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Production Modifications

Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger 1 Sd.Kfz. 181

For most German tanks during World War II, modifications to the initial design were frequently introduced during production runs to improve overall performance, simpify manufaturing, or in response to material shortages. The aim of this page is to provide useful information to tank modellers and enthusiasts, on key official changes that affected its external appearance. Illustrations will be provided where available. It is not intended to be exhaustive and does not include the numerous changes to the interior and internal components as well as unofficial modifications made by crews in the field. The modifications are listed roughly in the order in which they occurred headed by the component most affected. Approximate dates are given where they are known.

Storage BinsThe large turret rear storage bin was not mounted onto production models until turret number 56. Prior to that. two side bins were used for some vehicles while sPz.Abt.503 fitted Panzer III bins to their Tigers. All Tigers were retrofitted with the new storage bin by Summer 1943.
Air FiltersThe Feifel Air Filters mounted on the upper corners of the hull rear was modified for mid-production tigers. They were no longer installed after August 1943.
Track Replacement Cable & ToolsThe track replacement cable was not installed for the first batch of Tigers. It was introduced in September 1942 on the left side of the hull together with a track replacement toolbox mounted on the left side of the hull rear above the track/mud flap. The arrangement of the fasteners for the cable was redesigned and repositioned in July 1943. The toolbox was dropped in November 1943.
Escape HatchFrom turret number 46, the second machine pistol port on the right rear turret wall was replace with the escape hatch. Originally the side of the escape hatch was bevelled to conform to the curve of the turret side but after June 1943, 80mm flat discs were used.
S-Mines5 x S-Mines for close anti-personnel protection were installed on the deck of the Tiger from December 1942 - one on each corner and one in the middel along the left side. They were dropped in November 1943.
ExhaustsDue to the exhaust flames and glowing hot exhaust mufflers being visible at night at long range, deflectors were installed on top of the exhausts and heat shields made from sheet steel were installed around the mufflers from January 1943.
Spare Track linksSpare tracks links were mounted on brackets on the turret side from March 1943. Previously, track links were attached to the hull front three links to each side (unique to 2.Kompanie of the 501st) or to the hull rear where space is available.
Turret Smoke LaunchersTurret smoke launchers were no longer installed from turret number 286 around June 1943 as a result of report of small arms fire setting off the smoke candles.
Commander's Cupola & Turret Top RedesignFrom turret number 391 around July 1943, the turret was extensively redesigned. A new commander's cupola with all round periscopes and a swivel hatch was installed with a ring rail on top for mounting an anti-aircraft machine gun. The exhause fan was moved forward to the middel of the turret above the gun breech to improve fume extraction. The machine pistol port of left side turret rear was repalce with a pistol port plug. One question we often get asked is what features determines an early production from a mid/late production Tiger. These features are often associated with a mid-production Tiger.
Bosch HeadlightsThe original arrangement for the bosch headlights was one on each forward corner of the hull. From July 1943, only a single headlight was mounted on the right corner looking forward. This single headlight was moved to the centre of the hull front plate on December 1943. Field modification include moving the two headlights from top front corners of the hull to the front hull plate (1.Kompanie of the 501st). Headlights were often missing from Tiger in wartime photographs due to battle damage.
C-ClampsA pair of C clamps for use with the towing cabls was mounted on the rear hull left of the exhaust shield from September 1943.
ZimmeritA ripple Zimmerit or anti-magnetic coating was applied at the factory to all upright surfaces that could be reached by a man standing on the ground to protect against magnetic charges being attached to the hull side.
Rear Gun Travel LockA gun barrel travel lock was installed from November 1943 on the left rear corner of the hull (looking forward). This protects the gun sight alignment on long journeys.
Late Battle TracksSix cheverons or ice cleats were added to each link of the wider battle tracks to increase traction on ice and packed snow from December 1943.
Hull Side ExtensionThe hull side extension on both sides were cut out in January 1944 to allow free movement of the front towing shackles.
Steel Roadwheels Steel roadwheels adapted from the KingTiger tank was installed from February 1944. Because of the increased strength, the roadwheels per axel ws reduced from three to two. The size of the idler wheels were also reduced. This feature is often associated with a late-production Tiger.
Close Defence Weapona Nahverteidigungswaffe or close defence weapon was installed on the right turret rear (looking forward) fro late production Tigers from March 1944. The pistol port on left turret rear was dropped.
Turret Top ArmourDue to penetration by artillery shells, The turret roof armour plate was increased from 25mm to 40mm and the loader's hatch designed for the KingTiger was installed in the visibly thicker turret roof from March 1944.
Gun Sight The binocular gun sight was replaced by a monocular gun sighting telescope in April 1944. Later Tigers have only one aperture on the left of the gun mantlet instead of two.

A total of around 1300 Tigers were produced from April 1942 to August 1944 when production was switched over to the King Tiger.

Do you find this useful? Is there anything you would like to add? Email us your comments.

See also: WW II German Tanks WW II German Tanks WW II Allies Tanks WW II German Tanks Heavy Tank Battalions Dragon 1/144 Can.Do Tanks SS Panzer Divisions SS Panzer Divisions Army Panzer Divisions WW II German Tanks German Tank Useful Information WW II German Tanks

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