The Tiger II, another one of the iconic "big cats" of the German Army in World War II, has been exhaustively studied and analyzed from the post-war years to the present. AFV enthusiasts and historians have tracked their use in the Schwere Panzer battalions of both the Heer and SS, plotted their battles, and with many, where they finally met their end.
Tiger II "332" is no exception. This Tiger II was built in September 1944 with hull number 280243. Originally destined for sPzAbt 509 , it was issued instead to sSSPzAbt 501 as part of Kampfgruppe Peiper in preparation for the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Thirteen Tiger IIs were lost from Kampfgruppe Peiper during the offensive, Tiger 332 being abandoned on the N33 between Coo and Trois-Ponts in Belgium on December 26, 1944. It was recovered by the 463rd Ordnance Evacuation Company and transported to Spa railway station. From there it was shipped by rail to Antwerp and then to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds (APG) in Maryland.
Like other captured and foreign vehicles, the Tiger II was studied and evaluated and eventually displayed in the Engineering Building at APG. In 1947, the Chief of the Foreign Materials Branch, Col. Jarrett, had sections of several vehicles armor cut out for display purposes. The Engineering Building was re-purposed in the mid-60s and all of the exhibited vehicles were placed outside. Heavy gauge metal screens or sheet metal panels were welded over the openings. Fund drives to create an enclosed building for the APG artifacts were not successful so the Tiger II, along with the other vehicles and guns, languished in the open field.
In 1991, APG requested from the Patton Museum one of the MBT-70 prototypes for their collection. Then Patton Museum curator Charles Lemons arranged a trade - the APG Tiger II for the MBT-70. When the trade was completed, the Patton Museum staff and volunteers proceeded with the task of restoring the Tiger II in time for its debut at the 1992 Armor Conference at Fort Knox.
After removing the sheet metal covering the cut-out armor, the staff began assessing and recording their observations of the Tiger II. Here are a few of the observations: They found that the dunkel-gelb (yellow) paint remaining in areas protected from the elements was lighter in color than that used in 1943. There were no national emblems on the vehicle and the green and brown camouflage was applied by a spray gun. The vehicle numbers were blue with yellow outlines and measured 360mm tall and 235mm wide. The bottom of the Tiger was not painted except for the red lead primer.
The hull interior was painted the same light shade of dunkel-gelb as the exterior. Everything below the hull decks remained in red primer except the fuel flow divider, main fuel filter assembly, fuel lines, batteries and the torsion bars which were painted black. During construction, after the hull interior was painted, the electrical wiring and boxes and radio sets were installed. Most of the stenciling was done in black except for red markings highlighting the vehicle chassis numbers. The metal frames holding the driver's instrument panel and electrical panel were painted in dunkel-gelb while the instrument panel and electrical panel were black. The gauges on the instrument panel were white with black lettering except for the green and red warning areas on the tachometer. All of the crew seats and brow pads above the periscopes were covered in black leather stuffed with horsehair.
The engine compartment was painted only in red primer while the engine itself was painted semi-gloss black with the air cleaners being in a greenish tint of dunkel-gelb. The radiators were painted in a factory-finish dunkel-gelb, but a shade darker than used elsewhere on the vehicle, with the fill and over-fill tanks painted in a gloss red-brown. The fuel tanks were also painted in factory-applied dunkel-gelb.
During the restoration process, it was decided to leave the cut-out portions of the armor open and to install plexiglass coverings so that spectators could see the restored interior. After its debut at the 1992 Armor Conference, the Tiger II was put on display inside the museum. Cloth-covered mannequins with appropriate German armor uniforms were placed in the crew positions and for 18 years the Tiger II was one of the major draws to the museum. In 2010, the Tiger II was shipped to Fort Benning as part of the BRAC move.
Click on the links below to see interior and exterior photos of TigerII 332 when it was at Fort Knox and now at Fort Benning. Use your back button to return to this page to see each gallery. Hover your cursor over each photo to see captions.