[Lone Sentry: WWII Tactical and Technical Trends]
  [Lone Sentry: Photographs, Documents and Research on World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Intel Articles by Subject

"Vulnerable Parts of PzKw 6" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report describing Soviet methods of attacking the German Tiger tank was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 47, June 1, 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


In a complicated weapon such as a tank with its many movable parts and elaborate mechanism, it is particularly important to know where the most vulnerable parts are from the point of view of its destruction by an enemy gunner. Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 41, p. 6 describes some German methods of destroying Allied tanks by this means.

The Soviet Artillery Journal in one of its past issues contained an article on this subject which furnishes practical hints on the vulnerable parts of the German "Tiger" tank. A translation follows.

*          *          *

All weapons now used for destroying enemy tanks--antitank guns and rifles, heavy machine guns, AT grenades and incendiary bottles (Molotov cocktails)--are effective against the German Tiger tanks.

a. Suspension System

The mobility of tanks depends upon the proper functioning of the suspension parts: sprocket (small driving wheel), idler (small wheel in the rear), wheels and tracks. All these parts are vulnerable to shells of all calibers. A particularly vulnerable part is the sprocket.

Fire armor-piercing shells and high-explosive shells at the sprocket, idler and tracks.

Fire at the wheels with HE shells; use AT grenades, AT mines, and movable AT mines. Attach three or four mines to a board. Place the board wherever tanks are expected to pass. Camouflage the board and yourself. As a tank passes by, pull the board in the proper direction and place it under the track of the tank.

[One German source states that this method was successfully used on roads and road crossings in Russia and still taught on tank combat courses for infantry. The mine is called Schaniermine (pivot mine board) and consists of a stout length of board 8 inches wide by 2 inches thick and cut to length according to the width of the road to be blocked. A hole is bored at one end through which a spike or bayonet can be driven into the ground, thus providing a pivot for the board. At the other end of the board a hook is fastened to which a rope is tied as shown in the accompanying sketch. T-mines are fastened to the board, the number according to needs.

[German Antitank Mine - Schaniermine]

[One man can operate this mine. After the board has been fastened down at one end with the spike (in emergency a bayonet) and a rope tied to the hook at the other end, the board is laid along the side of the road. On the opposite side of the road a man is posted in a narrow slit trench holding the other end of the rope. On the approach of the tank, the operator waits until it is close enough to the pivoted board and at the last moment pulls the free end of the board across the road to form the tank trap. The rope and slit trench must be well-camouflaged. Great stress is laid on this point.]

Use AT grenades and mines to damage the suspension parts.

b. Side Armor Plates

There are two armor plates on each side of the tank. The lower plate is partly covered by the wheels. This plate protects the engine and the gasoline tanks which are located in the rear of the hull directly beyond and over the two rear wheels. Ammunition is kept in special compartments along the sides of the tank. These compartments are protected by the upper armor plate.

Fire armor-piercing shells from 76, 57 and 45-mm guns at the upper and lower armor plate. When the gas tanks or ammunition compartments are hit, the vehicle will be set on fire.

c. Rear Armor Plate

The rear armor plate protects the engine, the gasoline tanks, and the radiators.

Use AT guns. Aim at the rear armor plate. When the engine or the gasoline tanks are hit, the tank will stop and catch fire.

d. Peepholes, Vision Ports, and Slits

The turret has two openings for firing small-arms weapons, and two vision ports. The small commander's turret has five observation slits. There are two sighting devices on the roof of the front part of the tank--one for the driver, the other for the gunner. There is also a port with sliding covers in the front armor plate.

Use all available weapons for firing at the peepholes, observation ports, sighting devices, and the large ports for small-arms weapons.

e. Turrets

Commander's turret is an important and vulnerable target.

Fire HE and armor-piercing shells of all calibers at the commander's turret. Throw AT grenades and incendiary bottles when the turret is damaged.

The commander of the tank, the commander of the turret, and the gunner ride in the turret. The tank gun and many mechanical devices are found in the turret.

Fire at the turret with 76, 57 and 45-mm shells at 500 meters or closer.

f. Tank Armament

The turret is armed with a gun and a machine gun mounted coaxially. Another machine gun is found in the front part of the hull. It protrudes through the front armor plate, on a ball mount, and is manned by the radio operator.

Concentrate the fire of all weapons on the armament of the tank. Fire with AT rifles at the ball mount of the hull machine gun.

g. Air Vents and Ventilators

The air vents and the ventilators are found under the slit-shaped perforations of the roof of the hull, directly behind the turret. Another air vent is located in the front part of the roof, between the two observation ports used by the radio operator and the driver.

Use incendiary bottles and AT grenades to damage the ventilating system.

h. Tank Floor

When an antitank mine explodes under the tank, the floor of the tank is smashed and the tank knocked out of action.

i. Base of Turret

There is a 10-mm slit going all around the turret, between the base of the turret and the roof of the hull.

Fire at the base of the turret with heavy machine guns and AT guns. The purpose of this is to destroy the turret mechanism and disrupt the field of fire. Fire with HE shells at the base of the turret in order to wreck the roof of the hull and put the tank out of action.


[Back] Back to Articles by Subject | Intel Bulletin by Issue | T&TT by Issue | Home Page

Web LoneSentry.com