Meet Wargaming’s very own ‘Military Special’ Richard Cutland i.e. “The Challenger” and the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I Ausf.E (SdKfz 181).
Tiger I was a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe usually in independent heavy tank battalions. Its final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E often shortened to Tiger. The Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the KwK 36 88-mm gun (not to be confused with the 8.8 cm Flak 36). Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. Production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.
While the Tiger I has been called an outstanding design for its time, it was over-engineered, using expensive materials and labour-intensive production methods. The Tiger was prone to certain types of track failures and breakdowns, and limited in range by its high fuel consumption. It was expensive to maintain, but generally mechanically reliable. It was also difficult to transport, and vulnerable to immobilization when mud, ice and snow froze between its overlapping and interleaved Schachtellaufwerk-pattern road wheels, often jamming them solid. This was a problem on the Eastern Front in the muddy rasputitsa and winter weather conditions.
The tank was given its nickname “Tiger” by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘‘Panzer VI version H’’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H) where ‘H’ denoted Henschel as the designer/manufacturer. It was classed with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 182. The tank was later redesignated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943, with ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.
Today, only a handful of Tigers survive in museums and exhibitions worldwide. The Bovington Tank Museum’s Tiger 131 is currently the only one restored to running order.