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Tzulscha

Met the former C.O. of Kampfgruppe "Lindemann"

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I run a hobby shop here in Michigan and an older gentleman wandered in today looking for a model of a Tiger I. He didn't want to build a kit but was very interested in the 1/16th Tiger I by Tamiya (until I showed him the price tag). After chatting with him a bit I asked what he knew about Tigers and he announced that he had been in command of the 2 companies of Tigers that had fought at Kasserine pass! His name is (Maj) Gerd Lindemann, which sounded very familiar. I asked and he said "Oh you've probably heard of my uncle, Kapitan zur Zee Lindemann, Captain of the Bismarck." :shock:

OMG!!!111 I love this job where history walks in off the street and talks to me!

Long story short, he told a couple of stories and answered some questions and commissioned me to build a model of his Tiger I ausf E for his mantel. He said he would bring in some photos for reference and told me that if I wanted to talk history I should drop by.

He is currently associated with a Military museum project we have going out at our Airport and lives locally. He seems very freindly and more than willing to talk about the war. (Possibly because he was captured with Schwere Panzerabteilung 501 on May 12 1943, so he missed Russia and all the associated horrors of the Ostfront.)

If any of you guys have any questions about Tigers (he also drove PzIII and PzIV) I will make a list to ask him the next time I see him.

Bear in mind that the guy is in his late eighties, has been in the States since '43 and probably won't have a lot of technical data at hand (tho you never know).

(Oh, Ok, I will try to get a pic with the WWIIOL box)

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I wonder if Herr Lindemann could remember about how well the Tiger I's he used could accelerate from a stop on and offroad compared to the contemporary Pz.IV or Pz.III models; and also how quiclkly the tank could perform a neutral turn. IIRC, the Tiger's steering drive was always connected via its own driveshaft, so as long as the engine was running, you just had to turn the wheel to make it turn (while the transmission was in neutral, e.g a neutral turn). This made being close to a running Tiger a bit tricky since all the driver would have to to is bump the steering wheel to potentially create a disaster.

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Very nice, see if you can get his pictures scaned, as many as possible.

Let him know many inquiring minds want to see.

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Yeah, we can certainly put together the money for his model. You should tell him about us so he knows why we want to know so much.

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if someone set up a paypal account, I wouldn't mind pitching in to get this guy his model.

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Why not model the Tiger ingame after his own?

Because if its a Tiger used in Tunisia in late 1942/early 1943 it'll be one of the very first few to roll off the production lines.

I'd rather have the more representative mid-1943 model.

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Don't worry about buying him the model guys, tho I appreciate the thought very much! :D I already have about 3 Tiger kits on my shelves at home. The Rats will certainly finish their Tiger before I finish mine so no worries there either.

I asked him for as many pics as he can find as I know that the unit modified these early Tigers in lots of small ways for the African campaign and I want to make sure to get it right.

I plan on scanning anything I can get my grubby paws on, and I will try to make it available to you all. I will also take pics of the model as it goes together. This will all take a while, but I'll post updates from time to time and show off what I can

I also plan on saving any questions I get from you guys so as to be able to ask him. I got ya down Cabbage!

Interestingly, he said that their Tigers came from the factory not in panzer grey (which is what I expected), and not in Afrika Mustard , but rather in a slightly darker brown (I have the RAL number somewhere...) over which he had his crews spray a dark grey blotch pattern.

If any of you guys want to do some digging, his unit was Schwere Panzer Abtielung 501, Kampfgruppe Lindemann. Early 1943 (probably not an entirely correct designation, but the best I have so far.)

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A couple of snippets from AAR reports from s.PZAbt. 501:

"17 out of 29 Tigers available for service, Lack of spare parts."

"27 Tigers ready after spares delivered."

"45 new Tiger arrive; 11 engines catch fire, one total loss." (s.PzAbt. 503)

"Several tigers blown up due to lack of fuel."

"Tiger scrapped due to lack of replacement roadwheels."

"Over 40 Tigers break down during 50km road march; repaired later."

"Several tanks bogged down in swamp; cannot be recovered."

"Tiger goes through bridge, has to be blown up."

"One Tiger destroyed by friendly Panzerfaust."

"3 Tigers knocked out by StuG battery; corps forgot to coordinate the attacks!"

"5 Tigers destroy 25 enemy tanks." (tunisia)

Note that most of these are early Tiger Is, and some of these reports are from the reformation of s.PzAbt.501 when they were sent to Russia. Most however are from the North Africa Campaign.

I'm not sure whether or not to be happy that we don't have mech failure ingame. If we did the Axis guys would hate Tigers more than the Allies!

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Ugh:

"One Tiger destroyed by friendly Panzerfaust."

"3 Tigers knocked out by StuG battery; corps forgot to coordinate the attacks!"

Makes it all worth it:

"5 Tigers destroy 25 enemy tanks." (tunisia)

Tigers destroyed by the enemy: ZERO

Tigers we're their own worst enemy!

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I would like to know what his personal experience was like in the Tigers. I mean it was the biggest baddest tank the world had seen but how did he and his men feel about them? What did they fear most when going into battle? Were there any particular Allied weapons they feared?

It sounds like the tanks were a mechanical nightmare. Did his men feel that way about them? The French in the early part of the war suffered from slow heavy tanks that did not fair well on long marches, did they relize at the time that the tables had basically been turned? Now they were in the tough tanks that were tough in a fight but were less reliable than the enemy's tanks. etc..etc..etc...

What did he think of Rommel both personally and professionally?

What single thing sticks out in his mind the most if asked about fighting in the Tiger?

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10101014ef.jpg

The man under the small arrow is Maj Lindemann. The Officer in the back with the Binocs is Dr. Franz, Rommels interpreter, and I'm sure you will all recognize the figure in the forground.

10101029tl.jpg

Orders for Kampfgruppe Lindemann 1943

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10101629wg.jpg

The beginning of the Tiger Projekt

Cabbage: Maj Lindemann said that the steering in the tiger worked 2 ways: the steering wheel was normally used and if the tank was shifted into neutral withe the motor running it could be turned in a complete circle within it's own lenght by running one track forward and the other reversed. He said that while this worked just fine in sand, on hard ground it had a tendency to break tracks and orders were not to do it. Also the steering was not so sensitive that by just bumping it you wouldnt move the tank. The second method of steering the tank was by 2 levers controlling differential braking, but it was a pain in the ass and not normally used. Acceleration vs the Pz 3 and 4 was awful, the Tiger was really pushing the limits of its drive component and unless care was taken it was pretty easy to tear up the final drive. I understand Tiger crews got pretty good at pulling 'em apart for repair.

Imsneaky: I chatted with him again at work for about an hour and he said that Rommel seemed to be a nice enough fellow, he said he thought at the time that Rommel knew what he was doing and would take care of them.

THe biggest problem was supplies, Maj Lindemann mentioned spending a week with all his vehicles out in the middle of nowhere for a week simply because they had no fuel to move. They spent the time fixing the tanks.

I asked him what he thought of the Tiger and he said "It was my iinsurance policy." He talked about a battle he came through against the Americans, he said that the shermans and Grant/Lees had weak running gear, so if they could, they would shoot the suspension out and the crew would bail and run like hell. He said that after the fight that the crew was shaking when they climbed out. He counted 30 hits on his tank from 75mm on down. No major damage.......... Insurance policy indeed.....

I also asked about the Opel Blitz and the Bedford, because he had said that wherever they went they had to have trucks for fuel, supplies etc. etc. In the desert, you bring everything with you...

Anyway he said he liked the Beddy better because it was more reliable and didn't get stuck as much. I said yeah but the Opels were faster yes? and he laughed and said how fast do you need to drive to follow a tank?

-To Be continued-

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Dude that's awesome ]=) I wish I could afford one of those models too, but alas... ]=(

Man, that's cool. Keep talking to him, maybe try to record the interview for posterity ]=)

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