Friday, January 23, 2009

Tiger I Tank by Targa

Having previewed the assembled Tiger I tank in the previous post, this post will give an account of the excellent details of this 1/48 scale Tiger I tank model produced by Targa. The seven boxes the parts came in each had a well illustrated sheet of instructions as well as information about the tank and its parts. Unfortunately, it's all in Japanese and I couldn't understand what it was trying to say. Still, it was beautifully illustrated.

Production of the Tiger I began in August 1942, and 1,355 were built by August 1944 when production ceased. A major problem with the Tiger was its very high production cost. During the Second World War, over 40,000 American Sherman and 58,000 Soviet T-34s were produced, compared to 1,355 Tiger I and 478 Tiger II tanks.

The Tiger's armour and firepower were feared by all its opponents. Tigers had a bigger psychological effect on opposing crews, causing "Tiger phobia". Allied tankers would sometimes evade rather than confront a Tiger. An accepted Allied tactic was to engage the Tiger as a group, one attracting the attention of the Tiger crew while the others attacked the sides or rear of the vehicle. Since the ammunition and fuel were stored in the sponsons, a side penetration often resulted in a kill. This was a risky tactic and often resulted in the loss of several Allied vehicles. It took a great deal of tactical skill to eliminate a Tiger. [source: wiki]

Now on with the show (more like show-and-tell). First, top view of the Tiger I tank.

The internal layout was typical of German tanks. Forward was an open crew compartment, with the driver and radio-operator seated at the front, either side of the gearbox. Behind them the turret floor was surrounded by panels forming a continuous level surface. This helped the loader to retrieve the ammunition, which was mostly stowed above the tracks. Two men were seated in the turret; the gunner to the left of the gun, and the commander behind him. There was also a folding seat for the loader. The turret had a full circular floor and 157 cm headroom.

Removing the entire portion of the turret (not just the hatches and Commander's cupola) revealed three of the five-man tank crew. There are even German words/descriptions on the inner side of the turret.

A view of the circular floor of the Tiger I turret. The gun breech and firing mechanism were derived from the famous German "88" dual purpose flak gun. The 88 mm Kwk 36 L/56 gun was the variant chosen for the Tiger and was, along with the Tiger II's 88 mm Kwk 43 L/71, one of the most effective and feared tank guns of World War II.

Removing the turret allows you to access the body of the tank. You can make out the drive shaft as well as the ammunition/shells for the main gun.

The rear of the tank held an engine room flanked by two floodable rear compartments each containing a fuel tank, radiator, and fans. The petrol (gasoline) engine was a 21-litre 12-cylinder Maybach HL 210 P45 with 650 PS (641 hp, 478 kW). Here's the tank's rear and exhausts.

Removing the rear deck reveals the tank's petrol engine

A view of the break-apart Tiger I tank

A view of the two fuel tanks located on either side of the engine.

The driver and radio-operator seated at the front, either side of the gearbox. Personally I never liked to be inside a tank because of the cramped area. You had a very limited space to move and it felt very claustrophobic.

From this picture, you can see the driver's cramped space and view

The 88 mm gun's ammunition included armour-piercing shells which could penetrate 153 mm (6 inch) of armour plate at a distance of 2,000 m (1.24 miles)

The 725 mm wide manganese steel tracks allowed the tank to cope with a wide variety of ground conditions. However, the tank was too heavy for most bridges, so it was designed to ford four-meter deep water. This required unusual mechanisms for ventilation and cooling when underwater. At least 30 minutes of setup was required, with the turret and gun being locked in the forward position, and a large snorkel tube raised at the rear.

Tiger I tank's engine. The engine was in V-form, with two cylinder banks at 60 degrees. An inertial starter was mounted on its right side, driven via chain gears through a port in the rear wall. The engine could be lifted out through a hatch on the hull roof.

The driver's steering wheel and gear box. The steering system was easy to use and ahead of its time.

The five-man tank crew consisting of (clockwise) loader, Commander, gunner, driver and radio operator.

The Tank Commander deep in thought, wondering what he's gonna do without his tank.

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, we can put it all together again :)

And here's a cut-away schematic of the Tiger Tank

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