Schiffer - Military History 018 - Elefant, Jagdtiger, Sturmtiger.pdf
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T . JAG DTI GER STURMTIGER SCHIFFER
MIUTARY HISTORY VOL. 18
Draw ing of th e Ja gdttgcr . wi th p orsche chassis.
Rarities of the Tiger Family
JAGDTIGER STURMTIGER Wolfgang Schneider h t
1469 llfontrin Ra.d, Wat 0...ett, Ptnnsyh..,.la 19380
NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMEN T S
EDIT OR'S FOREWORD
In the difficu lt research on the origin and action of the comparatively rare armored vehicles of the Tiger family , I am indebted to numerous former members of th e appropriate 1roop units. Particularly valuable assistance was rendered by Otto Carius, Albert Ernst, Rolf Fromme, Walter Scherf, Gerhard T ebbe, Er ich Zip pel, as well as Will i Mues ("The Great Pocket"). T he draw ings used were taken , sliglu ly mod ified by the author, from the following sources: D 656/ l (Elefan t), D 1884 (Jagdtiger) and WK B 21 (Sturmtiger ). Many thanks for making photographic ma1erial avai lable to: Br itish Tank :Vl useum in Bovington, Uwe Grein, H auptmann Kosinski (BWB), Wal ter Spielberger, Wehrtechnische Studiensarnmlung in Ko blenz. The other p ictures came fro m th e author's archives.
This \'olume follows The Tigf'r Family and stands ou t particularly for i1s many hitherto unpublished photographs.
Translated from the German by Dr. Ed\\'ard Force, Central Connecticut State U11ivcrsity. Copyrigh t © 1990 by Sch iffer Publishing. Library o f Congress Catalog Nu mber: 90-604 i8. All rights reserved. No part of this \\'Ork may be reproduced or used in an) forms o r by any m eans-graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or information storage and retrieval systemswithout written permission from the copyright hokkr. Pr inted in the Un ited States of America. ISBN: 0-88740-239-9
This hook originally published under the title, !':le/ant, ]agdtiger, Sturmliger, by Podzun-Pa llas Verlag, 6360 Friedberg 3 (Dorheim), © 1986. IS BN: 3-7909-0271-3. \Ve are interested in hearing from au thors with
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This photo shows the spiritual father of mechanized warfare with large tan k units and the creator of the German Panzer weapon, Generaloberst H einz. Guderian. In his capacity as Inspector General o f the P anzer T roops he is inspecting the two newly formed Panzerj~iger units, equ ipped with Elefan t tanks, at their initial gunnery and combat tra ining. Ile had taken up hi!> new posi tion a few weeks before (March 1943), after having been relieved, after considerable controversy with the OKW, of h is position as Commander of the 2nd Pan1.er Army in Russia. After the heavy losses of the tank un its in the wi n ter of 194 142 a nd the Stal ingrad debacle early in 1943, he cou ld not be dispensed wi~.h for 1h e rebui lding of the tank units for the decisive battle of the summer of 1943. Bu t once again, many of his warnings were not taken imo consideration. Guderian was skeptical about ponderous weapon systems such as the £lefant, and their experiences in battle tend to justify his standpoint.
Panzerjttger Tiger (P), " Elefant" DEVELOPMENT Du ring the course of development of the Tiger I tank, two different ch assis prototypes (VK 4501) were competing with each other, on e made by Porsch e and the other by the H enschel firm. All Porsche's efforts to make his version ready for series p roduction could not be concluded successfu lly. Technical problems with the running gear, m otor and transmission that could not be solved in time, plus the results of techni cal testing, led to the decision made on O ctober 3 1, 1942 in favor of the Hensch el version. Meanwhile production had commenced a t th e H enschel works in Kassel, but P orsche too ha d begun production a t the Nibelungen works. When production was ordered s topped, 9 1 hulls had been finish ed. These were "repla nned" for the p roduction of a heavy assault gun. The Altmarkisch en Ketten werke GmbH (ALKETT) presented appropriate design drawings in December of 1942. Of greatest urgency were the production of the Iongbarreled 88mm L / 71 antitank gun and fron tal armor 200mm th ick. Even before the already exis ting tech nical p robl em s could be solved , Hitler ordered on Februar y 7, 1943 tha t th e prepar ation of the veh icle, at ffrst named " Ferdinand" (after P orsch e) and now intended to be a Panzerjager (ta nk destroyer), be hurried. T hus th e developmen t and introduction of this Panzerjager was u n der a n unlucky star fro m the beginning; weaknesses in the durability of importa n t components and a chassis that was full y overburdened by the installa tion of a h eavy weapon system and increased armor thickness resulted in serious limitations of its u sefu lness to the troops.
Side view of the E lefant ; the running gear with Lhe three sers of road wheels a nd the cogged road and drive wheels can be seen clearly. T he circular cover on rhe front of the hull is the welded opening of the origina l esca pe hatch for th e driver and radioman .
This diagonal view shows the two lOOmm armor plaLes that were bolted o nto the front of the hull and Lhe gun turret. T he six pairs of bolt heads on the turret and the h ull just below serve 10 attach the steel steps used as a connection inside.
Pictures from the Nibelungen Works earl) in 1943, a few weeks before the rebuilding work was finished. The picture abO\'C shows vehicles 50, 51 anc.153 in the foreground. At upper right. an a lm ost finished Elefant (a t that tim e still called Ferdinand) is being moved by a I 00ton fa ctory IH'rnetphen, near Siegen . The "l. C" (1st Class designation indicates tha t Ili c
Americans regarded this tank as booty of first-class significance.
\ '(Ood look at a Jagtltigcr that ran short of fuel. T he vehicle took a whole 1 tl'S of hi ts, some of them serious; on the bowplate two glancing hits ran I· 'een. a nd one took a piece out of the gun moun r. After being refuclctl, it h taken by US soldiers to a collection point for c:apmred materia ls, and now in the tank museum a t Aberdeen.
Above: Two abandoned J agdtigers of the 1st Company of Pa merjager Unit 5 12 a t Neustadt on the 'Vied. The tank in the foreground obviously had problems with its cool ing system and could no t be made mobile. Neither veh icle was blown up by it s crew. The rear end of this tank shows what put it out of commission. While towing another vehicle, it suffered damage and was left with a towline still attached a t the left rear.
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Th is series of pictures shows Lhc lasl three Jagdtigers of the 1st Company of Pan1.erjager Unit 512 o n the ir last trip to the city hall square in Iserlohn, in th e Ruhr pocket. The remaining men of the compan) laid dm,·n their a rms, gave u p their personal equipment and stood before th eir ta nks o ne lasl time. The company surrendered by report of C.ompa ny Comma nder Oberlcutnant Ernst to an American staff officer.
On April 15 the 2nd Company (still with 7 jagdtigers) was disbanded in Letmathe near lserlohn. The 1st Company was in combat action considerably more often and destroyed 16 enemy ta nks south of Unna before it surrendered in Iserlohn. Nine of the unit's Jagdtigers remained in Austria along with the command that had gone to get them , and were put to use by the 6th SS Panzer Army. On the afternoon of May 9, 1945 ( !) they des troyed several Soviet KW 85's before th e las t two of them were abandoned and their crews fought their way to th e American troops. The Heavy Panzerjager Unit 653 (last Commander, Major Fromme) and its nine Jagdtigcrs took part in Operation Nor thwind in the west in December of 1944 with the 5th Panzer Army. After that the unit was refreshed and saw action sporadically against American troops in th e Schwenningen-Chiemsee area of southern G erman y. The last Jagdtigers were blown up n ear the Austrian border. A few Jagdtigers were used in the Harz Mountains just before the war ended.
Abo,·e: Several Jagr of j agdtigers were lost through tech n ica l defec:ts or lack of fuel. The crews blew th em up w ith o ne cha rge each in the fighting a nd engine compartmen ts. The exp losion of the ammunition which was detonated in the process tore the heavy s idewa l Is off, threw off the roof and push ed r.he gun out the front.
Above: Ten hulls were fitted with Porsche running gear, each w ith foU1 pairs or 1orsion-bar w heels on each side.
These lwo p ictu res show the principa l difference between lh e two running g