Tiger II (H)
|This page is about the German heavy tank Tiger II (H). For other variants, see Tiger II (Family).|
- 1 Description
- 2 General info
- 3 Armaments
- 4 Usage in battles
- 4.1 General play style
- 4.2 Tactics
- 4.3 Specific enemies worth noting
- 4.4 Counter-tactics
- 4.5 Pros and cons
- 5 History
- 6 Media
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B (H) (or Tiger II (H)) is a rank IV German heavy tank with a battle rating of 7.0 (AB) and 6.7 (RB/SB). It was introduced during the Closed Beta Test for Ground Forces before Update 1.41. The Tiger II (H) remains one of the more potent foes a player could face in the Rank IV battles.
Survivability and armour
Difference between the Henschel (H) and the Porsche (P) turrets
The "Henschel" turret is slightly more resistant since it has a flat but thick plate in the front and a more effective gun mantlet. The "Porsche" turret is less armoured, has an exposed turret ring and a shot trap that can and will deflect shells to the weaker upper plate of the chassis. Commander's cupola on the "Henschel" turret is also thicker (150 mm, opposed to 100 mm on "Porsche" turret). Other than that both tanks are identical, but for obvious reasons, the "Henschel" turret is more popular than the "Porsche" turret. The initial design is often misleadingly called the "Porsche" turret due to the belief that it was designed by Porsche for their prototype; in fact, it was the initial Krupp design for both prototypes.
- Rolled homogeneous armour (hull, turret)
- Cast homogeneous armour (gun mantlet, cupola)
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides (Slope angle)||Rear (Slope angle)||Roof|
|Hull|| 150 mm (50°) Front glacis
150 mm (spherical) MG port
100 mm (50°) Lower glacis
| 80 mm (26°) Top
80 mm Bottom
|80 mm (28°)||40 mm|
|Turret|| 185 mm (9°) Turret front
200 mm Gun mantlet
|80 mm (19-21°)|| 80 mm (19°)
30 mm Turret ring
|44 mm (0-14°)|
|Cupola||150 mm (conical)||150 mm (spherical)|
- Suspension wheels are 20 mm thick while tracks are 30 mm thick.
- Suspension wheels and interleaved and overlap.
- Some part of the turret side have track links on them, which gives an additional 30 mm of protection.
- A 30 mm turret ring plate is present.
- Belly armour front part is 40 mm thick while the rest is 25 mm thick.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
Modifications and economy
Driving a recently unlocked tank is always difficult; the gun accuracy is terrible and the inability to repair in combat is extremely frustrating but nothing is worse than feeling powerless to stop your tank from burning to a crisp, even after defeating the enemy that caused the fire. In general, any vehicle will underperform when stock, so reserve your judgement until you unlock all modifications. All your research points should be prioritized into the Parts and FPE modifications. These two modifications are the number one priority.
Stock tanks lack in all areas, however after Parts and FPE, there are a few upgrades that will noticeably upgrade how your vehicle handles:
- "Adjustment of Fire" significantly increases the general accuracy of your main weapon. Particularly useful at long range.
- "Tracks" increase notably the manoeuvrability of your vehicle. Particularly useful in close-range maps.
If you don't have unlocked the Parts modification yet, however, here are a few tips:
- Stay close to your teammates.
- You can repair at the capture points, make good use of it.
- Light tanks can help you repair (provided they have unlocked the Parts modification).
- Avoid exposing anything that might risk fire at all costs. If you are set alight, it's game over.
The Tiger II's cannon can maintain a very nice penetration even at long ranges (1,200 - 1,800 m) while American and Soviet cannons usually cannot keep such high penetration over distance, so they prefer 700 m or fewer engagements where their guns will most likely destroy you in the first hit, so get used to long range engagements. Being comfortable with kilometre long shots is a must in this tank. At 800 m you should still be within a safe distance (depending on what you are facing) but going under that is getting into the Allied guns' effective range.
|88 mm KwK43||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive Mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
|70||60 (+10)||49 (+21)||42 (+28)||35 (+35)||29 (+41)||23 (+47)||12 (+58)||1 (+69)||No|
- Recommended ammo load is 23 (+47) shells to keep the hull empty and both ready racks full.
- Racks 7 and 8 are ready racks, and take priority in being filled at the beginning of the battle, then fill 1 through 6 in that order.
- Full reload speed will be realized as long as ammo exists in either ready rack. If both ready racks are empty, a penalty to reload speed will occur.
- Simply not firing the main gun when it is loaded will load ammo from racks 1-6 into 8 then 7, as long as there is ammo in racks 1-6. Firing the main gun will interrupt the loading of the ready racks.
Thanks to the ready rack feature found on this tank, the first and second ammo racks found in the back of the turret will always be full of ammo, making it the prime target for enemy tankers who are looking to detonate your ammo rack. Even solid shots like APCR and APDS that commonly pierce your front turret can make their way to the rear of the turret, potentially hitting the ready racks and can cause a critical hit to become a deadly one.
|7.92 mm MG34|
|Mount||Capacity (Belt)||Fire rate||Vertical||Horizontal|
Usage in battles
General play style
The Tiger II (H) is best used at mid to long ranges, where its small weak spots are hardest to hit. It can, however, be put to work on the front lines, protecting medium tanks and tank destroyers - just be aware of your limited mobility, and ensure you have options should you get advanced upon by multiple enemies.
When used as a sniper, it is best that you find a position with a good overview of the battlefield. Keep your tank positioned directly towards the enemy and keep an eye out for any medium tanks trying to flank you (Tiger II has great frontal armour, do not be afraid to use it. However, keep in mind that the lower plate offers less protection and penetrations can easily cause fires due to the positioning of mechanical parts). It is best that you find cover behind a solid object and slightly rotate your vehicle e.g.: rotate your tank about 10-15 degrees from the enemy (your turret too). Positioning, combined with distance, can easily give you effective armour greater than 300 mm. When sniping, it is best to wait for the enemy to expose their weak points, fire a steady, accurate shot and retreat to a safe position. Wait for your reload to be completed and slowly show your frontal plate (most of the players will engage even though the chances of penetration are low); once the enemy has fired, you can take your time and engage the tank while they reload.
Using the Tiger II to advance and to support the front line can be rather tricky. While this tank offers great firepower and superior frontal armour, you'll notice that it is hard to fight in urban areas. In situations like this, you will quickly realize that the high weight and sheer size of the tank can cause major problems. Almost any tank that is faster will easily outmanoeuvre the Tiger II and destroy it. To avoid this, it is best to stay in the back (not too far from your team), keeping your tank positioned at an angle and using "peek-a-boo" techniques. You should always look for a position that can protect you during the assault of small tanks, such as "U" shaped buildings where you can easily retreat and protect your weak points.
Note that you have to find a tactic that suits your play style best; these are simple tips that should help you get started.
It is not a medium tank nor a tank destroyer:
This is a very heavy tank with an engine meant for a tank half its weight, so it moves slow and turns slow. It is not as reliable for close range combat as a medium tank and if you try to brawl with it more than necessary you will find yourself quickly flanked by faster, more agile tanks and destroyed with side/rear shots. In particular, Soviet 122 mm guns have decent penetration and large amounts of explosive filler, so you are unlikely to survive a hit, especially if shot in the sides.
This does not mean you should stay put in a single spot, or camp a location like a tank destroyer (which are designed to camp): you have mobility, so keep moving or you will attract a lot of attention, only to find out too late that someone took his sweet time to travel 1.5km to your position to deliver you a shell to the side.
Know the specs
Know the gun and ammo:
Knowing what your gun and ammunition are capable of is very important; this translates into knowing what kind of ammo to use in every situation against any enemy tank.
Like most German tanks, the stock APCBC (PzGr 39/43) is a good all-around shell, effective at close and long range with good penetration and good fragmentation, it will be the one you will be using the most. For close range combat with very heavily armoured tanks you will need APCR shells (PzGr 40/43), its high penetration value at close range can be a threat even to some 8.0 BR tanks, but remember it is a solid shell with no explosive charge, so you will need to aim carefully for crew and vital components which means you will need to know where these are located exactly.
The recommended ammo ratio is 2/3 (two thirds) of APCBC and 1/3 (one third) of APCR.
In arcade battles ranging is quite easy since the game does it for you, in realistic and simulator however you do not have this advantage. Trying to "eyeball it" after 800 m can be incredibly tricky in these game modes, but something you might not know is that your sights provide you with all the tools you need to land a shot on your first try on a target that can be as far as 2,800 m. You just need to follow the formula: Target size in meters / mil number x 1,000 = target range
Your "target size" is the length or the width (depending on what side you are facing) of your target, the mils are displayed in your sights on the horizontal axis, you divide these 2 numbers and multiply the result by 1,000 and you will get the exact distance in meters. Then you just have to adjust your aim using the vertical axis of your sights (that displays the bullet drop) and take the shot. If your numbers were correct, you will land the shot right on.
Know your enemy and know yourself:
This applies to all tanks in all honesty, you need to spend some time looking at the armour of any tank you might encounter and learning where possible weak spots are located and under what conditions (angle, distance) you can actually score a good hit; yes, the gun is extremely good, but don't expect miracles, aim it right and it will serve you right.
Learning your enemies' reload rates, vital components and crew locations is also very important; if you learn where their ammunition is stored, you will be creating fireworks during the whole game.
Take care of reading about your enemy's different ammo options, remember that just looking at the penetration values under the short description is not enough, since most tanks will have better options when it comes to ammunition. Learn under what conditions (angle, distance) your tank is safe from all the available ammo for these certain tanks, then take measures to protect yourself.
Hide your notable weak spots:
Ensuring sufficient cover is available is very important for the Tiger II; if you happen to find a position where a piece of rubble covers your lower frontal hull plate you have just made yourself near indestructible from the front. You can also use some low profile friendly tank destroyers, providing there is suitable clearance to fire over them.
If you try to move ahead in the face of an enemy you will end with a disabled transmission, a fire and possibly some knocked out crew members or just destroyed.
Explore the map, find places where craters, depressions in the ground, soft hills, rubble, rocks or artificial obstacles (such as trenches) will cover you while letting you shoot over it; the Tiger II has very nice gun depression, use it to your advantage.
Remember that destructible environmental objects (like brick walls, fences, and even trees) will protect you from a single HEAT or HE shell hit, but nothing else, and you should not rely on it to cover your sides or as anything else than visual cover.
Taking cover behind large rocks, hills, buildings or even ally heavy tanks while you perform repairs or reload can be very useful.
Long range combat
Long Range =/= Immortality
Any competent enemy will avoid using regular AP rounds when engaging at long range; HEAT, some APDS, and high-calibre HE rounds are all capable of doing damage even at extreme ranges, though if you quickly reverse back into cover while the shell is traveling (the Tiger II has a surprisingly good reverse speed), you can avoid getting hit. However, this assumes you aren't make a fatal mistake: not finding a reliable or long term place for sniping. A good location for long-range combat should be one that only exposes one side of the Tiger tank, that way the gun only needs to be pointed towards the front and the other exposed side. It would also be ideal to have enough space behind the tank's position in order to enact overextend tactics to pop out of cover and fire at a target before reversing back to cover, or just to withdraw if the tank or the position is in trouble.
Ensure you account for the capabilities of what you're engaging; tank destroyers such as the ISU-152 can easily destroy your vehicle with their extremely high-calibre HE rounds, HESH such as that fired by the FV-4005 can also be deadly, and HEAT rounds, when up-tiered into tanks such as the M46, can effectively penetrate your upper plate even at range. Additionally, well-aimed APDS rounds from British tanks such as the Centurion and Conqueror are capable of penetrating, even at range.
Avoid exposing any more of your vehicle than absolutely necessary; with the impressive gun depression of the Tiger II (H), you should easily be able to make use of any available defilade or ridge that can protect your hull.
Be a team player:
Lone heavy tanks are vulnerable heavy tanks, so it's always best to ensure you've got some support around when advancing or holding a strategic location. In close-quarters maps, were short to mid range engagements are the best you can hope for, try to be the front-liner, taking the shots you'll survive that your medium tank allies might not. They, in turn, should be able to assist you if enemies attempt to flank. Remember, however, that you're not invulnerable and it's not your job to save teammates that make mistakes. You should assume the worst about anything you encounter, too - tanks such as the T34, IS-2, etc can all easily destroy you at close ranges, so being efficient on your shots is extremely important - avoid panicking and giving tanks that can engage you comfortably a chance to fire back.
Expose only what's necessary:
Often, you'll have no choice but to engage in close quarters. It's far from ideal for a Tiger II, but it's still reasonably doable. As mentioned previously, avoid exposing your LFP, make use of any cover available, while maintaining a small amount of angling on your hull to maximise the effectiveness of the UFP. Avoid exposing the sides of your turret at all costs! Do not angle more than a few degrees either side to avoid the thin armour on the sides of the turret being penetrated.
Try to ensure you have some sort of escape route handy if things go sour - something preferably that you can cover with smoke to give you time to repair if necessary.
Attempt to set up ambushes where possible, using choke points and intersections where you will get the first shot reliably and enemies are unlikely to be able to react in time to save themselves.
Performance in a 0.0 to 10.0 scale:
- 3.0/10 Rusher: Trying to get to the cap point before a T-44 or a Panther? Keep dreaming. This is a slow slumbering beast that will struggle to achieve 40km/h even on a flat road, struggle to achieve 30km/h on flat cross country, struggle to achieve 20km/h on rough cross country and struggle to achieve 8km/h up a steep hill (that is, if you can climb it at all). Its engine was meant for a tank half its weight and size, so expect a slow tank.
- 4.5/10 brawler: Its heavyweight, limited acceleration and high profile make it unsuitable for highly mobile close quarter battles, if the tank is on its own it will get easily flanked and destroyed by faster medium/light tanks better suited for these battles and most Allied tanks prefer close quarters while engaging the Tiger II, so it quickly becomes a turkey hunt. However, its great gun and heavy frontal armour add to its survivability and if the operator has medium tank support it can become a foothold for the team.
- 6.0/10 flanker: Again, its high profile and low acceleration don't make it the best tank to flank and a medium tank is better suited for this, but it has a fairly good top speed (even if it takes a long time and a flat road to achieve it), its comparatively fast for a heavy tank, its heavy armour gives it extra survivability in case of a counter attack and if it manages to position itself on the enemy's flank, it can quickly reduce them to pyrotechnics.
- 7.4/10 Adamant: Its heavy frontal armour will often serve as a shield to your lighter allies, you will be capable of taking heavy hits and shrug off impacts that most medium tanks cannot take, it has some flaws and weak spots in the frontal armour that the enemy will take advantage of, but with some angling and planning this can be mitigated. Its side armour is, however, very weak.
- 7.6/10 Sniper: Distance is this tank's friend, its gun has a very long effective range and its armour becomes impervious to most enemy weapons at long ranges, but not all of them and it is not by any means a tank destroyer which will have the upper hand over the Tiger II at very long ranges.
- 9.0/10 Ambusher: Be it sitting still at the end of a street or waiting in the river while the enemy approaches the bridge, this tank will shoot 3 times or more before the enemy even realize what hit them, but you need to be accurate to be dangerous and having support and/or a place to fall back to or a hull-down position is essential for an ambush.
Specific enemies worth noting
US Army vehicles
The Tigers' common enemies are going to be the M26 Pershing, an agile American medium tank with a 90 mm gun that can pierce some holes in your frontal armour from a medium range and can get in your flank in no time, but however has relatively thin armour; the T32, a heavier version of the Pershing with an impenetrable mantlet and nigh invulnerable upper glacis, and a far nastier version of that 90 mm gun; the premium T28, American tank destroyer with incredibly strong frontal armour and a gun far superior to the Tiger II's (shoot the cupolas), the premium M26E1 and the Premium M46 "Tiger" American tanks which have very similar guns to the Tiger II.
A further nuisance is the M41A1 Bulldog. While it will mostly only fire sub-calibre shells, these are a danger up to 1,000 m to the frontal turret armour. Experienced light tank drivers will try to flank the Tiger to get shots into the exposed hull ammo racks, the APDS shot usually setting these off with one shot, unlike the APCR the Bulldog also carries. If you are stuck in close quarters, try to get a shot off as fast as possible in order to immobilise or destroy it.
T95: Use your medium tank to either outflank this enemy or put a few well-aimed shots into the cupolas. Watch out for its traverse speed, as the Doom turtle is shockingly fast to turn on the spot.
T29: Very good gun, penetrations are very deadly. Surprisingly resistant despite its weak hull armour, multiple shots will be necessary if you don't have a lucky shot. From the front, if you have the patience and finesse, a shot into the turret front to the right of the gun mantle will most likely result in an ammo rack.
Red Army vehicles
The IS-2 (1944) is a Soviet heavy tank with a large 122 mm cannon that you want to stay away from. Both HE and APHE shells of the 122 mm cannon pose a threat and the turret armour can prove difficult to penetrate reliably, often either bouncing shots or sometimes eating them up.
Succeeding the T-34-85 is the T-44, a sneakier and more armoured version of the former. It retains excellent mobility while gaining better manoeuvrability and hull armour. Luckily it retains the 85 mm, which however is quite enough to reliably deal with the Tiger's sides. Deal with them quickly before you need to turn the turret and expose your tank's weak side to the enemy. Like with the IS-2 the best place to shoot the T-44 is the turret and lower glacis, the T-44 also inheriting the bouncy turret, so aim well!
SU-100: Fast, mobile and armed with a gun rivalling that of your own tank, this tank destroyer is not to be underestimated. It can punch holes through your turret with ease. Fortunately, they have little yet well-angled armour, thus SU-100 drivers will often angle their armour to create areas of high angle equivalent to auto-bounce zones. In such cases aim for the less angled portion, side or front.
All three variants of the ISU series are big boxy targets with very nasty guns, yet are sluggish and have no angled armour. Look and sneeze at them, however often enough they will wait in ambush situations, so be prepared!
T-54 is rare but will still pop up in matches. If you have the time against them at close range, shoot at the turret front. At medium distances, you will need APCR or a very lucky shot.
British vehicles are some of the first to get APDS (The first being the A34 Comet at BR 5.3), and are therefore very dangerous due to their high penetration. The Tiger II will commonly face tanks like the FV4202, Caernarvon and the Centurion Mk 3, all of which have the 84 mm 20-pdr gun. They can punch straight through your turret cheeks at long range with great accuracy. They also have sloped armour, which may bounce some of your shells if you aim poorly. You may also face tanks like the A39 Tortoise, which is a very difficult penetrate from the front. It has thick, sloped armour and a high penetrating 94 mm 32-pdr gun. At long range, even your powerful 88 mm will struggle to take one out. You may also face tanks armed with the 105 mm L7A1 gun, like the Centurion Mk 10. Tanks with this gun have massive penetration (over 300 mm) and so you will be an easy target for them. Luckily, most British tanks do not have explosive filler in their rounds. They will easily be able to take out your gunners/commander but will struggle to knock out the driver from the front. This will give you the chance to use the tanks decent reverse speed to make your escape.
The worst enemy is yourself
This is true in a literal and figurative way if you keep telling yourself that you can't do it you won't do it. This tank is not easy to operate and it can be frustrating at times but it is a very good tank once you start using it properly and keep its limits and weaknesses in mind.
In a literal way, yes, your worst possible enemy is another Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B. They know the tank from the inside out just like you, long range and even taking cover wont help you since they have that same amazing gun and they know exactly where to hit, besides, when talking about distance: if you can hurt it, it can hurt you, and if it can't hurt you, you can't hurt it.
A Tiger II vs Tiger II fight usually ends in less than 25 seconds, sometimes lasting as little as 2 seconds using 2 shells or less to achieve the destruction of one of them. Sometimes you will find yourself exchanging shells for a whole game.
The only effective way to face a Tiger II with a Tiger II is to hit first and making sure the hit has a crippling effect on its firing capability (hitting the turret from the front, for example, taking out the gunner and commander and possibly hitting ammo). If you happen to get hit like this from a Tiger II your only hope is to get to cover in less than 10 seconds (weapon reload time with an expert crew, maxed out loader and commander is 10.6 seconds) and run away to a safe location to repair since these hits will most likely destroy your turret ring and cannon breech.
You will be engaging the Tiger II with your Tiger II in arcade games for the most part, but also in realistic/simulator squadron battles where it is a very popular tank. Remember to read "how to destroy a Tiger II" below, there are more tips available on this topic there.
A Tiger II is a formidable enemy when it's used correctly by its operator, but it's by no means indestructible under any conditions (Even in a downtier, you can still face tanks carrying APDS rounds such as the Centurion Mk 1.
The first thing you want to do is deny the Tiger II of the advantage of its gun by getting as close as possible while keeping clear of its cannon (the closer you get, the better the penetration values for you and the Tiger II) most Tiger II operators will avoid getting flanked at all costs so you might find yourself forced to face one from the front. The biggest weak spot is the lower frontal hull plate, its slopped but only 100 mm thick and behind it lies the transmission that likes to catch fires and create nasty shrapnel when destroyed, the shrapnel will fly inwards and if your shell is large enough they will take out the entire crew. However, this shot will most likely only leave the Tiger II unable to move for a minute and make his operator quite angry (at you) while his gun remains perfectly operational and before you have a chance reload you will most likely receive a very accurate shot from an irritated Tiger II operator.
The lower frontal plate is a good place to hit but it should be a second option, with this tank, you need to disable that gun as soon as possible, the turret is a very reliable target at close range, even with HEAT ammo you should be able to deliver a shot that will disable its firing capability for long enough for you to reload and shoot again. Using your best AP round for this is recommended since the frontal turret has a fairly thick (but flat) plate if nothing else works try APCR.
Using high calibre HE rounds is also effective. The cupola is probably the best place to hit with a HE shell since the explosion will deflect into the thin upper plate and destroy everything inside. It is not easy to hit, but if you manage to hit the cupola it's very unlikely it survives.
The Tiger II is very vulnerable to "Circling attacks", that means, running around it in circles and harass it with side shots. Its turret can turn quite fast (especially in arcade mode) but most medium tanks are fast enough to outrun it.
If you somehow manage to see an enemy Tiger II from the side, try to land a shot in the middle of the hull, near of the turret (not on the turret, the upper part of the hull), there's a good chance there will be ammo there, and if there isn't, you will either knock out the tank by taking out many crew members or cripple it heavily
Pros and cons
- With the turret face being up to 185 mm thick and some tracks lining the sides, the Tiger II (H) has a much better turret than its predecessor.
- Like all other Tiger II's, the frontal hull armour is still extremely thick. Nearly impossible for anything but APDS and HEAT to punch through the upper glacis plate
- As will all tanks bearing the name Tiger, side scraping is still a good tactic to use on the battlefield
- 40 mm roof armour offers decent protection against lower-caliber air attacks and even artillery
- Even if an enemy shell does go through the lower glacis plate, the Tiger II's transmission sometimes acts as a buffer. This can lead to a completely unharmed crew
- Even at the Tiger II's BR,the 88 mm KwK43 cannon is still great. It scores high marks in penetration, accuracy, damage, and fire rate.
- Decent gun depression of -8 degrees can have the tank utilize hull-down tactics to protect lower glacis
- Stock PzGr 39/43 shells are still the go-to anti-tank round. Great accuracy, penetration, and damage potential
- Fully upgraded, the Tiger II (H) has a high top speed and quick traversing turret. This will give you a fighting chance against medium and light tanks trying to flank
- Good reverse speed to withdraw from disadvantageous situations
- Despite having a better turret than its predecessor, the overall turret armour of the Tiger II (H) is sub-par for the Rank. Nearly every tank the Tiger II can meet in battle can punch right through the turret sides and face
- This is a really big tank. Difficult to miss, even at long range
- Long and large gun barrel makes it easy to be spotted and damaged to prevent usage
- The lower glacis plate is only 100 mm thick. Expect to lose the transmission, driver, and machine gunner every so often
- With two large ready racks at the back of the turret, any shells penetrating it are extremely dangerous
- HEAT and HE shells are inadequate to penetrate targets at this BR
- Even when fully upgraded, the engine power is underwhelming for a tank that weighs 68 tons. This tank takes time to reach its top speed and struggles to climb hills
- While fast in a straight line, the Tiger II's manoeuvrability at low speeds is poor. Enemy mediums can take advantage of this
- The turret front has a weak spot of only 153 mm of armour
- This tank can be matched with tanks that have access to APDS or HEAT shells, easily defeating the Tiger II's armour
Just before the Tiger I entered service in 1942, work has already begun for its successor. In 1937, Henschel was ordered to develop a heavy tank design, with Porsche the following suit in 1939. Porsche developed their new heavy tank off of the failed VK 4501 (P), churning out two models designated VK 4502 (P) named Type 180 and 181. Type 180 had its turret mounted centrally while 181 had the turret mounted on the rear with the engine in the centre (akin to the Ferdinand tank destroyer layout). Both designs used the same components of the VK 4501 (P) and both designs were visually similar except for the turret locations and some mechanical parts, but these two designs never passed wooden prototypes.
Henschel, on the other hand, used a more conventional design in their tank layout, but the end results look no way similar to their previous heavy tank design Tiger I. The VK 4503 (H) as designated by them resembled a Panther tank layout, with the transmission in the front along with the driving compartment, the turret in the centre, and the engine in the rear. The design used many components from the Panther and the Panther II in order to standardize production. The suspension system was also different from anything produced at the time, though still using a torsion-bar suspension, the wheels were arranged only in the overlapping method, no interleaving. This new Schachtellaufwerk design simplified maintenance and increased production by using fewer wheels than interleaved (only 9 each side) and with full-steel wheels that the later Tiger I models used to save rubber. The first wooden mock-up of the design was presented on October 20, 1943, to Hitler, to which it was approved for further development as the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B, or just Tiger II and Tiger B for short. The Henschel variant was more advantageous than the Porsche variant for being developed faster and has a faster production rate, thus it was destined to be approved for service. The Henschel design began production in the Henschel plant at Kassel and the first 3 working prototypes were churned out in December 1943. Full-scale production began on January 1944 and continued all the way until March 1945. Due to the late introduction and the number of resources needed to construct the heavy tanks, only about 482 production models were produced in this time period, considerably less than its predecessor, Tiger I.
The Tiger II is just massive in size. Weighing in at 68.5 tons, it is the heaviest tank to see service in World War II, beaten out as heaviest serving vehicle by the Jagdtiger, which weighs 71.7 tons. The Tiger II front armour is 150 mm thick, and this is without sloping, with which it would be more than 200 mm thick ineffective. The thick front glacis armour was never penetrated by any Allied tank throughout the entire war. The side and rear armour are still 80 mm, which presented a weaker target, but still formidable at longer ranges. The gun on the Tiger II was the famous 8.8 cm KwK 43, which could defeat all Allied armour in World War II. The gun is sighted by the gunner with a Turmzielfernrohr 9d monocular sight that allows two magnifications, 2.5x and 5x. In practice, the gun is able to hit a target under 1 km away 100% of the time.
The turret on this Tiger II is the production turret model by Krupp, colloquially known as the "Henschel" turret (hence the "H" in the name) despite that the Henschel company had no influence on the Krupp turret design. This turret replaced the flawed prototype "Porsche" turret, also by Krupp. The production model was a simplified turret, using more flat surfaces and a sleeker shape for easier production. The previously curved front of the turret is made into a thickened flat face that presents no shot trap and the protruding commander's cupola was flattened into the design. The turret is powered and could rotate under two settings, high and low. In low, the turret could be rotated a full 360 degrees in 60 seconds, and the same in 19 seconds at high. Though the engine could allow the turret to traverse in 10 seconds in full power, this was not recommended to avoid straining the engine. The turret traverse is powered by pedals or a lever by the gunner and is fine enough with these methods that small adjustments with the manual traverse hand wheels are not necessary.
The Tiger II was still propelled by the V-12 Maybach HL230 gasoline engine, which powered the lighter Panther and Tiger I. The increased weight of the tank made the engine underpowered, requiring extra care to make sure the engine does not fail. Despite that, the tank was capable of reaching a maximum speed of 41.5 kilometres per hour, making the Tiger II quite agile for its weight. However, the Tiger II consumes exorbitant amount of fuel and requires extensive maintenance to keep running, which impedes its combat effectiveness in the whole strategic viewpoint as it only had an operational range of about 120 km on cross country terrain. The heavy weight also causes multiple mechanical issues in the tank, the drive train is overburdened as it was intended for a lighter vehicle and multiple breakdowns were experienced in early Tiger II models. Though, these issues were ironed out over time with improvements but still persist due to lack of supplies to maintain the tanks.
The Tiger II is organized into heavy tank battalions (Schwere Panzer Abteilungen) in the Wehrmacht and SS units, who first received them by February 1944. A standard battalion would have 45 Tiger IIs, with three in command and 14 in each of the three companies. A total of 14 battalions were employed during World War II in the Heer and SS, 11 assigned to the Heers and 3 to the SS. The original role of heavy tank battalions was to engage, breakthrough and destroy enemy armour on the offensive, but the changing war situation saw their role relegated to the defensive. The Tiger II's first recorded combat action was in the 1st Company of 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion in Normandy in July 1944, fighting back the Canadians during their offensive in Operation Atlantic, three Tiger IIs were lost, two from combat and one from becoming irrecoverable after falling into a bomb crater. However, by the end of the Normandy Campaign, all of the Tiger IIs in the 503rd was lost. The 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion had the Tiger II see the first action in the Eastern Front on August 1944, where it resisted the Soviet Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive. It was here on the road to Oględów on August 12, 1944, that an ambush by a few T-34-85s destroyed three Tiger IIs easily and some more disabled. The destroyed Tiger IIs were attributed to ammunition explosions. Due to this incident, it was ordered that the crew do not store the cannon ammunition in the turret, though the enforcement of this order varies between units. Still, 16 Tiger IIs in the 501st became disabled or destroyed in a span of more than two weeks.
The Tiger II also played a part in Operation Panzerfaust, where the 503rd Battalion was stationed in Hungary to ensure it stays in the Axis Alliance. These tanks stayed for 166 days and claimed a large number of Soviet vehicle kills for the loss of 25 Tiger IIs. The Tiger II continued to see action in most of the offensive and defensive actions in the last few months of World War II, such as in the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944, the Soviet Vistula-Oder and East Prussian Offensives in January 1945, and the German Lake Balaton Offensive in March 1945, Battle of the Seelow Heights in April 1945, and the Battle of Berlin that lasted until VE Day.
Tiger II's performance in battle was quite favourable in firepower and achieved a disproportionate kill-loss ratio. The 503rd SS Battalion claimed 500 kills for the loss of 45 Tiger IIs in the time span of January to April 1945. However, most of the Tiger II's losses were due to mechanical breakdowns or lack of fuel, so the crew abandoned these tanks and destroyed them to avoid enemy capture. Ultimately, however, while these tanks proved a menace in the battlefield, its overall strategic effect to the war is negligible like its predecessor due to the low number available.
Today, there are 10 Tiger IIs in varying conditions left in the world. The most well known is the one at Musée des Blindés museum at Saumur, France. This Tiger II is the only working version left in the world, this variant has the "Henschel" turret attached. Other notable places around the world that have the Tiger II is at the Bovington Tank Museum at England (which has a Porsche and a Henschel variant), Kubinka Tank Museum at Russia, and the (future) National Armor and Cavalry Museum in America.
This version of the tank was equipped with Erwin Aders' turret model, which had a simpler design than the Porsche turret. This allowed the forward armor to be reinforced up to 180 mm, at an inclination of 10°. The turret's front plate was straightened, which prevented shells from ricocheting into the roof of the tank's hull. The ammunition capacity was increased from 72 to 84 shots. As an additional weapon for protection against enemy infantry, the tank was equipped with a Nähkampfgerät 26 mm mortar, with smoke, fragmentation, and fragmentation-incendiary rounds. The tank's weight was around 68 tons, but due to the design of its chassis, its cross-country ability across rough terrain was satisfactory. The use of wide tank treads reduced the tank's ground pressure, when compared to that of the Tiger I, from 1.09 to 1.06 kg/cm². Until September 1944, Zimmerit anti-magnetic paste was applied to the tank's vertical surfaces.
Production of the tanks was always being delayed due to Allied bombing runs or lack of materials. In total, around 490 of the tanks were produced from January 1944 to March 1945. The factories of the Henschel company reached a reasonably high rate of assembly—building a Tiger II, from start to finish, took 15 days.
The Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B was the most powerful tank in production during World War II, as well as the last heavy tank produced by Nazi Germany. Due to its extremely powerful 88 mm 8,8cm KwK 43 L/71 gun, it was able to effectively defeat any of the Allies' tanks.
This combat vehicle had a number of serious shortcomings, such as low operational mobility, high weight, low technical reliability, low maneuverability, and limited fuel capacity.
- RideR2's Realistic gunsight (TZF4a, TZF 5a/b/d/e/f/f2, TZF 9b/b1/c/d, TZF 12/a) for Pzkpfw II, Pzkpfw III, Pzkpfw IV, Pzkpfw V, Pzkpfw VI
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|Germany heavy tanks|
|Tiger 1 (Henschel)||Tiger H1 · Tiger E · ␠Tiger|
|Tiger 1 (Porsche)||VK 45.01 (P) · Pz.Bef.Wg.VI P|
|Tiger 2||Tiger II (P) · Tiger II (H) · Tiger II (H) Sla.16 · Tiger II (10.5 cm Kw.K)|
|Super heavy tanks||Maus · E-100|
|Great Britain||▀Pz.Kpfw. Churchill|
|USSR||▀KV-IB · ▀KV I C 756 (r) · ▀KV II 754 (r)|