Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Fail : Maus

The Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus was the heaviest tank built in World War 2, and at 192 tonnes probably the heaviest tank ever built (by comparison a Leopard 2 weighs just over 60 tonnes). Now tank designs often get heavier during their development but the Maus was rather impressive in that aspect, the original design was to be 100 tonnes but the result (which never entered service) was almost double that.

That sheer weight bought a lot of problems of course. It was too heavy to use many bridges so it had to be designed to ford rivers instead. To cross deep streams or rivers the Maus was designed to be able to travel along the river bed fully subermerged coupled up to another Maus on the bank which would supply it with electrical power for it's transmission. Late in the war you might think German engineers and scientists might have better things to do.

Moving nearly 200 tons was another problem of course, a special railway car had to be built for it. But for it's own engine no German made engine proved powerful enough to give it a decent performance. A 1200hp engine was fitted but this couldn't take the Maus over 8mp/h.

The Maus would have been a formidable tank to fight of course with a 128mm cannon and a 75mm secondary armament (which on it's own was more powerful than the guns tanks had had for much of the war). The armour ranged from 60mm to 240mm steel. However it is not thought any of the Maus prototypes saw any action. The Soviets managed to capture several prototypes but noticeably it does not seem like the Maus made much impact on postwar Soviet tank design.

The Maus was no doubt an impressive sight but it's utility as a military weapon was rather suspect. Considering the vast resources that would need to go into producing a decent force of the tank it is likely the Maus, if it had entered service, would have remained in small numbers and considering it's slow speed probably would have just been bypassed by advancing Allied forces and destroyed at their leisure.

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