Tiger (P) /VK 45.01 (P)/ Typ 101

The Tiger (P)/ VK 45.01(P)/ Typ 101 was Porsche's design for the Panzer VI Tiger, but the drive train and suspension were unreliable, and the project was abandoned with only ten at most completed as gun tanks. The turret developed for the Tiger (P) was later used on the Henschel VK 45.01 (H), which became the Tiger I, while 90 spare chassis were used as the basis for the Ferdinand tank destroyer.

Development

Porsche began work on the VK 30.01(P)/ Typ 100/ Leopard late in 1939. This was their first tank, and introduced the petrol-electric transmission used on the Tiger (P), with two Porsche engines powering generators that drove electric motors. The VK 30.01(P) would have been armed with a 8.8cm gun carried in a Krupp designed turret, and had the same basic layout as the later Tiger (P).

On 26 May 1941 Hitler held a meeting on tank design at which several key decisions relating to the Tiger were made. Three affected the Porsche design - the frontal armour was to be thickened to 100mm, the 8.8cm gun was to be retained but its armour penetration ability improved, and six were to be ready by the summer of 1942.

Work on the new design was underway by July at the latest. The Typ 101 or VK 45.01(P) was a slightly enlarged and modified version of the Typ 100. The original 10 litre engines were replaced with an enlarged 15 litre version. The general arrangement drawings went to the engine manufacturer Simmering at the start of September 1941.

One major change was that the electric motors and drive sprockets were moved from the front of the tank to the rear, and the turret moved forward to compensate for the extra weight at the rear.

In July 1941 Krupp received a contract to provide 100 armoured hulls for the VK 45.01(P) and a separate contract for 100 turrets. These were to delivered to the Nibelungenwerk, where the armour and turret was to added to the chassis to produce complete tanks. The first ten were to be delivered by May 1942.
 
Simmering produced the first Typ 101 engine by December 1941, but this engine failed almost immediately. A second, modified, engine, was ready by 9 March 1942 and performed better in tests. The third engine arrived two days later, giving the two needed for the first tank. These engines went to Nibelungenwerk on 10 April, and were installed in the tank that was displayed in front of Hitler on his birthday a few days later.

Tiger (P) production never reached its un-ambitious targets. Krupp began to deliver the armoured hulls in December 1941, and by July 1942 had dispatched 64 (some of these were for the hydraulic powered Typ 102). The first two turrets were completed in April 1942, followed by eight in May, two in July, one in August and one in October, for a total of only 15. Only ten were actually completed at the Nibelungenwerk - the first in April 1942, the second in June, third to sixth in August, seventh to ninth in September and tenth in October. The original target had been to complete 91 by the end of November. In August assembly of the complete tanks was being delayed by the need to make changes to the engine and suspension. In October it was a lack of engine and suspension parts that caused the delay.

The Tiger (P) suffered from a number of problems that proved to be very difficult to fix. The Typ 101 engine had a very short lifespan, with performance beginning to fall after only 50 hours. The drive train was also prone to overheating. A second Tiger (P) was sent for tests in June 1942, and this time the engine only lasted 100km.

An impressively large number of changes were made to the design of the Tiger (P) in an attempt to fix the problems. These eventually resulted in a change of designation to the Typ 103, which had a redesigned rear deck and twin blowers added to the front of the engines in an attempt to solve the overheating problems.

On 14 October 1942 Krupp were told to shut down production of the Tiger (P) until further notice. The Tiger (P) took part in driving trials on 8-14 November 1942, and the results can't have been impressive, as on 22 November 1942 production of the Tiger (P) was cancelled. Ninety of the hulls were to be completed as Sturmgeschutz, armed with the long 8.8cm gun.

By the time the Tiger (P) was cancelled plans were already in place to deploy forty to North Africa, where the air cooled engines were expected to be an advantage. Both of the units involved were later given the Tiger I.

Very little went to waste from the Tiger (P) production. Most famously the last ninety of the turrets were installed on ninety of the Tiger I designed by Henschel (the first ten used a slightly different design with a lower roof).

Of the 100 hulls, 91 were completed as the Panzerjäger 'Tiger P' Ferdinand, which carried a longer 88mm gun.

Three were completed as recovery vehicles - the Bergepanzer VI or Bergepanzer Tiger (P).

Three were used as the basis of the Ramm-Tiger, an odd idea for a vehicle capable of destroying buildings by ramming them. Just how much progress was made on this scheme is unclear.

One was completed as a Typ 102, using a hydraulic drive train.

Two were completed as Tiger (P)s. Of these one was converted into a command tank. It was used for a series of trials before early in 1944 it was given Maybach engines and then sent to the Eastern Front, where it served with schwere Heeres Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 653. The tank entered combat in April and was lost in combat in July 1944, making it the only Tiger (P) to actually see combat as a tank.  

Layout

The Porsche Tiger was a rather boxy tank, with flat sides, an almost flat front and flat rear plate. The superstructure extended over the top of the tracks. At the front these extensions were part of the fighting compartment. At the rear they were used to carry cooling fans. The interior was split into two parts - the fighting compartment in the front and the engine compartment at the rear. The front of the superstructure was fairly flat, and contained the driver's view port and gunner's machine gun position. The frontal armour was 100mm thick, and the side and rear armour 80mm.

The tank was carried on six pairs of steel road wheels with steel tyres and rubber cushions (replacing the rubber tires used in the Typ 100). The pairs of wheels were carried in pairs on three bogies. The bogie was attached to the side of the hull, and one pair of wheels was carried at the long end of a rocker bar. A longitudinally mounted torsion bar connected this wheel to the second pair of wheels. This system was used in order to save space within the hull. The suspension proved to be one of the weaknesses in the design - the torsion bar was mounted below the wheel axles, and the system could easily get clogged with mud. The Typ 101 had no return rollers - the superstructure extensions meant there was no space - so the tracks returned along the top of the road wheels. The rear drive sprocket and front idler thus look rather higher than they really were. From the side the Typ 101 suspension was quite distinctive, with the three sets of road wheels separated by small gaps.

The Tiger (P) was powered by two Porsche Typ 101 15 litre V-10 engines, capable of producing 310 metric hp at 2,500rpm. These were mounted side by side at the centre of the engine compartment. These drove a pair of 275kw Siemens-Schuckert model aGV 275/24 generators, again mounted side by side in the front part of the engine compartment. The generators sent their power to a pair of Siemens-Schuckert model D1495a electric motors, mounted at the rear of the engine compartment, where they were connected to the drive wheels.

The main part of the engine compartment was the height of the hull and superstructure. Cooling was provided by two fans, carried in the panniers to the side of the engine compartment

The turret was designed by Krupp for the Typ 100, and modified with heavier armour for the Typ 101. It had a horseshoe shape, with the sides and rear made from a single armoured plate that was bent into shape. The front was closed by two sheets of 100mm armour plate, one at the top and one at the bottom, leaving a gap between them for the gun. The gap was protected by the cast gun mantlet. The turret walls were 80mm thick, the roof 25mm. The command had a cupola with all-round vision blocks. The gunner was sat on the left, with a binocular sighting telescope with 2.5x magnification and a vision block. The loader had a vision block and a pistol port to his right rear. The only access to the tank was via the turret - there was one hatch in the cupola and one over the loader.

The turret position is sometimes said to have made the Tiger (P) front-heavy, but this wasn't the case. The extra weight of the electric motors, which had been moved from the front of the Typ 100 to the rear of the Typ 101, provided a counterweight for the turret. If the turret had been in a more central position, then the tank would have been rather tail-heavy when the gun was facing to the rear.

Names
Panzerkampfwagen VI P (Sd Kfz 181)
Porsche Typ 101
VK 45.01 (P)
Tiger (P)

Stats
Production: 10
Length: 9.54m (with gun)
Hull Length: 6.60m
Hull Width: 3.38m
Height: 2.9m
Crew: 5 (Commander, Gunner, Loader, Driver, Radio Operator)
Weight: 57 tons
Engine: Two 310hp Porsche Typ 101/3 10-cylinder petrol engines
Max Speed: 35 km/ hr
Max Range: 105km road, 48km cross country
Armament: One 8.8cm KwK36 L/56, two 7.92mm MG34s
Armour:

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

100mm

80mm

80mm

25,mm

Superstructure

100mm

80mm

 

20mm

Hull

100mm

60mm

80mm

20mm

Gun mantlet

100mm

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 August 2017), Tiger (P) /VK 45.01 (P)/ Typ 101 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_tiger_P.html

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