Tiger – “Lord of the jungle”; following a similar logic, during the Second World War the German Tiger tank was undoubtedly declared the most “fearful” tank, worthy of the “King”.
This propaganda was used throughout the war. Many politicians, gamers or even movie directors appreciate the capabilities of the Nazi-designed Tiger tank, and all consider it to be the best tank produced?
After the war, many questions arose, did the Tiger, or even the Tiger II, really resemble the exaggerated hype of the massive Nazi propaganda machine? According to military historians of both East and West after the war, it is an indisputable fact that the Nazis could not produce so many tanks. And if compared with the number of Allied tanks, the number of German tanks was like “salt out of the sea”.
According to accurate post-war statistics, only 1,347 Tigers and 492 Tiger IIs were produced. On the allied side, the US alone produced 50,000 M4 Sherman tanks and, more impressively, the Soviet Union, which produced more than 57,000 T-34 tanks. If compared in terms of numbers, it is enough to crush Nazi tanks many times.
The Tiger first entered service in 1942. The Tiger was not entirely a modern design either; even turrets did not use inclined armor, but vertical. Worse still, the huge German tank consumed a lot of fuel and had a limited range. For a country engaged in an all-out war, it was clear that the Tiger was not designed for frugality as it should have been.
Tiger and King Tiger were also extremely expensive. Each Tiger II cost as much as two Panther medium tanks, but didn’t really prove to be twice as effective. In fact, the Panther was probably a much better tank, as its 80mm thick inclined armor provided superior protection over the Tiger’s 100mm flat armor.
An even bigger problem was that the Tiger was not appreciated for its operational reliability. Instead, it was really an expensive tank, equipped with so many new technologies that it was impossible to mass-produce, and also very damaged. Only a handful of Tiger tanks survived World War II. That also explains why today there are so few Tiger tanks that can still operate, while the Soviet T-34 tank is still fighting in the Syrian battlefield, or still in the combat service of some armies.
At the beginning of the war to invade the Soviet Union (the Operation Barbarossa) in 1941, the Germans were faced with very modern Soviet tanks at the time, such as the T-34 medium tank and the KV heavy tank. This prompted the Germans to develop new medium and heavy tanks that could rival Soviet tanks. The Germans developed the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther medium tank and the Tiger I heavy tank. The Germans also equipped a number of anti-tank guns using the Tiger tank chassis, but with extremely limited effectiveness.
So, is the Tiger a legendary tank? As with all tanks, the answer is that it depends on three stats for the tank: the firepower, armor and maneuverability; and as such, the Tiger/Tiger II was quite impressive. Tiger was probably better than the American 46-ton M-26 Pershing. The M-26 was lighter and the steel armor was thinner. But when confronted with the Soviet IS-2 Stalin tank, the IS-2’s 122mm gun could theoretically penetrate the King Tiger’s thick armored turret at a range of up to 1,600m.
A remarkable statistic is that while the Soviet Union produced nearly 3,900 IS-2s, Germany produced only 492 Tiger IIs. And no matter how strong Tiger was, it couldn’t change the outcome of the war.