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    German Engineering Marvels Or Costly War Behemoths: The Tiger Tanks At The Bulge In 1944

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    When the Allied forces landed in France in June 1944, marking a significant phase of the European Theatre during World War II, they encountered the formidable German Tiger tanks.

    Weighing a massive 56 tonnes and armed with the formidable 88mm main gun, the Tiger dominated all allied tanks in the period 1942 to 1944. Its main weakness was its Maybach engine which was underpowered when compared to the size of the vehicle.

    First fielded in 1942, the Tiger was meant to forge breakthroughs on the battlefield, destroying enemy tanks at long range.

    Airborne forces were initially equipped with the Projector Infantry Anti Tank (PIAT) to deal with German tanks, but with a range of only 90m and unable to penetrate the frontal armor of a Tiger the operator had to be calm and well concealed to be effective. Later the 6-pounder, and much improved 17-pounder Anti-Tank guns became available and were transported in Horsa gliders. These provided Airborne Forces with the ability to strike back at enemy tanks, with the 17pdr being able to knock out the Tiger at 1,000m.

    From a cost perspective, the Tiger was even more problematic. The resources required for a single Tiger could have been allocated to produce many more medium tanks or tank destroyers. For instance, a single Tiger used enough steel to build 21 105-millimeter howitzers.

    In terms of combat kills the Tiger tanks appeared to have a high kill ratio, “Tiger tanks killed 11.52 tanks for every one of their own destroyed in battle.” However, this impressive statistic becomes less remarkable when non-combat losses are factored in, reducing the kill ratio to 5.25 enemy tanks for every lost Tiger.

    Despite these challenges, the Tiger tank battalions were taken very seriously by the Allies. Their movements were closely monitored, and combined arms tactics were developed to counter their threat.

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