- For the Steel Division: Normandy 44 unit see SD:Bef. Tiger
Bef. Tiger is a German Support unit in Steel Division II.
The legendary heavy tank of the Third Reich had a long development history. Its origins lie in the Waffenamt's 1935 request for a new tank capable of going against French Char 2C and Char B1 heavy tanks, with the various designs proposed by Henschel, Porsche, and Krupp coalescing into a 54 ton heavy tank bearing the 8.8 cm KwK 36 L/56 tank gun that entered production in August 1942. The immense weight of the Tiger, a result of the increase in armour ordered after the experiences of Fall Barbarossa and engagements with T-34 and KV-1 tanks, resulted in a design that pushed the limits of German engineering to the breaking point.
The Tiger proved to be a deadly adversary when properly maintained and manned by experienced crews. The combination of a powerful main gun, thick armor, and a powerful engine - Maybach HL 210 P45 650 HP (HL 230 P45 700 HP from the 251st produced) - made it a deadly predator, stalking the battlefields. Fortunately for the Allies and Soviets, the Tiger was prohibitively expensive to construct, with only 1 347 produced before production switched to its younger sibling, the Bengal Tiger, in 1944. . The last 54 Tigers produced in 1944 (before production switched to the Tiger B or Königstiger) were actually refurbished hulls mated to whatever functional turrets and components remained in stock.
The Tiger followed a rather conventional design and has a rather box-like structure instead of sloped armour as was introduced in the Panther. Less effective, the Tiger's armour nonetheless proved to be nigh impervious to most Allied anti-tank fire at the time. When first encountered in Tunisia, 1942, the heavy tank was virtually impervious to British 6-pdrs. This prompted the Allies to introduce more powerful anti-tank weaponry such as the 17-pdr and the 76mm. Its key shortcomings were the lack of sufficiently trained crews, especially as the war progressed, and the high costs of manufacture.