Book Review
Tiger Tank 131
Tiger Tank Panzer Kampf Wagon VI Tiger I Ausf. E (SdKfz 181)
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Haynes manuals, the publisher who shows you how to take apart your car and put it back together again, have been hard at work on a special project. They have released a manual on the Tiger I which was researched during recent restoration work to the Tiger I at Bovington Tank Museum. Haynes manuals have released a number of military manuals usually covering aircraft, such as the Vulcan, Spitfire, Lancaster, and F86 Sabre as examples, however this is something different going over the Tiger I which was captured in Tunisia in 1943 during World War 2, and housed at Bovington Tank Museum.


The book breaks down as;
1. Forward.
2. Introduction.
3. The Tiger Story.
4. The Travels of Tiger 131.
5. Anatomy of the Tiger.
6. Restore to Running Order.
7. Running the Tiger.
8. Running the Tiger.
9. The Maybach Engine.
10. Firepower.
11. Fighting the Tiger.
12. Last of the Tigers.
13. Appendix.
14. Index.


This is a hardback book consisting of 164 pages, it is printed on a good quality semi gloss paper and is approximately A4 size. I will break down this review in the same order as the layout listed in the contents.

This section of the book introduces you to Lieutenant Peter Gudgin MC, 48th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. The Churchill tank he was commanding in Tunisia in 1943 received fire (believed from Tiger 131) and was destroyed by a shot going through his tank front to rear, he and his crew were very fortunate to survive. He was sent back to England to recuperate and ended up meeting the tank that nearly killed him and writing a report on its abilities.

This section covers briefly the 'how and why' this book was written and acknowledges the work by various other authors.

The Tiger Story:
This section of the book is broken down to;
• The pioneers
• The rivals
• VK 45.01
• Production
• Fahrgestell Nummer and the Waffen Prufungsamt
• Building Tigers
• From factory to the to the front line
• Enter Tiger 131
• Tiger variants

A book of this size can never do justice to all these areas but it does provide an interesting insight into them, the pictures included also show Tiger 131 with its crew in Tunisia and shortly after its capture showing the two tone paint scheme.

The Travels of Tiger 131:
This section of the book covers Tiger 131’s movements after capture and the uses it was put to. This section of the book has an excellent selection of period photographs which I am sure will be of interest and shows the damage inflicted on the inside of Tiger 131 at the time of capture.

Anatomy of the Tiger:
This section of the book breaks down into five sub headings which are;
• General layout
• Tiger I statistics
• Looking around the vehicle
• Water Tiger – Submersion and wading
• Zimmerit

This section of the book covers the layout in both text and pictures which are again period and contemporary. The above sections cover the areas as laid out above. Of particular interest will be the section where the staff at Bovington Tank Museum mix their own Zimmerit using the recipe as instructed in German literature and the results of tests on it.

Restore to Running Order:
This area of the book is broken down into five sub sections which are;
• The reason why
• The restoration of Tiger 131
• Restoration: the workshop view
• The vexed question of paint
• Restoration: the volunteers view

This area of the book covers the trials and tribulations of returning a World War 2 heavy tank to running order while keeping the vehicle as authentic as possible. This section gives an insight into the difficulties with funding such an operation and finding the right people for the job. It also covers the use of a Maybach HL230 engine which would have been fitted to this vehicle if it had survived in German service, from a Maybach HL210 of which a complete engine was not available. This section of the book also offers what I believe to be a unique opportunity to see parts of the Tiger which cannot under normal conditions be seen.

Running the Tiger:
This section of the book breaks down into four sub headings which are;
• Driving Tiger 131
• Engine start up procedure
• Driving the tiger
• Wheel and track maintenance

This will take you back to the days before you got into a vehicle, turned the key, and drove away. The checks required before starting are well explained and there is a whole new list of what to do before you can drive away after the tank is started. This section has some excellent reference pictures which should help those who wish to detail the interior of a Tiger I.

The Maybach Engine:
• The engine and auxiliaries

This section of the book identifies the various components of the engine and what they do and how they work. Various cutaway drawings show the internal operating parts and includes areas such as breaking, turret motor, gear box, and ventilation.

This area of the book breaks down into two sub headings which are;
• Tiger Gunnery
• Procedure for aiming and firing the gun

As suggested this area covers the setting up of the main gun to fire, but also covers ammunition and aiming points. This book has not forgotten the bow MG which is covered along with the smoke dischargers and their firing circuits. A point of interest here is that storage of the various ammunition and equipment is also covered in detail with supporting pictures.

Fighting the Tiger:
This section of the book is broken down into six sub headers which are;
• Units that used Tigers
• Communications
• Tactics
• Tiger mobility
• Repair and maintenance
• Living with the Tiger

A better title for this portion of the book would be “Fighting from the Tiger” and as indicated from the above listing covers a broad spectrum. The area I found the most interesting was the demolition charges for the Tiger and which is an area I have not seen covered before. While most of the pictures in this area are period pictures which I suspect have been seen before there was a contemporary picture which really caught my eye, that is a picture of Otto Carius getting in or out of the Bovington Tiger after restoration

Last of the Tigers:
This section of the book is broken down into the following three sub sections;
• What happened to the other Tigers?
• What chance of owning a Tiger?
• Buying a Tiger

This section of the book covers the possibility of undiscovered Tiger I’s being out there somewhere, and even touches on tanks that were buried in the UK to test their survivability, and which when the tests were abandoned never dug up.

• Surviving Tigers
• Bibliography

Here you will see the last known six Tigers I’s which are mostly complete and their locations.

A three page index is provided to make it easier to navigate through the book and look up specific areas of interest.


This book could never hope to cover the Tiger I to the satisfaction of all, but it does do a good job of providing a lot of information on Tiger 131 and how it was used, recovered, and ended up as it currently stands. Did it have everything I would want from a book on the Tiger I? No it didn’t but it is an excellent book all the same. I highly recommend this book to you as it covers a broad spectrum on the Tiger I rather than just a specific, which means there should be something for everyone between the covers.

Tiger 131 walk around by Alan McNeilly Live links
Tiger 131 walk around by Darren Baker Live links
Highs: An excellent all round publication on the Tiger I, specifically Tiger 131 at Bovington Tank Museum.
Lows: There are no lows other than we always want more.
Verdict: Very highly recommended for the fans of the Tiger I.
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781844259311
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  PUBLISHED: Aug 20, 2011

Our Thanks to Haynes Manuals!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the review . As you say , the book can't be everything to everyone , but it should give us another side of the Tiger story . Hopefully mine should arrive by mail soon as I preordered on Amazon when this book was 1st announced . Hopefully this publication sells a bunch and the Haynes / Bovington crew can do more on WW2 Armoured subjects ....pls
AUG 21, 2011 - 03:50 AM
Jim I think you will be happy with your purchase.
AUG 21, 2011 - 04:36 AM
Being once a Certified Automotive Technician I know I'll never work on a Tiger I tank, but this manual would sure look good among the other "car & truck" manuals. - Jeff
AUG 21, 2011 - 07:05 AM
Best of all, they can't cop out of each section by stating "too complicated for home repair - take it to the main dealer" like they do in my Mondeo manual... Looks like another book to add to my shopping list. Thanks Darren! Tom
AUG 22, 2011 - 03:50 AM
I hope you find it as good a book as I have.
AUG 22, 2011 - 07:11 AM

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