[Lone Sentry: German Prisoners Discuss the Pz. Kw. 6 Tiger] [Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
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"German Prisoners Discuss the Pz. Kw. 6" from Intelligence Bulletin, April 1944

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on intelligence on the German Tiger tank (Pz. Kpfw. 6) gained from interviews with two German noncommisioned officers, from Intelligence Bulletin, April 1944.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment and tactics published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German equipment and tactics is available in postwar publications.]



In discussing the employment of the Pz. Kw. 6, or "Tiger" tank, two well-informed German noncommissioned officers recently made a number of statements which should be of interest and value to readers of the Intelligence Bulletin. Although the material contained in this section has been evaluated as substantially correct and in line with information already known to the Military Intelligence Division, it must be treated with a certain degree of reserve, as is customary with material obtained from prisoner-of-war sources. This, however, does not alter the fact that it can be studied with profit.


a. After Pz. Kw. 6's have had to move long distances, and before they can then go into action, a number of adjustments must be made. For example, bogie wheels must be changed. It is therefore unlikely that the tanks will often be sent directly into action after a long approach march on tracks.

b. Originally, it was planned that Pz. Kw. 6's should be supported by an equal number of Pz. Kw. 3's to provide local protection. The latter would move on the flanks of the main body of the Pz. Kw. 6's and cover them against hostile tank hunters attempting to attack them at close range. During an assault, the Pz. Kw. 6's would attack hostile heavy tank battalions or heavy pillboxes, and the Pz. Kw. 3's would attack machine-gun nests or lighter tanks. This method was altered in Sicily, where ground conditions repeatedly kept tanks to the roads and limited their usefulness—thereby decreasing the need for local protection. At least one battalion, which should have had nine of each type to a company, exchanged its Pz. Kw. 3's for the Pz. Kw. 6's of another unit, after which the company was made up of 17 Pz. Kw. 6's only.

c. A prisoner of War stated that on one occasion his turret jammed in turning, making it impossible for the crew to blow up their tank by means of a built-in explosive charge which was situated under one of the plates (possibly forward of the turret) in such a way that it could be reached only when the turret was directly facing the rear.

d. These prisoners remarked that in a "model" attack by a Tiger battalion, the standard company formation is a wedge or an arrowhead, with one platoon forward. This platoon is generally led by an officer, whose tank moves in the center of the formation. The company commander is forward, but not necessarily in the lead. The battalion commander is not forward, as a rule. It must be remembered, however, that the "model" attack cannot take into account such factors as variable terrain and the strength of the opposition. Therefore, deviations from the "model" formation are not only sanctioned, but are actually common.

The prisoners appeared to consider frontal attacks no less usual than outflanking attacks.

e. A prisoner stated that his Pz. Kw. 6 carried over 100 shells for the gun, "stowed everywhere"; however, the standard ammunition load is 92 shells. According to him, although the 88-mm gun in the Pz. Kw. 6 can fire up to 10,000 to 12,000 yards indirect, this type of firing is very difficult and is seldom undertaken. He declared that the best range is 1,000 to 2,000 yards—"the nearer the better."

f. Although one prisoner of war stated that the Pz. Kw. 6 carries a gyroscopic compass, he maintained that it is impossible to attack at night because of vision difficulties. Theoretically, however, the gyroscopic compass is very good for keeping direction by night and in smoke or fog.

g. According to a prisoner, the chain of wireless communication is from battalion to company to platoon. The latter link is a frequency on which all the tanks in the company are tuned, but each platoon and headquarters has a code name by which it is called up. For special operations—for example, long-range reconnaissance patrols—tanks can be netted by a frequency other than the company frequency. However, this entails altering the sets. Alternatively tanks can be given two sets tuned to two frequencies, but this is seldom done except in the case of the company headquarters tank, where it is the normal procedure. All priority and battle messages are passed in the clear, but important tactical terms (such as "attack," "outflank," "assemble") have code names (such as "dance," "sing," and so on). Each tank carries a list of these code names.

In Russia, where German troops often were 4 miles or so from headquarters, Soviet troops made a practice of intercepting traffic between battalion and company, so that they would have enough time to take preparatory measures before company orders came through.

h. The Germans take great pains to camouflage their Pz. Kw. 6's, a prisoner remarked. Every effort was made by one particular battalion to make their tanks look like the 3-ton personnel carrier. A dummy radiator and front wheels were fitted to the front of the tank, the top of the radiator being about level with the top of the tank's hull. A thin sheet metal body was fitted over the entire tank. This metal body was supported by a metal projection fitted to the top of the turret, and was not in contact with the hull of the tank at any point. The gun projected through a hole. Apparently the camouflage body was rotated by the turret, and did not have to be removed when the gun was traversed. This rather elaborate form of camouflage exceeded the dimensions of the 3-ton personnel carrier by at least 3 to 6 feet.

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