Sunday, March 22, 2015

Porsche or Henschel?

Dr. Professor Ferdinand Porsche suggested a paired external torsion bar suspension with single roadwheels, as opposed to the individual internal torsion bars with double roadwheels on the Henschel version. The roadwheels themselves were 800mm in diameter on Henschels Jagdtiger, and 700mm on Porsches.

The Porsche Jagdtiger was 1.2 tons lighter than the Henchel one, demanded 450 less working hours and was much cheaper. It was also possible to remove one 2-wheel section, without touching the other wheels - something that was impossible with Henchels overlapping wheels. On the other hand, the weight on a single roadwheel was about 200kg on Henschels Jagdtiger, and the Porsche one over 4600kg! Furthermore, there were 1/8 part more wear and tear on the Porsche roadwheels per centimetre than on the Henschel ones.

Jagdtiger suspensions
Only 11 Porsche suspension vehicles were built, and between 77 and 83 Henschels though the exact figure isn't known due to the confusion right at the end as to how many were completed and released off the production lines including the handful of almost mythical 88mm versions.

It was a case of Porsche jumping the gun a bit before the Henschel Torsion bar system prevailed. There is even a factory shot of a lower hull originally fitted for the Porsche bogey units being re-machined to take the torsion bars over the scars of the bogey mounts.
Eleven (11) were done with the Porsche running gear (not 9 as is oddly stated by Karl-Heinz Münch on p.431 of his otherwise excellent "Combat History of s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653" book even though the delivery table he supplies on p.452 correctly amounts to 10). One of the 11 had defective armour and wasn't issued hence the correct 10 figure in the delivery stats.

Their chassis/Fgst. No.s ran from 305001-305012 (not to 305010 as is commonly thought), but didn't include 305002 which was the first Henschel chassis prototype built alongside the first Porsche.

While as mentioned some of the books point to only 9 incl. "653", and some to 10, Tom Jentz in his Panzertracts Special No.9 "Jagdpanzer - Jagdpanzer 38 to Jagdtiger", claims the correct figure of 11.
He calls out the first 2 built - 305001 and 305002 as being a Porsche and Henschel running gear respectively, then says; "An additional ten Jagdtigers were assembled with the Porsche suspension before series production was converted to the Henschel suspension in September 1944." One (305005) had defective armour and was never issued or photographed.

Henschel and Porsche Jagdtiger differences
The Henschel tanks had standard King Tiger wheels and tracks, but the Porsche tanks had wheel units somewhat like the Elefant. Porsche's tracks were not narrow, but were different than the Henschel tank and were more complicated. Tracks were not interchangeable.

Some Henschel tanks had an MG-42 fitted to the engine deck on a pedestal mount.

Porsche tanks could have large, curved metal covers on the exhaust similar to the Tiger I or King Tiger Porsche turret prototypes.

Most importantly, nearly all Porsche Jagdtigers had zimmeritt while none of the Henschel ones seem to have had it.


Only the Porsche suspension carrying Jagdtigers had Zimmerit: at first it was only applied about half-way up the vehicle side. Later, starting with Fgst.Nr.305006 the Zimmerit was applied to a height of what a soldier could reach. Lastly, Zimmerit was dropped on Jagdtiger production starting with Fgst Nr.305011. So the last 2 (Porsche) Jagdtigers had no Zimmerit. Starting with Fgst.Nr.305013 to the end of production, all Jagdtigers had the Henschel style suspension. Just a note, Fgst.Nr 305002 was also a Henschel vehicle but it too, didn't have any Zimmerit. All of the Porsche suspension carrying Jagdtigers that made it to the field were issued to the sHPzJgAbt 653. 7 of the 11 completed 'Porsche' Jagdtigers were issued to the sHPzJgAbt. Fgst.Nr 305001 was at Kummersdorf, Nr 305003 stayed at Niebelungenwerke Nr 305004 was sent to Sennelager, 305005 was sent to Putlos, then later back to the factory. Fgst.Nr 305006-12 were all issued to sHPzJgAbt 653.

As for combat on the East Front: there was one reported in the inventory of the Wa.Pruf. facility in Kummersdorf, but it is unknown if it was actually became part of Pz.Abt.Kummersdorf. It is not listed in their inventory reports. Further use of the Kummersdorf Jagdtiger is unknown. A small group of 4 Jagdtigers were picked up in early May 1945 by members of the sHPzJgAbt 653 and the sSSPzAbt 501 in a mixed group. The engaged the Soviets near Amstetten, Austria, and high tailed it for the US demarcation lines, and surrender in Amstetten.

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