King Tiger

Craig Allen reports on the progress of a Tiger II restoration in Switzerland

In the climactic scenes of the film a Bridge too Far (1977), King Tiger Tanks, (actually disguised Leopard 1s) are seen blasting the beleaguered Paras out of what remained of the Arnhem Bridgehead.

The scenes give a powerful impression of the impact these heavy tanks must have had on the battlefield, although their actual effectiveness in combat was to prove less impressive.

Officially designated the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf B they combined the thick armour of the Tiger I with the sloped design of the Panther. The 7.3in frontal plates made them virtually invulnerable to head-on attack while with their long-barrelled 8.8cm gun they could destroy allied tanks at over a mile.

First used in action by the 503rd heavy Panzer Battalion in Normandy many of the early models succumbed to engine and gearbox failure, often being destroyed by their own crews to prevent capture.

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