Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B
Construction and Development
Peko Publishing of Hungary is best known for their well received World War II Photobook series, this volume on the biggest of Germany’s famed big cat tanks is something a little bit different for them. The difference being that this volume’s title including the phrase “construction and development” clearly indicates that the focus of this work is not largely “in the field” or in-action photographs.
The subject of this book, the Tiger Ausf. B, also known more commonly as the Tiger II, King Tiger or the Royal Tiger by our British friends, is still one of the most popular AFV subjects of the Second World War, enjoying great popularity in print and in styrene.
Format - hardcover, portrait format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 234 pages
Size - 8.5" x 12.0”
Photos - Black and White, mostly period photos
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - many technical information tables, some drawings and diagrams
All text and photo captions are in English, original German documents reproduced in the book are of course in German.
NOTE: you’ll notice what appear to be scuffs, stains and scars on the cover and pages of this book. These are not due to damage to the book, or printing mishaps. It appears that the publishers desired some sort of used or “in the workshop” appearance for this book.
What’s in the Book?
As can be seen by the above table of contents, this volume is laid out in a quite simple manner, using just 5 chapters, making it easy to find whatever your specific interest in this iconic tank may be.
A General Note on the Content; this volume isn’t about the famed Tiger Aces, the units fielding the Tiger Ausf. B, accounts of the tank’s use in battle, or even a description of paint and marking schemes. It’s strictly about the construction and development of the Tiger Ausf. B.
Chapter 1 gives the reader an overview of the origins of the King Tiger, beginning with the early calls for more firepower way back in May of 1941, with Krupp receiving orders to develop a turret armed with an 88mm L/56 main gun. Later on, other armament was considered and attempts were made to develop a turret mounting the more powerful Flak 41 gun with its L/71 barrel. Most of this opening chapter is devoted to describing the interactions between the competing firms of Henschel & Sohn, Porsche, and Krupp to design what ultimately became the Tiger Ausf. B, or King Tiger. After quite a bit of “design dueling”, estimated design drawings were produced by the end of 1942 of what was clearly recognizable as the King Tiger, and by October of 1943, the very first pre-production Model was completed.
This chapter provides the reader with quite a few very interesting period plans and drawings of the proposed Designs as they evolved, as well as providing information on the evolution of these designs.
Chapter 2 takes the reader inside some of the many factories scattered throughout the German Reich and occupied lands that produced the various parts and sub-assemblies that made up the King Tiger. Manufacturers of the major components alone total 25 different factories located from Pilsen Czechoslovakia to Stuttgart and many points in between. There are some nice factory plans provided in this chapter, as well as some tables showing production dates and numbers for turret assemblies and hulls as well.
The volume is laid out well, with clear text and short, readable photo captions
Some of the wartime factory photos are a bit grainy, but far preferable to no photo at all
above - a rather poor but still wonderful image of a King Tiger production line
Chapter 3 is one of the lengthier chapters in this volume, giving detailed descriptions of all major components of the Tiger Ausf. B. The hull, transmission, engine with all associated equipment, steering gear, brakes, instrument panels, radio gear, ammunition storage, armament, and much more is described in detail. Period drawings ( and in some cases, period photos ) are provided.
Many of the photos in this book are from wartime evaluations, Russian, British and American sources
Accompanying the text and photos are a great many detailed factory drawings and plans.
Above - nice images of the radio gear
Above - a nice drawing of the engine cooling system
Chapter 4 addresses the changes made to the King Tiger during it’s production run. Some of these changes came about from the engineers figuring out a better or simply more efficient means to build the tank, others came from the harsh reality of combat and trial by fire.
Above - there are some good wartime “in the field” images in the book.
Above - there are two full color images of a camouflage paint scheme, the only color in the book.
Above - there are several very nice multi-aspect line drawings of the King Tiger from differing production runs of the tank.
Chapter 5 “Field Trials” is NOT about German trials of the new tank, but is a recounting of Soviet, British and American investigation of this fearsome new German weapon. Obviously this new tank was the subject of tremendous interest from the moment it was first encountered on the battlefield, first by the Soviets, and then later the British and Americans. As early as May of 1944 there was correspondence between the Soviets and the British regarding this new tank. Information concerning this tank and it’s strengths and weaknesses was highly sought after, and testing of these new Tiger tanks was frequently performed immediately when first examples were captured on the battlefields in Russia and Northern France.
Among other things, armor effectiveness versus various Allied forces weaponry was determined by extensive and well documented live fire testing in the field.
This chapter gives very detailed information on the performance of the King Tiger armor vs. several Allied weapons.
Above - the tables provided are very clear and easy to understand
There are very few “text only” two page spreads, there’s usually some nice eye-candy to go with the text.
The author utilized Russian, German, British and American archives to gather the material presented in this volume, and has done a good job of presenting this material in a coherent, logical manner.
As noted above, some of the images are a bit less than perfect, but the sources of these photographs are entirely appropriate for this book, and are likely the absolute best to be found. The text is remarkably readable, despite some of the more technical material being inherently a bit dry.
The drawings, plans and charts are consistently interesting, and add a good bit of interest to this volume. I must confess to being a bit confused about the decision to present this book as a bit stained and scuffed up, but I suppose that is an “artsy” call made by the publisher, and certainly does not detract from the great content in this book.
Something that I found of great value and interest in this book was that the various design and production changes in this Tank were not simply listed, the REASONS for the changes were clearly outlined, often directly quoting the findings of the original German evaluators. This is interesting reading.
I believe this book to be a terrific value and of great interest to anyone with interest in Germany’s famed biggest cat of them all, the Tiger Ausf. B.
Highly Recommended! ( A “Must Have” for King Tiger fans )
Thanks to Peko Publishing for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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