The information about the King Tiger purchased by Sweden in 1947 has long been scanty. Several attempts have been made to identify which individual tank it was that came to Sweden, went through trials and finally was shot into pices. Only now has it been possible to finish the identification process.

We believe that we finally have a clear and well-founded basis for determining which individual tank, down to the manufacturing number, that was the Swedish King Tiger.

A more detailed description of how the work progressed with the identification in several different steps is presented in the magazine Pansar 1: 2019 and 2: 2019. Below follows mainly a description of the tank’s background and the last steps and puzzle pieces that made it possible to finally make an identification.

Read more about the detailed work that led to the identification of the Swedish King Tiger in the magazine Pansar 1: 2019 and 2: 2019.

Purchase

Excerpt from the procurement delegation’s report 1946:

“Purchase of German tanks.
The German tanks, which according to the negotiation of the military attaché, could be acquired, were in French ownership. Sales authorizations for these had been made in Washington. The visit to Versailles meant inspection of the depot where existing Panther tanks existed. Material deployed in the depot was largely intended for scrapping. A number of Panther tanks were shown, many of which were sold. The delegation was offered a choice of three different ones. At a meeting 5 October, it was announced that the French State offered free of charge the transfer of the tanks which the delegation wished to acquire. When the price did not affect the choice of tank, an agreement was reached on the acquisition of the tank, which was in the best condition.

Outreach in the terrain for a wrecked Tiger tank was made on the 4 October, with French officers as cicerone in a trip by car to Normandy. The journey went over Nantes, Evreux and Lisieux to the neighbourhood of Vimontiere.

The Tiger tank, which was visited there, was, however, in a very poor condition (completely burnt out), so the salvage and transport of the same to Sweden could not be considered suitable. The following day was promised by the French side that they would seek to find a Tiger tank in better condition, which in that case as well as the Panther tank would be handed over for free. Closer negotiations on the details of the acquisition of the above-mentioned tanks would be conducted by the military attaché. ”

Från rapporten efter resan i Frankrike 1946. Vagnen på bilderna är den första Kungstiger som erbjöds Sverige. Inte den som slutligen kom till Sverige.
Från rapporten efter resan i Frankrike 1946. Vagnen på bilderna är den första Kungstiger som erbjöds Sverige. Inte den som slutligen kom till Sverige.

From the report after the trip in France in 1946. The tank on the pictures is the first King Tiger that was offered to Sweden. Not the one that finally arrived in Sweden.

Several inquiries were made to the military attaché in an attempt to speed up the case in 1947. At the end of August 1947, the military attaché in Paris mentions that the French have now found a King Tiger that is not damaged by fire. The tank is in Gien, south of Paris.

Transport to Sweden

Skandinavisk Express was commissioned to provide transport to KAFT, Stockholm as soon as possible. In September, it is decided on Kontrollbyrån’s receipt and retransmission of the tank to P 4. On 27 November, 1947, the King Tiger was unloaded in Stockholm’s harbour.

Kungstigern avlastad  i Stockholms hamn 27 november 1947

The King Tiger unloaded in Stockholm harbor 27 November, 1947

In the inventory report for December 1947, the King Tiger is located at P 4 in Skövde. Once in place, the King Tiger tank was set up outside the workshop – where it remained for a long time in a frail condition. When the tank was taken into the workshop to prepare it for initial testing, an unexposed German egg hand grenade was found in the engine compartment – it was inserted between the valve covers on top of the engine.

Kungstigern var märkt på fronten och på sidorna med S2, vilket länge var oförklarligt. Sten Korch, försöksofficer vid tiden, förklarade att det betydde att amerikanska militära underrättelsetjänsten hade undersökt vagnen.

The likely reason for this was that the engine would have been destroyed when the crew was forced to abandon the tank in a hurry. It was found that the hand grenade had clicked and after it was removed, it was rendered harmless in a nearby brook with a small trinitrotoluene charge. After that, the engine could be re-assembled after the inspection and the tank prepared for trial. A shorter test drive on the field outside the workshop confirmed this.

The King Tiger was marked on the front and sides with S2, which was long inexplicable. Sten Korch, trial officer at the time, explained that it meant that the US military intelligence service had investigated the tank. Sten was also the one who removed and blasted the hand grenade found in the engine compartment.

Tests in Sweden

The tank underwent a number of different terrain driving tests in Skövde in 1948. At a hard turn in loose sand on the field outside the workshop, the swing arm of the one end-wheel broke. After the broken swing arm was welded together, the staff were forced to be more careful than before during the continued trials.

Kungstiger under framkomlighetsförsök vid P 4 i Skövde

The King Tiger during trails at P 4 in Skövde

Since the tank could not be tested to the same extent as before, a decision was made to transport it to the Provsjuttingscentralen Karlsborg (PcK) in Karlsborg, today the FMV test site – the transport had originally been planned for between the 24 to 29 September 1948, but the resulting mishap with the swing arm postponed the transport until further notice.

Before the tests, there was a discussion on 11 November, whether the cannon should be removed or if it should be left. What was stated was that opportunities existed in the future to be able to acquire 8,8 cm ammunition so that shooting tests could be carried out with the gun.

Since the tank weighed 69 metric tons, it was not possible to cross the canal bridge in Karlsborg, but instead had to go by train to Finnerödja. Otherwise, it would have been possible to take the train to Karlsborg and only tow the tank a few kilometres. But now it was instead Finnerödja. From there it was dragged, with the control out of function, by a salvage truck type M26 Dragon Wagon and an M4A4 Sherman the approximately 60 kilometres long road to PcK. Other vehicles that participated were a terrain truck m/46, towing truck 10 metric tons, fuel car 5 metric tons, two passenger cars and four motorcycles. The transport of the King Tiger now came to be carried out on 10 to 15 November.

The transport with the unmanageable tank took five days at a cost of 10,000 SEK (much money at that time). Some additional figures for the transport: The total weight was 160 metric tons, an estimated 1,700 hp was used and 6,000 liters of gasoline were consumed.

Engine and gearbox were removed from the tank before being used as a target. When this happened, before or after transportation, is still not determined. Engine and gearbox are preserved.

At the proving grounds north of Karlsborg the King Tiger underwent extensive firing test from 1948 to 1951 with a wide array of weaponry, among those were sub calibre munitions for the Pvkv m/43 and the munitions that were intended for the Carl Gustav M/ 48 hand-held anti-tank weapon.

Kungstigern efter beskjutning. Foto: Sven Olof Ericsson via Arsenalen
Kungstigern efter beskjutning. Foto: Sven Olof Ericsson via Arsenalen

The King Tiger after intense firing at it. Photo: Sven Olof Ericsson via Arsenalen

After the tests, the King Tiger was scrapped and the turret went to the Kråk firing range where it became a popular target for the crews of the newly arrived Strv 81 (Centurion). It was common to use training rounds for the Strv 81 and they penetrated the turret all the time. Suggesting that the steel in the turret either had lost its hardening or was fabricated from non-hardened steel.

The main gun was sent to Bofors in Karlskoga for tests and was later scrapped during a cleanup campaign in the 90s.

Identification of the individual tank

Hard-to-solve mystery based on the place of purchase

When the Swedish King Tiger was transported from the French town Gien, it was inevitable that the first theory was that the tank should have belonged to one of the units, such as s Pz Abt 503 or Fkl 316, which were equipped with King Tigers during the fightings in Normandy.

A detailed review looking at each individual tank who potentially could have been the Swedish King Tiger has been published in Pansar 1:2019. However, it was impossible to clearly show which of the remaining ones that actually ended up in Sweden. It turns out below that it had its natural explanation, since it had not belonged to any of these units.

 

Basic characteristics of the Swedish King Tiger

If the identification of the tank individual is based on known details on the Swedish King’ Tiger instead of the place of purchase as the entry value, the picture gradually becomes clearer.

Initially, three prototypes were manufactured with the designations: Fgst. No. V1, V2 and V3, then the serial production was started and these tanks were designated: Fgst. No. 280 001 – 280 489.

A) Pre-production turret
The first 50 King Tigers were produced with the pre-production turret (often incorrectly referred to as the “Porsche-turret”) while the rest were equipped with the production turret (often incorrectly referred to as the “Henschel-turret”).

B) Single-piece barrel tube
The first version of 8.8 cm KwK 43 (L / 71) consisted of an integral one-piece barrel tube with a larger muzzle brake (from Tiger I). In May 1944, it was replaced by a two-piece barrel tube, which was easier to produce in quantities without deteriorating quality. According to production statistics, eleven tanks were first produced and during the month when the barrel tubes were changed, another 19 tanks were manufactured. So a number between 11 – 30 King Tigers had the early barrel.

C) “Two-eyed” sight
A further detail, the Swedish King Tiger had the early type of sight “two-eyed” Turmzielfernrohr 9b/1. This type of sight was changed in May 1944 to a newer model, the type Turmzielfernrohr 9d, where just one opening in the armour was needed.

King Tiger with production turret and “one-eyed” sight. Photo: Bundesarchiv

King Tiger with production turret and “one-eyed” sight. Photo: Bundesarchiv

Pre-production turret, with gun barrel cast in one piece and “two-eyed” sight on the Swedish King Tiger.

Pre-production turret, with gun barrel cast in one piece and “two-eyed” sight on the Swedish King Tiger.

The Swedish King Tiger was one of the first 50 tanks with the pre-production turret. With one-piece gun barrel, the number of potential tank individuals is further reduced and production time can be set at the latest in May 1944.

Eleven details that characterize the Swedish King Tiger
(click (+) or on the respective heading for more information)

1) Has Flammenvernichter mit AbsatzKrümmer (flame suppressor with a bend).

Flame suppressor was first mounted on Panthers at the Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) the 8 December 1944 and the bend earliest 25 of January 1945 (according to. Jentz and Doyle’s Panther-book). Normally flame suppressors was mounted vertically on the Panthers but for some reason they were mounted horizontally (in transportation mode) on the Swedish King Tiger.

Vertikala flamdämpare

Vertical flame suppressors

Horisontella flamdämpare (transportläge) på den svenska Kungstigern
Horizontally mounted flame suppressors (in transportation mode) on the Swedish King Tiger.

 

2) Has track links Kgs 73/800/152 and drive sprockets with the late type of teeth

The track links were introduced in March 1945 (with sprocket version 4, see below) but tests in the field were made at a (confirmed) unit in the winter 44/45. The unit was s Pz Abt 506 which also received five tanks with the pre-production turret. There are pictures of tanks from s Pz Abt 506 with these track link types but only pictures of tanks with production turrets, however, it does not exclude that some of the five pre-production tanks could have received this type of links.

What is however extraordinary is that the drive sprocket on the Swedish King Tiger is of the late type that was introduced in March 1945. This means that the original drive sprocket (version 1) has been replaced by version 4. There were four versions of drive sprockets and the last two the versions had teeth that were longer and with a different angle ie wider base and more pointed, all to prevent banding.

 

 

Kungstiger med bandlänkar Kgs 73/800/152
King Tiger with track links Kgs 73/800/152

Olika varianter av drivhjul på Kungstiger

Different variants of driving sprockets used on King Tigers. From left to right:
Version 1) 18 teeth,
Version 2) 9 teeth,
Version 3) 9 wider and longer teeth than ver. 2, the mounting holes displaced and,
Version 4) 18 teeth, wider and longer teeth than ver. 2, mounting holes symmetrical with the teeth.

3) Has armour protection over the snorkel.

Mounted on tanks up to March 1944. (11 King Tigers were produced until end of February 1944 including V1-3)

Bepansrat skydd översnorkeln på Kungstigern
Armour protection over the snorkel.

4) Has rain drainage at the loaders hatch.

According to Jentz and Doyle this was not the case on V1 – V3 (not found on V2) but the first series production tank had it.

Regnavrinningsuttag vid laddarens lucka på Kungstigern

Rain drainage at the loaders hatch.

5) Has had Zimmerit on both turret and chassis.

Har ”pistolpluggar” på båda sidor av tornet (igensvetsade), men ej hylsutkastarlucka på tornsida på Kungstiger

6) Has pistol ports on both sides of turret (welded shut) but not the port for discarding empty shells.

Har ”pistolpluggar” på båda sidor av tornet (igensvetsade), men ej hylsutkastarlucka på tornsida på Kungstiger

7) Lacks the turret race protection.

It was introduced in April 1944 and up to and including March approx 17 tanks (including V1 – V3) were produced.

8) Lacks opening for pre-heating of engine cooling system.

This was a small opening plus external protection obliquely under the left exhaust armour protection introduced in February 1944 (lacking really good quality images to be 100% sure). Until January 1944, approximately eleven tanks had been produced (incl. V1 – V3)

9) Misses the fittings to lock the front flat track guards

To be able to lock the front flat track guards, a bracket was mounted on the hull side above the drive wheel – this fitting remains on the Bovington’s V2 King Tiger, though heavily bent. Images show that this was not on the Swedish King Tiger (nor welded joints) so tank V1 and V3 can be excluded.
Beslag för låsning av platta/ plana främre stänkskydd. Saknas på den svenska Kungstigern

Fittings for locking flat front track guard. Missing on the Swedish King Tiger.

10) Lacks center mount on rearmost side mudguard

This was only missing on King Tiger V1 – V3 and the first production tanks (Doyle has made a mistake in the book “VK 45.02 to Tiger II” p. 24 and p. 66).

Saknar mittenfästet på bakre sidostänkskärm.

The Swedish King Tiger lacks center mount on rearmost side mudguard.

11) Lacks recession in front armour on the right hand side at the machine gunners periscope

King Tiger no. 280 009 or 012 see p. 76 o 77 in the book “VK 45.02 to Tiger II” has this so the Swedish King Tiger must have been earlier than this.

Saknar uttag i frontpansarets övre kant vid kulspruteskyttens periskop.

The Swedish King Tiger in Skövde

The Swedish King Tiger in Skövde

Details point to an individual tank, but in the wrong place

The details point to both a very early tank and a tank that then received the very latest band links, drive sprockets and muzzle brake.

If this tank had been in the s Pz Abt 503 or Fkl 316 and had been abandoned in France, then the unit had not had access to late tracks, gear ring and muzzle brake because they were not manufactured at that time.

If the tank was equipped with driving sprocket version 1 and the French had found the tank after the war and then added late track links (because the original track links were damaged or missing) then the driving sprocket did not need to be replaced to version 4, which is still there. Where would the French have got driving sprocket version 4 (they were not on tanks used in France)? The muzzle break was not available at this time when s Pz Abt 503 or Fkl 316 were active on the western front with King Tigers equipped with the pre-production turret.

The same applies if the tank had been from s Pz Abt 506 in addition to the track links which were proven at this time. The problem is that the unit s Pz Abt 506 was not in France and the tank could not have been left there. If so, the tank would have been handed over to the French – but by whom? The muzzle brake can hardly have been in the field at the time when the s Pz Abt 506 was active with these tanks as the muzzle brakes had hardly been fitted to the factory tanks ie Panthers.

All in all, the majority implies that the Swedish King Tiger has been a test tank somewhere in Germany, as it is equipped with the very latest in track links and exhaust systems.

The only tank that fits in with the above details, in addition to track links and drive sprocket is the test tank with number 211 from Kummersdorf and there they could have mounted new drive sprockets and track links in 1945. This tank also has the Swedish King Tigers’s exhaust system according to photos, this is the only logical explanation, but how it ended up in France is a questionable issue.

Photo from tests in Kummersdorf with trolley 211

Photo from tests in Kummersdorf with tank 211

Kummersdorf is the name of an area near Luckenwalde, about 25 km south of Berlin, in the Brandenburg region of Germany. Until 1945, Kummersdorf was a place where the German Army Arms Agency (Heereswaffenamt (HwaA)) had a weapons development centre and an artillery firing range.

The place also gets an explanation

It turns out that the Heereswaffenmatt’s plant in Kummersdorf had a winter testing area in St Johann, Austria, with Kitzbühl as the nearest big city. Photos from a place near Kitzbühl, Stockerdörfl, shows a King Tiger with the pre-production turret and late track links, the lamp on the front armour is twisted in the same way as on the Swedish King Tiger.

Front with lamp, photo from Austria. Note number 211 within circle.

Front with lamp, photo from Skövde

Photo of 211 probably from the report in St. Johann, Austria

Photo of 211 probably from the report in St. Johann, Austria

Side view on the King Tiger from the same place

Side view on the King Tiger from the same place

Then both tank details and there is a logical explanation of how it ended up in France. It was sent from Kummersdorf, Berlin, Germany to Austria for winter tests and after the war to a gathering place in France (Gien) where it was then sent on to Sweden. There is a CIOS report from this winter test site that shows a King Tiger (at least a King Tiger with the pre-production turret and a Panther, both in a mountain area) which makes it likely that it is the same King Tiger. We have not been able to get hold of this report, but it may nevertheless be considered as determined which tank individual was the Swedish King Tiger.

 

The report by CIOS on the winter testing area in St Johann

CIOS was a combined British and US military intelligence operation that existed in 1944-45, which mainly investigated and documented German military research, technology and manufacturing methods.

The Swedish King Tiger was a test vehicle marked 211 from Kummersdorf, which was the sixth series-produced King Tiger tank with chassis number 280 006.

 

Several individuals have contributed to solving the mystery of the identity of the Swedish King Tiger. We want to thank all involved and also mention some whose contribution stands out:

Christer Baadstöe, who persistently continued to search for new information for a long time to identify the tank and his early work to exclude the King Tigers used in the fightings in Normandy.

Per Sonnerviks, thanks to his detailed knowledge an individual King Tiger could be pointed out.

Jean Marie Dylon, who initially came across the pictures from Stockerdörfl showing the Swedish King Tiger. Then in a collective effort with Herbert Ackermans, Emanuel Morales Zeke, Branislav Juhász and others together, were able to determine the identity and the explanation how the tank finally came to Gien, France before it was transported to Sweden.

 

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