Home Forums WWII Would You Really Classify a Tiger I as "Lumbering"?

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    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    My understanding (books of reference still hiding in boxes) is that the Tiger had the Merritt-Maybach regenrative gearbox, like the British Merritt-Brown in the Churchill. This makes it capable of a neutral turn, something I don’t think a Sherman can do. I wish I could recall which Tigery book mentioned it — “Tigers in the Mud”, possibly? — but I believe the preferred tactic for Tigers engaging targets to a flank was to turn the whole vehicle, a bit like an SP, rather than traverse the turret on to it, with the relatively slow turret traverse.

    The (real) Tiger in the film “They Were Not Divided” certainly seems to be able to pick up it skirts and run, so I would tend to be quite kind to it in terms of manoeuvrability. Vehicles that really need penalising for turns are those that use the wasteful old clutch-and-brake system, which I think would include Pz III and IV and T-34.

    The relevant chapter in Ogorkiewicz’s “Armour” (my copy is at the office) is probably still as authoritative as a wargamer is likely to need on this topic.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoRod Robertson


    Tyger, tyger, turning tight! Apologies for butchering Blake’s great poem, but I could not resist my inner Vandal.

    I would rather think the Tiger’s speed and turning ability/pivoting speed as being comparable to the Mark III’s and Mark IV’s. Most German medium and heavy tanks were slow and ungainly beasts. Where I imagine the 56 tonne Tiger I would have suffered is in its ability to overcome its own inertia/momentum and accelerate/decelerate while dashing from cover to cover.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    Avatar photoMartinR

    I was also going to mention “They were not divided”, but John got in first. So no, Tiger 1 was certainly not “lumbering” (and neither were Mark III, IV or V unless compared to BT5 or similar). Iirc it was Carius who described the Tiger as a Rolls Royce of tanks.

    Tiger II otoh…

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoirishserb

    This thread got me a little curious, so I chased down a bunch of footage of M4s and Tiger Is and started clocking their motion, and compared it to some of the published data that I have.  The published data seems to be all over the place, and I don’t want to get into arguing about the integrity of the various sources.

    My sampling isn’t large enough to make any real conclusions by any means, but I was able to find some consistency in Tigers not exceeding around 11-12 degrees per second in both turret traverse rate and turn rate.  The M4 turned a little faster at around 15 degrees per second, with turret traverse rates of at least 22 degrees per second.  I imagine that you could probably narrow down the ranges by more diligently reviewing available footage, and derive some comparative numbers that might be reasonable to use as a basis for your rules.

    Some years ago, I played a game using rules written by a fellow gamer that included an impulse system for dealing with these types of things.  I don’t remember if there were 10 or 12 impulses in a turn, but rates of fire, traverse, turn, etc. were all converted into impulses, with faster equipment acting first.  You could play impulse to impulse and carry the rates from one turn to the next, and have a very accurate representation from a technical perspective.  You also didn’t need to play impulse by impulse, just giving initiative to the faster vehicle, when it mattered.  It was interesting.

    My general impression is that the Tiger is “lumbering”, but not as lumbering as similarly sized vehicles of its day or earlier.  Unless in very tight quarters, I’m guessing that these differences in rates don’t matter as much as the crews’ ability to site and react, but are clearly a component of what could be achieved.

    Avatar photoNKL Aerotom

    Seeing as the turn rates are rather similair, perhaps you could try sacrificing movement for turning, instead of making certain vehicles turn slower or faster.

    In ostfront for example, we deduct ½ ” from a vehicles movement every time it makes a turn.  A tiger has a move of 3″ so the ½ ” is a relatively larger part of its movement chunk than say a sherman with a 4½ ” move, or a T-34 with a 5½ ” move. We dont limit the amount a vehicle can turn, unless the vehicle has damaged tracks, in which case we limit turns/pivoting to 90 degrees. We take the real life speed of a vehicle and divide by 10 to get the speed in inches on the table 🙂

    Perhaps in your system you could have tanks undertake a move action OR a turn action. And have tanks be able to make a limited amount of them depending on their maneuverability. So a Sherman might have 5 move actions it can take per turn, and any of those can be turns, while a tiger might have 3 move actions per turn. That way all tanks turn the same, but slower vehicles will be able to do less. You could still limit turns to 90 degrees.

    While the turning systems on a T-34’s and Panzer IIIs/IVs were less efficient as John D Salt pointed out, those tanks still had a pretty good top speed, and I assume would be able to turn just as quickly on the spot as a heavier tank with a more efficient turn system. I dont think it would feel right to have medium tanks turning slower than heavy tanks, so I personally wouldn’t penalize vehicles for having inefficient clutch/turning systems, unless they were well known for being very slow to turn (I can’t actually think of any examples of this – but if you come across a tank during your research that was known to turn slowly, that would be a good time to implement a turn limitation – perhaps your idea of limiting turns to 45 degrees or even a nice middle-ground of 60 degrees!)

    Avatar photoNKL Aerotom

    Ah, crossfire, yes that changes everything 🙂 haha very interesting system. Best of luck with your gaming! do report back to let us know what you ended up going for and how it worked out.

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