Purchase these Items

Products mentioned in this Article



The Tiger (P) In North Africa

The Tiger (P) In North Africa
with Adam Brooker
If there is one tank that almost any wargamer knows, it’s the iconic German Tiger tank! I would also think that it is one of the first tanks that any German player buys ( I know it was mine!), and anyone that knows nothing about WW2, would know the Tiger by name alone. But most people do not know about its step-brother the Tiger (P), or Porsche Tiger, designed by the brilliant Ferdinand Porsche. 

It was the failed competitor in the Germans need for a 45t Heavy Tank to combat the more heavily armed designs seen in the invasion of France, like the Char B1, and Matilda II, the need was doubly reinforced when they saw designs like the KV-1 and T-34 during the early stages of Operation Barbarossa, that were superior to anything that the Germans currently had.... there were multiple stories of tanks like the Char B1 and KV-1 being virtually immune to German 5cm or 7.5cm short barrelled weapons on Panzer III & IV’s, not to mention the smaller guns on the Panzer II or Panzer 35/38t tanks. 

A French Char B1 Bis, Eure, commanded by Capt Pierre Billotte took out an entire Panzer Company (13 tanks), from the 8th Panzer Regiment, near the town of Stonne on May 16th 1940, with no real damage in return despite 140 hits. This was one of the first engagements that convinced the Germans of a need for a new Heavy Tank.

 Tanks like the KV-1 or Char B1 were usually only defeated after suicidal close range attacks with high losses or penetrated by 8.8cm Flak 37 anti-aircraft guns used in a ground attack role, which provided the inspiration for a heavy tank using the 8.8cm gun. 

The Tiger (P) In North Africa

Another such story is the ambushing of the 6th Panzer Divison’s Panzer IV 75mm and Panzer 35t near Noviy Uchkoz in 1941 as the Germans were advancing on Leningrad. 5 KV-1 tanks under Lt Zinoviy Kolobanov, ambushed the column on a narrow road near swampy ground, while in prepared positions, hull down, with extra AP ammunition, but with orders to engage with only one tank at a time to not give away their position and number.

 The Tiger (P) In North Africa

The German panzers advanced as well as at least 2 anti-tank guns (possibly Pak38s) and were ambushed after some motorcycle troops passed, the lead and tailing tanks were destroyed, boxing the column in and they could only engage the KV-1 from a distance, as their thinner tracks meant they kept getting bogged in the swamp. This meant they could not get close enough to penetrate the thick KV-1 armour, despite hitting Kolobanov’s tank an estimated 156 times, no shots penetrated, although the KV-1 gun sight was damaged during the battle, and they had to aim through the gun barrel until the gunner replaced it under fire. 

Eventually Kolobanov’s KV-1 ran out of ammunition, and retreated, allowing his fellow KV-1 tankers a turn, but not before his crew had wiped out 22 German Panzers and 2 anti-tank guns by themselves. The rest of his unit attacked and wiped out the column, with a total of 43 Panzers being destroyed for no losses over a half hour battle... The Germans could not continue to afford losses like this and needed an answer, and quickly! Luckily they had one coming... but first let’s see how we use these in the new North Africa book!

The Tiger (P) In North Africa

With the release of the mid-war North Africa Compilation book, we finally get to use the Wildcard Slot in the Force Organisation chart! Each Nation has a number of Wildcard Units that they can choose from, so far Germany has 1, Italy has 1, the British has 3, and the US has 2. So what are the rules for using them?

Each Nation can take up to one of each of their Wildcard Units per Force. So in the case of the Germans at the moment, it is just the Tiger P, but if you were the British, you could take up to one of each of the three they have available, eg. TOG 2, Boarhound, and Churchill GC (3”).

The Tiger (P) In North Africa

As mentioned before the Tiger (P), or VK 45.01 P was the losing competitor in the German Heavy Tank trial, it lost out to the Henschel design VK 45.01 H, which eventually became the Tiger I, although they both had the same turret supplied by Krupp. The nickname ‘Tiger’ was actually coined by Porsche, and Hitler liked the name, so it was then known as the Tiger tank, despite the Porsche design losing.

The German design teams were asked as early as May 1941 to submit designs for a 45-ton heavy tank, armed with the 8.8cm Kwk 36 L/56 gun, a variant of the successful 8.8cm Flak 37, and by April 1942 the Henschel design was awarded, and by August 1942 production began.

The Porsche design lost, due to it being slightly less manoeuvrable than the Henschel design, the scarcity of good quality copper needed for its electric motors, and it was mechanically unreliable, as its new technological design was prone to frequent breakdowns during the trials.... in front of Hitler himself, often due to overheating, so air cooled blowers were added to the engine deck. The armour and weapons though was essentially the same as the Henschel design, it had slightly less range and top speed. The Henschel design also had malfunctions, but was seen as a better design overall.

The Tiger (P) In North Africa

The Tiger P used two V-10 air cooled Porsche Type 101 petrol engines, mounted in the rear, and each engine would drive a separate generator on each side of the tank, which would then power an electric motor on each track from the rear drive sprocket. So it did not have the typical power transmission or gearbox, with the advantage supposed to be a smooth transmission of power, with no need to change gears, and excellent torque. But in practice as it was new technology, the bugs could not be ironed out in time for the Heavy Tank Trial.

Its suspension was of a new design with six road wheels and two drive sprockets, with no interlocking road wheels, so they were easier to replace in the field, and wouldn’t jam up as easily in mud or snow, like Tiger I did in Soviet winters. The more powerful drive motors allowed it to cross difficult terrain more easily. Additionally its turret was sat further forward, to compensate for the heavier weight in the rear, but this was neither good nor bad, but just different again to the Tiger I.  

There must have been plans unofficially to award the Tiger P the trail before it was finished, as 40 were planned to go North Africa in 1942, as their air cooled engines were expected to be more effective in the hot and dusty African climate, and the hulls already made. If the Tiger P could have been made operational in time, it could have been fielded at the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, possibly swinging it in the axis favour. Instead the German units expecting them did not receive them until early 1943, and by that time the Allies were already invading Axis North Africa.

Porsche went ahead and made 90 hulls in addition to the 10 made for the trial, despite not being awarded it yet. It was known that Hitler was a fan of Ferdinand Porsche, and allowed him to design other German tanks. They fixed the reliability issues about 6 months too late, and turned the 90 Hulls into the Ferdinand Heavy Tank Destroyer, as well as a single command tank Tiger P, and some recovery vehicles on Tiger P hulls.

 The Tiger (P) In North Africa

 So what does the Wildcard Tiger P look like in Flames of War? See above! The cost is the same as the Tiger but with a few small differences and it still has the same Escort Tank options. As you can essentially get the same vehicle as a wildcard option, instead of taking a support option, it’s an option to take the Diana now instead of a Tiger? If you have the points... I do think it’s an excellent model, and I’ll be using one as a HQ tank for my 653 Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung Force in one of my Eastern Front lists. I will also be getting 2 more as a cool “what if” unit for my DAK force. While it’s not strictly necessary I definitely see it as a rule of cool model, and were very much sought after recently.

The Tiger (P) In North Africa

The differences in game for the Tiger P in comparison to the Tiger 1 is a better Cross value of 2+, whilst in the Tiger I it is 3+. The Tiger P is also slightly slower than the Tiger I, with a Tactical speed of 8”, Terrain Dash of 12”, Cross Country of 14”, and a Road Dash of 16”. The Tiger 1 has a faster Tactical speed of 10”, the same Terrain Dash of 12”, and a faster Cross Country of 16”, and a Road Dash of 18”. It’s not a massive difference, but it does mean that the Tiger P will have a greater chance to cross difficult terrain, and they both have the same 3+ chance of making a successful Blitz.  

Personally I like the 2+ cross and the cool factor of the Tiger P, but plenty of people like the guaranteed extra 2”... it’s all about how you use it I guess!

I still think it’s a great historical edition, and an excellent model, even though it was never actually fielded in North Africa! But it did see action on the Eastern Front, and lots more as the Ferdinand/Elefant Panzerjäger. I can’t wait to see what extra goodies we get in the Eastern Front Compilation Book? I personally like the addition of these What If? units, but I know some others don’t. As long as players know some were only ever prototypes, or had very limited use, or even just designs on the drawing board, I think its fine...

Last Updated On Thursday, March 17, 2022 by Luke at Battlefront