With the release of the new North Africa compilation we have the first use of the Wildcard slot with the inclusion of the Mid War Monsters class of armoured fighting vehicles. These mainly experimental or cancelled development programs provide some interesting options to include in our gaming.
Today I’m going to look at the German Wildcard box options. Well, actually, there is only one in this book; the Tiger P, or as it was known, VK.4501.P. When the Germans first started to develop a heavy battle tank in 1941 there were two competing designs, one led by Porsche and one by Henschel, to produce the Panzer VI or Tiger 1 as we more commonly know it.
The Porsche design was simpler, equipped with a revolutionary electric transmission. In this design, the engines powered electric motors atatched to the drive sprockets rather than a traditional drive train transmission and gear box. If the Germans could have got the drive system to reliably work then this tank could have been a bit of a game-changer for second world war tank development (it’s possibly a good job Mercedes F1 weren’t around in 1941!) as the torque an electric transmission can provide is only limited by the output voltage of the generators. Its also simpler (less moving parts) and easier to maintain. In theory.
In terms of performance the Tiger P, in theory, was a faster more agile tank than the Tiger 1 but, due to the technical challenges of the petrol-electric power-train, it never quite managed to live up to this.
Either way, the competition to design the heavy tank was won by the Henschel design, amid the suspicion of “dirty tricks” and “backhanders” in the testing programme. That’s not to say the research was wasted as what came from it was the Elephant and Ferdinand line of tank hunters.
Now, interestingly, BF has included this AFV in the new North Africa book despite the fact that it actually only saw real service on the Eastern Front; in early 1944 as the command tank for Panzerjager 653. The reasoning is that if it had been the competition winner they would have been sent to North Africa in 1942, ready for the second battle of El Alamein. So how does it compare?
As you can see the Tiger P is identical to the regular Tiger option in terms of crew rating, weaponry and armour. Mobility is where we see some differences, with generally lower movement rates reflecting the rather unreliable drive system but only by 2 inches (5cm) in each category except Terrain Dash, where it matches the regular Tiger. However, the trade off for this is an improved cross rating of 2+, making this beast super agile, if not quite so fast overall. Pointwise there is no difference.
To conclude, if you have a habit of failing those critical cross-checks, the Tiger P may be the answer to your problems and it certainly looks a bit different whilst not having any of the game unbalancing impact that some of the other options offer, and in my view is a safe option to include in regular gaming – Martin