I present to you my next project, a Tiger II with Porsche Turret, having finally been able to find the Dragon model with zimmerit that I have been looking for for a long time.
The first decoration of the model proposed by Dragon is the King Tiger Anneliese of the 503rd Abteilung.
this tank is interesting because it is one of the first model, with a Porsche turret, and it survived to take part in the fighting in Hungary at the beginning of the winter of 1944 as you will read below.
I try here a small summary of what I could find in books and on the internet. For this, we must also necessarily speak of the 503 PanzerAbteilung.
This battalion was created and trained in April 1942 and it was not until the end of the year that it received its first Tiger I. From that time, and until it was severely decimated during the Soviet offensive in the spring of 1944, the 503 fought on the Eastern Front.
In May 1944 the remnants of the battalion were withdrawn from the front and sent to Ohrdruf for reconstitution, so that by early June it was back to its standard strength of 45 tanks. Of these, the 14 of the first company were Porsche-turreted Tiger IIs (+ 1 Henschel) and those of the second and third companies were Tiger I.
The battalion was the only such unit available to the Wehrmacht that could be used against Allied troops landing in Normandy. Thus, the 503 was transported by rail to the new Western front, reaching the region of Caen on July 7.
Over the next few days, the unit's tanks carried out their first actions, achieving success against some Shermans, without suffering combat losses. However, the massive aerial bombardment prior to Operation "Goodwood" on 18 July decimated the battalion, especially the third company. In the fighting that same day, the three companies were involved and, at the end of the day, the battalion had lost 13 tanks (including 10 from the third company), claiming however the destruction of 40 allied tanks.
In the following days, the battalion withdrew to the east, repelling various attacks. The 3rd company yielded its only 4 surviving tanks to the 2nd and withdrew to the Mailly Le Camp training ground at the end of July to re-equip itself with 14 new Tiger IIs, all equipped with Porsche turrets except for two Henschels.
During this time, the 1st and 2nd Companies, withdrew in the valley of the Orne towards the Seine but none of them will succeed in crossing this river. Tanks that have not been lost in combat will be destroyed by the crews.
At the end of August, the remains of these two companies, the men and some wheeled vehicles, were transported to Germany.
The first elements of the reconstituted Third Company began their movements to Paris by rail on 11 August, being loaded onto trains at Mailly le Camp. Only two damaged Tiger II Porsche Tiger turrets remained on this training ground.
In the fighting around Paris, all the tanks were destroyed, mostly by Allied air action, so the only tanks the company had on August 24 were the two damaged Tiger IIs at Mailly le Camp. These two “survivors” were hastily transported to Germany and on September 11, what remained of the battalion was assembled in Paderborn, with their only two tanks, the 2 Tiger IIs of Mailly le Camp.
Again, the numbers of the battalion were reconstituted with the arrival at the end of September of 45 Tiger IIs, all with Henschel turrets since the Porsche one was no longer manufactured. Thus, curiously on these dates, the 503 had 47 tanks, two more than the theoretical strength.
One of these two veterans is the Tiger II 314 "Anneliese", probably named by one of the crew members in honor of a wife or girlfriend.
In mid-October, the battalion was once again transported by rail to Hungary. After entering Budapest to help put down the coup against the pro-German Hungarian government, the battalion heads to the front. There he would face the Red Army again in fierce fighting over the following months, especially around Debrecen and then Lake Ballaton.
There are very few photos showing the two Porsche Tiger IIs of the battalion at this time. The only ones that can be clearly identified (we distinguish either the "314, or the nickname "Anneliese") were taken in the sector of the Hungarian town of Sarkeresztes, around which the 503 operated from the end of December to the beginning of January 1945. And these photos show a Tiger II adorned with whitewash, the snow being very present at this period.
Note that the 503 was renamed "Feldhernhalle" by an order from the Wehrmacht headquarters on January 4, 1945 and that during its long history, the battalion was the heavy tank unit which claimed the most enemy tanks destroyed : more than 1,700, and more than 2,000 guns.
My idea is to represent 314 Anneliese before its whitewash, at the beginning of winter 1944, end of October, beginning of November.
Interogation about camouflage :
And there, the subject becomes complicated because it is difficult to determine what camouflage this tank could have.
The options that may arise, according to what I have read on the internet, the subject still being debated, anyway, a priori, without formal proof, all these options may be possible:
1 – The tank has kept its green camouflage with yellow edging like the series of known photos of the tanks “on parade” at Mailly le Camp
2 – The tank after repair, and therefore probably before or after returning to Germany, received a full coat of Dunkelgelb.
3 – The Dunkelgelb layer is completed with a large patch of green.
4 – The tank is completely repainted in 3-tone color to be in the same camo as the 45 new Tigers received at the end of September.
The trend among specialists seems to be more for the Dunkelgelb altogether.
And me, a Dunkelgelb camo with big green spots is rather my preference, artistically speaking.
All the while knowing that I also came across this photo which proves that the crews carried out the camouflage of their tank themselves and that therefore it opens up the field of the possible.
The diorama will therefore be somewhere in the region of Debrecen, at the end of October 1944, early in the morning before leaving for new combat. The diorama will feature another vehicle, I don't know what yet.
King Tiger with Porsche turret and zimmerit DRAGON
Tracks FRAT FROG (For testing, as a replacement for DS tracks, and to compare with OKB's)
Figures WHITE STORK and probably others, dépends on second véhicule of the diorama
See you soon for working photos.