• “Porsche turret”
  • [SPzAbt 503 “314”]
  • Post-invasion Normandy battles, France. July 1944

The Tiger had been around for a while and it, being an überpanzer, wasn’t winning the war. Therefore a bigger tank was needed. The same insane type of specifications were laid down, Henschel, Krupp and Porsche (again) went to work. The result was spectacular and very heavy indeed. A pretty tank, not at all as huge as some pictures suggest. (If you doubt this, find one and stand next to it.)

Too heavily armoured though, its Maybach petrol engine was far too fragile and underpowered for a beast like this. As usual, Porsche designed a horribly complicated electric drive system that was rejected (He could have learned from his Elefant jagdpanzer, but no…) and the contract awarded to Henschel.

The first fifty were equipped with “Porsche” turrets, originally designed by Krupp (who incidentally also designed the production turrets). It was complicated to build, with a lot of sloped angles that work perfectly as shot traps. It had, however, a massive gun – the biggest tank gun of WW2.

When the Allies came to France, sPzAbt 503’s 1. Zug received the first batch of Königstiger. They were used during the battle of Caen, more specifically against the allied Operation Atlanticbetween Troarn and Démouville, a little to the north of Argences. It lost three Panzer – the commander’s got stuck in a shell crater and the others broke down.

Until the allied bombers arrived, that is. The Abteilung was completely destroyed, several tanks turned upside down by bomb blasts. This one, named “Annelise” by its crew, was one of the two survivors. They fought their way through the Falaise pocket and were taken back to Germany for a complete refit – after which they were sent east. Annelise was painted white and her crew froze their butts off.

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