The curious case of Klein Tiger

Special thanks to Zarax for tracking down the source of Klein Tiger.

Hello everyone,

today we I address one of the most notorious garbage “tanks”, that keeps popping up occasionally even on “respectable” forums and sites, the Klein Tiger. So, what is the Klein Tiger and what does it do?

The Klein Tiger (“Little Tiger”) tank proposal popped up some time ago on Achtungpanzer site, know to contain some made up stuff. I suspect it is from there that it got popular, but the original source is a book, called “Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933-1945” (Weapons and secret weapons of the German Army 1933-1945) by Fritz Hahn. From what I can tell, this book contains a lot of… let’s say dubious pieces of information and I suspect it might be a source of more than one German army hoax.

The author himself – Fritz Hahn – is actually quite old, he was born in 1922 and according to the book he still lives. During the war, he was active in the army testing department and was one of the guys, who actually shot the V2 rockets from Peenemünde and later allegedly saved some secret files from destruction. After the war he lived in the USA. From his biography, he had nothing to do with tank development and it’s my personal opinion that what we have here is the German version of Belton Cooper. Here’s his bio (in German of course):


For those, who don’t know, Belton Cooper was a US technician, who worked on the Shermans and later wrote a book about them, called Death Traps. While he did live during the war and his personal insights into the things he did are valuable, the book became the source of the notorious Sherman tank myths, some of which survive till today and are repeated by people ad nauseam (like the “Shermans burned like hell” myth). For example, Jingles – who otherwise probably knows better – recently did a spoof about that book, repeating some of the Belton Cooper’s garbage (by which he even drew the attention of The_Chieftain). So once again, if you run into the Death Traps book, do NOT take all of it seriously. Especially the parts that were “above his paygrade”. As I wrote earlier, I suspect Fritz Hahn to be something like that. Back to the Klein Tiger though.

From what I can tell, the only publication source of the Klein Tiger is this book. Here’s what it says about it:


It says:

“….in 1944, the company Henschel laid down in December 1944 a proposal for 33ton heavy Klein Tiger. As the powerplant, the 630hp P30 Maybach engine was envisaged, the same engine that was installed from the beginning in the Tiger. Frontal armor of the hull was 80mm heavily sloped armor, which gave 160mm of horizontal protection. The sides of the hull were to use the multilayered armor of new type. As a weapon, Krupp 10cm PWK was to be used, which had the penetration of 200mm. In the end, this Klein Tiger was not built.”

So, we have a “smaller” Tiger, weighting half of the weight of the original Tiger, with better frontal protection, running with the same engine. Sounds impossible? Well, that’s because it is.

There are so many issues with this concept, that I don’t even know where to begin. The most obvious issue is that it’s simply TOO LIGHT. There is no way such a vehicle would weight 33 tons.

Take the frontal plate for example.

I’ve made some calculations, based on the Tiger frontal armor. I disregarded the Kugelblende (MG shield) and viewports volume. Also, check this out, the Tiger internal schematics:

Tiger cut-away

What does it all mean? If you look at the schematics closely, you’ll notice that the Tiger was constructed the way it was for a reason. Due to its complex suspension system, it was basically not possible to make the Tiger any lower. Furthermore, if you check the engine layout of the Tiger, you’ll notice that it was probably not possible to make the Tiger any less wide, the engine itself was quite big. Therefore, I assume that the Klein Tiger hull would be shorter, with a different turret (we’ll get to that), but not any less wide or lower – again, there is a reason the developers used the wheelsize they did, with smaller wheels, the clearance would be compromised.

Where I am aiming with all this? Simple. If the Klein Tiger hull is theoretically just as wide and tall as the Tiger itself, we can roughly calculate the frontal armor volume. In order to reach lower weight, you HAVE to reduce armor volume (thickness). You can’t compromise your side armor too much (remember, Soviet infantry batallions were equipped with large number of AT rifles, that caused casualities), so the way to go is probably sloping the armor (which would make the hull even WIDER, otherwise the proposed engine wouldn’t fit (you can completely disregard the side layered armor, that’s utter crap and it’s also pointless).

So, back to the frontal armor.

VERY roughly calculated from schematics, the volume of frontal armor of the Tiger Ausf.E is cca 420 thousand cm3. This number is not too imporatant, merely the method I acquired it with is, because it allow us to compare, how heavy the Klein Tiger frontal armor would have to be, using the parameters the book proposes.

You see, in order to archieve 160mm protection, using simple mathematics, the 80mm plate impact angle has to be 60 degrees (from vertical, eg. horizontal impact angle). That’s a LOT. Now, let’s say the hull height of the Tiger tank is the same, eg. some 1380mm (again, it doesn’t matter if it’s really so, it’s the method I used that counts).

If the frontal plates were to be angled at 60 degrees, using the same ratios for the armor division and the lower frontal plate would be of the same thickness as the upper frontal plate (80mm) and both the entire lower and upper frontal plates had the same width of the upper frontal armor, the volume would be whopping 728640 cm3. If, however, we worked with the same frontal armor ratios as the Tiger I tank has, we’d get the volume of: 525571 cm3. If you ask me, what method did I use to get to those numbers, it involved Spielberger’s Tiger schematics, basic mathematics, better part of the morning and a lot of “I should go back to elementary school” cursing.

In other words: in order to archieve the level of protection the Klein Tiger claims to have, the frontal armor itself would have to be roughly 25 percent heavier than the frontal armor of the Tiger Ausf.E.

As you can see, this is pure fantasy, especially when the vehicle itself is supposed to have HALF the weight of the Tiger. And this is just one example. No wonder when presented with this “amazing discovery”, SerB made fan of special ultralight Ahnenerbe steel.

And what about the engine? Would it fit the shorter vehicle? Not really. Have a look at the schematics above, where would you put this beast:

What about the turret? Could you save some weight there? Well, yes and no. You can’t simply put a lighter turret, that would totally compromise the vehicle protection. Besides, the Tiger turret itself is not that heavy (11 tons), compare it to the historical weight of the Schmalturm: 7,5 tons. No big savings there.

Another illogical issue, the gun.

The author claims for the vehicle to be equipped with the 100mm PWK. This most likely refers to the Panzerwurfkanone 10H64. This weapon was basically an low pressure gun, capable of defeating up to 200mm of armor at any distance, because it used cca 6,5kg HEAT warheads. All and all it was quite modern and there were very late war pojects to equip for example the Panzer 38d (various versions thereof), or even the Jagdpanzer 38d (basically a modified Hetzer) with this gun. It was relatively cheap to produce too. Any issues with it? Of course. Effective range: 750m (88mm L/71 effective range: 4000m+) Theoretically it could shoot much further, but you wouldn’t be able to hit anything. Oh yes, and there is also the low muzzle velocity (cca 550m/s, compare it with the 88mm L/71 PaK 43 for example – 1000m/s)

What the hell is the point of equipping a tank with massive effective frontal armor with a gun that can’t hit shit at over 1km? Absolutely pointless. Of course, on closer distances it would be effective, but the vehicle would be pretty tall (big target to shoot at), the turret would be dubious (most likely some form of Schmalturm or Tiger II-Turm) and for close combat, a vehicle with paper flanks is useless.


Klein Tiger is a fake, totally made up vehicle. What were the reasons behind its birth we will probably never know, but for some reason, players still keep suggesting this to SerB for implementation (once per a few months this vehicle “appears” in the Q&A). I blame mostly the Achtungpanzer site, that has some total crap, plus the wehraboos, who promote it. I wish these “superweapons” would stop appearing and more effort was given to real research, like Mr.Doyle and his colleagues do. Oh, and I don’t have to mention that neither Spielberger or Doyle mention this vehicle, do I?

Hahn: Waffen und Geheimwaffen des deutschen Heeres 1933-1945
Doyle, Jentz: Panzer Tracts (various)
Spielberger: Der Panzerkampfwagen Tiger und seine Abarten
Chamberlain, Doyle: Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two (revised edition)
Sawodny: German Armor Rarities 1935-1945
Sawodny: Unusual Panzers
Kosar: Panzerabwehrkanonen 1916-1977
Breyette, Bender: Tank Killers
Pejčoch: Obrněná technika

47 thoughts on “The curious case of Klein Tiger

  1. Good read S.S..
    I hope WG read it also.
    Just what we don’t need, another fantasy tank.
    We have enough

  2. To fix this problem with Achtung Panzer you’d have to put there a huge banner with “TOTALY MADE UP SHIT” for people to realize. Otherwise it’s only up to opinion spreading that they’re just creative about tanks instead of doing actual research.

  3. > Now, let’s say the hull weight of the Tiger tank is the same, eg. some 1380mm (again, it doesn’t matter if it’s really so, it’s the method I used that counts).

    Weight… in mm? What do you mean here?

  4. Nice thing. Just one Question? Ur drawing shows a normal Tiger, but what if u though on a hull like the T26 (Pershing) one, cause in December 44 they should ve already seen some Pershings. So a smaller Hull with that 60° Sloped frontal Armor. Can you hit then the 33t with that 11 tons Turret? Cause that engine u show us is compact vertical Model as you can build the same engine in different dimension, or atleast but that beast on the side to safe height.

    Anyway, that gun part make this project so worse we havent to discuss this any more.

    • The WHOLE tank was supposed to have 33 tons, that’s the silliest part. Plus, the Tiger suspension wouldn’t fit such a low hull. The engine wouldn’t either, most likely.

      • Somehow, the design reminds me of the V K16.02 heavy leopard.
        80mm heavily sloped armor, a bit smaller than the Panther and with a small turret.

        The book does seem to have some interesting E-series material though.

  5. You didn’t need to do all this, SS. There was already a tank that would have been similar to the supposed Klein Tiger: VK 45.03 (H), the 100 mm armor version of Tiger Ausf. B.

      • My point: Given that VK 45.03 (H) was estimated to be over 60 tons, how do you manage to make a 33 ton tank using basically the same amount of frontal armor mass?

        • Yes, that’s true. However, I think the angles were a bit different (40 degrees), plus the frontal armor weld was not situated in the middle. In other words, if the Klein Tiger had the same armor setup, it would probably be even heavier.

      • VK 4503 is the Tiger II.
        What you mean is VK 45.02 (H), which was an early draft of a Tiger tank with long 88 and sloped armor (either 100 or 120mm).

        • Incorrect. VK 45.02 (H) was the Tiger with L/71, while VK 45.03 (H) was the original Tiger Ausf. B with 100 mm upper glacis plate.

          • Nope.
            VK4502 was Tiger with L/71, 100mm sloped armor, using still mostly Tiger I components initially called itself Tiger II.
            VK4503 (aka Tiger III, later renamed to Tiger II), was to use Panther’s engine and cooling system initially itself had 100mm armor, upgraded later to 120 and finally 150.

            Jentz’s wording is a bit hard to read but definitely clear.

  6. Well, not as if we already HAD made up tanks in the game… JP II, JP E-100, T25/2, E-50M, and so on, I made my point.

      • SS, you plannin’ on covering weird and intersting shit on ships and planes too? Kinda like you have a few authors with whom you collabrate like Zarax or Priory.

        I mean, i’ve never heard of this klein tiger, but it sounded pretty funny right off the bat (33 tons and more armor than the 40-smth m26 is kinda hilarious tbh), would be kinda fun to see stuff like this about ships and planes too.

    • WG doesn´t just implement an imaginated tank when they can´t find a reasonable candidate (new russian medium line; T9) they do extensive research (calculations, physics stuff) about their proposal to at least make it so that it would be able to actually build the damn thing.

  7. “So, we have a “smaller” Tiger, weighting half of the weight of the original Tiger, with better frontal protection, running with the same engine. Sounds impossible? Well, that’s because it is.”

    Mhm, in your picture’s of the book is nothing to read about that the “Klein Tiger” would look like the normal “Tiger”. Would it be possible, that it get’s a different suspension, that would allow the “Klein Tiger” to be not as tall as the normal “Tiger”? .

    Anyway, i dont want such a Tank in WoT^^, these are just some thoughts that came up while reading your article ;)


    • yep, that was exactly my thought.
      They were working on the E-series at the same time, which should have different suspension.
      So that could reduce height a bit.
      But still, Klein-Tiger sounds fake.

    • Suspension, bah. Try drivetrain. You’d save a fair bit of height by putting the transmission in the rear, so that there isn’t a big-ass shaft running under the turret basket. (Compare eg. Sherman and Pershing to see the difference.) Ofc that’d require more or less a whole new drivetrain plus the Germans seem to have been kind of adverse to that setup in general…
      Also, there’s that kind of tall engine to worry about. IIRC the French had some trouble with the same issue when they tooled around with the Maybach 295 postwar, too.

      And 60 degree slope is like what you started getting in those first late/post-war proto-MBTs the Soviets started churning out. That setup might actually work, more or less (though I’d imagine some compromises to the rather lofty specifications would have to be made), but the end result would be something very far removed from Henschel’s original box-on-tracks…
      Doesn’t really sound like something that’d share the name in any form.

      BTW the Soviets tried that low-pressure approach in practice in the original version of the BMP-1. Thereafter they stuck with autocannons for their IFVs, which should say something about how succesful it was found to be in practice…

    • With that kind of glacis slope it’d have to be.
      “Get your fresh German pancakes here!” :P

  8. There are already fantasy tanks in the game (T28 Prototype napkin sketch anyone?). Don’t see anything really wrong adding another one.

    • The difference is that the T28 Prototype would have been actually physically possible to construct while the Klein Tiger is downright impossible.

  9. I don’t know what people have against made-up tanks, gameplay trumps historical accuracy EVERY time!

    • I don’t know what people have against the Laws of Physics , another gametoplay trumps historical accuracy of Wot EVERY time!

  10. The sides of the hull were to use the multilayered armor of new type.

    You translated this wrong. Correct version is :” The hull’s armor was made from layers of 2 new materials” . They are referring ofc to utopium and bullshitium.
    For those who still refuse to admit the existence of the 2 wonder materials here is the source :
    Hans Hermann’s book “The 14 wonder weapons” page 88 paragraph 18.

  11. Although I have never heard of this “Klein-Tiger” (what disgusting name is this anyway???), I can not follow your Explanation that this tank could not possibly have been planned.
    The paper says that our heavy tanks were too heavy. They obviously planned to build lighter tanks just like the russian did, just look at the T-44. It is NOT stated how big this Project should have been.
    The proposed PWK also seems to have been chosen as a lightweight alternative to the heavy 8,8cm.
    Also you can’t really assume that this could have anything in common with the Tiger Ausf. E. At that time the Tiger Ausf. B was reffered to as simply “Tiger”, since they have stopped producing the old ones some Time ago. I would imagine this thing as a smaller Tiger B or Panther.

  12. I would recommend to add picture of correct engine, at current picture theres a Isotta Fraschini diesel engine with allmost twice the displacement.

  13. The small, light gun involved and a different suspension might have made it possible. They had been working on 20 to 30 ton vehicles for a while.

    As for the gun itself, by then they were on the defensive. This seems like an ambush tank or something meant to guard the flanks/rear of a Tiger or Panther unit. Basically a replacement for the aged PzIV.

    Again, the gun would be one of many compromises to get or keep weight down. Instead of comparing it to the Tiger maybe you should compare it to other VK20/23/30 tank designs?

    • So why put the HEAT-tosser into a tank anyway rather than leaving it to the infantry and dedicated turretless ambush vehicles like the Hetzer derivatives and the planned E-25?

  14. The “Shermans burned like hell” myth!

    l suppose the Sherman being nicknamed the ‘Ronson’ (because it lit first time) or ‘Tommy Cooker’ by the Germans was also a myth!

    The Sherman was a heap of crap but the best we had at the time, get used to it! Like the Brave Men who went into Battle in it!

    • Shell propellant has a bad habit of catching fire when hit by superheated bits of metal, nevermind now bursting-charge detonations and whatnots. And storing your ammo in the over-track sponsons obviously made such an event only too likely in the case the tank got shot in the side.
      Thing is, the German tanks *had the same fucking problem*.
      The Brits actually did a statistical analysis of “brewed-up” tanks in Normandy and concluded the Pz IV and Panther were just as bad in that regard as the Sherman. Ofc Shermans eventually got kitted out with wet storage in the floor to correct the problem – their German opponents didn’t. (The Soviets mostly followed a safer, if more inconvenient, placement philosophy, at least early on; however their propellant apparently had a nasty habit of exploding spectacularly rather than burning uncontrollably when it “brewed”…)

  15. Here’s some info on the Pz 38t…and the immense variety of variants that it spawned. I personnally, had no idea there were that many different designs based on it. No wonder WG has said there are at least 5 TD lines possible for the Germans.

    CO, The Blues & Royals (TBR on NA server)

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