsche and another one from Henschel. This latter had been the preferred one, but meanwhile they had been built 50 Porsche turrets that equipped the first exemplars, while in the subsequent was installed the Henschel turret, of more polished line and with less "shot traps".

The turret could be turned by hand or by motor. The tracks, of up to 80 centimeters in width, along with the torsion bar suspension, granted an exceptional marching comfort and a rational distribution of the weight on the terrain. The cannon, of vertical sliding obturator, fired piercing projectiles of 10.4 kilograms in weight with a muzzle speed of 1000 meters/second, able of piercing 145 millimeters of steel armor, with an incidence angle of 0 degrees, from 2500 meters of distance, or 127 millimeters with an incidence angle of 30 degrees. At 500 meters, the piercing power was 207 millimeters at 0 degrees or 182 millimeters at 30 degrees.

Year: 1944

Weight: 68 tonnes

Length: 10.28 meters

Width: 3.75 meters

Height: 3.09 meters

Ground clearance: 48.5 centimeters

Maximum armor: 180 millimeters

Engine: Maybach HL 230 D 30 of 12 cylinders in V and 600 horsepower

Maximum speed on road: 38 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed on countryside: 17 kilometers/hour

Operational range on road: 110 kilometers

Operational range on countryside: 85 kilometers

Crew: 5

Armament: One 88-millimeter cannon; two or three 7.92-millimeter machine guns

Ammunitions: 72 of 88 millimeters; 5850 of 7.92 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.50 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.85 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 35 degrees

Fording: 1.60 meters

Also in Weapons of World War Two:

Sturmgeschutz III Ausf GM18 Hellcat tank destroyerBM-13 Katyusha