How Did Shermans Defeat the Superior Tiger I?
This is a tale of two iconic battle tanks that fiercely faced each other in World War II. Both of them devoured enemy forces and demonstrated unmatchable strength.
It all began in 1942 when the Germans started deploying Panzerkampfwagen VI a.k.a Tiger I at the Eastern Front, Western Front, and in North Africa during World War II.
Tiger I was no ordinary tank, it was a beast with an almost impregnable nickel-steel plate armor. On June 13, 1944, German tank commander Michael Wittman conducted the most ruthless tank operation in World War history. In the Battle of Villers-Bocage, he and his Tiger I turned an entire fleet of 25 enemy tanks, 14 half-tracks, and 14 bren-gun carriers into dust.
With its savage 88mm KwK 36 top gun, Tiger 1 could shoot down targets even from a distance of 1400 meters (4600 ft). Rounds fired from this mighty anti-tank gun were powerful enough to pierce armors as thick as 112 mm.
So if enemy tanks were komodo dragons, Tiger I’s main gun alone was an anaconda
Tiger tanks caused a lot of damage to the army units of allied powers, and now it was not just a battle between miliaries. These war machines highlighted the strength and caliber of German engineers before the world. Tiger I was not a tank but an open challenge to all the smart defense engineers working on the side of the allies.
They needed a hunter to catch the Tiger and the hunter came in the form of an M-4 Sherman, the famous American tank that eventually leveled the playing field. It was a fast-moving military vehicle that offered state-of-the-art transmission, engine performance, and controllability.
There was a time when the US was manufacturing 40 Shermans in response to every Tiger I being deployed by the Axis powers.
This is because, unlike Sherman, Tiger I was an expensive and high-maintenance tank. The manufacturers had to provide a detailed manual called “Tigerfibel”, just to keep soldiers aware of the tank’s labor-intensive and complex maintenance operations.
However, despite being large in numbers, Shermans couldn’t stand before the Tigers in their very first faceoffs. Shermans and their 75 mm main guns failed to damage their enemy’s nicker-steel armor, and when Tigers responded with their 88 mm death weapon, the men operating M-4s were helpless.
This was the beginning of probably the biggest tank rivalry in human history.
Although the first round went to Tiger-1, it revealed various weaknesses of the German tank before the Americans. They realized that, unlike a Sherman, a Tiger 1 carried a lot of weight as armor. Plus, their overlapping wheel design if tampered could become an unsolvable problem on the field.
They also improved Sherman’s range and performance, replaced its 75 mm gun with a 76.2 mm Tiger I destroyer, and provided the tank armor that didn’t come in the way of its speed and maneuverability.
Sherman was all set to annihilate Tiger I and the rounds after the first one, probably have gone in the favor of the American tank. That’s what the victory of the allies over the axis powers tells us.
However, when it comes to comparing the engineering behind Sherman and Tiger-1. It’s still difficult to judge which one is better.
Both tanks served their sides well and filled the hearts of their enemies with horror and shock, but above all, they were one of the most fearsome engineering marvels of the 20th century.