When people discuss World War II armor certain tanks come to mind for the main combatants. For the United States it would be the Sherman tank, for the Soviet Union it would be the T-34 tank and for Germany the Tiger tank would come to symbolize that country’s armor might. The fame of the Tiger tank far exceeded the number produced or fielded. Certainly, for the average GI Joe the Tiger tank invoked a feeling of trepidation, so much that any German tank they met became the dreaded Tiger tank.
Zenith Press has produced a book that is a fine collection of articles written by experts of the Tank Museum at Bovington.
Covering the Tiger tank in general this book also covers in detail the restoration and return to operation of the Tiger tank “131” that resides at the Tank Museum. We have ten chapters of information to process so let’s begin.
- Chapter One - The Tiger Story: The first nine pages gives a brief but complete retelling of how the Tiger tank came to be and three pages on the capture, shipment and use of “131” by the British. Also three side bars accounts for the Fahrgestell Nummer (chassis number system), building the Tigers and Tiger variants.
- Chapter Two – The Travels of Tiger 131: A more in depth accounting of “131” capture, viewing by King George VI and Churchill in Tunis and delivery back to England with many period B&W photographs. One side bar on battle damage to “131”.
- Chapter Three – Anatomy of the Tiger: 19 pages; covers the key physical features of this vehicle in detail with photos and illustrations. Two side bars, one on submersion and wading and the other on Zimmerit. A lot of good information in this chapter.
- Chapter Four – Restore to Running Order: 18 pages on how the decision to restore came about, what had to be done and how to bring this tank back to life. The bulk of restoration photos are in this section, while numerous they are small but useful. One side bar on the question of paint which is useful to modelers.
- Chapter Five – Running the Tiger: Seven pages which make for a very interesting read, how to start a Tiger, how to drive a Tiger and the maintenance required.
- Chapter Six – The Maybach Engine: While the original “131” engine was the Maybach HL210, it was sectionalized for study purposes. The only engine available presently is the HL230 which was installed. Now the HL230 was used in Tigers after the first 250 made and were retrofitted to the earlier ones so it is quite useable for the “131”. Thirteen pages of glorious illustrated on the engine, transmission and the engine compartment. All good stuff.
- Chapter Seven – Firepower: We mean the famed 88mm KwK 56 gun, the various 88mm rounds and the MG34s within the tank. Excellent drawings on ammo storage within the Tiger.
- Chapter Eight – Fighting the Tiger: Nineteen pages on who used it and how, repair and maintenance in the field, with several side bars of German soldier’s comments on the Tiger.
- Chapter Nine – Last of the Tigers: Basically talks about what happened after the war and why only six Tiger tanks survive today.
- Appendix: Lists where the six surviving Tiger tanks are with a brief history of each one.
This book has an excellent selection of photos and Illustrations (color and B&W) that supports the text, whether it is period photos or color photos of the restoration of “131”. I have many books on the Tiger tank and while some photos I have seen, most I haven’t. I think this would be a worthwhile book to own if you are fascinated by the Tiger tank and want to know how it works. I can highly recommend this publication. I want to thank IPMS/USA and Zenith Press for the chance to do this review.