Jagdtiger is the common name of a German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 tank destroyer
Tank destroyer
A tank destroyer is a type of armored fighting vehicle armed with a gun or missile launcher, and is designed specifically to engage enemy armored vehicles...

 of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The official German designation was Panzerjäger Tiger Ausf. B. The ordnance inventory designation was Sd. Kfz. 186. It saw service in small numbers from late 1944 to the end of the war
End of World War II in Europe
The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union took place in late April and early May 1945.-Timeline of surrenders and deaths:...

 on both the Western
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 and Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. The Jagdtiger was the heaviest armored fighting vehicle operationally used during World War II. Due to an excessive weight the Jagdtiger was continuously plagued with mechanical problems.


With the success of the StuG III in the tank destroyer role, the military leadership of Nazi Germany decided to use the chassis of existing armored fighting vehicles as the basis for self-propelled guns. German tank destroyers of World War II mostly used fixed casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s instead of moveable turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s to significantly reduce the cost of mounting large caliber guns.
In early 1942 a request was made by the Army General Staff to mount a 128 mm gun on a self-propelled armored chassis. On May 18, 1942 Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 ordered that the 128 mm gun be utilized in the tank destroyer role, rather than for infantry support. Firing tests of the 128 mm gun showed to have a high percentage of hits; lower caliber heavy shells such as the 88 mm and 105 mm were also tested.

By early 1943 a decision was made to install a 128 mm gun on a Panther
Panther tank
Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as...

 or Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

 chassis as a heavy assault gun. The Panther chassis was considered unsuitable after a wooden mockup of the design was constructed. On October 20, 1943 another wooden mockup was constructed on a Tiger II
Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

 chassis, and presented to Hitler in East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. Two prototypes were produced; a version with the eight road wheel Porsche suspension system (number 305001) and a version with the Henschel nine overlapping wheel suspension system (number 305002), as used on the production Tiger II, were completed in February 1944. It was originally designated as Jagdpanzer VI, but was later named the Jagdtiger. It received the inventory ordnance number Sd.Kfz. 186.


The Jagdtiger was a logical extension of the creation of Jagdpanzer designs from tank designs, such as the Jagdpanther
The Jagdpanther was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts...

 from the Panther tank
Panther tank
Panther is the common name of a medium tank fielded by Nazi Germany in World War II that served from mid-1943 to the end of the European war in 1945. It was intended as a counter to the T-34, and to replace the Panzer III and Panzer IV; while never replacing the latter, it served alongside it as...

. The Jagdtiger used a boxy casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

 superstructure on top of a lengthened Tiger II chassis. The resulting vehicle featured very heavy armor and the 128 mm PaK 44 L/55 gun, capable of defeating any tank fielded in World War II, even at very long ranges (over 3500 m (2.2 mi)). It had 250 mm (9.8 in) armor on the front of the casemate and 150 mm (5.9 in) on the glacis
A glacis in military engineering is an artificial slope of earth used in late European fortresses so constructed as to keep any potential assailant under the fire of the defenders until the last possible moment...

 plate. The main gun mount had a limited traverse of only 10 degrees; the entire vehicle had to be turned to aim outside that narrow field of fire.

The Jagdtiger suffered from a variety of mechanical and technical problems due to its immense weight and under-powered engine. The vehicle had frequent breakdowns; ultimately more Jagdtigers were lost to mechanical problems or lack of fuel than to enemy action.


150 Jagdtigers were ordered but only half that number were produced. Eleven of them, serial numbers 305001 and 305003 to 305012, were produced with the Porsche suspension (8 roadwheels); all following used the Henschel suspension (9 roadwheels).

Production figures vary depending on source and other factors such as if prototypes are included and if those made after VE day are included. Totals range from about 77 to 88 produced from July 1944 to May 1945. Approximately 48 from July 1944 to the end of December 1944; 36 from January to April 1945, serial numbers from 305001 to 305088 (such as examples from May 1945, and pre-production prototypes, and whether incomplete chassis are counted).

Some sources say no more vehicles were completed after February. Towards the end some were lacking important equipment and could not be used operationally, or could not be deployed to units.
Production history by serial number
Date Number
Serial #
February 1944 2 305001–305002
July 1944 3 305003–305005
August 1944 3 305006–305008
September 1944 8 305009–305016
October 1944 9 305017–305025
November 1944 6 305026–305031
December 1944 20 305032–305051
January 1945 10 305052–305061
February 1945 13 305062–305074
March 1945 3 305075–305077
April 1945 7 305078–305084
May 1945 4 305085–305088

After serial number 305011 (September 1944), no Zimmerit
Zimmerit was a coating produced for German armored fighting vehicles during World War II for the purpose of combating magnetically attached anti-tank mines, although Germany was the only country to use magnetic mines against tanks in large scale numbers...

 anti-magnetic paste was factory applied.

Combat history

Only two heavy antitank battalions (schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung), numbered 512 and 653, were equipped with Jagdtigers, with the first vehicles reaching the units in September 1944. About twenty percent were lost in combat; most were destroyed by their own crews when abandoned, chiefly due to mechanical breakdowns or lack of fuel in the desperate final stages of the war.

The gun used separate-loading ammunition, which meant that two loaders were used to insert the projectile and the cased propelling charge separately. This resulted in a slow rate of fire. The tremendous amount of smoke would often give away the position of the vehicle, in addition to momentarily blinding the crew, although the latter was a moot point, owing to the very slow reload time.

Tiger ace Otto Carius
Otto Carius
Lieutenant Otto Carius was a German Heer tank commander during World War II and is credited with destroying more than 150 tanks. He is also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 commanded the second of three companies of Jagdtigers in Panzerjagerabteilung 512. His memoir Tigers in the Mud provides a rare combat history of the ten Jagdtigers under his command. He states that Jagdtigers were not utilized to their full potential due to several factors: Among them that Allied air supremacy made it difficult to move, the massive gun needed to be re-calibrated from jarring after traveling off-road for even short distances (Note: This particular problem was attributed to the Porsche type suspension which proved unfit for offroad terrain, causing excessive vibrations which over a short period could throw the gun out of calibration. The types manufactured with the more modern Henschel type suspension system did not have this particular problem), it was slow, and transmissions and differentials broke down easily because the whole 72 tonne vehicle needed to rotate to traverse. The massive gun had to be locked down, otherwise mounting brackets would have worn too much for accurate firing. Also a crewmember had to exit the vehicle in combat and unlock the gun before firing. However, he also recorded that a 128 mm projectile went through all the walls of a house and destroyed an American tank behind it.

Insufficient crew training and depleted morale was the biggest problem for Jagdtiger crews under Carius' command. At the Ruhr pocket
Ruhr Pocket
The Ruhr Pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in late March and early April 1945, near the end of World War II, in the Ruhr Area of Germany. For all intents and purposes, it marked the end of major organized resistance on Nazi Germany's Western Front, as more than 300,000 troops were...

, two Jagdtiger commanders failed to attack an American armored column about 1.5 kilometre (0.93205910497471 mi) away in daylight for fear of attracting an air attack, even though Jagdtigers were well camouflaged. Both vehicles broke down while hurriedly withdrawing through fear of air attack, and one was then destroyed by the crew. To prevent such disaster at Siegen, Carius himself dug in on high ground. An approaching American armored column avoided the prepared ambush because German civilians warned them of it. Later, one of his vehicles fell into a bomb crater at night and was disabled, and another was lost to Panzerfaust
The Panzerfaust was an inexpensive, recoilless German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consisted of a small, disposable preloaded launch tube firing a high explosive anti-tank warhead, operated by a single soldier...

 attack by friendly Volkssturm
The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

troops who had never seen a Jagdtiger before.

Near Unna, one Jagdtiger climbed a hill to attack five American tanks six-hundred meters away and below; two withdrew and the other three opened fire. The Jagdtiger took several hits, but they could not penetrate the 250 mm (9.8 in) frontal armor. The inexperienced German commander then lost his nerve and turned around instead of backing down, exposed the thinner side armor, which was eventually penetrated and all six crew were lost. Carius wrote that it was useless when crews were not trained or experienced enough to have the thick frontal armor facing the enemy at all times.

When unable to escape the Ruhr pocket, Carius ordered the guns of the remaining Jagdtigers destroyed and surrendered to American forces. The ten Jagdtigers of 2nd Company, Panzerjagerabteilung 512 destroyed one American tank for one Jagdtiger lost to combat, one lost to friendly fire, and eight others lost to breakdown or destroyed by their crews to prevent capture.

On 17 January 1945 two Jagdtigers used by XIV Corps engaged a bunker line in support of infantry near Auenheim. On 18 January they attacked four secure bunkers at 1,000 meters. The armored cupola of one bunker burned out after two shots. A Sherman attacking in a counterthrust was set afire by explosive shells. The total combat included 46 explosive shells and 10 anti-tank shells with no losses to the Jagdtigers.

During April, s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.512 saw quite a great deal of action. Especially on the 9th of April 1945, where the 1st company managed to engage an Allied column of Sherman tanks and trucks from dug-down positions, and managed to destroy 11 tanks and over 30 softskins, with some of the enemy tanks having been knocked out from a distance of more than 4,000 m away. The combat unit only lost 1 Jagdtiger in this incident as Allied ground attack P-47s appeared. During the next couple of days the 1st company managed to destroy a further five Sherman tanks before having to surrender at Iserlohn. Meanwhile the 2nd company still fought on, but with little result. On the 15th of April 1945, the unit surrendered at Schillerplatz in Iserlohn without fighting.


Three Jagdtigers survive in museums:
  • Jagdtiger serial number 305004
This Jagdtiger on display at the Bovington Tank Museum
Bovington Tank Museum
The Tank Museum is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles in the United Kingdom that traces the history of the tank. With almost 300 vehicles on exhibition from 26 countries it is the second-largest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in the world.The Musée des Blindés in France...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. One of the eleven Porsche–suspension variants, it was captured by British troops in April 1945 near Sennelager, Germany
Sennelager is a village in Germany that forms part of the City of Paderborn. It is notable by the presence of a British army barracks, where the 20th Armoured Brigade are currently situated...

 where it was being used for trials. The third wheel station on the left side is missing. Zimmerit
Zimmerit was a coating produced for German armored fighting vehicles during World War II for the purpose of combating magnetically attached anti-tank mines, although Germany was the only country to use magnetic mines against tanks in large scale numbers...

 was applied to approximately 2 meters high on the superstructure and the Balkenkreuz
The straight-armed Balkenkreuz, which is a stylized version of the Iron Cross, was the emblem of World War II Wehrmacht- Heer, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine....

 was painted in the mid section. An earlier 18 tooth sprocket ring is found on this vehicle.
  • Jagdtiger serial number 305020
This vehicle is displayed at the United States Army Ordnance Museum
United States Army Ordnance Museum
The U.S. Army Ordnance Museum is a museum that is in the process of being re-located to Fort Lee, in Fort Lee, Virginia. Its previous building—at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland—was closed in September 2010, although many outdoor exhibits are still accessible to the...

 in Fort Lee, Virginia
Fort Lee, Virginia
Fort Lee is a census-designated place in Prince George County, Virginia, United States. The population was 7,269 at the 2000 census.Fort Lee is a United States Army post and headquarters of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command / Sustainment Center of Excellence , the U.S. Army Quartermaster...

, USA. It was produced in October, 1944 and was attached to the s.Pz.Jg.Abt 653 and had the vehicle number 331. The vehicle was captured near Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Germany
Neustadt an der Weinstraße
Neustadt an der Weinstraße is a town located in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. With 53,892 inhabitants as of 2002, it is the largest town called Neustadt.-Etymology:...

 in March 1945. Damage is still visible on the gun mantlet
Gun mantlet
A gun mantlet is an armour plate or shield attached to an armoured fighting vehicle's gun, protecting the opening through which the weapon's barrel projects from the hull or turret armour and, in many cases, ensuring the vulnerable warhead of a loaded shell does not protrude past the vehicle's...

, glacis plate, and lower nose armor. This vehicle used the late version 9 tooth sprocket ring, for use with the 'contact shoe' and 'connector link' style continuous track it shared with the Tiger II
Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

  • Jagdtiger, serial number 305083
Displayed in the Kubinka Tank Museum
Kubinka Tank Museum
The Kubinka Tank Museum is a large museum of armoured fighting vehicles in Kubinka, just outside Moscow. It has many famous tanks from World War I, World War II and the Cold War. The museum also houses many unique vehicles, such as the Panzer VIII Maus, Troyanov super-heavy tank and a Karl-Gerät...

 near Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, this vehicle is a Henschel variant. It was acquired by Soviet forces when a Kampfgruppe of the s.Pz.Jg.Abt 653 equipped with 4 Jagdtigers surrendered in Amstetten, Austria
Amstetten can refer to several geographical terms:*Amstetten , a municipality in the Alb-Donau district of Germany*Amstetten, Lower Austria, a municipality in southwest Lower Austria...

 on May 5, 1945. This Jagdtiger was acquired in mint condition with complete side skirts and later 9 tooth sprocket ring. 12 hooks on each side of the superstructure were used to carry 6 pairs of track links. This vehicle was not coated with Zimmerit. The vehicle lost all its tools but retains the MG-42 anti-aircraft mount on the rear engine deck.


Aside from the 11 early vehicles with a Porsche suspension, the only variant developed was the Sd.Kfz.185. The difference was that the gun used was the 8.8 cm PaK 43
8.8 cm PaK 43
The Pak 43 was a German 88 mm anti-tank gun developed by Krupp in competition with the Rheinmetall 8.8 cm Flak 41 anti-aircraft gun and used during the Second World War. The Pak 43 was the most powerful anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht to see service in significant numbers...

 rather than the 12.8 cm PaK 44
12.8 cm PaK 44
The 12.8 cm Pak 44, was a German heavy anti-tank gun used during World War II. It was designed as a result of experiences on the Eastern front in 1943. The German army had encountered the Russian 122 mm guns and had issued a requirement for a similar weapon. Development initially concentrated on a...

. This was due to shortages of the latter weapon. There are some indications that about 12 were built but not completed due to lack of sights; hence they did not enter service.

In the media

A Jadgtiger is seen briefly in the British WWII film They Were Not Divided
They Were Not Divided
They Were Not Divided is a 1950 British war film, which depicted the Guards Armoured Division in Second World War Europe. It was written and directed by Terence Young, a former Guards officer who served in the campaigns depicted in the film....

. The film is noteworthy for its extensive use of actual captured German armour.

External links

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