Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Tiger In The Tank

Well, it isn't the Cambodian Midget Wrestling League (an article faked to look like a BBC article claimed 42 Cambodian midgets tried to fight a lion...and lost.  My link takes you to the author's apology/explanation/gloat), but there have been some impressively unbalanced showdowns in history.

Recently, while reading about historical gaming, I came across a reference to Franz Staudegger.  Here is the Wikipedia summary of the encounter:

On 7 July 1943, a single Tiger tank commanded by SS-Oberscharf├╝hrer Franz Staudegger from the 2nd Platoon of 13th Panzer Company of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler engaged a Soviet group of some 50 T-34 tanks around Psyolknee (the southern sector of the German salient in the Battle of Kursk). Staudegger used up his entire ammunition after destroying some 22 Soviet tanks, while the rest retreated. For his achievement, Franz Staudegger was awarded the Knight's Cross.

Franz Staudegger

The T-34 was unable to penetrate the Tiger's frontal armor at any range, and needed to get within 500 meters to penetrate from the side.  There is some argument about whether this was actually done in a Tiger, though...German archives claim that the actual combat was in the less formidable Panzer IV, because his Tiger had broken down!

While continuing to be active during the war, the rest of his life was a bit of an anticlimax.  He became a railroad official, then an insurance salesman, and then spent a long time unemployed.  Staudegger died, childless, in 1991 of cancer of the larynx.

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