The Tiger was a German heavy tank of World War II deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe usually in independent heavy tank battalions. Its final designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E often shortened to Tiger. The Tiger I gave the Wehrmacht its first armoured fighting vehicle that mounted the KwK 36 88-mm gun. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. Production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.
The Tiger was a formidable machine that pushed the boundaries of armored warfare and forced the Allies to devise better tanks. It powerfully symbolized all the might of the Nazi war machine, as dreamed off by Hitler, and later turned through propaganda into a “Wunderwaffe” (wonder weapon) in a mostly defensive war. However, behind the curtain, the Tiger clearly sacrificed mobility and ease of maintenance, but it was always deadly effective (with a 10:1 up to 19:1 kill ratio), earning a capital of fear that was unrivaled during the war. Allied crews found themselves hopeless with their inadequate machines, having to improvise costly tactics to deal with it. The Tiger gave fame to a few WWII tank aces, like Michael Wittman, something rarely heard of before, since the life expectancy of a tank crew was always quite shorter than that of fighter pilots.