College of Arts and Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)


David Crum


World War II, German Military History, Tiger tank, Wehrmacht, Heinz Guderian, Otto Carius




After finding their tanks outclassed in terms of firepower and armor in 1941, Germany opted to design and field a tank that could defeat any enemy tank on the battlefield while remaining nearly impervious to enemy anti-tank rounds. The Tiger I and II were more than capable of serving in this role, but by the time of their introduction, Germany was on the verge of fighting a defensive war that would require large numbers of tanks that could rapidly relocate across a vast front line. The Tiger tank family has been the subject of hundreds, if not thousands, of publications, but these generally are either detailed technical descriptions of the tanks or its use in the field. This research will approach the Tiger from the point of its combat effectiveness on all fronts in which it was used, its impact on Allied planners, and its effect on German logistics and production through the latter half of the Second World War. In this context, the Tiger’s ability to destroy tanks has been relegated largely to the sidelines, as simply destroying an enemy machine could never have the impact the German High Command had expected. Rather, this research approaches the Tiger in a defensive role, as a force spread among assaulting German units, and as a mobile reserve used to contain Soviet and Allied breakthroughs as they occurred. Using in-depth analysis of memoirs, battle reports, official unit histories from the Germans and Allies, as well as archival documents, this study proves the Tiger tanks were not effective in the role for which they were designed, placed a significant strain on an already weak German logistic system, and encouraged the Soviets and Allies to produced weapons that were far more lethal against all German vehicles, not just the Tigers.

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