Stowage on German tanks..?

G’day all

I recently saw some images of 1/35 a/m stowage goodies for Tiger I tanks, which if all used, would make your model resemble the best British/U.S. ‘mule’.
I’ve not seen many pics of Tigers loaded up with everything but the kitchen sink - just how realistic is some of this a/m stuff for vehicles like the Tiger? Is it perfect marketing to lure the modeller to part with his ‘hard-earned’ perhaps?

The topic is really one of those “it just depends” sorts of things.

However, in general, the German Tigers (I and II) were very well supported with their own unit level logistics, and their operational/tactical employments didn’t cover exceptionally long distances before they were rail-loaded. Also, the Tigers required fairly clear and open rear decks (for optimal engine cooling for good performance and longevity) so there simply wasn’t a lot of room for excessive storage. Tiger battalions were organized with very robust (for German units) organic supply, transportation and maintenance assets. Their crews could usually depend on their unit trains to hold and transport their individual baggage leaving the crews to only carry on their tanks what was needed immediately.

Finally, by the time the Tiger I was fielded (and on into the Tiger II), the continental wide, long-march German advance into the USSR was at its nadir. This meant that the Germans were generally “advancing to their rear” which also meant that their supply lines were getting shorter and shorter. Specialized corps support units like the Tiger battalions were backing up into their own logistics and had little need to try to pile everything they owned onto their tanks for fear of “out running” their own supply lines.

Of course, photographic exceptions can be found, and the employment envelopes of other German armor units were also quite different. Their circumstances often necessitated that the individual tank crews had to take a more careful view of how they were being sustained, as well as shortages of motorized transport perhaps demanding that the tanks themselves hauled loads as those units repositioned from one location to another. In retrograde or lateral movements across the frontlines, units may have had to load up their tanks with all sorts of critical supplies to prevent their loss to the enemy or to have on-hand at their new location.

German armored units were increasingly divided up and “task organized” across larger and larger areas often moving individual companies and platoons far from their parent battalions and divisions and, consequently, away from their unit baggage trains and other organic supply and sustainment assets. This, BTW, was not normal for Tiger tank battalions because of maintenance and recovery requirements. A broken-down Tiger tank that can’t be recovered was a major loss, so those units tended to keep their operational areas limited so that they could take care of themselves as much as possible.

In the case of the StuG units, they were generally employed as independent battalions attached (more or less permanently) to various infantry divisions or corps made up of almost exclusive infantry divisions. The vast majority of German infantry during WWII was horse drawn or had horse bound supply and division support units (like artillery). The StuG battalions had to rely very heavily on their own resources for the entire war for service and supply, and fuel and StuG ammo are both heavy and expended at high rates of consumption. Room in their unit supply trains for individual baggage was often used for essential combat supply putting the crews and unit members in a position of taking care of their own baggage. Thus, we commonly see StuG units with excessive (for German armor) loads on their AFVs.

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When I built my Tiger I, I portrayed it as one in Tunisia. I scoured my library and the internet for photos of desert Tiger I’s and came up with dozens, all showing clean tanks with no stowage. So, that’s how I finished the tank. When I took it to AMPS though, I brought photos showing clean Tiger I’s with no stowage to back me up. Do a Google on these tanks and you’ll find they don’t carry Aunt Martha’s Attic on the back like US tanks do. Stowage piles for Tigers is just a money grab.

Just to second these comments, I’ve seen AM stowage for German tanks which cover cooling vents, clog escape hatches (VERY unlikely IMHO!) and interfere with turret rotation. I tend to think that less is more with the possible exception, as noted above, for Stug units. Some PzIVs were seen at the commencement of Barbarossa towing small trailers with 200L drums of fuel on them. Likewise, panzers in DAK seem to have carried noticeably more stowage. But for Western Europe, on the whole, no.

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Thanks gentlemen. Based on other info I’ve read here & elsewhere, I had already drawn those conclusions, but upon seeing these resin goodies from the likes of Black Dog, I needed to double check.
So obviously a money grab, aimed at those modellers who just love to pile their tank models with a pile of stuff just 'coz some company made it for them to buy

The only pics of Tigers with any extra stowage that I’ve seen are a column of Tiger 1s advancing towards Normandy, each with a 200L barrel or two of fuel on the rear deck for refueling at rest stops on the march. Otherwise they seem to be kept pretty clear of baggage. Then again, most German vehicles seem to be uncluttered compared to Allied ones, so I think it’s a cultural thing among German armoured units.

the gentleman really nailed it. There is a great photo of a tiger Battalion in Russia, circa 1943 winter. They, (I believe there are f tigers in the shot), have fuel drums lashed to their engine decking. How I don’t know or want to advance a theory. But I will try and dig up the shot

Here is the notorious contra-example.

After flipping through the 800+ pages of both volumes of Tigers in Combat, this is the worst offender I could find.


The overall majority of Tigers are generally devoid of any appreciable amount of stowage, outside of the occasional tarp, a random box and of course, the ubiquitous bucket. And nearly all that did have anything fouling their decks were either entrained or otherwise in transit.

Yeah I did a Google trawl myself & came up with 1 pic of a Tiger I, presumably in Russia, with half a tree strapped to it (for concealment in a copse or hedge I expect) & a 44gal drum next to the turret. That’s pretty much it so far. The other pics here have highlighted some other examples.
As I earlier posted, I thought it odd looking at the Black Dog set, as nice as their stuff is, & the amount of paraphernalia included to throw on a Tiger. Ordinarily, I would’ve thought some 1:1 prototypical ref would make sense before committing to a casting master

Ok, I wasn’t aware of what the Black Dog set included. Now, having looked it up, I know where they came up with at least part of the set.

https://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/germany/tanks-2-3/tiger/german-tiger-i-tank-b/

The are several photos of the 507th carrying fascines on their hull sides, but it still doesn’t account for the rest of the stuff, at least photographically.

https://www.worldwarphotos.info/wp-content/gallery/germany/tanks/tiger/Tiger_befehls__507_spzabt_Russia_1944.jpg