Tuesday 25 February 2020

Tiger Killers

"Combat against T-VI "Tiger" tanks
Conclusions from combat experience gained during the defensive operations of the Central and Voronezh Fronts between July 5th and 10th, 1943

Initial data about experience in combat against T-VI "Tiger" tanks boils down to the following:
  1. Organization: POW interrogations (on the Central Front) showed that the T-VI is used in independent tank 4-company battalions, 10-12 tanks per company, subordinate to supreme command..Early claims about the T-VI allegedly being used organically in every division and that one tank division (2nd TD) was entirely rearmed with Tigers are unlikely.
  2. Tactics: according to data from the Voronezh Front, the T-VI is used to escort infantry and does not move further than 150-200 meters away from it. On the Central Front these tanks were used in tank unit attacks.
    Attack method: after an artillery or bomb barrage the tanks attack. Medium tanks come first, the T-VI come after them carrying tank riders. As soon as medium tanks came under heavy fire, the T-VI moved up and made a way for the medium tanks using their thick armour and long range 88 mm gun.
    Experience showed that large scale losses in battle forces the Germans to be careful. 150-200 meters away from our guns the tanks stop and the riders dismount to attack our anti-tank guns and their crews.
  3. Experience in fighting the T-VI: Experience gained during July 5th-10th, 1943, shows that the T-VI can be disabled not just with cannons, but also with anti-tank rifles. An instance was recorded where an anti-tank rifle crew allowed a T-VI to pass by them and set it on fire with a shot to the rear at 20 meters.
    Both Fronts report that the T-VI can be defeated by a 45 mm gun with a subcaliber round from 500-600 meters. Taking advantage of the T-VI's slow speed (5-6 kph) a 45 mm gun can change positions and attack from a favourable position to fire at the side or rear of the tank. Firing the 45 mm gun at the front armour was ineffective.
    The 3rd Tank Destroyer Brigade (Central Front) armed with 76 mm guns destroyed 19 T-VI tanks in one battle form 800 to 1200 meters. In many cases the T-VI caught fire on the first hit. The large size and slow speed mean that the first shot hits every time. There is reason to believe that the front armour can be penetrated from 1000 to 1200 meters by the subcaliber round (the subcaliber round penetrated the side and rear from 600 meters).
  4. The T-VI against our artillery: the tanks attack 45 mm guns eagerly, they attack 76 mm guns cautiously. Cases where the tanks stop during the attack and try to shoot at the gun and only then crush it with its tracks are frequent. The tanks usually retreat directly backwards, covering with their thick armour.
  1. When building anti-tank defenses, aim to combine 45 and 76 mm guns in one defensive sector (pages 135 and 150 of the field manual part 2: battalion). 
  2. Keep infantry in the ranks of anti-tank guns to combat enemy infantry.
  3. Teach 45 mm gun crews to quickly maneuver and take favourable flanking positions against attacking T-VI tanks to successfully shoot them from flanks and rear.
  4. Anti-tank rifles are effective against the T-VI rear armour from short range and can set the tank on fire.
  5. When the tanks attack together with the T-IV, the 45 mm guns should focus fire on the T-IV and aim at the T-VI only in favourable conditions. The 76 mm guns should fire on the T-VI first and fire at the T-IV only in self defense.
Representative of the Chief of Staff of Artillery of the Western Front, Major General of Artillery, Barsukov"


  1. Very interesting Peter, can you confirm this sentence:

    "There is reason to believe that the front armour can be penetrated from 1000 to 1200 meters by the subcaliber round (the subcaliber round penetrated the side and rear from 600 meters)."

    Shouldn't it be the opposite way? 600 meters from the front and 1000-1200 meters from the sides... it is a bit strange.

    1. Yeah, It's more like 400m from the front and 750m from he sides.

    2. Indeed that's what it says! The opposite does seem more reasonable.

    3. i would bet my hat, these were not actually Tigers, but Panzer IVH with Shurzen... for Soviet or Allied gunners, every german tank was Tiger...

  2. One dreads to think how those 'POW Interrogations' were carried out. That's an awful lot more than just name, rank and number.

  3. The anti-tank rifle team claiming they set the T-VI on fire from the rear is rather curious. A case of misidentifying a smaller tank as a T-VI as often happened in the West?