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SdKfz 186 Jagdtiger tank destroyer

Written by Sakhal

According to the habitual practice of the German self-propelled cannons of taking the heavy tank of the moment an provide it with a further step in the size of the cannon, when the Tiger II tank appeared immediately it was considered its chassis for a possible self-propelled cannon. Considering that the cannon was one of 88 millimeters, the next caliber was 128 millimeters, a huge cannon to be mounted in a vehicle. It was not a weapon of so high muzzle velocity as the 88-millimeter cannon was, but it fired piercing or breaking grenades weighing 28.3 kilograms with a great capability of perforating armor at long range. To be more exact, with a muzzle velocity of 1000 meters/second and a maximum effective range of 3500 meters, the Pak 44 was capable of perforating 200 millimeters of vertical armor at a distance of 2000 meters. This cannon, which constituted a threat for any tank in a radius of three kilometers, made of the Jagdtiger the most powerful German vehicle of the war, or better said, the most powerful one of those that entered service in a usable number. The chassis was almost the same than the one of the Tiger II, except that it was 25 centimeters longer, with a distance opened between the last road wheel and the idler. Above the central part of the chassis it was mounted a large superstructure whose armored plates were slanted in the best way possible as allowed by the limitations of the space required to harbor the huge cannon and the crew. Because of the length of the cannon, it was not possible to place further forward the frontal part of the superstructure as it had been possible in the Jagdpanther. The frontal plate had the extraordinary thickness of 250 millimeters, the thickest one built during the war. Precisely this thickness and the caliber of the cannon were traits in common between the Jagdpanther and the Maus tank.

The first prototype was shown in the late 1943 and immediately 150 units were ordered. Only 70 exemplars were finished and it seems that only 48 of them were in service when the war ended. Apart from the difficulties in the construction of vehicles of such size, and the application of armor of such thickness, the weight of the Jagdtiger was a problem from the beginning. The engine - which was the same one installed in the Jagdpanther, a vehicle weighing 25 tonnes less - and the transmission were permanently overloaded. Only the toughest roads resisted the weight of the vehicle and crossing bridges and rivers constituted a nightmare. Albeit on the papers the prestations were the same than in the Tiger II, the consumption of fuel and the operational range were much worse - and they were already bad enough in the Tiger II -. For Germany, with its supplies of any kind of fuel in critical situation, such excesses were hardly justifiable. In the battlefield the Jagdtiger were deployed in small support units and they were projected to be deployed in similar way than the Tiger II. But obviously their low mobility and bad mechanical reliability constituted a serious drawback. A number of them were abandoned due to breakdowns or destroyed by the Germans to prevent their capture, while others could have been easy prey for the Allied fighter-bombers or even armored units if these managed to immobilize them or outrun them to attack on their weak spots. The most important utilization of the Jagdtiger was in the final retreat inside Germany and its last actions took place along the Western Front.

SdKfz 186 Jagdtiger tank destroyer

A Panzerjager Tiger Ausf B armed with the 128-millimeter cannon Pak 44. From an order of 150 exemplars only 70 were finished when the war ended, and of these even less took action in war. Due to the Allied bombings on the industrial facilities where the Pak 44 was built several of these tank destroyers had to be armed with the 88-millimeter cannon Pak 43/3 (the one installed in the Jagdpanther).

Crew: 6

Armament: One Pak 44 55-caliber 128-millimeter cannon; one MG 34 or MG 42 7.92-millimeter machine gun in the hull

Ammunitions: 38 for 128-millimeter cannon; 2925 for 7.92-millimeter machine gun

Armor: 30-250 millimeters

Length (total): 10.65 meters

Length (hull): 7.8 meters

Width: 3.72 meters

Height: 2.83 meters

Weight: 71.7 tonnes

Ground pressure: 1.07 kilograms/square centimeter

Engine: Maybach HL 230 P 30 gasoline engine with 12 cylinders in V, refrigerated by water, developing 700 horsepower at 3000 revolutions per minute

Power/weight ratio: 9.92 hp/tonne

Maximum speed (in road): 38 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed (in countryside): 17 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 110 kilometers

Maximum surmountable trench: 2.5 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.85 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 35 degrees

Maximum fording: 1.8 meters

Categories: Tanks - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-06-22

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