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Nazi heavy tank battalions.
Nazi heavy tank battalions (German: schwere-Panzer-Abteilung), were battalion-sized World War II tank units, equipped with Tiger I and later, Tiger II heavy tanks. Originally intended to fight on the offensive during breakthrough operations, the German late-war realities required them to be used in a defensive posture by providing heavy fire support and counterattacking enemy armored breakthroughs, often organised into ad-hoc Kampfgruppe. These panzer detachments were considered elite units.
Early formation units experimented to find the correct combination of heavy Tiger tanks supported by either medium Panzer III tanks or scout elements. In 1942 this consisted of 20 Tigers and 16 Panzer IIIs, composed of two companies, each with four platoons of two Tigers and two Panzer IIIs. Each company commander would have an additional Tiger, and battalion command would have another two.
Later formations had a standard organization of 45 Tiger Tanks, composed of 3 companies of 14 Tigers each, plus 3 command vehicles. Maintenance troubles and the mechanical unreliability of the Tigers posed a continuous problem, so often the units would field a smaller number of combat-ready tanks.
The limited number of these heavy tanks, plus their specialized role in either offensive or defensive missions, meant they were rarely permanently assigned to a single division or corps; but shuffled around according to war circumstances.
By the end of the war, the following heavy panzer detachments had been created. Early units were re-built several times by the end of the war.
Units attached to the German Army (Heer) were:
Units attached to the Waffen-SS were:
Tank losses include not only losses inflicted by other tanks. Also, many tanks were abandoned by their crews due a lack of fuel or ammunition, especially at the end of war. Thus, the real tank-to-tank ratios are higher.
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