Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger (P) VK4501(P) / Porsche Typ 101
Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger (P)
VK4501(P) / Porsche Typ 101
On May 26th of 1941, during the meeting concerning the development of new weaponry, Adolf Hitler ordered both Dr.Porsche and Henschel to supply their designs for a heavy tank, which was to be ready in the summer of 1942. Krupp was in charge of supplying main armament and producing turrets for designs by both Henschel and Porsche. The project was known as the "Tigerprogram".
Henschel Tiger’s development was based on previous designs of VK 3001(H) and VK 3601(H), while Porsche Tiger’s development was based on previous design of VK 3001(P) – Leopard. None of those vehicles entered production but they provided designers with valuable experience. The new 45-ton panzer was to be armed with a 88mm KwK L/56 mounted in a turret designed by Krupp. Development of Porsche’s Tiger was progressing much faster than that of Henschel since Porsche worked on an independent project for heavy tank since autumn of 1940. Henschel was not that advanced and utilized as many already available components from its previous projects to complete its VK 4501 design.
In order to speed up the development of VK4501(P), components of VK 3001(P) were modified and used. The suspension was modified version of the suspension used in the VK 3001(P) prototype. It was made up of six road-wheels and lacked return rollers. Tracks had 109 links per side and were 640mm wide with track surface contact of 4175mm (4.175m).Tiger(P) was powered by two (air-cooled) Porsche Typ 101/1 engines mounted in the rear part of the hull. Gasoline engines drove electrical generators, which drove two electric motors, which provided power to the tracks.Gasoline engines were produced with defects and were repaired but remained unreliable, while electric system used copper, which was a critical war material. Drive sprocket was in the rear instead of the standard location at the front. Electric transmission system was used similar to that ofVK 3001(P).Overall gasoline-electric power/drive system with which many problems were encountered (such as engine fire) was utilized. Its power/weight distribution limited its cross-country performance and during trials, VK4501(P) prototype was often bogged down (especially in the soft ground) and had to be towed away by recovery vehicles.
Both, Henschel and Porsche’s prototypes arrived to a station near Rastenburg on April 19th of 1942 and then traveled 11km to Rastenburg, while constantly breaking down.On April 20th of 1942 at 11:00am, both Porsche and Henschel prototypes were presented to Adolf Hitler (on his birthday) in Wolfschanze (Rastenburg), East Prussia. Tests were scheduled for July and preliminary tests proved that the Tiger(P)’s design was far from being perfect and modifications were made, but none of the technical problems were fully solved from the lack time. Both VK4501(P) and VK4501(H) were armed with powerful 88mm KwK 36 L/56 gun, developed from 88mm Flak 36 L/56 gun. Originally, Krupp designed and produced the turret for Porsche’s VK4501, but then it was modified and used by Henschel’s VK4501. The first eight turrets produced had lower sides and a flat roof with raised centre section to allow the gun to be depressed through larger arc.
Tiger(P) had its turret mounted forward, what also made the operating in enclosed areas dangerous. In July of 1942, both prototypes were put to the extensive tests at the tank school in Berka, Germany. During the tests, Porsche’s VK 4501(P) was a failure, while Henschel’s VK 4501(H) was a great success. Main failure of Porsche’s design laid in its advanced power and drive system, which was prone to breakdowns and required continuous maintenance. Also Tiger(P) was longer than its competitor, what made it less maneuverable. Porsche also provided possibility to arm Tiger(P) in future with 150mm KwK L/37or 100mm L/70 gun, but it was never realized. There were also plans to utilize 88mm L/100 gun but they were also neverrealized.
In July of 1942, Henschel Tiger – VK 4501(H) was approved and went into production. Only five Tiger(P) were fully completed in July of 1942 by Nibelungenwerke with armored parts supplied by Krupp, before the production was stopped in August of 1942 (chassis number 150001-150010). Even before even the rejection of Tiger(P)’s design production of 90 pre-production VK4501(P) chassis started. Production of pre-production chassis continued, and in early September of 1942, it was decided to equip two sPzAbts (including sPzAbt 501) destined for North Africa with Tiger(P)s. This decision was made simply because of the stage of development and the fact that Tiger(P)’s engines were air-cooled. Once again unresolved problem of technical unreliability led to the cancellation of the production.
Albert Speer, Ferdinand Porsche and Tiger(P).
Only five fully completed Porsche Tigers were issued for training and testing purposes to the facility in Dollersheim, Austria. From August to September of 1943, three of those were converted into recovery vehicles designated – Bergepanzer Tiger(P).
Only one completed Tiger(P) with chassis number 150013 saw combat service as a command tank – Panzerbefehlswagen VI(P) with schwere Heeres Panzerjager Abteilung 653. It was used by its commander, Hauptmann Grillenberg (turret number 003), on the Eastern Front in early/mid of 1944.
Tiger(P) No.003 from schwere Heeres Panzerjager Abteilung 653
On September 22nd of 1942, it was decided to convert 90 of the existing chassis into Ferdinand / Elephant, heavy assault gun and tank destroyers. Based on the experiences of Stalingrad street fighting, on November 22nd of 1942, Hitler approved the production of a single Rammtiger – barricade and obstacle destroyer. Porsche completed the planning stage by December 7th of 1942 and on January 5th of 1943, Adolf Hitler decided that three VK4501(P) chassis are to be modified and converted to Rammtiger / Raumpanzer Tiger(P). This lightly armed (with MG) vehicle was to be a standard VK4501(P)’s hull mounted with streamlined upper superstructure and front mounted plow (ploughshare). The streamlined shape of the superstructure would allow the rubble to slide off the vehicle. In May of 1943, three superstructures were completed and three Rammtigers were ready in August of 1943. Their fate is unknown after August of 1943, but it is unlikely that they saw any combat and probably remained at Nibelungenwerke.Other sources state that only 1:10 and / or 1:15 scale model was made when the entire concept was rejected and three chassis were used as previously planned.
2 x Porsche Typ 101/1 / 10-cylinder / 320hp
9.34m (with the gun)
6.70m (w/o the gun)
3.38m (with the aprons)
3.14m (w/o the aprons)
88mm KwK 36 L/56 & 2 x 7.92mm MG34
88mm – 64-80 rounds
7.92mm – 4350 rounds
Front Turret: 100/8
Front Superstructure: 100/12
Front Hull: 100/35
Side Turret: 80/0
Side Superstructure: 80/0
Side Hull: 60/0
Rear Turret: 80/0
Rear Hull: 80/0
Top / Bottom Turret: 25/81 / 25/90
Top / Bottom Superstructure: 20/90
Top / Bottom Hull: 20/90
Gun Mantlet: 100-110/0
Penetration of Armor Plate at 30 degrees from Vertical.
Pzgr.39 (APCBC) – Armor Piercing Composite Ballistic Cap