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Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa
with Ryan Jeffares

As North Africa is released, it brings with it a variety of new Vehicles which only existed as prototypes or only saw limited combat service, in this article we will examine the Tiger (P) looking at the historical background to this tank, it’s statistics in game as well as an examination of possible tactics and army lists.

In May of 1941, Hitler laid out a new series of specifications for a heavy tank, mounting the 88mm Kwk 36 L/56 in a Krupp designed turret. The tank was to have 100mm of frontal armour, 80mmm of side armour and weigh 45 tons, although this would later be increased to 60 tons. Both the Henschel and Porsche companies took part in this design competition, and the Henschel design was ultimately successful, resulting in the better-known Tiger I. 

The Porsche design, the VK 4501 (P) was unique in that it made use of an electric transmission, where the tank’s engines would power a pair of generators, which would power a pair of motors which actually moved the tank’s tracks. Though this system does allow for smoother gear changes and superior cross-country mobility, it comes at a cost, as an electric transmission is a complex piece of machinery, which untried in tanks at the time. The complexity of the transmission caused a series of breakdowns during testing, which led Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production, to cancel the Tiger (P). 

 The story of the Porsche Tiger would have ended there if not for the overconfidence of Dr Ferdinand Porsche, who had ordered the construction of 100 Porsche Tigers in anticipation that his design would be victorious in the design competition. Despite the failure of the prototype, these tanks would not go to waste, with the majority of these hulls being rebuilt into Ferdinand tank destroyers, though a modified Tiger (P) did see combat service with the 653rd Heavy Panzerjäger Battalion.

The Porsche Tiger is very similar to the regular Tiger I, as it has the same ratings, armour and weapons as its cousin. Where it differs is in its speed and mobility, the Tiger (P) has a slower tactical speed of 8”/15cm, while it is 2”/5cm slower when dashing outside of Terrain. However, the Tiger (P) has a 2+ cross value giving it an unparalleled ability to move through terrain, allowing it to barely fear failing a cross check at a crucial time.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

The Tiger (P) has a similar series of weaknesses and strengths to the Tiger I, with its high points cost relegating it to the role of a support unit outside of the largest games. While its front armour is formidable, it is vulnerable to heavy anti-tank fire in large quantities, so you should avoid throwing it towards a battery of enemy 17 pdrs or 88mm guns unless you have the guns pinned down, the protection of smoke, or the situation is truly dire. The Tiger’s armour does offer excellent protection against medium tanks and anti-tank guns, but heavier guns can and will pose a threat, in these cases, you need to focus on minimising the chances of enemy fire hitting you. It is in this situation that the Tiger (P) has a marked superiority over its rival, due to its superior cross value, as this allows you to plough your Tiger through woods and stone walls with little concern that it will bog and get caught out of position. By using cover and range, you can drastically reduce the changes of being hit of anti-tank assets able of hurting you. The tiger’s long range can also be a key tool in dictating engagements as it allows you to destroy enemy tanks from well behind your screening infantry forcing them to react. 

Force construction also plays a role in getting the most out of your Tiger (P), as artillery can play a key role in neutralising enemy anti-tank guns, or at least forcing them to move away from the template. Given enough time, a battery of mortars, nebelwefers or 10.5cm guns can destroy any gun unit, clearing the path for your advance. If you need to push forwards or move into the open to contest an objective or destroy a crucial target, the smoke bombardments these batteries can fire may also be a useful tool in limiting the effectiveness of enemy guns. As always, there’s also the option of attacking whichever objective has fewer anti-tank weapons.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

While anti-tank guns do pose a threat to the Tiger (P), possibly the most dangerous foes are massed medium tanks or well-equipped infantry. In general, apart from some new tanks like the M27, medium tanks will struggle to penetrate a Tiger’s front armour, if they can penetrate at all. As a result, most players will use these tanks to try and flank a tiger, as its marginally lower side armour will allow them a better chance to penetrate it. Therefore, it’s crucial you try and protect the flanks of your Tiger, either by using terrain to prevent flanking shots or obscure them, or by placing units on the flanks to stop enemy units from moving through them. Supporting infantry can also help safeguard your tigers as they can provide anti-infantry firepower to keep away feisty Americans with bazookas, while adding much needed bodies to help you assault enemy objectives.

In more mobile battles, recon units such as light armoured cars can also help to keep your precious 60-ton behemoth alive. By making use of their spearhead move before the game starts, you can use your recon to push out your deployment zone. In this instance however, rather than using this area to deploy your units further forward, you can use your reconnaissance vehicles to limit where the enemy can spearhead to, effectively ‘screening off’ parts of your deployment zone.  

A tiger also needs anti-tank assets supporting it, you certainly shouldn’t rely on one to provide all your anti-tank weaponry. Either mix it in alongside at guns to help your infantry hold their positions, or surround it with lighter panzers which can manoeuvre and take ground while covered by the Tiger’s more powerful gun.

 A key strategy people will use against you to mitigate your Tiger’s strengths is simply to ignore it, focusing all their units wherever the tiger isn’t. One way to counter this is to deploy your Tiger centrally, so that it can move to focus on either flank regardless of where your opponent chooses to deploy. However, on the offence, it’s almost impossible for your Tiger to be ignored as you can use it as a sledgehammer. By   it can move on an objective, using its resilience to force a reaction.

Sample Army Lists
This first list uses a core of Fallschirmjäger, which provide powerful infantry equally capable of holding or taking objectives, backed by integral mortars and supporting anti-tank guns and reconnaissance.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

This list is centred around a Fallschirmjäger Company, the most elite Infantry available to the Germans in North Africa. Rated Fearless, Veteran and Careful, they are hard to hit, tough to dig out of their foxholes and unlikely to run away, complementing the stubborn and resilient nature of the Tiger well. The Fallschirmjäger will be fearsome on the attack, their high motivation and skill making them brutal in assault, destroying enemy infantry whilst supported by the Tiger and the lighter AT guns provide a higher volume of AT fire. On the defence, the paratroopers will hold their positions, covered by the supporting 5cm and 7.62cm guns, while the Tiger will form the key element in any counterattack, providing highly concentrated firepower.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

Another benefit of the Fallschirmjäger Company is that is that has the option for an integral mortar platoon, which becomes even more attractive with the Fallschirmjäger 10.5cm Mortar Platoon, which mitigates the shortcomings of the 8cm Stummel mortar, increasing its range, Anti -Tank, and firepower.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

Finally, the Sd Kfz 231 armoured cars are included in the list primarily for their spearhead move, though their ability to threaten flanks may prove useful to threaten exposed anti-tank or artillery guns. Finally, I included the Pure Luck card to provide a reroll which might prove crucial, especially if your Tiger fails an armour save.

The second list is a Panzer III Company, which uses Tigers to help overcome the weaknesses of the Panzer III, especially those equipped with the short 5cm gun.

Using the Tiger (P) in North Africa

This list primarily aims to use its armour to outmanoeuvre and destroy an opponent. The Panzer IIIs are competent medium tanks but likely will lose protracted duels against Shermans or T-34s. Here the Tiger‘s role is to provide firepower, whilst also providing a distraction, giving your Panzers the opportunity to get around the flanks. The Fallschirmjäger Platoon provides enough infantry to hold an objective or to push enemy infantry off of one.

In terms of artillery, I did consider the Lorraine Schlepper, but I decided on the 10.5cm Howitzer as it has the ability to fire smoke. The all-important Sd Kfz 231s appear once more to provide a spearhead move, though in this case they are joined by the Panzer IIs, which can also hassle the enemy flanks or destroy light armour.

Hopefully this has given you a nice place to leap off from into using your own Tiger (P) in your next Mid-war games.

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