The Tiger tank
Otto Carius: Doromamire no tora, aka Tiger covered in mud is short war manga illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki. The manga story is telling us about the life experiences of German soldier, a tank commander, in World War II named Otto Carius. He was a seasoned soldier who already tasted German triumph and defeated in eastern Europe against Russia, or the Soviet at the time. He commanded a Tiger tank and it’s 4 crew alongside him through the war.
Who is Carius?
Although Otto Carius manga has war theme it is water colour illustration with humour and light sense. The soldier or Carius himself was drawing as pig instead human made this manga funny enough. The reader introduced to German soldier life in eastern front in easy way but enough detailed in this manga, although, in some part of the manga reader also told in Russia’s perspective.
German front situation Tanker life in eastern front 1
The manga was started by arrival of Otto Carius tank group in Narva frontline where the German tried to hold Russia next offensive which presume will come sooner or later. Soon we will show how much desperated situation German force face. They lack of troops, equipment, air cover and heavy armour. Carius tried as best he can to exploit the frontline his unit stationed. In this section we can see example of a good and veteran tank commander’s task when he reached his front for first time, is to identify his own force weakness and strengths, observe the battlefield where his tank move around, and at least guessed what his enemy doing next time.
Tanker daily life Almost Carius’s limit
As the story progress, we can see how harsh life in eastern front winter for German troops, where cold and damp dominated their life. Carius unit live in their tank practically because they must stand by all time in case of Soviet sudden attack. Reader was showed how tanker dealt with bladder and hygiene problem, bugs trouble and damp environment inside their tank. Sooner or later Carius showed almost in his limit endurance.
Tank commander situation
Next, I will admit how good Hayao Miyazaki described the battle scene where Carius ever face in World War II. It not only described how battle situation but also told what Carius think at the moment. He must dealt with incoming Soviet columns but he must calculate how to salvage German situation with his two tank units. So he ordered his tanks to eliminated anti tank screens which protect Soviet columns before attacking the enemy main force.
Looking for potential danger The soviet attack
Again, a good example of tank commander was always cautions about his surrounding before move his tank into next spot. He launch his tank attack after sure his surrounding is safe and he has enough room to maneuver his tank unit.
artillery to clear enemy infantry Firing sequences Anti tank infantry
In Battle field, artillery is queen but not always work against fast and respond tank commander who know he only need running around before artillery shells landed on his spot due slow enemy artillery observer instruction. This is no use in modern war where anti tank missile will make the enemy job easier.
Next, I like how the tank firing sequences in this manga described to reader. First tank commander choose his best target, coordinate his observation to his gunner, make distance calculation to make sure his shell explode when hit enemy tank instead bouncing the armor before fire it. Again, this was example, in reality of war book I ever read the faster gunner loading his gun the faster tank commander must relay his target calculation. If Carius tank made five tank destroyed then his gunner must be fast to reload his gun.
Other danger beside tank in battlefield was anti tank infantry where this unit can potentially damage tank. But, they often discouraged when saw their tank unit lost and run. That why Carius take tank priority before mopped enemy infantry.
Otto Carius’s map Historical map
The Narva offensive where Otto Carius’s story described in this manga was actually happened in Kingisepp–Gdov Offensive phase. The German already lost in their last Kursk offensive and in defensive position while Russia or Soviet pushed their Leningrad front into Estonia. More or less, this manga showed history of some part Europe in World War II era.
Preparation for counterattack German counterattack Carius in trouble
As the story progress, Carius unit managed to hold and defeated Soviet offensive so their next objective was started German counterattack to retake the ground they lost in last combat engagement. In last chapter I read, there a cliffhanger Carius tank hit by enemy tank shell and he must manually firing his tank cannon.
In beginning, I thought Otto Carius was an fictional character, but, after some digging in internet I found he was a real person. He was a decorated German soldier who safely manage his way until end of war and surrendered to American forces. He now live up today as pharmacy.
There only five chapters so far with 5 to 7 pages per chapter, but it is rich water color panels and reader cannot disappointed to it. For war genre reader and plastic miniature hobbies this manga a must read. There some information and description about Tiger Tank model. I hope I can read chapter 6 soon.