Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other uses, see Elephant (disambiguation).
The Jagdpanzer Tiger(P) Elefant (Sd.Kfz. 184) was an anti-tank vehicle (Jagdpanzer, tank hunter) of the Wehrmacht in World War II. The early name of this vehicle (prior to modifications) was Ferdinand, after its designer.
Developed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche on Hitler's orders for the Russian campaign, the Elefant design evolved from cruder, improvised designs of 1941-42, as well as the later, but still defective, Marder designs. As the name indicates, the base chassis was created from the Porsche Tiger I prototype with new tracks and an all-steel wheel arrangement: three twin bogies on side sprung torsion bars driven from the rear sprocket. On top of this was fitted a 88 mm PaK 43/2 L/71 gun, manufactured by Krupp from 1943 (while possibly the most effective anti-tank gun of the war, it was actually conceived as an anti-aircraft gun). The gun was mounted to the rear of the hull and the longer barrel overhung the front. The gun was capable of 25° traverse and a similarly limited elevation. A 200 mm front plant was fitted over the gun with thinner armour to the sides, rear and top.
The entire vehicle was 8.14 m long, 3.43 m wide and weighed 65,000 kg (Ferdinand) - 70,000 kg (Elefant). Powered by two centrally placed 300 hp Maybach HL 120 engines, it had a top speed of 18.75 km/h (off road) and a range of around 135 km. The crew of six was divided between the fighting compartment (commander, gunner, two loaders) and an entirely separate front space for the driver and radio-operator.
The units were deployed at a company level, sometimes sub-divided into platoons, with infantry or tanks to protect the vulnerable flanks of the vehicles. On the attack, this Jagdpanzer was a first-strike vehicle, while in defence, they often comprised a mobile reserve used to blunt enemy tank assaults. Toward the end of the war, the Allies proved the vehicles to be particularly vulnerable to air attack.
Ninety Ferdinands were manufactured by Nibelungenwerke in just a few months during mid-1943. This was much fewer than the Marder models, which were much lighter and used a more common chassis. It was first deployed during the Battle of Kursk and, though destroying 320 Russian tanks, performed very poorly in other respects: many units broke down and they proved dangerously vulnerable to infantry, lacking a machine gun. When they were recalled from Russia there was a considerable rebuild of the surviving fifty vehicles - thickening the armour with bolt-on plates, adding cupolas to improve vision, and adding gun-ports and one or two MG 34s as anti-infantry weapons. With completed modificaton these remaining vehicles got the new name Elefant. The problems with the fragile engines, hydropneumatic steering system, electric transmission and complex mechanics remained. It went on to serve in Italy in 1944 and the final units were involved in the Battle of Berlin.
- Information about the Panzerjäger Tiger (P) "Ferdinand" or "Elefant" at Panzerworld
- Elefant at Achtungpanzer.com
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