The Tiger Tank, was a German heavy tank used in WWII.
They were developed by Henschel & Son in 1942.
During the later stages of the invasion of the Soviet Union known as Operation Barbarossa during 1941, the German's discovered that the Russians had a superior tank when they encountered the T-34 tank.
This led to the development and production of a series of tanks, better armed and more protected than anything the Allies could field at that time. They included the Panzer Mark V Panther medium tank, the powerful Panzer Mark VI Tiger and Panzer Mark VIB Tiger II or King Tiger.
The Tiger I were first used in September 23, 1942 during their attack on Leningrad, as a surprise against the Russians. After the personal intervention of Adolf Hitler the tanks were issued far earlier than scheduled, and many of them broke down. However, newer improved variants eventually began to appear and outclass any other tank in terms of armor strength and firepower.
The American M4 proved to be a worthy opponent, but Shermans were weaker individually and the 75mm variants were incapable of penetrating the Tiger's frontal armor. However the British Army had modified some of their Sherman's by installing a 17 pounder gun in place of the low velocity 75mm gun. This proved extremely successful and led to the British adding 17 pounders to other tanks and tank destroyers. American M4s were upgunned with the high velocity 76mm M1A1 and M1A2 cannons; these varied in effectiveness against the Tiger I depending on the shell type and quality.
With the development of Tank Destroyer's the allies did have a fighting vehicle that could destroy the heavy German tanks, the M10 Achillies and M36 Jackson being the best the western allies could produce.
During the Allied offensive known as Operation Market Garden, the Tigers were successful in stopping the Allied drive to Arnhem when Tiger's were deployed on the Island. The Tiger's did however suffer from some major weaknesses including relative slow speed, overly complicate engineering and high fuel consumption. The latter at a time when Nazi Germany was suffering from a lack of resources due to allied bombing.
The further development of the Tiger I led to the superior Panzer Mark VIB Tiger II or King Tiger, this had sloping armor and an improved 88mm gun with increased penetration. But like the Tiger I, the Tiger II's suffered from being too heavy, possessing poor mobility, and a high fuel consumption.
Eventually, the last of the tanks were issued in Hitler's last offensive on the Western Front, known as the Ardennes Offensive. But the divisional commanders chose the quicker more mobile Panther tank to lead its drive to the River Meuse. Tiger I & II's were still heavily used but only in attacks on well defended and well dug in positions and again it proved more than a match for the Sherman tank. Many Tiger's were abandoned when they ran out of fuel.
After another failure of the Sherman tank during the Ardennes Offensive the American Army finally adopted a heavy tank capable of matching the Tiger for gun power as well as armor protection, the M26 Pershing. The Pershing had a 90mm gun, the same as the Jackson tank destroyer and was so successful it stayed in the American forces until the early 1960's.
On the Eastern Front the Tiger was not as successful, after the Soviets developed a series of tanks from their T-34. The' 'IS-1 with an 85mm high velocity gun easily matched the Tiger, the IS-2 and IS-3 proved too powerful with their 122mm guns. German armored vehicles in general did score excellent ratios against T-34 tanks, although much of this may have come down to factors outside of vehicle specifications.
The Tiger eventually stopped being produced in 1945 after Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.
It could hold a crew of five, and was wildely feared for its massive firepower and strong armor. It was able to overpower the U.S. M4 Sherman tank with its deadly 88mm gun.