Tiger Tank Special.

I am 12,500 words into the first novel of my new ‘Cold War’ series. There will be three books in total, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Warsaw Pact in the mid 1980’s. Book 1, ‘The Red Effect’, will encompass the intelligence build up leading to the Warsaw Pact strike against the NATO forces lined up against them.

The Cold War era started very soon after the end of the second world war, when the communist east, led by the Soviet Union, and the Western world, led by the United States and its NATO allies, faced each across what became known as the ‘Iron Curtain’.

But, I couldn’t resist having a break and visit the ‘Tank Fest’ at the Bovington Tank Museum. As usual, they put up a great show. For this Post, I want to cover the Tiger Tank, as Bovington has one of the few still running Tigers.

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The legendary Tiger Tank.

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When it first appeared, in 1942, it was a quantum leap in tank design.

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Torsion bar suspension supports the running wheels.

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Two battalions of Tiger tanks were despatched to Tunisia, including 17 from the 504th Heavy Tank Battalion, 

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This tank, 131, was the first tank of the third troop of the first company of the 504th.

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Looking into the turret from the escape hatch.

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The breech of the 88mm Gun.

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Close up of the breech.

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The radio operator and driver would have been down below in the main compartment of the tank.

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In the turret you would have found the loader, gunner and the commander, along over 90 rounds of 88mm ammunition

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The breech of the 88mm, KwK 36 L/56 gun.

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Powered by a Maybach HL230 P45 (V-12 petrol) engine.

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Weighing in at 57 tons, it could still manage a speed of 24mph.

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The exhaust covers. The exhaust would get so hot, it would melt the paintwork.

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Tiger’s air filters, certainly needed in dusty Tunisia.

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This Tiger ran for the first time, since the end of the war, in 2004. It was first seen at the ‘Tankfest’ in 2006.

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This particular tank saw action against Churchill tanks of A squadron, 48th Tank Regiment, in the Tunisian hills on 21st April 1943.

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Frontal armour of 100mm and frontal turret armour of 120mm, it was a formidable tank.

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Standing proud.

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It was knocked out by a Churchill from the 48th Tank Regiment, the shot striking beneath the barrel of the gun.

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See a Tiger 1, on the move.

My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my research and experiences with you.  I will continue with my new ‘Cold War’ series, supporting the writing of my new ‘Cold War’ series of novels, covering the hypothetical invasion of West Germany by the Warsaw Pact in the 80’s. ‘The Red Effect’. so keep your eyes peeled.

Photographs are copyrighted to Harvey Black

Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Part 5

I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

They leave temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

The German Army, and the Fallschirmjager, were soon to experience the hostile Russian winters.

By mid-July, the German Army had come within a few kilometres of Kiev. 1st Panzer Army headed south as the 17th Army advanced east, trapping three Soviet armies near Uman. They eliminated the pocket and pushed across the Dnieper.

2nd Panzer Army crossed the River Desna, flanked by 2nd Army, trapping a further four Soviet armies.

4th Panzer Army was again heading for Leningrad. Reinforced by tanks from Army Group Centre. On the 8th August they broke through the Russian defences. By the end of August, 4th Panzer Army, supported by 16th Army and 18th Army, had got within 30 miles of Leningrad.

At this staff, Hitler ordered the final destruction of the City, and by the 19th September Army Group North got to within 7 miles of Leningrad, but casualties were mounting. Hitler lost patience and ordered the City to be starved rather than stormed.

Some of the types of equipment used in this biggest ever invasion of a country are shown below. Most of the photographs were taken at the Bovington Tank Museum.

T-34/85. 

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Speed 33mph.

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T-34/85. 26.5 tons.

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85mm Zis gun.

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Big Cat brought in to fight the Russian tanks.

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Panther. Larger and much better quality than the T-34. But production was slow and there were never enough of them.

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Crew of five protected by 80mm of armour.

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44 tons. Speed of 28.5 mph. 75mm gun.

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Panther.

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Pz Kpfw VI Ausf B

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88mm.  King Tiger or Royal Tiger. SS Panzer battalion 101.

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The Allies first met this in Normandy, soon after D-Day.

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Royal Tiger.

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68 tons. Armour 150mm thick. Speed 24mph.

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Tiger I, mobile at the Bovington Tank Museum

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T-34

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Destroyed T-34

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T-34’s in a Russian winter.

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T-34 graveyard.

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KV heavyweights.

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My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my forthcoming novel.

Photographs and Blog is copyrighted to Harvey Black

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Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Part 4

I have just finished writing my third novel in the Devils with Wings series, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun. The Fallschirmjager, after their successful battle taking Crete in only 10 days, are shipped to Poland to partake in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

They leave temperatures in excess of forty degrees to be used, not in an airborne operation, but as a fire brigade, plugging gaps in the line around Leningrad. They were Army Group North’s strategic reserve.  They were quickly placed into the fray, fighting along the River Neva, where temperatures dropped to below -30 degrees, sometimes as low as -40. They were successful at plugging the gaps and preventing the Soviet Union from exploiting their bridgeheads over the River Neva, but at a price. Some units suffered up to 75% casualties. Many who had survived the assault on the Fortress Eben Emael, (Devils with Wings) and the fierce fighting on the Island of Crete (Devils with Wings: Silk Drop) met their fate in this bitter struggle with the atrocious weather and the never ending Soviet hordes.

The German Army, and the Fallschirmjager, were soon to experience the hostile Russian winters.

Now across the Daugava near Daugavpils, Army Group North was in striking distance of Leningrad. As a result of their worsening supply situation, Hitler ordered the Panzer Groups to hold their positions, giving the infantry a chance to catch up.

This held Army Group North’s advance up for over a week, giving the Soviets an opportunity to build up their defences around the city of Leningrad, and along the banks of the River Luga.

The delays gave the Soviets time to gear up for a massive counter-attack against Army Group Centre whose ultimate objective was Smolensk, which guarded the road to Moscow, where they faced 6 Russian armies. On the 6th July, the Soviets attacked with over 700 tanks, but it was crushed by overwhelming German air superiority. After defeating the counter-attack, 3rd Panzer Army closed on Smolensk from the north, while 2nd Panzer Army, after crossing the River Dnieper, closed on Smolensk from the south.

By the 18th July, the two Panzer Groups came within 10 miles of closing the gap to trap three Russian armies, but it was a further 8 days before it could be closed. 300,000 Soviet soldiers were captured, 100,000 escaping to help bolster the defences of the road to Moscow.

Some of the types of equipment used in this biggest ever invasion of a country are shown below. Most of the photographs were taken at the Bovington Tank Museum.

Panzer VI Model B, Sdkz 182. 

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The Royal or King Tiger.

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Crew of 5, 150mm armour with a top speed of 35kph.

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1 x 88mm gun and 2 x 7.92mm MGs.

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68 tons.

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Not all armoured vehicles were huge. This NSU Springer SdKfz 304, is a mobile bomb on tracks.

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Crew of 1, armour 10mm, weight 2.4 tons, 330 kilograms of explosives onboard.

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Drivers compartment, top speed of  42kph.

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Sd Kfz 303, Leichte Ladungstrager. The Goliath, remote-controlled, tracked mine was even smaller. 1.2m long, o.61m wide and .3m high. It carried up to 100 kilograms of explosives.

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Used for destroying tanks, disrupting infantry formations and demolition of buildings. Powered by a Zundapp 703cc, two-cylinder engine.

Video clip of one in action.

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88mm Panzerjager. Jagdpanther, SdKfz 177.

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Hunting Panther, with an 88mm PAK43 gun.

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Crew of 5, 80mm armour with a top speed of 47kph.

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45.5 tons. Mantlet 100mm thick, Entered service in the Summer of 1944.

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My intention is not to portray a particular message, but just share some of my photographs and information with you and help set the scene for my forthcoming novel.

Photographs and Blog is copyrighted to Harvey Black

41BGbEG9IpL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_