1 Tiger Tank vs 50 T-34s – A True Story

YouTube / Mark Felton Productions

During an engagement in the Battle of Kursk in 1943, one Tiger tank singlehandedly took down 50 Soviet T-34s in an unforgettable battle. 

The Battle of Kursk

The Battle of Kursk was supposedly a battle that would change Germany’s fortunes on the Eastern Front. 

Both sides threw everything at each other in a struggle, but it was the Red Army that emerged victorious. Germany failed to regain the initiative in the East. 

A True Story

In the Battle of Kursk, some actions stand out, such as how a German Tiger tank took on 50 Soviet T-34s and won. Although hard to believe, incredibly, this incident happened. 

Even more incredibly, the action started not with tanks going head to head with each other, but as a case of mistaken identity and some well-placed hand grenades. 

Unexpected Turn of Events

Franz Staudegger was 22 years old and in the Elite First SS Panzer Division. He was the one who commanded Tiger One of Second Platoon 13th Panzer Company First SS Panzer Regiment. It was the first day of the heavy fighter, and Staudegger’s Tiger was moving close up with his unit. It was dark, and he suddenly saw an outline of another tank up ahead, blocking the way. 

A figure was standing in the turret smoking a cigarette. The young man snatched his personal weapon and some grenades, and clambered down to talk to what he assumed to be another German tank commander. 

However, he soon realized that the tank was a Soviet T-34, standing with its hatches open. So, he pulled a grenade and tossed it to the nearest open hatch before taking cover. 

Total Chaos

The tank exploded, revealing another right behind it. Staudegger pulled another grenade out, running to the T-34 just as the crewmen were opening the hatches to see what was going on. The second Russian tank blew up. He then ran up to his Tiger, boarding her. 

For destroying two enemy tanks in close combat, Staudegger was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class. 

Massive Attack

However, just three days later, the Soviets launched a massive attack on the flank of the 1st SS Panzer Division. 

What Staudegger didn’t know is that a force of at least 50 T-34s was headed their way. Fortunately, he managed to get his Tiger operational just in time. Rather than withdrawing, he then decided to try and stop the enemy. He drove out of town wherein the German Panzer Grenadiers were being overwhelmed by Soviet armor. 

One By One

Within just minutes, Staudegger’s Tiger destroyed 3 T-34s. Two more T-34s engaged the Tiger and he got both of them. 

More and more T-34s started to come over and attack. He also faced a problem- he already run out of armor-piercing shells. Thinking fast, he then ordered his gunner to use high explosive shells, rendering five more T-24s inoperable. 

For this action, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross, the first ever awarded to a Tiger crewman. Franz Staudegger would later fight in Normandy, surviving the war, and dying in Frankfurt in 1995.