Fall 1942. What if Tiger I placed into large scale production?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by davebender, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Production cost of Sherman Tank.
    $70,000. Federal Machine. Total production of 540 vehicles.
    $67,000. Initial price for large scale production @ GM.
    $34,000. Late war price for large scale production @ Chrysler.
    .....Price drops about 50% with large scale production. More or less typical when compared to other weapon programs.

    Tiger I production.
    78. 1942.
    649. 1943.
    623. 1944.
    .....Tiger I tank never entered large scale production.
    .....RM250,000 is price most often quoted for Tiger I.

    55 ton Tiger I entered production during 1942. Germany had only a single large scale tank plant at the time. Nibelungenwerk was designed to produce 360 armored vehicles per month up to 70 tons in size.

    What if 1942 Germany tooled their only large scale tank plant to produce Tiger Is rather then Panzer IV? 1943 production of Tiger I would be over 3,000 vehicles rather then the historical 649. Production cost per vehicle should drop to about RM130,000 if Tiger I follows normal production cost curve.

    Much as I love the Panther tank, it wouldn't be needed in this scenario. Instead Germany just needs to build a second tank factory for mass production of 24 ton Panzer IVH. This second factory should not be as expensive to build and operate if materials handling equipment is limited to vehicles up to 35 tons in size.
     
  2. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    What are you smoking?
    Nibelungenwerk was able to produce 186 Pz IV in 42 + 1381 of them in 43. Even without the Ferdinands there was not even the smallest chance of churning out even 1000 Tiger in 43.

    BTW Henschel+Wegmann production was 76-647-629 from 8/42 to 8/44. In the first 5 months 1944 they were able to churn out ~100 Tiger per month while also slowly starting the Tiger II. 250k RM was the price of the basic Tiger I without Weapons, radio, optics and other stuff, price as of 2/43.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's good to know.

    PzKpfw VI TIGER I
    Germany produced 114 Tiger I through the end of January 1943. Production rate had not even reached 40 tanks per month. So RM 250,000 is obviously a price for vehicles which were not in large scale production. Rather like the 540 Sherman tanks produced by Federal Machine Corporation which cost twice as much as Sherman tanks in mass production at Detroit Tank Arsenal.
     
  4. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Dave
    the problem was that Tiger was designed as a heavy tank, read a limited production vehicle, so in it there were technical solutions which suited to a limited production vehicle but not for a MBT, e.g. its final drive solution, the same system would have solved Panther's final drive problems but Germany didn't have enough suitable machine tools to produce enough of them for a MBT only a much more limited scale as for Tiger. If one had wanted significantly more Tigers he would have had to redesign it.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Most of what I've read about Tiger I design suggests it was rather simple.

    Hull was essentially just square Panzer III / Panzer IV hull scaled up so it should have been less expensive then the high tech Panther hull with angled sides.

    Chassis was little different from Panther chassis. Superior final drive assembly might cost a bit more but that's hardly a deal breaker.

    Armor was best in the world at that time. IMO that's the one area which must change for mass production. Tiger I armor quality would become similar to Panzer III / Panzer IV / Panther. That's not a deal breaker as "normal" German tank armor was still pretty good.

    Prior to mid 1944 the Allies had hardly any weapon which could kill a Tiger I. Considering how effective the tank was I think it would be a bargain even if Nibelungenwerk produced only half as many Tiger I as Panzer IV.
     
  6. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Why would anyone want to? I don't think the Tiger I fit into what was needed. Taking a page from the Allies production, wouldn't it be more effective to just build the Mk Iv/StuG and leave the Tiger to die on paper? It was numbers that won the war, not quality.
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Dave
    as I wrote Germany didn't have enough machine tools to produce many more final drives which used epicyclic gearing or planetary gearing, used in Tiger. That was why they didn't use this type of final drive in Panther as originally intended and pay the price what followed from using second best option in Panthers. Read Walther Spielberger's books. Nothing to do with hull, chassis or armour.

    Juha
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Reducing numbers by adopting an expensive, difficult to produce type like the Tiger wasa counterproductive to german needs. Guderian considered the MkIV to be the mainstay of German Panzer forces. Rommel favoured a complete abandonment of turretted tanks in favour of ATG production, both towed and SPG varieties. An 88mm gun, with gun carriage and prime mover included cost about RM 12.5K. A Stug III cost about RM48K from memory. These cannot be comapared in any way to foreign manufacture because of the artificial pegging undertaken by all command economies (Russians, who are in the same boat, claim the T-34 cost just $12K USD to produce).

    Tiger used the most advanced optics, gun, drive systems, engines and comms. That produced a technically excellent tank, that was also a total bomb because of its cost blowouts. In 1942 the everage unit cost of a tiger was RM750K per copy. Speer thought them a total waste of money, and he was complety right. Guderian knew they were at best a distraction, and never treally supported them. Rommel had tried to apply qualioty over quantioity in NA and lost. All these men knew the Tiger philosophy was a total loser for the Germans. They needed cheap, easy to produce, mass produced weapons in the last three years of the war, not profligate extravagances like the Tiger.
     
  9. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    Don't forget the explosion of logistics and supply (spare parts and all sorts of liquids, especially fuel) for the Tiger I.
    Also the possibility to recover a damaged or immobil tank. The Tiger I was simply overstrain the Wehrmacht from logistics, servicing and supply!
    This overstaining would be much more worse at any longer offensive mission.
    Keep in mind that the Tiger I came to the battlefield as the Wehrmacht was mainly at the defensive role.

    As a single tank at the battlefield it was formidable, with all other aspects like production, numbers of production, logistics and supply it was nothing then a waste of time, material, a lot of money and development time.
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Don
    I agree all you wrote but still IMHO Tiger was acceptable as an heavy tank. It was a special weapon, not a standard one and made a big psychological impact to its enemies and was effective tank in 43 - the first half of 44. IMHO the bigger mistake for Germans was Panther, a jump from 25tons MTB to 45tons was too big to logistics and supply and recovery. And its powertrain and suspension were too weak at first, just when Germany would have needed reliable MTB, when Germans got its flaws but the final drive corrected it was already too late. 30-35tons MTB would have been a correct answer and that was what Germans at first tried to get.

    Juha
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree and I think 1942 Heer would agree.

    Germany had several heavy tank design studies from 1937 onward. As of 1941 none had been funded to completion which gives a pretty good idea as to where they stood on the Heer priority list. And then politics intervened.

    Fall 1941.
    Chancellor Hitler demands that heavy tank design be given a higher priority.
    Porsche was given contract to build chassis.
    Krupp was given contract to build turret.
    Main gun would be based on performance of 8.8cm/56 flak cannon. However it was a new design.

    February 1942.
    Albert Speer appointed Armaments Minister.
    This appointment was based on Hitler's favor. Speer had no industrial mass production experience.

    March 1942.
    Inexperienced or not even Speer could see that wartime Germany had a serious shortage of copper. The Porsche Tiger tank chassis used gasoline generators and electric drive, a propulsion system Ferdinand Porsche favored going back at least to 1910. The electric drive system worked but copper usage was prohibitive.

    Henschel was instructed to enlarge their existing VK3601(H) test chassis for use by the new Tiger tank. Because this was a rush job there was no time to design a modern hull with sloped armor. Henschel simply enlarged the existing Panzer IV hull and provided a turret ring sized to fit Krupp turrets already on order for the Porsche Tiger. Amazingly enough the resulting vehicle was excellent with a relatively short teething period. During 1943 the Tiger I was highly effective against both soft and hard targets while being almost immune to Allied anti-tank weapons.

    Tiger I was based on political rather then military considerations yet it worked well. Who would have thought such a thing was possible? :)


    If the choice were mine to make.....
    VK3601(H) chassis was excellent and it was about the right size for a WWII era MBT.
    6.05 meters long x 3.14 meters wide. Slightly larger then T-34 chassis but suspension was much better.

    Historically VK3601(H) was never fitted with a hull. If hull design had been ordered concurrent with chassis design there would be plenty of time to do it right. Make a modern hull with sloped armor. The resulting vehicle would look similar to historical Panther tank but a bit smaller.

    Since armor is sloped 60mm on front and 45mm on sides should be adequate until 1944. This will keep the tank relatively light. Maybe 35 tons overall. Keeping the vehicle light will go a long way towards solving that troublesome final drive problem.

    Turret and 7.5cm/48 cannon from Panzer IVG will work just fine early on. However turret drive should be hydraulic, similar to Tiger and Panther. This saves copper and works better. Germany can design an improved turret with 7.5cm/70 cannon when time permits.

    Build this VK3601(H) based tank like hot rolls ILO Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer V and Panzer VI. It's the only tank Germany needs.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #12 parsifal, Oct 9, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
    The VK3601 and the slightly earlier VK3001 would be a better proposition than the Tiger, only because they are slightly smaller. They appear to be good designs, but I am unconvinced they were designed for mass production, and thats what the germans needed to do....an easily produced, cheap, mobile gun platform able to mount at least 75mm. Both Sherman and T-34 fit these criteria perfectly I dont know that either the VK3001 of the 3601 would.

    The characteristics of the VK 3601, which was not ready even as a prototype until late 1941 were as follows


    Armour
    Front Turret: 100/10
    Front Superstructure: 100/8
    Front Hull: 100 60/23 60
    Side Turret: 80/0
    Side Superstructure: 60/0
    Side Hull: 60/0
    Rear Turret: 80/0
    Rear Superstructure: 60/0
    Rear Hull: 80/0
    Turret Top / Bottom: 26/90
    Superstructure Top / Bottom: 26/90
    Hull Top / Bottom: 26/90
    Gun Mantlet: 100/0

    Armamement
    KWK L42 75mm gun
    2 x 7.92mm MG

    Engine 550 HP Maybach Diesel

    Comms
    Same as Tiger

    Range

    (not known, but) Less than the MkIV, more than the Tiger....say 100 miles

    Operationally, in common with most german prototypes, some of the VK3601s ended up being used operationally as were two of the VK3001 prototypes. AFAIK, two of the VK 3001 were modified to carry the massive 128cm ATG.

    From August of 1941 to March of 1942, Rheinmetall-Borsig and Henschel produced two prototypes, which were troop tested in Russia in mid 1942. Both prototypes performed successfully but the development of this project was cancelled in favour of Tiger I. As mentioned one of the the Selbstfahrlafette 12.8cm saw service with 521st schwere Panzerjaeger Abteilung and a second one with 2nd Panzer Division as late as July of 1942. One of two prototypes (from 2nd Panzer Division) was destroyed in combat, while other one (from 521st sPzJagAbt with 22 kills rings painted on the gun barrel) was captured intact in January of 1943 in Stalingrad area. It was shown at the captured equipment exhibitions in Moscow's Gorky Park in 1943 and 1944. Vehicles were named "Max" and "Moritz" after characters in Busch's classic children's story. Today, the one captured by the Red Army can be seen in the Museum of Armored Forces in Kubinka.

    Assuming the example lost in July had no kills (maybe it did, but there is no record of it doing so that I can find), the exchange rate of these two specially modified prototypes was 11:1. At that time, the overall German exchange rate against the Russians was around 18:1. Later in the war it dropped to around 4 or 5:1 from about the first half of 1944. From memory (Ill stand corrected on this), the exchange rate at Kursk was about 7:1. Like all these "uber tanks" they dont translate to much higher exchange rates in combat compared to the Panzer IIIs and IVs that continued to be the mainstays throughour 1943. Thats why, programs like the Tiger are a proven failure....they are no better at surviving, than smaller, lighter, more numerous mediums. Whilst individually they had good kill rates, because there is less of them per dollar spent, overall they have considerably worse kill rates to the smaller, cheaper, more numerous mediums. What they did do was grab headlines and require an inordinate amount of stalking to kill. Because they lacked range, the usual fate of these heavy tanks is that they were "lost, abandoned, ran out of fuel".....


    It can be validly suggested that both the VK 3001 and 3601 were adaptable and workable types, no doubt, but to me it is just a variation to a known failed theme. Its still the quality argument, albeit a little more rational, as that which inspired the Tiger. nowhere can i find descriptions or appraisals of the type as being simplified, or more produceable than either existing types or those that were eventually adopted. Panther by comparison, whilst having numerous technical difficulties, is noted for being easier to produce than the Tiger, and much cheaper (and I still think even the panther was over ambitious) . I dont see that ever mentioned in relation to the VK 3601. The conclusion I draw from that is that it was not designed for ease of construction like the T-34 or the Sherman, or indeed the panther.
     
  13. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    #13 DonL, Oct 9, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
    I will ask you immediately to edit your post for this name calling, or I will go havoc on you, and it is to me totaly equal if I will be banned or not!

    Adolf Hitler was never a Chancellor, he called himself Führer (he was a dictator)and to compare him with Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt, Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Schröder or Angela Merkel (which were or are all chancellor of the BRD) is to me, as a german, the most worst insult!
    So edit your post immediately!
     
  14. JtD

    JtD Member

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    Actually, he was chancellor.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I get DonLs indignation and i agree with him. He was elected as Chancellor in 1933, but he almost immediately declared a state of emergency and combined the positions of prewsident and chancllor into one poition. He then ivoked his emergency powerws, suspended the Reichstag and ruled by decree for the remainder of his life.

    That is not the actions of a man performaing as a chancellor. Its is the actions of a man wanting complete control, and prepreed to act with utter ruthlessness to get it. thats not the actions of a chancellor, and its insulting to refer to him as such. I get that he was elected as chancellor but he never acted as a chancellor. Despot and dictator, yes, leader, or Chancellor, never. It was the great lie that got him into power in the first place.
     
  16. JtD

    JtD Member

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    It was one of his official titles. It's odd to see it used, but how many "Kings" or "Presidents" or "Emperors" do you want to get insulted over?

    FWIW - wiki's list of German chancellors prior to 1949. Good luck with picking the part of history you find acceptable.
    Reichskanzler
     
  17. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    #17 DonL, Oct 10, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
    Thank you Parsifal, I agree with you word for word and your post is right to the point.
    To call him Chancellor is to deny the takeover and try to relativize or imply, that he was a normal politican or elder statesman.
    That's nonsens.
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    What would it have done for the Tiger, if the they had adopted the same drive, wheel system as the Russians, the Christie and have it run on diesel instead, would it have made it easier to produce and more reliable?
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget that the Skoda works was a huge source of Panzers and as far as an economical, mass produced tank in the Wehrmacht inventory goes, the Stug was a formidable battlefield asset...reliable, deadly, easy to maintain and inexpensive to produce.

    Even without a traversing turret, it was dangerous and accounted for a large numbers of Allied armor destroyed on the battlefield.
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    First of all, Christie suspension was not suitable for a heavy tank. Diesel or gasoline engine, its more upto how good/reliable the engine was.

    Juha
     
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