Mark Flowers: I would like to share this document I found today on the germandocsinrussia.org. It was issued by OKH in October 1943 and has lessons learned about the Tiger in combat, and guidance for units either equipped or working with Tiger tanks. I'll include a brief translation with each page.
This basically says that contrary to popular belief, the Tiger's armor can be penetrated by Soviet weapons with unnecessary losses. At the right angle, a 7,62 cm gun can penetrate the frontal surface at 500 m, and 1,500 m on the side armor of the Tiger.
The table at the bottoms shows Soviet AT weapons, and what ranges on frontal, side, and rear of the Tiger that they can penetrate.
This is page two and at the top says that massed fire of all weapons, including light infantry weapons, can disable a Tiger even if they don't penetrate the armor.
Paragraph II says that Tigers should be deployed in groups at the critical spot, with indirect and other weapons providing support. The Tiger battalion has one maintenance company and one recovery platoon. If the Tigers are spread out all over the place, it makes things tough on the support guys, especially since the Tiger is such a complicated system.
Paragraph III details tank-infantry tactics. It says the Tigers should be employed as tank and AT gun killers, and should only be used against infantry in exceptional circumstances. Due to its high performance, the Tiger can reach out and touch somebody out to 2,000 meters. The Tiger should strive to engage targets at more than 1,000 meters.
The Tiger is heavy and has a high ground pressure, making reconnaissance imperative. Recon patrols should pay special attention to fording points in waterways, bridges, and swampy ground.
Page three says if you don't do a good recon prior to comiting the Tigers, you're gonna lose, with preventable losses in expensive government property. The rule of thumb for marshy ground is: One soldier gives his buddy a piggyback ride, and stands on one foot. [Good luck with that...Mark]. If the soldier's foot doesn't sink into the ground, neither will the Tiger.
You can't hide as Tiger for long, and the Russians mass fires against every single Tiger. The attacking (German) infantry have to stay far enough away that they don't get caught in the blizzard of defensive fires directed at the Tigers.
TCs engage from the short halt, using masking terrain for movement. With the long range of the Tiger's main gun, 100 meters give or take doesn't make a difference in choosing a firing position. Tigers must have freedom to maneuver based on situation and mission. They shouldn't get tied to the infantry. When the Tiger is covering, the infantry moves. When the Tiger makes its move, the infantry covers.
Mines present a risk to the Tiger. Usually, the damage is light, but tough to fix in the middle of a firefight. Immobilized Tigers are hard to recover due to their weight. If the assault force hits a minefield, the Tigers cover from the friendly side, and engineers go forward to breach.
The set-up of the TC's cupola on the left side of the turret makes it hard for the TC to see to the right side, and creates a blind spot there. This brings the danger of close assault from that side. Every Bolshevik who kills a Tiger gets mentioned in Army reports! It's pointless to deploy a Tiger alone. For protection against close assault by the enemy, they work with with the infantry, or other tanks.
Every experienced Tiger commander must carefully review these lessons learned.
Zeitzler, Colonel, General Staff
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