June 2, 2015

Vulnerability of Tiger Tanks

Tiger I

An article published in the Soviet Artillery Journal, in 1943, gave detailed instructions for the use of antitank weapons against the Tiger. A translation of the Soviet article was included in the “Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51” publication of the U.S. Military Intelligence Service.

Tiger I
The mobility of tanks depends upon the proper functioning of the suspension parts — sprocket (small driving wheel), idler (small wheel in the rear), wheels and tracks. All of these parts are vulnerable to shells of all calibers. A particularly vulnerable part is the sprocket.

Fire armor-piercing shells and HE (High Explosive) shells at the sprocket, the idler and the tracks. This will stop the tank. Fire at the wheels with HE shells. Also, when attacking a tank, use A/T grenades and mines. If movable mines are used, attach three or four of them to a board and draw the board, by means of a cord or cable, into the path of an advancing tank.

“There are two armor plates on each side of the tank. The lower plate is partly covered by the wheels. This plate protects the engine and the gasoline tanks which are located in the rear of the hull, directly beyond and over the two rear wheels.

“Fire at the lower plates with armor-piercing shells from 76-, 57- and 45-mm guns. When the gasoline tanks are hit, the vehicle will be set on fire. Another method of starting a fire within the tank is to pierce the upper plates on the sides of the tank, thus reaching the ammunition compartments and causing an explosion.

“The rear armor plate protects the engine as well as giving additional protection to the gasoline tanks. Shells from A/T guns, penetrating this armor, will disable the tank.

“The turret has two vision ports and two openings through which the tanks crew fire their weapons. The commanders small turret has five observation slits. There are two sighting devices on the roof of the front of the tank, one for the driver, the other for the gunner. Also, in the front of the tank there is a port with a sliding cover.

The turret is a particularly important and vulnerable target. Attack it with HE and armor-piercing shells of all calibers. When it is damaged, use AT grenades and incendiary bottles (Molotov cocktails).

“There is a 10-mm slit all around the base of the turret. A/T gun and heavy machine-gun fire, effectively directed at this slit, will prevent the turret from revolving and thus seriously impair the tank's field of fire. Furthermore, hits by HE shell at the base of the turret may wreck the roof of the hull and put the tank out of action.

“The tanks air vents and ventilators are under the perforations in the roof of the hull, directly behind the turret. Another air vent is in the front part of the roof, between the two observation ports used by the radio operator and the driver. Use A/T grenades and incendiary bottles against these vents.

“Explode antitank mines under the tank to smash the floor and put the tank out of action.”

Accompanying sketch shows vulnerable points and indicates weapons to be used against them. 

sketch shows vulnerable points and indicates weapons to be used against them

U.S. War Department, Military Intelligence Division. Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51. 16 December 1943.

Photos attribution
1. Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-022-2935-24 / Wolff/Altvater/CC BY-SA 3.0 de, via Wikimedia Commons
2. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J15027/Lohse, Bernd/CC BY-SA 3.0 de, via Wikimedia Commons
3. Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51

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