In 1941 the most powerful tank possessed by the Germans was the PzIV medium, mounting a short 7·5-cm gun. In Russia they were outgunned by the T34. Steps were quickly taken to produce the new Panther but it was clear a more powerful vehicle was needed to support medium tank battalions. The Heereswaffenamt ordered a heavy tank mounting an 8·8-cm gun, the famous anti-aircraft gun. Built by Henschel with Krupp-cast turrets the Tiger was the most powerful armoured fighting vehicle in existence at the time. Had it fulfilled its promise it would have had a greater influence than it did. A fine tank, but it was plagued with mechanical failure It proved most useful as a defensive weapon. A total of 1,350 were built. From Russia in 1942 they were used in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and on the mainland of Europe after D-Day. The hull superstructure was built of interlocking armour plates then welded to the chassis which carried the mechanical components and suspension. The hull overhung the tracks to allow the large turret ring. The turret was a single horseshoe-shaped piece 82 mm thick. Road wheels interleaved and overlapped to help distribute the weight of the tank, yet in practice tended to get packed with snow or mud. Because of the tank’s weight, arrangements were made for fording any rivers whose bridges were unable to support it. A snorkel tube like that used on U-boats was attached to the rear engine-deckings, and the turret ring and all hatches or openings were provided with special sealing rings.