Published: 02/11/2023 | Last Updated on 08/11/2023
Table of Contents
Tiger P Tank by Ferdinand Porsche: vk 45.01 P with 8.8 cm Gun – Key Points
Development by Porsche: The Tiger P Tank was developed by the Ferdinand Porsche Company in 1942, featuring a new gasoline engine, capable of 310 hp.
Hull Redesign: The tank’s hull was redesigned for functionality, with increased armor thickness and modifications to accommodate the transmission and engine cooling systems.
Suspension System Overhaul: The tank’s suspension system was significantly altered, with the removal of support rollers and the addition of road wheels with internal shock absorption.
Production Challenges: The Tiger P faced numerous production issues, particularly with its engine and cooling system, which were highlighted during testing.
Transmission Changes: There was an initiative to shift from electric to hydromechanical transmission, but this was not fully realized in production.
Unproduced Armament: A proposal for a 10.5 cm KwK 16/775 gun by the Skoda design bureau was drafted but never advanced beyond the initial design phase.
Urgency in Production: The urgency to produce the Tiger P was a response to the German military’s need for a heavy tank capable of countering advanced Soviet tanks like the T-34 and KV.
Competition with Henschel: The Tiger P was in competition with a design by Henschel, and despite initial production, it was eventually converted into the Ferdinand tank destroyer.
Historical Clarifications: The article aims to correct historical inaccuracies about the Tiger P, particularly regarding its transmission system and production history.
The Evolution of the German Heavy Tank Program During World War 2
The onset of the German heavy tank initiative traces its roots back to 1937. Despite the early commencement, the program experienced delays due to continuous modifications to designs of tanks that had not yet been produced. Addressing this challenge, Porsche K.G. took the initiative in December of 1939 to commence work on the Typ 100 heavy tank, also recognized as the VK 30.01(P).
This endeavor led to the conception of another distinguished tank, the VK 45.01(P), alternatively named the Pz.Kpfw. Tiger P.
Often referred to as the Porsche Tiger P, this vehicle was eventually incorporated into service.
Given a different trajectory of events, this tank might have been recognized as the principal German heavy tank during the Second World War.
German Tank Evolution: The Heavier Weight, Same Dimensions and 8.8 cm Gun
In the lead-up to the anticipated conflict with the USSR, Germany saw the birth of the VK 30.01(P), marking its first attempt to blend thick armor with a formidable offensive capability, enabling it to tackle counterparts of its class.
In March 1941, while the weaponry for this nascent machine was yet to receive the green light, discussions shifted towards arming it with even mightier firepower. The backdrop for this was the ambiguous intelligence Germany had about the Red Army’s tanks, with some reports suggesting tanks exceeding 100 tons.
The German tank’s designers didn’t stop at its initial armament, the 8.8 cm Flak 18. Their search for dominance led them to contemplate other formidable options: the 10.5 cm KwK L/47 and the 8.8 cm KwK L/56—distinguished by its heightened muzzle velocity.
By May, another contender emerged: the 8.8 cm KwK L/71, which drew inspiration from the ballistics of the Flak 41 AA gun.
By May, another contender emerged: the 8.8 cm KwK L/71, which drew inspiration from the ballistics of the Flak 41 AA gun.
The Evolution of Henschel’s Heavy Tank Designs
Amid changing requirements in tank design, Henschel’s engineers found that the VK 30.01(H) and VK 36.01 fell short of meeting the updated standards.
To address this, they initiated the design of a new tank, termed the VK 45.01(H). This new model incorporated knowledge from the VK 36.01 and adopted the turret design from the VK 30.01(P).
Interestingly, even as this new tank was being developed, the work on the VK 30.01(H) and VK 36.01 persisted. This led to a scenario where Henschel was simultaneously engaged in the development of three heavy tanks.
Porsche’s Challenge with the Panzer Tiger Ausf. E’s Modernization Resulting the 8.8 cm KwK L/71 Tank Gun
When Porsche embarked on a mission to modify the Typ 100, the focus was to adjust it to fulfill emerging requisites.
The concept of enhancing the weapon soon fell by the wayside. It’s commonly believed that the Tiger Ausf. E might have been updated with the 8.8 cm KwK L/71 during its upgrade.
Contrary to this belief, from the outset, this particular gun was on the table for discussion. The complication arose from the turret design by Krupp which couldn’t accommodate the large gun size as per Hitler’s specification.
This was documented by Porsche himself, signifying that the vision of implementing the 8.8 cm KwK L/71 in the VK 45.01 turret was more of an unattainable aspiration than a feasible plan.
Typ 100’s Transformation: From Modernization to a New Beginning
The Typ 100 was initially envisioned with improved armour, but the final realization of this design didn’t meet the expectations set. As the design evolved, the vehicle’s mass surprisingly exceeded 50 tons, posing a significant challenge.
With such a massive body, the pre-existing engine became inadequate, necessitating the introduction of a more powerful engine. This modification wasn’t a straightforward process; it required a comprehensive redesign of the engine compartment.
What was supposed to be a modernization task, interestingly morphed into the creation of an entirely different tank, marking the onset of a new development phase in July of 1941. As for the naming conventions, there were variations. Initially called the Typ 101, the vehicle was also referred to by Porsche’s design bureau as Sonderfahrzeug II.
Another index used was the VK 45.01(P), a nomenclature that had previous associations with the VK 30.01(P) during the latter’s concluding development stages. A noted observation was that the projected 45-ton weight class didn’t align with the actual outcomes, marking a discrepancy in the initial classification and the tangible results.
Rethinking Design: Porsche’s Approach to Vehicle Modification
Unlike its counterpart, Henschel, Porsche’s engineering team chose a slightly different path in vehicle redesign.
They maintained the original dimensions of the vehicle and the turret, instead of opting for a drastic transformation.
The layout of the vehicle, on the other hand, underwent a substantial alteration. Initially, the vehicle was designed with a front drive sprocket – a concept that later revealed itself to be suboptimal due to various operational challenges. One predominant issue was the tremendous difficulty encountered in servicing the electric motors, necessitating a hatch in the front for removal.
This design aspect didn’t particularly enhance the vehicle’s armor resistance. Consequently, changes were made by relocating the Siemens-Schuckertwerke D1495 motors and drive sprockets to the rear of the vehicle, signifying a critical adjustment in the vehicle’s structural layout.
Porsche K.G. Introduces New Gasoline Engine for Enhanced Performance
Porsche K.G. has unveiled its latest gasoline engine, an air cooled V10, designed to cater to the requirements of increased mass. Named Typ 101, the engine boasts a volume of 15 L and is capable of producing 310 hp at 2500 RPM. Should there be two such engines incorporated within a tank, they would collectively deliver an impressive 620 hp. Each of these engines is paired with a Siemens-Schuckertwerke aGV 275/24 generator, positioned at the engine’s forefront. To ensure optimal performance, newly designed sponsons have been integrated, which house the cooling fans. These fans are essential for channeling air into the engine and transmission compartments. Furthermore, the energy generated by the generators is transferred to two Siemens-Schuckertwerke D1495a motors.
Redesigning the vk 45.01 Hull for Enhanced Functionality
When the layout was altered, the hull underwent necessary redesigning.
While the hull’s length and general shape remained consistent, specific sections like the rear experienced multiple modifications. The front, too, exhibited some shape alterations.
For added protection, the thickness of the front armour was increased to 100 mm, and the sides and rear to 80 mm. Accommodations were made within the engine compartment for the transmission. Additionally, the sponsons observed a surge in height.
To ensure a better field of vision, observation devices were embedded into the front hull’s corners.
The evacuation hatches found on the sides of the hull were a part of the original design, a contribution from the 6th Department of the Armament Directorate.
For reference, similar hatches were present in the PzI Ausf. F, PzII Ausf. J, and VK 36.01, all of which had the 6th Department’s direct involvement in their design. Despite the hatches potentially compromising the side armour’s strength and their impracticality, they were initially included in the VK 45.01(P) hulls’ design.
Nonetheless, the concept was soon abandoned. Consequently, no tank featuring these hatches was ever manufactured, and the pre-existing openings for the hatches in the hulls were sealed shut during production.
A major transition has been observed in the suspension system. The hull remained constant, but the suspension underwent several alterations. Most notably, the support rollers were discarded, and in an effort to enhance durability and efficiency, the road wheels were equipped with internal shock absorption.
Additionally, the design of the drive sprockets and idlers underwent a complete transformation. It’s noteworthy to mention that the track links retained their original design, but such continuity is expected to be short-lived.
Connections in the Tank Development
In a strategic move during WWII, Hitler instructed the construction of six prototypes of the VK 45.01(P) and VK 45.01(H), both to be equipped with identical turrets. Interestingly, the directive to manufacture 100 VK 45.01(P) units was made swiftly, bypassing the prototype phase.
The prominence of Porsche’s design during this period was evident. It’s essential to note that this priority was not attributed to Porsche’s personal connections with key figures such as Hitler and Todt.
In contrast to Henschel, which had spent half a decade in the heavy tank design phase, Porsche K.G. expedited its design process and presented a more viable vehicle option.
For potential subcontractors, like Krupp, the outcome regarding which tank was selected held little consequence; they were poised to secure the production contracts either way.
VK 45.01 (P) Production in the Early 1940s
In the early 1940s, the manufacturing landscape saw various significant contracts and collaborations. On July 22nd, 1941, a pivotal agreement, contract SS-2105803/41, was established with Krupp for the procurement of 100 sets of armour.
This was closely followed by another contract, SS-210–5905/41, on the subsequent day, detailing the production of 100 turrets with armament. Wolf Buchau played a vital role by supplying the necessary guns. The engines were sourced from Simmering-Graz-Pauker AG, while the electric apparatus, including generators and electric motors, were contributed by Siemens-Schuckertwerke.
Additionally, the suspension components were crafted by Skoda. The final touch in this intricate process, the assembly, took place at Nibelungenwerk in Austria.
Krupp’s efficiency in this endeavor was commendable. By December of 1941, they had managed to complete the first four VK 45.01(P) hulls. The momentum continued as three more were produced in January of 1942, followed by 12 in February and nine in March. By the mid of 1942, specifically before July, a total of 64 hulls had been constructed.
Hull Vulnerability Addressed in VK 45.01 Heavy Tanks Manufactured in 1942
In the spring of 1942, an important incident involving tank hulls came to light. During a test conducted at Kummersdorf, a hull was subjected to fire from a 7.5 cm FK 16 n.A. artillery piece at a range of 100 meters. While the lower front plate remained intact, the upper plate was found to have multiple penetrations.
Following this revelation, a meeting on May 7th led to the decision that the front armor should undergo surface hardening. This modification was gradually rolled out, starting with vehicle #150050 and becoming a standard feature from vehicle #150060 onwards.
Tests conducted in July confirmed the enhancements’ efficacy. It is essential to note, though, that tanks produced at Nibelungenwerk continued to possess the older hull design.
Transmission Evolution in 1942
In March of 1942, changes were initiated beyond just surface hardening in tank design. Specifically, there was a move to produce half of the Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.P tanks in the Typ 102 variant, bearing the factory index Sonderfahrzeug II HA. Its counterpart, Typ 101, was known as Sonderfahrzeug II EA.
The distinct difference between the two was their transmission types. “E” stood for an electric transmission, which weighed around 4.6 tons, while “H” denoted hydromechanical transmission, designed by Voith.
This hydromechanical version, though only half as weighty as its electric counterpart, had a bulkier design with only a two-speed gearbox.
On the 23rd of March, Krupp was tasked with preparing 50 tank hulls compatible with the Voith transmission. By May, 10 of these hulls were completed. Subsequently, Voith received an order specifically for these transmissions. Data from CIOS indicates that 20 sets of this transmission were eventually produced.
Yet, none were fixed onto tanks as initially planned. Only a single transmission was implemented, with directives to revert the remaining hulls to their original design.
This particular transmission found its use later in the Ferdinand tank destroyer. After a trial run spanning 2000 km, it was observed that the newly designed transmission was not as efficient as the standard Tiger Ausf. E transmission.
The Skoda Design Bureau’s Unproduced Gun Concept
On October 30th, 1941, the Skoda design bureau developed a proposal for a 10.5 cm KwK 16/775 gun.
This particular 105 mm L/40.6 cannon was designed to be fitted into the Krupp turret, but it necessitated certain modifications. Alterations included changes to the mantlet and the introduction of a new commander’s cupola.
Despite the effort put into its conceptualization, this design didn’t advance beyond the initial draft phase. When assessed against its contemporary, the 8.8 cm KwK 36, the proposed gun’s features didn’t stand out as particularly superior.
Understanding the VK 45.01 (P) / Tiger P Production Hurdles
Amidst the WWII landscape, the VK 45.01(P) was urgently ushered into production. This urgency stemmed from Germany’s realization of underestimating the Red Army, especially in light of their advanced tanks like the T-34 and KV. Consequently, the Wehrmacht felt an acute need for a heavy tank.
One major challenge encountered was related to the tank’s engine, which was manufactured at Simmering-Graz-Pauker. Regrettably, the first engine prototype that rolled out in December 1941 malfunctioned shortly after initiation. This prompted a collaborative effort between Porsche and Simmering to rectify the faults.
By March 9th, 1942, their hard work bore fruit when a second, well-functioning engine was produced. Following closely, a third engine was produced two days later and functioned without glitches. Subsequently, both engines were dispatched to Nibelungenwerk by April 10th. Coinciding with this dispatch, Krupp presented its initial turret.
On April 18th, a tank was finalized and dispatched to Hitler’s headquarters. A defining feature of this vehicle was its large fenders that extended beyond the hull. The tank was showcased on April 20th, coinciding with Hitler’s birthday.
While the demonstration was generally successful, the tank had its share of problems. The engine faced persistent issues, particularly related to cooling. Furthermore, the 500 mm wide tracks were deemed inadequate to support the weight of such a sizable tank. Immediate modifications were imperative. In this context, Nibelungenwerk was slated to deliver the first batch of 10 tanks by May 1942.
Parallel to these developments, Henschel, another tank manufacturer, had been refining its design. By April 20th, they presented their first VK 45.01(H) tank to Hitler.
This was in conjunction with the unveiling of the VK 45.01(P).
Noteworthy is the fact that Henschel’s tank was comparatively lighter and featured a turret almost identical to the Porsche tank.
Tank Prototype Modifications in 1942
During the rigorous testing phase in 1942, defects were identified, leading to the delay in the delivery of the slated 10 tanks initially due for May.
Amidst these challenges, Krupp managed to deliver a total of 10 turrets over the months of April and May. By June, however, there were no turret deliveries recorded.
A notable change observed in the design was in the turret’s shape, particularly the roof. The former design showcased an indentation specific for the gun, but this was later broadened to span the turret’s entire width.
This modification allowed the fighting compartment to be marginally expanded. Beginning from turret #11, these alterations became standard. Additionally, the gun mantlet underwent some changes, with the modified versions of the turrets being available by July of 1942.
Parallelly, the production of the second tank, termed Pz.Kpfw.VI(P1), was finalized in early June of 1942. This model bore certain distinctions from its predecessor. Notably, the initial overhanging fenders were swapped for individual front and rear ones.
To accommodate a heavier weight, nearly 60 tons, the width of the track links was extended to 600 mm.
This tank was also equipped with a storage box taken from the Panzer IV and was comprehensively fitted with instruments, mainly situated along its sides and on the rear fenders.
Heavy Tank of Ferdinand Porsche Facing Engine Issues During Trials
In Kummersdorf, a tank underwent rigorous testing where it unfortunately encountered familiar challenges related to its engine and cooling system.
Despite being previously identified, these issues persisted. By June 1942, a production engine was assessed, which initially exhibited a promising output of 311 hp.
As the evaluations progressed, complications arose. Karl Rabe, a close associate of Ferdinand Porsche, pinpointed the primary culprit behind the malfunctions. A combination of an inadequate cooling surface and oil bubbling – the oil serving as the coolant – led to the distributor shaft overheating.
Consequently, the engine’s performance deteriorated, resulting in its failure after just 50 hours of operation.
Adjustments to Vehicle Designs, Typ 101, Typ 102 and Typ 103
In a recent update, a modernization proposal was put forth to address a certain issue. A pivotal part of this proposal was the introduction of the Typ 101/2 engine, which was equipped with two extra fans over the generator.
While it retained similar dimensions to the earlier Typ 101 engine, there was a need to slightly enlarge the engine compartment to accommodate this newer version.
The contractual details underwent adjustments on July 23rd. The revised plan outlined the production of 30 vehicles of the Typ 101 variant, an additional 10 vehicles under the Typ 102 designation, and 60 tanks with the Typ 101/2 engine which would subsequently be named Typ 103.
An interesting point to note is that despite these modifications, they were not vastly different from the original designs. As such, the vehicles still held onto the Sonderfahrzeug II EA factory designation.
On April 20th, the Nazi leadership settled on the Pz.Kpfw.VI(H1) as their primary tank choice, sidelining another vehicle which faced challenges during its development.
While Porsche’s tank encountered issues typical of new tanks, particularly those manufactured without an initial prototype, its electric transmission was effective and didn’t share the same problems as the transmission in the Henschel tank.
It’s essential to note that the Henschel tank production wasn’t without its challenges either. Deliveries began in August of 1942, with a total of 8 units being dispatched. In the same month, Nibelungenwerk managed to complete four tanks.
Production in September saw the completion of 3 and 4 tanks, respectively. By August 15th, 1942, Porsche’s tank was designated Pz.Kpfw.VI P and given the index Sd.Kfz.181. Interestingly, this index was also allocated to the Pz.Kpfw.VI H, indicating that both tank models were formally recognized for service.
During a pivotal time in 1942, Henschel’s Tiger was evidently prioritized, having been conceived under the watchful eye of the 6th Department of the Armament Directorate. The involvement of Heinrich Kniepkamp was also evident.
By April of that year, even prior to a public demonstration, Henschel had been entrusted with a contract for 200 tanks, with an additional 124 added to their roster by August.
A notable event from this period includes the unfortunate passing of Fritz Todt on February 8th, 1942, a plane crash being the cause.
Todt was known for supporting Porsche and the Tank Commission. Despite this setback, the Armament Directorate displayed patience.
By the end of the process, five of the finished Pz.Kpfw.VI P units were dispatched to Döllersheim, finding their roles with the 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion.
This detail suggests that the tanks designed by Porsche maintained their status as a considered choice into the latter part of 1942.
Modifications and Progression in Pz.Kpfw.VI P Tank Production
The Pz.Kpfw.VI P underwent notable design changes starting with its sixth iteration.
Trials indicated shortcomings with trimmed fenders, leading to the reintroduction of expanded fenders that spanned the entire length of the tank. The tank’s design wasn’t the only aspect to undergo improvements.
Engine reliability saw enhancement, although some challenges persisted. It’s noteworthy that the Typ 103 was slated for production, featuring a superior cooling system. Additionally, the Typ 130, equipped with liquid cooling, stood as a backup option.
Between April and September, a total of 9 tanks were manufactured, with nearly half (4) serving as test chassis to evaluate diverse components. By October of 1942, the production of the final tenth tank was wrapped up. Unique in its construction, this vehicle was designated as a commander’s tank, bearing the serial number 150013.
Choosing the Heavy Tank for Battle: Panzerjäger Ferdinand
In October of 1942, the German Armament Directorate faced a challenging decision between two competing tanks: the Pz.Kpfw.VI P and the Pz.Kpfw.VI H.
Despite their similarities in armament and armor, each possessed unique advantages and shortcomings. To make an informed choice, comparative trials were initiated.
However, the suspension of the Pz.Kpfw.VI P production on October 14th hinted at underlying intentions. By November, two units of each tank model were put to the test in Bad Berka, with Porsche’s tanks showcasing superior obstacle navigation abilities.
Yet, the trials increasingly appeared as a mere formality, preluding the predetermined curtailment of the Pz.Kpfw.VI P’s production run. Ultimately, the 91 existing chassis were repurposed for the creation of the 8.8 cm StuK 43 Sfl L/71 Panzerjäger Tiger P, famously known as the Ferdinand.
Concurrently, the Pz.Kpfw.VI H — renamed to Pz.Kpfw. Tiger Ausf.E by December — saw an uptick in production, with Henschel delivering an increasing number of units. In the realm of wartime manufacturing, the command’s resolution was firm, prioritizing one model over the other to streamline the efficiency of tank production amidst the ongoing conflict.
The following year, in 1943, it was put to different testing sessions. By the onset of 1944, it was taken back to Nibelungenwerk for modifications. Alterations included replacing the original Typ 101 engines with two Maybach HL 120 TRM engines.
Additionally, the front hull armor saw an upgrade, being increased to 200 mm.
Moreover, the tank was given a protective Zimmerit coating.
The Brief Battle Life of a Rare Tiger P Tank: The Story of the Pz.Bef.Wg.VI (P)
The Lost Titan of the Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive – among the armored giants of World War II, the 653rd Tank Destroyer Battalion stood out with its inclusion of a converted Tiger P tank, the Pz.Bef.Wg.VI (P), in service as a command tank. This specialized vehicle joined the ranks on the battlefield alongside the formidable Elefant tank destroyers. Within this unit, the Pz.Bef.Wg.VI Tiger P shared its foundation with three other machines, the Bergepanzer VI ARV, designed for recovery operations.
Tragically, the records of their involvement in the Lvov-Sandomierz offensive, which commenced on July 13th, have vanished into the fog of war. The absence of documentation leaves historians piecing together the last days of these war machines.
Noted within the battalion’s roster on July 18th, the Pz.Bef.Wg.VI (P), along with two of the Bergepanzer VIs, slipped from record by July 22nd, presumably claimed by the overwhelming force of the Soviet advance.
This narrative not only charts the historical path of these combat vehicles but also mirrors the fate of countless other military assets lost in similar offensives, their stories untold and submerged beneath the tides of warfare.
The Ferdinand Porsche Tiger P’s True Tale
In a bid to correct historical inaccuracies, recent findings shed light on the Porsche Tiger P’s narrative, which has been somewhat distorted over time.
Contrary to what has been often recounted, the Porsche Tiger P was not plagued by a complex and unreliable transmission.
Additionally, it’s now clear that the production line did not see 100 chassis completed before the plug was pulled on the project. Furthermore, the perceived outright triumph of Henschel’s Tiger over Porsche’s version is also not accurate.
Records indicate that the process was marred by urgency and was not devoid of underhanded competition. It is essential to note that the history of military technology is nuanced and requires a careful examination of facts.
This revised account aims to present a detailed and neutral examination of the events, providing clarity on the advancements and specifics surrounding the Porsche Tiger P without oversimplification.
Tiger P, also known as Tiger (P) or Tiger Porsche, was a heavy tank produced by Germany during World War II. It was a prototype design developed by Porsche and was intended to be a rival to Henschel’s Tiger II tank.
2. What was the role of Tiger P?
Tiger P was designed to be a heavy tank and served as a tank destroyer on the Eastern Front. Its primary role was to engage and destroy enemy tanks and fortifications.
3. Who designed the Tiger P?
The Tiger P was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and his company. Porsche’s design featured a unique chassis, engine arrangement, and other innovative features.
4. When was the Tiger P produced?
The Tiger P prototype was introduced in 1942, but it did not reach full production until 1944. Only a small number of Tiger P tanks were manufactured due to its complex design and various issues.
5. What kind of engine did the Tiger P have?
The Tiger P was powered by two gasoline engines, which were used to generate electricity. This electricity was then used to drive two electric motors, providing propulsion to the tank.
6. What were the main features of the Tiger P?
The Tiger P had a heavily armored hull and turret, equipped with an 8.8 cm KwK 36 main gun. It also had additional armament, such as a machine gun, and featured a unique hull design and suspension system.
7. How effective was the Tiger P in combat?
The Tiger P was known for its powerful armament and thick armor, making it highly effective against enemy tanks. However, its complex design and mechanical issues often caused reliability problems in the field.
8. What were the differences between Tiger P and the Tiger II tank?
The Tiger P and Tiger II tanks were two separate designs developed by different companies. The Tiger P featured Porsche’s design elements, while the Tiger II, also known as the King Tiger or Tiger B, was designed by Henschel.
9. Were there any notable variants or modifications of the Tiger P?
One notable variant of the Tiger P was the “Ferdinand” tank destroyer, also known as the Elefant tank. It featured a modified superstructure and saw service during the Battle of Kursk