About this Tiger unit
s.Pz.Abt.503 were first deployed on the southern Ostfront at the start of January 1943, to stem the retreat from Stalingrad. They had 20 Tigers and 25 Panzer III. This article tracks those original 20 Tigers and ignores other ones added at later dates.
The battalion arranged the tanks into two companies. Each company had one lead Tiger and four platoons with two Tigers each, plus Panzer III. There were also two Befehlstigers. The usual 3-digit numbering scheme was used, with the numbers painted on the turrets in white. Tigers had odd numbers and the Panzer III got the even numbers.
Many of these Tigers were still serving in the Summer of 1943, when the battalion was given additional new Tigers, and the Panzer III were withdrawn. There was therefore a reorganisation, with some Tigers changing their numbers, and all numbers being repainted in black-filled digits.
Of the original 20 Tigers, eighteen (and one Befehlstiger) had a Panzer III turret bin. Between seven and nine of the standard Tigers had turret side hatches, the rest having dual pistol ports. Both Befehlstigers had the hatches. Between 2 and 4 of the standard Tigers had the new, extended hull front edges.
By 20 January 1943, three Tigers had been shipped back to Germany with severe damage, and two had been totally destroyed: chassis numbers 250046 and 250050. The tactical numbers of those Tigers are not given in the documentary source, but a study of the photographic record reveals that eighteen of the Tigers either served later than January or reached Germany. The first two destroyed Tigers have to be "223" and "241".