Over at the Tanknet forum, author and researcher Ken Estes recently posted about getting to examine the Tiger II tank at the Musee des Blindes in Saumur. He was there for their annual Carrousel, an event that includes a public exhibition of some of their historic AFV’s. Mr. Estes posted some brief observations on the Tiger II along with a few photos. Since the Tiger and Tiger II are such popular vehicles, we figured people would be interested in his comments.
It’s surprisingly roomy inside, if you forget about the 70 rds of 88mm that were stowed in the hull sides forward of the engine compartment to the driver’s compartment, plus up to 22 more in the turret bustle. Tiger I had no main gun ammo in the turret and apparently the crews did not like to store rounds in the Tiger II turret, but the whole thing was an ammo box, and only the turret ammo would have been handy for loading. Perhaps because there is not a turret basket, there is much room for everybody but the gunner. I could stand fully upright in the loader and commander positions.
Gunner and driver controls were OK, and I don’t know why the British found the manual traversing wheel awkward projecting into the gunner’s lap. Interestingly, there is a second manual traverse located in front of the loader, so he could add his energy as well to the traversing load. They should have had this in other tanks as well, especially heavies. My eyes popped out when I saw the 8 speed transmission shifting lever, but it is apparently as easy to drive as the earlier Tiger. Many controls are redundant, for instance braking is via foot pedals and the usual levers; must help a lot for panic stops.
So well engineered I’d say, at first impression, but of course it’s hopelessly underpowered and overtaxed by terrain limitations for which the suspension could not handle. As with the M103, it likely represented the limits of automotive engineering of its day.
Mr Estes noted that he took an extensive number of pictures of the vehicle which will be used for a book to be published in 2017. He has authored several books on Tanks and AFVs, including Marines Under Armor, Tanks on the Beaches, M103 Heavy Tank (New Vanguard) and US Marine Corps tnak Crewman 1941-45 (Warrior).
While we were not able to find any videos yet of the 2015 Carrousel, here are some clips of the 2014 Carrousel, including the Tiger II tank (video 2).