The King Tiger joins the IS-2, the tank that was developed to fight it, in the striking coin series, ‘Confrontation’

Just three weeks ago we featured a brilliant new coin from a new producer in Russia that hit bang on with my love of tanks. Depicting the Soviet heavy tank, the Iosef Stalin 2, it was a hugely impressive debut and came completely out of the blue. Struck at a Russian Mint, it was the equal of anything from the Mint of Poland when it comes to the quality of the strike.

The second coin is now here and with a fitting subject. The German Konigstiger, also called the King Tiger or the Tiger II AusfB, was the pinnacle of operational tank design in the Wehrmacht. Greatly feared, despite under 500 being built and a limited deployment, it was ultimately a dead end, carrying too much weight for offensive operations and lacking in numbers. As for this vs the IS-2, they were different beasts, the Konigstiger focused on the anti-tank role, and the IS-2 being more multi-purpose. The IS-2 could certainly take one down, but my money’s on the Tiger.

The coin follows the design ethos of the first one very closely, and we’re very pleased to say, with equal quality. There’s a terrific layered look to the reverse face and some brilliant fine detail. The close-up image below is one I snapped today, and you can see exquisitely rendered items like the gun mantlet, the spare tracks, the hatch handles, and even the Zimmerit anti-mine paste application. Yes, I know I’m biased, but I love this coin. Set in defensive posture outside the Reichstag in Berlin for the final defense, there’s a great view of the building, with soldiers and an anti-tank gun in front.

The obverse also apes the first coin with a map of Operation Spring Awakening, the last major offensive by the Germans in the war. Taking place in Hungary, it was an attempt to secure oil supplies and protect Vienna, but failed. A cool design and far superior to the simple effigy of QEII we normally get on a Niue issue. So again, a great release. It’s up for order now from Numisart in Russia or Coinshoppe in Canada. WIth a mintage of just 200 pieces, it’s selling very fast. We’ll have a photoshoot next week, showing off both coins because, as you know, I love tanks…

THE TIGER II HEAVY TANK

Shocked, not just by the quality of Soviet armour, but by the quantity of it, the German High Command realised it would need a qualitative advantage to continue the war in the East, as a shortage of raw materials and constant Allied bombing meant they wouldn’t be competing on volume. The Pzkpfw V Panther and the Pzkpfw VI Tiger were solid steps forward, arguably the best tanks of the war, but it seemed that big was never big enough for the Nazi’s, so a larger vehicle was developed.

Gaining sloped armour and a long-barrelled 88mm gun, the Tiger II weighed in at a colossal 70 tons, a weight comparable to the heaviest modern MBT’s and one that placed huge stresses on the engine and suspension. Indeed, more King Tiger’s were destroyed by their own crews after breaking down than were knocked out in battle. The Germans only managed to build 492 of them, a completely ineffective number, thanks to the aforementioned Allied bombing of the Henschel tank factory.

If the war had continued and this behemoth had received further development, it’s terrifying to think what facing one on a battlefield would have been like. There were plans for an E-series of tanks, headed by a 100-ton monster, on the drawing board, and they’d already built the comical large Maus (188 tons).

As it stands, this tank in its fielded form managed to garner itself a feared reputation. Claims of kill ratios of 10:1 on the Eastern Front were not unheard of, and many of the Tiger II’s were lost to mechanical problems rather than artillery. In reality, it was too little, too late, and absolutely not what was required by the Wehrmacht.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $10 NZD (Niue)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 45.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, gilding
MINTAGE 200
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
NUMISART.RU