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Tiger Battalions!

The Life and Times of Germany's Tiger Tank Battalions
Tiger I, sPzAbt.503, hiding behind an isba.
Tiger I, the 21st Tiger of 1.Kompanie, sPzAbt.503, beside an isba. This is one of the first production series models.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 - sPzAbt 503

The second unit promised to Rommel, the 503rd, was to receive Porsche-Tigers, but the cancellation of production resulted in the 503rd being outfitted with 20 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.E and 25 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N in November and December 1942, and first saw action in southern Russia, during the Don campaign and the withdrawal from Stalingrad.
The 503rd was upgraded and received 24 new Tigers in April 1943, completing their complement of 45 Tigers. Having lost only four Tigers during the Kursk offensive and a further four during the withdrawal, the unit received 12 replacements in August 1943. In late 1943, sPzAbt 503 was made part of Panzer Regiment "Bake", a special battle group which fought in several fierce engagements in the Dnieper sector near Cherkassy. The sPzAbt 503 remained assigned to PzRgt."Bake": until April 1944, then was withdrawn and sent to the West for refitting.

Tiger I, sPzAbt.503, reversing under a smoke screen.
Tiger I, number 300 of the 3.Kompanie, sPzAbt.503, reversing under a smoke screen, after firing.

The 503rd was rested and outfitted with 45 new Tigers and re-entered combat on 25 January 1944. It received a further 35 new Tigers in February and March 1944, before being withdrawn form combat in late April 1944. Transferred back to the West, the 503rd received a further 33 Tiger Is and 12 Tiger IIs and was sent to Normandy. The battalion staff and 1st company had been re-equipped with the new Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B, but the 2nd and 3rd companies retained the Tiger I E. The 3rd company was caught in a bombing attack in July 1944, and all of its Tigers were destroyed or damaged. On 9 September 1944, sPzAbt 503 was completely equipped with 45 new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B (Tiger II).

The King Tiger In Budapest, 1944
Loaded on trains on 12 October, 1944, the 503rd was unloaded in Budapest, Hungary on 14 October, 1944. This Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B of sPzAbt 503 is seen in Budapest, October, 1944.

It was then transferred to Hungary and committed to the defense of Budapest. By an order dated December 21, 1944, sPzAbt 503 was renamed sPzAbt Feldherrnhalle and attached to PzGren. Div. FHH.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 - sPzAbt 504

Tiger I, SpzAbt.504 - North Africa, 1943.
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Aus..E, sPzAbt.504 - North Africa, 1943.

The 504th was the second Tiger unit to be sent to Tunisia. It was issued 25 PzKpfw III plus two Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger Ausf.E in January, and 18 Tigers, comprising the battalion staff, workshop company, and 1st tank company arrived in Tunisia on 12 March 1943. The 2nd company remained in Sicily. The tank company had four platoons, each with two Tiger I tanks and two Pzkpw III support tanks. All of the sPzAbt 504 Tigers were destroyed or captured. The surviving elements surrendered on 12 May 1943.

On 13 April 1943, the OKH ordered that six Tigers were to be stationed on Sicily and that until transferred to Tunisia, the 2.Kompanie/ schwere Panzer Abteilung 504 was to be attached to PzAbt 215 with a reinforced platoon of six Tigers being immediately shipped to Sicily. Altogether 17 Tigers gathered on Sicily: the original nine from 2.Kompanie of the 504th, two Tigers that had been used as replacements for the 501st in February, and the six Tigers issued in April 1943 for the 215th.

Tiger I, sPzAbt.504, North Africa
This Tiger of s.Pz.Abt.504 was captured by the British in North Africa. It doesn't use turret numbers, and this distinguishes it from the Tigers of s.Pz.Abt.501.

Attached to Panzer Division Herrmann Goering, the 17 Tigers under the 2.Kompanie of the 504th attacked the American landing zone on 11 July 1943, but were neutralized by naval gunfire. Within the first three days ten out of the 17 Tigers were destroyed to prevent capture and a further six Tigers were destroyed later for the same reason. The last Tiger was shipped back across the straits of Messina to Italy.

sPzAbt 504 spent the rest of the war in Italy. The battalion was rebuilt with a full three company organization, with additional personnel from PzAbt. 18. The unit trained in Germany, and then returned to Italy. Its first action in Italy was in support of the 362nd Inf. Div. in the containment of the Allied advance up the Italian coast following the Anzio landing. sPzAbt 504 saw a great deal of action in the Italian campaign, including the Arno river campaign and the defense of northern Italy.

On 14 August 1944, sPzAbt 504 personnel were sent to the Vienna area, for familiarization training with the Tiger II Ausf B. The battalion was never issued Tiger II, but on 12 February 1945 it received 15 Tiger I from sPzAbt 508. On 15 March 1945, sPzAbt. 504 had 32 Tigers operational, but between 15 - 28 April 1945, 19 Tigers were lost during the retreats around Argenta, Italy. The remaining Tigers were destroyed, mostly by their crews, to avoid the capture of the Tigers by the enemy. The battalion surrendered at the end of the war, along with other German units in Italy.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 505 - sPzAbt 505

Stalking Tiger of sPzAbt.505
One of the sPzAbt.505 Tigers has taken up position behind an isba. This particular Tiger is a veteran of the Kursk battles.

The 505th was the last independent battalion created with the old organization of 20 Tigers and 25 Pz.Kpfw.III. Formed in February 1943, the 505th received several Tigers and the rest in March with 25 Pzkpfw IIIs. The unit was loaded on rail cars on 29/30 April 1943 and sent to Heeres Gruppe Mitte on the Eastern Front, where it was ordered to upgrade to the new organization, and received 11 Tigers that were shipped from the ordnance depot between 8 and 10 June 1943. It took part in OPERATION CITADEL as part of Feldmarschall Model's 9th Armee. At the start of the Kursk offensive on 5 July 1943, the unit had 31 Tigers and was joined on 9 July 1943 by 3.Kompanie which was formed in April and received Tigers in June. The 505th lost only four Tigers during the Kursk offensive but lost a further six by the end of July 1943.

Tiger I late production series, sPzAbt.505
Panzerkampfwagen TigerAusf.E, late production, sPzAbt.505, Russia, February 1944.
Artwork © Copyright of Mr. Jean Restayn, who kindly gave us permission to use it.
sPzAbt.505 marking - the knight on a charger
The sPzAbt.505 had one of the most spectacular markings: a knight on a charger.

After the Kursk offensive, sPzAbt 505 was moved to the Smolensk area. During the fall of 1944, sPzAbt 505 was equipped with new version Tiger Is, which had cast cupolas, zimmerit, and the new steel-rimmed wheels developed for the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B. The 505th was ordered out of the Eastern Front on 7 July 1944, to rest and refit at the troop grounds at Ohrduf. By early September, 1944, sPzAbt 505 had been equipped with new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B. sPzAbt 505 was used with 24th and 25th Panzer Divisions, initially against the Narev bridgeheads in the 1944 Russian offensive into East Prussia. The battalion fought in East Prussia until the end of the conflict.

Tiger II, sPzAbt.505, late 1944.
By early September, 1944, schwere Panzer Abteilung 505 had been equipped with new Tiger II.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 - sPzAbt 506

The 506th was formed in July 1943, primarily from personnel of III Abt./Pz. Rgt. 33 of 9th. Pz. Div.. In August, the battalion received forty-five new Tiger I tanks. The unit was engaged in the Dnieper battles in 1943. On New Year's Day, 1944, sPzAbt 506 went to the area south of Korovograd, and fought in Krivoi-Rog. In 1944, sPzAbt 506 was withdrawn to Germany for refitting and preparation for action in the West. Their Tiger Is were distributed as replacement vehicles to other units. sPzAbt 506 received the new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B in August 1944. The full battalion establishment of 45 tanks was retained. In late September, the battalion was sent to the area around Oosterbeck, west of Arnhem. It took part in the German defense against the combined Allied thrust to the Rhine during OPERATION MARKET GARDEN.

A Tiger II, captured and restored by Co B, 129th Ordnance Bn, 1944
This Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B, from the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 506 was captured by American troops and restored to running condition by Company B, 129th Ordnance Battalion by 15 December 1944.

The following month, sPzAbt 506 Took part in the defense of Aachen. In November 1944, the battalion was strengthened by the addition of a 4th company. This new company had been organized originally as a heavy assault support unit, used wherever necessary - a Feuerwehr (fire brigade). Its first commander was named Hummel, and this was the name given to the company. sPzKp. "Hummel" (now 4th company, sPzAbt 506) was equipped with Tiger Is. This new company was fully integrated by early December 1944.
The only Heer Tiger battalion to take part in the Ardennes offensive was sPzAbt 506. It took part in the defense of Germany and finally surrendered to US forces in the Ruhr pocket on April of 1945.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 507 - sPzAbt 507

The 507th was formed on 23 September 1943, from personnel taken from I Abt./Pz.Rgt. 4 of 13th Pz. Div.. It was organized in the usual fashion: a battalion HQ staff company, 3 tank companies, and a workshop company, plus supply and support detachments, and equipped with 45 Tigers between 23 December 1943 and 25 February 1943. Transferred to the Eastern Front in March 1944, the 507th received seven replacement Tigers before the end of the month and a further 12 in April, eight in July, six in August, ten in November and one final tiger in December 1944. Overstrenght at 55, the 507th met the Russian winter offensive on the Tarnapol river above Vitebk and around Narev, on 14 January 1945, and by 1 February 1945 had only seven tigers left, none of which operational.

Tigers of the sPzAbt.507 - Tarnopol, 1944
Tigers of sPzAbt.507 in an assembly area preparing for an attack on Tarnopol in April 1944.

On 6 February 1945, the 507th was ordered to return to Senneläger, to refit with the Tiger II. The unit received 21 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B: four on 9 March 1945, 11 on 22 March 1945, and the last six on 31 March. The front came to the sPzAbt 507, deployed in the defense of the local area.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 508 - sPzAbt 508

Tiger I, sPzAbt.508, Italy, 1943.
Tiger I, sPzAbt.508, Italy, 1943.

sPzAbt 508 was formed in August of 1943, from personnel from PzRgt. 8, and later, more men from PzAbt 190. Issued with 45 Tigers between December 1943 and January 1944, the 508th was ordered to Italy to attack the Allied bridgehead at Anzio. Unloaded at a railhead 200 km from the bridgehead, about 60 per cent of the Tigers suffered mechanical failures negotiating the narrow, sharply curved mountain roads.
The 508th, along with other units outfitted with Panthers and Ferdinands, were repulsed mainly by the threat of naval gunfire. Five replacement Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on 23 March followed by six on 25 April 1944. Following the losses to the Allied drive in May and early June, the 508th received a further 27 replacement Tigers that were shipped from the ordnance depot on 3 and 5 June 1944. On February 1945, the 508th gave their remaining 15 Tigers to the 504th and returned to Germany for outfitting with the Tiger II.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 509 - sPzAbt 509

Tiger I, sPzAbt.509, Russia, 1943.
Tiger I, sPzAbt.509, Russia, late 1943.

sPzAbt 509 was formed on 9 September 1943, from elements of Pz. Rgt. 204 of 22nd Pz. Div. The battalion was issued 45 Tiger Is, and fought on the Eastern Front. From late 1943 to the early spring of 1944, sPzAbt 509 was engaged near Kirovograd, Kirivoi-Rog, Kiev, and Pavlova, in southern Russia. In November of 1943, the 3rd company of sPzAbt 509 was detached and assigned to support 2 SS Pz. Div. Das Reich. A major reinforcement occurred between 20 May and 1 June 1944, when the unit received 30 Tiger Is. The 1st and 2nd companies fought at Novosselki, Shitomir, Chmelnik, and Kiev. During September of 1944, sPzAbt 509 was in Senneläger, the training ground, for re-equipping with new Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B. It was issued 11 Tiger IIs in September that were turned over to the SS 501st.After experiencing further delays in outfitting due to severe interruptions in production at Henschel, the 509th was sent 45 Tiger IIs from the ordnance depot between 5 December 1944 and 1 January 1945.

In January of 1945, the battalion was sent to Hungary, and assigned to IV SS PzKorps. It arrived on 15 January 1945, just in time to take part in the third offensive toward Budapest. The German offensive started on January 18th, and this attack is a rare example of an entire, fully-equipped heavy tank battalion, operating under its own commander, and attacking to accomplish the mission for which it was doctrinally intended. In other operations, elements of other battalions were used to create breakthroughs, but were only deployed piecemeal, with separate companies being attached to different divisions. Still, other battalions were employed in a breakthrough role, but were not at, or usually anywhere near, their authorized combat strength of 45 Tigers. It must have been an impressive sight as 45 King Tigers started the mission (WILBECK, Christopher W., op cit).

The battalion successfully penetrated the first echelons of the Soviet defenses during this day's operations. There was no intact bridge capable of holding the Pz.Kpfw.Tiger Ausf.B, however, so the German attack continued without sPzAbt.509 for the next few days. During the attack on 18 January 1945, the battalion lost seven King Tigers and destroyed at least 20 Soviet tanks and numerous other antitank guns.

After that, the battalion was engaged in a number of battles in Hungary, supporting the third German offensive toward Budapest and then went to Austria. sPzAbt 509 surrendered to American troops on May 9, 1945, near Linz. The battalion had no tanks - its motorized component was one Schwimmwagen, one radio car, and one truck.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung 510 - sPzAbt 510

Tiger I, sPzAbt.510, Kurland sector, 1944.
Tiger I, number 233, sPzAbt.510, Kurland sector, 1944.

sPzAbt 510 was formed in June, 1944, and was the last of the ten independent heavy tank battalions. It received 45 Tiger Is between 20 June and 7 July 1944, and, from August 1944, fought against the Russians in East Prussia. On 3 August, six replacements were shipped to the 510th. Part of the battalion was detached to 14th Pz. Div. , for an assault on the Russian forces in November 1944. The other company was attached to the 30th Inf. Div. sPzAbt 510 was heavily engaged during the Kurland campaign, operating with 14th Pz. Div., in early 1945. In March, two companies of the battalion were withdrawn to the Kassel area in Germany. The remainder of sPzAbt 510, with 13 Tiger Is, was assigned to 14th Pz Div. The last Tiger was lost on 8 May, and the battalion surrendered with other survivors of the fierce Kurland fighting. The 510th have never been issued a single Tiger II.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung (Funklenk) 301 - sPzAbt (FKL) 301

Panzer Abteilung 301 returned from the Eastern Front to rest and refit with Tigers to use as control vehicles for the BIV Sprengladungsträger and was organized with a headquarters and three companies each with 10 Tigers. A total of 21 more Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot between 25 August and 15 September 1944 and an additional ten were taken over from the s.SS.PzAbt.103.

The 301st was first reported on the Western Front by the LXXXI Armee Korps on November 1944 as having 31 Tigers (27 operational) and 66 BIV (61 operational). Four Tigers were lost before the 301st was engaged in the Ardennes Offensive and at the beginning of the attack on 16 December 1944, the 301st reported 27 Tigers available of which 12 were operational. It still had 27 Tigers of which 21 were operational on the Western Front on 30 December 1944. The 301st remained on the Western Front until the end of the War.

Schwere Panzer Abteilung (Funklenk) 316 - sPzKp (FKL) 316

sPzKp (FKL) 316 was issued 10 Tiger Is in September 1943 and five Tiger IIs in March 1944, which they did not use in combat. Attached to Panzer Lehr Division and engaged in Normandy, the 316th had six out of eight Tigers undergoing repair on 1 July 1944. By 1 August 1944, the 316th was no longer with the Panzer Lehr Division.

13.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland

Tiger I of Grossdeutschland, Kharkov, 1943.
A Tiger I of 13. Kompanie - Panzer Regiment Großdeitschland, speeding up despite the snow, Kharkov, winter 1943.

A schwere Kompanie was formed for Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland on 13 January 1943 and received a total of nine Tiger I and ten Pz.Kpfw.III. The company was sent to the Eastern Front in February 1943 and in May received six additional Tigers to upgrade it to the new organization.

On 1 July 1943 the unit was renamed as the 9.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland and at the start of the Kursk offensive on 5 July, the company had 14 out of 15 Tigers operational. None of those were lost during the battle.

Tigers of the 11th Co of PzRgt. GD
A Tiger I (tactical number B12) of the 11th company of the III Abteilung of the "Großdeutschland" Division during August and September 1943 in the region of Achtyrka-Kharkov-Poltava.

III.Abteilung/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland

A Tiger I of Grossdeutschland schwere Panzer Abteilung.
Tiger I, from III.Abteilung (Tiger) - Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland.

An entire heavy tank battalion of three companies with 45 Tigers was created for Panzer Grenadier Division Großdeutschland as the III.Abteilung/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland.

Its first company (9.Kompanie) was provided by the old 13.Kompanie, the second and third companies (10 and 11 Kompanien) were the former 3.Kompanie/sPzAbt.501; and 3.Kompanie/sPzAbt.504 respectively. The Stab, 10 and 11 Kompanien joined the 9.Kompanie at the front on 14 August 1943 by which time they had received 31 Tigers.

Großdeutschalnd schwere Panzer Abteilung marking.

The first six replacements arrived at the front on 26 August. Further replacements followed in 1944 with 10 in February, six in March, six in April, 14 in May, 6 in June, 12 in July, 6 in October, and a final 4 in December. The battalion remained on the Eastern Front without being relieved or refitted until the final surrender.

The Großdeutschland Tiger unit, from its beginnings as the 13.Kompanie/Panzer Regiment Großdeutschland, through its expansion to battalion status and to its eventual destruction in March 1945, had the highest number of confirmed enemy kills for any Heer Tiger unit, a total of 1,036 tanks and armored fighting vehicles, and over 300 enemy guns.

Schwere Panzer Kompanie Hummel

The Allied drive out of Normandy decimated the units trapped in the 'Falaise Gap' and the remnants trying to cross the Seine river. With open space all the way to Berlin, the schwere Panzer Kompanie Einzats Dunkirchen was hastily formed by the schwere Panzer Erzats und Ausbildungs Abteilung 500 at the training grounds near Paderborn. This unit with 14 Tigers was sent west on 19 September to stop the British spearhead at Arnhem in Holland. It was renamed the next day, sPzKp Hummel and continued to fight on the Western Front after it was incorporated into sPzAbt.506 as the 4.Kompanie on 8.December 1944.

Training and research/development units had originally received a total of 49 Tiger Is for training and 10 Tiger Is for testing. As Germany's position continued to deteriorate, additional units were thrown together and given these worn out tigers in a last ditch effort.

Amongst these units were: sPzKp.Paderborn with 15 Tigers on 21 October 1944; Panzer Kompanie Panther with three Tigers (30 January 1945), Erzats Brigade Großdeutschland with two Tigers (31 January 1945), and PzAbt.500 Paderborn with 17 Tigers (both Is and IIs - 2 April 1945).

Panzer Abteilung Kummersdorf

Having received the last five Tiger Is to be issued on 23 February 1945, this unit joined the makeshift Panzer Division Muncheberg in an attempt to halt the Russian advance. Absorbing remnants from other units it reported having 13 Tigers of which ten were operational on 15 April 1945.

Tigergruppe Meyer

Before the loss of Sicily, eight Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on 28 July 1943, to outfit an independent unit destined for Italy. Known as Tigergruppe Meyer, this small unit with its eight Tigers was attached to PzJgAbt.46 between August and November 1943, and by 4 February 1944 was renamed Tigergruppe Schwebbach and attached to the LXXVI Panzer Korps to attack the bridgehead created by the Allied landing at Anzio.
None of the Tigers remained operational on 12 February, but seven or eight were available by 15 February for the planned attacks. On March 1944, the surviving crews and Tigers of Tigergruppe Schwebbach were incorporated into sPzAbt.508.

Jagdtiger Abteilung 512

Jagdtiger Abteilung 512 was formed in the late fall of 1944 and was equipped with twenty Jagdtiger heavy tank destroyers, mounting 128mm KwK 44 L/55 guns on modified Tiger II Ausf B chassis.

The Jagdtiger
The Jagdtiger.

There were two companies, each with 10 vehicles. Two Jagdtigers were in each company HQ section, and four Jagdtigers were in in each of the two platoons. The two companies, named "Company Carius" and "Company Ernst", fought as separate units. "Company Ernst" was reinforced with a platoon of Stug III, one PzKpfw IV, and a platoon of self-propelled 37mm flak guns. Both components fought in Germany's last battles, and surrendered to US forces in the Ruhr.

Schwere SS Panzer Kompanien (SS-PzRgt.1, 2, and 3)

Tiger S33, sKp/SS-PzRgt.2, SS PzGrDiv Das Reich - 1943
 End of 1943, fighting in the Zihtomir sector; Tiger S33 (with S13 following behind), sKp/SS-PzRgt.2, SS-Panzer Grenadier Division Das Reich. Note the impacts from anti-tank rifle on the front plate, and the divisional sign on the right - this unit marking was used from the Kursk offensive until the Winter of 1943-44. Also visible is the "Springender Teufel" (Jumping Devil) on the side of the turret.

Effective on 15 November 1942, three schwere Panzer Kompanien were established, one each for SS-Panzer Regiments 1, 2 and 3. Each Kompanie was to have nine Tigers and ten Pz.Kpfw.III. A total of 28 Tigers and 30 Pz.Kpfw.III were issued in December 1942 and January 1943. Sent to the Eastern Front, all three companies took part in the Manstein's counter offensive to retake Kharkov in February March 1943 in which they lost five Tigers.

An order dated 22 April 1943 authorized these three companies to be upgraded to 14 Tigers and by this same order the three companies became an organic part of the schwere Panzer Abteilung of the I.SS-Panzer Korps. However, the three companies remained with their Regiments at the front. In May 1943, 17 Tigers were shipped to the front bringing the total to 13 with the 13.sKp/SS-PzRgt.1, 14 with the sKp/SS-PzRgt.2, and 15 with the 9.Kp/SS-PzRgt.3.

SS Pz Grenadieren and the Tiger I - SS PzDiv. Totenkopf, Op. Zitadelle, 1943
SS Panzergrenadieren of SS Pz Division Totenkopf discussing a offensive action with a Tiger commander of 9.Kp/SS-PzRgt.3, before the start of operation Zitadelle, in the summer of 1943.

Of these 42 Tigers, 35 were operational at the start of the Kursk offensive on 5 July 1943 of which three were lost, one from each company. Five replacements arrived for the 13.Kompanie/SS-Panzer Regiment 1 on 25 July 1943, before it was ordered to Italy with Panzer grenadier Division LSSAH. Before leaving on 28 July 1943, nine Tigers were transferred to.sKp/SS-PzRgt.2 and eight Tigers to 9.Kp/SS-PzRgt.3

The s.Kp/SS-PzRgt.2 remained on the Eastern Front, receiving five tigers in September 1943 and a further five in January 1944. Having lost their last Tiger, the unit was ordered to return to the West on 14 April 1944.

Clean up of the KwK 36 L/56 barrel
The crew of this Tiger I, of sKp/SS-PzRgt.2, is cleaning the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 barrel.

The 9.Kp/SS-PzRgt.3 also remained in the East Front and received five replacement Tigers on 20 September 1943. Originally ordered to return to the West to refit as part of the parent schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101, the order was rescinded by Hitler and 9.Kompanie was then refitted with ten Tigers in May 1944. The final five replacement Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on 26 July 1944.

The Koenigstiger - s.SS.PzAbt.501 - Battle of the Bulge, 1944

The Tiger II nbr. 222 of SS Unterscharführer Kurt Sowa of s.SS.PzAbt.501 advances passing the Kaiserbarracke intersection in the Ardennes shortly after the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, and gives the fallschirmjäger of the 1. Fallschirmjäger Abt./9. Fallschirmjäger Rgt. a lift. The 1. Fallschirmjäger Abt. was temporarily attached to Kampfgruppe Peiper . The identification of the Tiger II, its commander, and the units in the photo was kindly provided to us by Ernesto Yubi Mendoza and Juan Carlos Castilla Seba.

Schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101

By an order on 19 July 1943, a schwere Panzer Abteilung was formed for I.SS-Panzer Korps. Two new heavy companies were to be created and 13.Kompanie of SS-Panzer Regiment 1 was to be incorporated as the third company.

Tiger I, 3rd Kp. - s.SS.PzAbt.101

This Tiger of 3rd Kompanie of sSS-PzAbt.101 is a mid production vehicle that has its single headlight moved to the hull top position, and is equipped with older style roadwheels and a binocular gunner's sight.

Having been pulled out of Russia in response to the landings in Sicily in July 1943, Panzer Grenadier Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) was refitted and sent to Italy in August 1943. Attached to the division were elements of the newly formed schwere SS Panzer Abteilung of the I.SS Panzer Korps with 27 Tigers that had been issued in July 1943. As a result of Italy's defection, LSSAH remained in northern Italy until mid-October.

The unit was then transferred back to the Eastern Front where it was renamed schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101.

The 1. and 2. Kompanien went east with LSSAH but the rest of the battalion remained behind at a training ground. Eleven Tigers were received in February 1944 and on 4 April 1944, the remnants of Panzer Division LSSAH were ordered to return to the West to refit.

In the interim, the rest of sSS-PzAbt.101 had received 19 Tigers, shipped between October 1943 and January 1944. After the return of the rest of the battalion from the Eastern Front, a further 26 Tigers were received during April 1944.

The leading elements of the 101st reached the front in Normandy on 12 June 1944, six days after the Allied landings. By the end of June, the 101st had lost 15 of its 45 Tigers, and was pulled out in July to refit with the Tiger II. The 101st still had 25 Tigers of which 21 were operational on 7 August 1944, but these were all lost during the retreat in August, the remnants of the 101st being ordered back to the training grounds to rest and refit, in Senneläger, with the Tiger II on September 1944.

Tiger I, SPzAbt.101, destroyed.
All Tigers of sSS-PzAbt.101 were destroyed in Normandy, 1944.

At first it was planned to outfit the battalion with two companies of Tiger Is and one company of Jagdtigers. On 4 November, Hitler ordered that none of the Jagdtigers were to be issued to Tiger battalions. Therefore, the SS 101 was renamed SS 501 Tiger Abteilung and was ordered to outfit the third company with Tiger Is. This order was later rescinded and the third company was also outfitted with Tiger IIs.

Due to severe production problems, only six Tiger IIs had been sent to the SS 501st from the ordnance depot on 17 and 18 October. A further eight were shipped in November, for a total of 14 Tiger IIs, enough to outfit one company. Finally 20 more were shipped between 26 November and 3 December. These 34 Tigers IIs were all that were available for issue from the ordnance depot before the SS 501st was loaded on trains and sent to the Western Front on 5 December. To these were added 11 Tiger IIs confiscated from sPzAbt 509 replacement shipping, that was then redirected to the sSS-PzAbt.501.

The SS 501st was sent to the Western Front as a key unit for the Ardennes Offensive, unloaded the last of ten trains at Liblau-Euskirchen on 9 December. The SS 501st reported loss of 13 Tiger IIs during fighting in December before a status report revealed a total of 31 Tiger IIs (18 operational). As ordered on 24 January 1945, the SS 501st was transferred to the Eastern Front with the I.SS Panzer Korps.

Schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 102

Tiki , from s.SS.PzAbt.102
"TIKI" - A very famous Tiger of sSSPzAbt.102, 2.SS Panzergrenadier Division "Das Reich".
"TIKI" is an acronym for a grilfriend's name that stands for Theresa-Katrin or Theresa-Kristine.
Artwork © Copyright of Mr. Jean Restayn, who kindly gave us permission to use it.

Originally created in April 1943 as the schwere Panzer Abteilung for the I.SS-Panzer Korps, three Tiger companies were deployed at the front but the headquarters remained behind at he training grounds. On 1 June 1943, the I.SS-Panzer Korps was renamed II.SS-Panzer Korps and the 13.Kp./SS-Pz.Rgt.1 was lost to the sSS-PzAbt. for the new I.SS-Panzer Korps. A new third Tiger kompanie was created and on 22 October 1943, the unit was renamed schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 102.

When the 9.Kompanie/SS-Panzer Regiment 3 was ordered to remain with the 3.SS-Panzer Division 'Totenkopf' in the east, the 120nd was left with two new companies with no experience and the remains of the schwere Kompanie of SS-Panzer Regiment 2 'Das Reich' which returned from the front in April. Six Tigers were shipped from the ordnance depot on 21 April 1944, followed by another 39 between 20 and 29 May 1944.

TIKI on exercise
"TIKI" again, on exercise maneuvers.

Ordered to the front in Normandy, the first seven trains unloaded west of Paris on 27 June 1944, however, the threat of attacks from the fighter-bombers was sufficient to delay their arrival at the front until 7 July. On 20 July, the 120nd still had 42 Tigers of which 17 were operational.

No fewer than 30 operational Tigers were reported on 30 July and 21 on 8 August 1944 but all these had been lost by 7 September 1944 and the unit was ordered to return to the training grounds to rest and refit with the Tiger II.

The s.SS PzAbt.102 (later renamed 502) was ordered on 9 September 1944 to transfer to Senneläger to rest and refit. Due to the shortage, the issue of Tiger IIs was slow in coming. Finally 31 Tiger IIs were shipped from the ordnance depot between 14 February and 6 March 1945. The SS 503rd was transported to the Eastern Front to Heeres Gruppe Mitte starting in mid March, logging their first engagement in combat at Sachsendorf on 22 March. By 27 April 1944 (last report) there were only 5 operational Tiger IIs.

Schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 103

Tiger I, late production series, sSSPzAbt.503
Tiger I, late production series, of the sSSPzAbt.503.
Artwork © Copyright of Mr. Jean Restayn, who kindly gave us permission to use it.

The s.SS-Panzer Abteilung 103 was originally formed on 1 July 1943 as the II.Abt/SS-Pz.Rgt. 11 and sent to Yugoslavia to fight as infantry, however, at the end of November, the battalion was converted to the s SS-PzAbt.103.

Issued six Tigers in February for training, the 103rd was ordered to give them to another unit in March 1944. Another six Tiger Is were arrived at the training grounds on 26 May and four more in August. On 20 October, all ten Tigers were given to sPzAbt.(FKL)301 and the 103rd was outfitted with the Tiger II before being ordered to the Eastern Front. The s.SS PzAbt.103, later renamed the 503rd, had a total of 39 (instead of the full complement of 45) Tiger IIs and was loaded on to trains on 27 January 1945, and sent to the Eastern Front in the Heeres Gruppe Weichsel sector. By 15 April 1945 (last report), the 503rd reported a total of 12 Tiger IIs, of which 10 were still operational.


Tiger I, used for training of Hungarian crews, 1944.
Hungarian crews being trained on th Tiger I, 1944. The Tiger belongs to sPzAbt.503, temporarily attached to Kampfgruppe Mittermeier.

On 22 July 1944, three Tiger Is left the ordnance depot by rail for delivery to the Hungarian Army. In addition, an unknown number of Tiger Is were acquired from the sPzAbt.503 or the 509th who had been assigned to train the Hungarian crews.

Performance of the Tiger Battalions in Action:

Kill/Loss Ratio of the Tiger Battalions (1942 - 1945):
Unit Losses Kills Kill/Loss Ratio
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501 120 450 3.75
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502 107 1,400 13.08
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503 252 1,700 6.75
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 504 109 250 2.29
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 505 126 900 7.14
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 506 179 400 2.23
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 507 104 600 5.77
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 508 78 100 1.28
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 509 120 500 4.17
Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 510 65 200 3.08
13./Panzer-Regiment Großdeutschland 6 100 16.67
III./Panzer-Regiment Großdeutschland 98 500 5.10
13./SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 42 400 9.52
8./SS-Panzer-Regiment 2 31 250 8.06
9./SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 56 500 8.93
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101 (501) 107 500 4.67
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 102 (502) 76 600 7.89
Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 103 (503) 39 500 12.82
TOTAL: 1,715 9,850 5.74
Source: Tiger I Information Center web site.

  1. Germany's TIGER Tanks - Tiger I and II: Combat Tactics; Thomas L Jentz;
    ISBN 0-7643-0225-6
  2. An Illustrated Guide to World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles; Salamander Books Ltd.
    ISBN 0-86101-083-3
  3. TIGER I Heavy Tank 1942-1945; Thomas L Jentz, Hilary Doyle and Peter Sarson; Osprey Publishing Ltd.;
    ISBN 1-85532-337-0
  4. The TIGER Tank; Roger Ford; Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers;
    ISBN 0-7603-0524-2
  5. TIGER in action - Armor Number 27; Squadron/Signal Publications;
    ISBN 0-89747-230-6
  6. TIGER I on the Eastern Front; Jean Restayn; Histoire and Collections;
    ISBN 2-908182-82-3
  7. Tiger Battalions in World War II; George Forty; Zenith Press;
    ISBN-13: 978-0-7603-3049-4
Thomas L. Jentz'  Tiger Tanks - Tiger I and II Combat Tactics Cover. Jean Restayn's Tiger I On the Eastern Front Cover.
Inside the Tiger I - Anatomy of a Cat, by Jean Restayn - Cover Jean Restayn's Tiger I On the Western Front Cover

You can find Mr Jean Restayn's books at J.J.Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. and
Histoire and Collections:
5, Avenue de la Republique
75541, Paris, cedex 11

Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II By George Forty
Tiger Tank Battalions in World War II.
By George Forty.

Sledgehammers, by Chris Wilbeck
Sledgehammers, by Christopher W. Wilbeck.

Tiger Links!

You can find Mr Jean Restayn's books at J.J.Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. and
Histoire and Collections:
5, Avenue de la Republique
75541, Paris, cedex 11

Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle Website!
Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle Web Site.

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