Military history

- Chapter 1 -

Production of the Tiger

A rare photograph shows the interior of the Tiger I factory Henschelwerk III at Kassel-Mittelfeld.

Production of the Tiger I began in August 1942, and 1,347 were built by August 1944 when production ceased. Production started at a rate of 25 per month and peaked in April 1944 at 104 per month. Battlefield strength peaked at 671 on 1st July 1944. Generally speaking, it took about twice as long to build a Tiger I as any other German tank of the period. However, none of the obvious lessons concerning the need to husband scarce resources were learned and astonishingly when the “improved” model began production in January 1944, the Tiger I was soon phased out in favour of an even more resource hungry monster in the form of the massive, less efficient and even more resource intense Tiger II.

The major problem with the Tiger I was that it simply used too many scarce resources in terms of both manpower and material, especially when compared with the spartan simplicity of the T-34. As a general rule of thumb each the Tiger I cost over twice as much as a Panzer IV and four times as much as a StuG III assault gun. Each Tiger I actually cost 250,000 Reichsmarks as compared to the 103,500 it cost to manufacture a Panzer IV. The Tiger I was also significantly over engineered which made it difficult to manufacture at a fast rate. The result was an increasing production gap which Speer’s hard pressed German tank industry could never hope to close. During the Second World War, over 58,000 American Shermans and 36,000 Soviet T-34s were produced, compared to just 1,347 Tiger I and 492 Tiger II. The closest counterpart to the Tiger from the United States was the M26 Pershing around 200 of which deployed during the war and the Soviet IS-2 of which about 3,800 were built during the war.

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