If you mention WW2 and tanks most people will immediately think of the German Tiger tank. It was probably the most feared weapon there was, which is strange when you think only some 1700 were made (compared to 60,000 T34’s and Shermans).
One of the reasons they were so feared of course is that the shells the allied guns fired at them just bounced off (at least to start with) and even towards the end of the war a Sherman had to get very close (or attack from behind) if it was going to make a kill.
Things changed with the development of the 17pdr gun that equipped the Firely of course, but they were not around in the Desert where the Tiger was first encountered by the British.
So just how good or bad were our guns at penetrating the armour of a Tiger 1?
The chart below (from the wwiiequipment site) shows the effect of a 6 pdr gun using an AP shell in 1943 (the Tiger is facing the 0).
The red and orange areas show when you might get through the armour, and as you can see, you have to get very close if you want to get through the front armour (something under 500yds). The chances are better on the flanks and from behind, but you still have to get close without getting killed yourself..
Things got a lot better when the 17pdr came into play:-
Here we can see that the 17pdr can beat the Tiger at long ranges, something that gave the Firefly’s a chance in battle.
Well, the http://www.wwiiequipment.com can answer all your questions on the matter, and is well worth a look, certainly explains why the Tiger was so feared and why wargame rules make it so hard to knock out a Tiger tank…