Panzerkampfwagen VIII 'Maus' and Landkreuzer 'Ratte'

Panzerkampfwagen VIII 'Maus' (1943-1945)
By Rob Arndt


Schwerer Kampfpanzer 'Eisbär '

1.Heavy Battle Tank 105mm Main Gun
2.Heavy Tank Destroyer 128mm Main Gun
3.Recovery Tank 30mm Air-Defence
4.Siege Tank 305mm Mortar
5.Flametank Heavy Flamethrower

The Tiger II King Tiger was not the largest German tank created by the German tank industry. Much precious time and material was wasted on building prototypes of super-heavy tanks of gigantic proportion. Dr Ferdinand Porsche was the driving force behind the first of these, the 188-ton Maus [mouse], while the second type to be built, the 140-ton E-100, was supported by the Heereswaffenamt as a competitive design. Porsche got approval for his project from Hitler, at a time when none of his designs had been selected for production by the Heereswaffenamt. In this way Hitler might have compensated Porsche for the past failures, and it would keep him away from other projects.



The turret had a rounded front made from a single bent plate of 93mm thickness. The armament was either a 128mm or a 150mm gun, plus a 75mm gun mounted co-axially. The first turrets, with a weight of 50 tons, were not complete until the middle of 1944, leaving the two prototypes with a simulated turret to complete trials in the winter of 1943-1944, at Krupp's test area in Meppen. Two more hulls were under construction during the closing months of the war, but in April 1944, Hitler personally ordered that all work on giant tank projects was to cease in favor of devoting all resources to building proven tanks like the Panther and Tiger II. Most Maus prototypes were blown up in the last weeks of the war as the Russians closed in on Meppen, although guns, turrets and hulls were found by Allied Intelligence officers abandoned and partially destroyed. According to some sources however, the two experimental Maus tanks were sent into action in the final days of the war, one at the approaches to OKH staff headquarters at Zossen, the other near the proving grounds at Kummersdorf.

Design studies found at Krupp showed a version of the Maus carrying a 305mm breech-loading mortar, named "Bear", and a giant 1500-ton vehicle with a 800mm gun as main armament plus two 150mm guns in auxiliary turrets on the rear quarters. This vehicle, put forward by two engineers named Grote and Hacker, was planned to be powered by four U-Boat Diesel engines!


The 1000-ton Krupp P 1000 "Ratte", started construction but was cancelled before completion. It would have carried two 280 mm guns (mounted in the same type of gun turret used in Scharnhorst and Gneisenau warships) a single 128 mm gun, eight 20mm Flak 38 anti-aircraft guns and two 15 mm Mauser MG 151/15 guns.

The Ratte made the Maus look like its namesake. The Ratte was to be a nightmare machine and its scale still boggles the mind. It would have been 35 meters long, almost four times as wide as the Maus, and 11 meters high. Armor would have been similar or possibly slightly thicker than that seen on the Maus, but of course covering much more surface area. The tank would have been propelled along on a total of six 1.2 meter wide tread assemblies, three on each side of the tank. This means that the treads on one side would have been only slightly narrower than the entirety of a Maus. No less than eight Daimler E-boat engines would have provided the tank's requisite 16,000 horsepower.

The number of crew members is unknown but would have likely topped fifty men, with adequate machineguns studding the hull to engage infantry from all directions.

The Ratte would have been able to drive over trucks, houses, and even the mighty Maus tank with ease. Its guns would have leveled buildings, blasted craters ten meters across in the earth, or sunk an unfortunate naval cruiser loitering a little too close to shore. The term P.1000 was a reference to the estimated thousand ton weight of the Ratte, but odds are it would have been much closer to 2000 tons.

The tank would have been extremely slow - probably less than the paltry 20 kph the Maus could manage - and difficult to command effectively in combat. While its relative invulnerability would have made up for some of these shortcomings but something that big and that slow would have been destroyed one way or another.



The Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus [Sd.Kfz 205] was a German super-heavy tank design, and the heaviest tank to reach complete working prototype in World War II. The basic design known as the VK7001/Porsche Type 205 was suggested by Ferdinand Porsche to Adolf Hitler in June of 1942, who subsequently approved it. The design up to then had been the culmination of work done by Porsche who had won the contract for the heavy tank that March. Work on the design began in earnest; the first prototype, to be ready in 1943 was initially to receive the name Mammut ["Mammoth"]. This was reportedly changed to Mäuschen [Little Mouse] in December of 1942 and finally Maus [Mouse] in February of 1943.

The Maus was intended to take over the role of the Panther, Tiger I and Tiger II.

The tank's hull was 10.1 metres long, 3.67 metres wide and 3.66 metres tall. Weighing about 188 tonnes [or about 207 short tons], the Maus' main armament was a 128 mm cannon with a coaxial 75 mm gun and steel armour ranging from 60-240 mm. A total of nine were in various stages of completion when the war ended with two completed. The Maus would have had a crew of either 5 or 6 and a total production of between 150 and 200 was planned for one version of it.

The principal problem in development of the Maus was finding a powerful enough engine for its weight that could be carried in the tank. Though the design called for a maximum speed of 20 km/h, no engine was found that could power the prototype to more than 13 km/h under ideal conditions.


The Maus was designed from the start to use the "electric transmission" idea Ferdinand Porsche had used in his attempt to win the production contract for the Tiger I tank that Henschel & Sohn of Kassel won, which ended up with 90 "Porsche Tiger" hulls remaining unused, and were used instead to serve as the hull of the Elefant Tank Destroyer.

There does seem to be one important difference between previous petrol-electric designs and the one in the Maus, the Maus design actually seems to have performed well in tests.

The gasoline engine (the later prototypes were to use a Diesel engine instead) in the Maus prototypes, that drove the massive electrical generator, together occupied the entire rear two-thirds of the Maus' hull, cutting off the forward driver's compartment in the hull from any sort of direct access to the turret from within the tank. Each metre-wide track had its own electric motor mounted in the rear of the hull; the tracks had no direct "mechanical" connection to the internal combustion engine that powered the Maus.


Dr. Porsche was also very demanding of his engineers. He had promised that the vehicle would "turn in place" just like any other tracked vehicle. Given the size and weight of Maus, the army was understandably skeptical. Just prior to a demonstration, some of the engineers became a bit overzealous and took the vehicle out to test it. They excitedly called Dr. Porsche indicating that Maus had indeed almost turned in place. Dr. Porsche was furious, and rousted the engineer in charge of the system out of his sick-bed and demanded an answer to this "problem." After a bit of looking, one spur gear was corrected and, true to Dr. Porsche's word, Maus could turn in place.

The amount of armour was substantial, the front lower hull [glacis plate] was about 200 mm [8 in] thick, sloped at 35 degrees to the vertical. The sides of the hull were 180 mm [7 in] and the rear 160 mm [6.3 in]. The turret was 240 mm [9.5 in] to the front and 200 mm to the sides with a roof of 60 mm [2.3 in]

As a result of its low power and huge bulk the Maus was relatively slow moving and logistically demanding, but could potentially have been a formidable weapon in certain defensive positions where extensive movement was not required, and where its massive weight would serve to its advantage by making it a stable gun platform. In an assault, it would have been less useful but it had the benefit of a turret where a vehicle like the 128 mm armed Jagdtiger did not. It could be considered similar to British infantry tanks which sacrificed speed [but not necessarily cross-country ability] for armor protection. This was not a major hinderance because by the time it was built, the German army had almost entirely abandoned Blitzkrieg tactics.

Development history

The initial plan for the Maus was for the prototype to have been completed by the summer of 1943, with monthly production scheduled to run at five vehicles per month after delivery of the prototype. The work on the Maus would be divided between Krupp, responsible for the chassis, armament and turret and Alkett, who would be responsible for final assembly.

The Maus tank was originally designed to weigh approximately 100 tons and be armed with a 128 mm main gun and a 75 mm co-axial secondary gun. Additional armament solutions were studied including various versions of 150 mm and 128 mm guns. Hitler himself in January of 1943 insisted that the armament be a 128 mm main gun with a coaxial 75 mm gun.

By May 1943, a wooden mockup of the final Maus configuration was ready and presented to Hitler, who approved it for mass production, ordering a first series of 150. At this point, the estimated weight of the Maus was 188 tons. However, there is a story that concerns the main armament of the Maus being changed by Hitler who said that the 128 mm gun looked like a 'toy gun' when compared to the tank, causing the 128 mm to be replaced by a 150 mm gun.


 German engineers, concerned over the effect of turns upon track performance,
made this  electric-powered, remote controlled, large-scale wooden replica.

   A head-on view of the Mouse model affords an idea of its formidable appearance.
Note the exceptional width of the tracks.


Development work on the Maus continued, but in October 1943 Hitler cancelled the order, which was followed in November by the order to stop development of the Maus altogether but to continue the construction of the prototypes.


The first, turretless prototype [V1] was assembled by Alkett in December 1943. Tests started the same month, with a mock turret fitted of the same weight as the real turret.


The principal problem with the Maus that emerged from this test was its power-to-weight ratio. There was no engine powerful enough to give it anything like the 20 km/h demanded by the design specifications. The modified gasoline-fuelled Daimler-Benz MB 509 engine used in the prototype was only able to move at 13 km/h and only under ideal conditions. The suspension system used by the Maus also had to be adjusted to enable it to take the tank's weight.


Another issue found was that the Maus was simply too heavy to cross bridges. As a result an alternative system was developed, where the Maus would instead ford the rivers it needed to cross. Due to its size it could ford relatively deep streams, but for deeper ones it was to submerge and drive across the river bottom. The solution required tanks to be paired up. One Maus would supply electrical power to the crossing vehicle via a cable until it reached the other side. The crew would receive air through a large snorkel, which was sufficiently long for the tank to go 45 feet (13 m) underwater.

In March 1944 the second prototype, the V2, was delivered. It differed in many details from the V1 prototype. In mid-1944, the V2 prototype was fitted with a powerplant and the first produced Maus turret. This turret was fitted with a 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, with coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun and a 7.92 mm MG34 for anti-aircraft armament. The V1 prototype was supposed to be fitted with the second produced turret, but this never happened.


By July 1944, Krupp was in the process of producing four more Maus hulls, but they were ordered to halt production and scrap these. Krupp stopped all work on it in August 1944. Meanwhile, the V2 prototype started tests in September 1944, fitted with a Daimler-Benz MB 517 diesel engine, new electric steering system and a Skoda Works designed running gear and tracks.

Operational use

The story of the super heavy tank 'Maus' is only now beginning to become clear. With the fall of the Soviet Union, more and more information about the "Soviet side" of World War II has come to light. With that information, the history books must be re-written to reflect new information.

The Maus tank was originally designed to weigh approximately 100 tons and be armed with a 128 mm main gun and a 75 mm co-axial secondary gun. Additional armament solutions were studied including various versions of 150 mm and 128 mm guns. Hitler himself in January of 1943 insisted that the armament be a 128 mm main gun with a coaxial 75 mm gun.


The official line in the West regarding the fate of both Maus prototypes was that "they were blown up at Kummersdorf" to prevent their capture by the Soviets. Though from one source or another there are a myriad of stories, including that one was destroyed by a rampaging British Typhoon. Though, in a war where every Panzer IV became a Tiger in the minds of the Western Allies, perhaps every Tiger II became a "Maus" upon further reflection.


According to a new reference about the Kummersdorf proving ground, in the latter half of 1944 both Maus prototypes arrived at Kummersdorf for testing after final assembly of the turret and chassis at F. Krupp. As the front approached nearer and nearer to the testing facility, both Maus tanks were sent out to engage the approaching Soviets. The vehicles were approaching Wünsdorf (crossing what is now highway 96) when the first Maus was disabled because of damage to the drive mechanism. This vehicle was later captured by the Red Army. The second Maus was dispatched to Berlin for its defence but broke down at Stamplager, near Zossen. It was blown up by its crew to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. It did not see any combat.

The Russian Commander of Armored and Mechanized troops ordered hull V1 to be mated with the turret of V2. The Russians used six 18t half-tracks to pull the 55 ton turret off the burnt out hull. The combined V1 hull/V2 turret vehicle was completed in Germany and sent back to the USSR for further testing. It arrived there on 4 May 1946. When further testing was completed the vehicle was taken over by the Kubinka Tank Museum for storage where it is now on display.

It appears that the capture of this prototype had little impact on post-war Soviet tank development.


Soviet tank design continued to concentrate on strictly limiting size and weight. The next-generation Soviet tanks had similar levels of protection and armament. The IS-3 heavy tank was armed with a 122mm gun, but weighed under 50 tonnes. The T-54 main battle tank, which started production in 1947, provided 200 mm of frontal turret armor, 120 mm of frontal hull armor and a 100mm main gun, while weighing in at less than 40 tons.


PzKpfw “Maus” Super Heavy Tank (1943)

The Last German Tank of WW2

A7V. The First German Tank (1917)


The First German Battle Tank Used in WW1


This German drawing shows a sectionalized elevation of the Mouse hull.The following salient features may be distinguished: driver's seat  and periscope; radio operator's seat and radio; radio antenna; air intakes for main engine); main engine; generator; the right motor of the two electric motors driving the sprockets; auxiliary fuel tank. The coaxial 75-mm gun is on the right of the turret; its position relative to the 128-mm gun is shown in dotted outline. 

A sectionalized plan view of the Mouse hull gives another view of many of the features shown in the first illustration. The driver's and radio operator's seats (left) are flanked by the main fuel tanks. Just to their rear is the main engine, flanked by air pumps and radiators. Further to the rear is the generator, with ammunition stowage in the sponsons on either side. In the sponson on the front right of the generator is the auxiliary engine, with storage batteries to its rear. To the rear of the hull, also in the sponsons, are the motors furnishing the electric drive. The actual transmission is in the deep part of hull between the motors, behind the generator.


The Mouse was as vulnerable to close-in attack as any other tank, if not more so. The large hull openings were a particular disadvantage. Note their extent: the grills of the engine access hatch, the grilled air vents which flank it, and the grills under the rear of the turret, which cool the electric motors. The auxiliary fuel tank on the rear was a considerable fire hazard.


The size and weight of the Mouse made necessary extremely wide tracks in relation to hull width. This view also shows half of the engine air-cooling system (left), and rear of right fuel tank, with an oil tank just to its left.

Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus

The development of super heavy tanks started as early as 1941, when Krupp started the studies of superheavy Soviet tanks.

In early 1942, Krupp produced designs of Tiger-Maus [VK7001] and PzKpfw VII Löwe [VK7201], but on March 5/6th of 1942, an order for a heavier tank was placed. Löwe never reached the prototype stage but paved the way for their successor's development. On 21/22 March 1942, Porsche received the contract for new 100-ton Panzer - VK10001/Porsche Typ 205. On 14/15 April, it specified that new 100-ton tank must carry at least 100 rounds of ammunition. VK10001 was to be developed by Professor Ferdinand Porsche and Dr.Müller [Krupp] at the personal demand of Adolf Hitler made in May of 1942. He demanded a 120-ton "indestructible" super-heavy tank armed with high performance L/60 or L/72 gun.

The task of producing hulls, turrets and armament was given to Krupp, while Alkett was responsible for the assembly. First specifications demanded that armament should consist of a 150mm L/40 gun and 20mm MG151/20 heavy machine gun, while usage of a 128mm L/50 was under consideration. It was stated that a prototype should be operational before the Spring of 1943. On 23 June of 1942, Porsche provided its design for an improved VK10001 armed with turret mounted 150mm L/37 and 105mm L/70 guns. Porsche promised that the first prototype wpould be ready in May of 1943. In December of 1942, new armaments such as 150mm gun, 127mm naval gun, 128mm Flak and the longest version of 128mm were considered. Also in the same month, it was restated that the first vehicle was to be ready in Summer of 1943, followed by the production of 5 per month. The first official names VK10001 and Porsche Typ 205 Mammut ["Mammoth"] were used in April of 1942, followed by Mäuschen [Mousy] in December of 1942 and Maus [Mouse] in February of 1943. In January of 1943, Hitler decided that the Mäuschen was to be fitted with a turret mounted with 128mm and 75mm guns, while a turret mounted with 150mm KwK 44 L/38 or 170mm KwK 44 gun was to be designed for future use. Specification for ammunition storage space were never met and decreased by further modifications.

From the designs emerged a 188 tonnes heavy monster. On 1 May 1943, a wooden mockup of the Maus was presented to Adolf Hitler, who agreed on production and ordered series of 150 to be produced. On 4 November 1943, development of Maus was to be ceased and only one was to be completed for evaluation. In October of 1943, the original order placed by Hitler for 150 vehicles was cancelled.

On 24 December 1943, the first turretless prototype was completed by Alkett and was put toextensive tests. During the tests, the Maus could hardly move due to its enormous weight and power/weight ratio. The first prototype V1 [Maus I], was powered by a modified Daimler-Benz MB 509 [developed from the DB 603 aircraft engine], which could not provide the planned speed of 20km/h but only 13km/h in ideal conditions. Also problems arouse with the suspension system which had to be modified in order to take the weight of the vehicle. Another problem that emerged from its weight, there were simply no bridges able to take the its weight. To overcome this problem Maus had to be provided with a "Schnorchel" arrangement which allowed it to submerge to a maximum depth of 8 meters.

In December of 1943, V1 was fitted with a [Belastungsgewicht] simulated turret (representing the weight of the turret) and was tested. Maus I was applied with camouflage paint and marked with red star and hammer and sickle disguised as a captured Russian vehicle.

In March of 1944, the second prototype V2 (Maus II) which differed in numerous details from V1 was produced. V2 lacked the powerplant, which was fitted in mid 1944. On 9 April 1944, Krupp produced the turret, which in June of 1944, was delivered and then mounted on V2 and tested. Krupp produced a turret mounted with 128mm KwK 44 L/55 gun with coaxial 75mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun and 7.92mm MG34, providing the Maus with an enormous firepower. Maus' main gun could penetrate front, side and rear armor [at 30 degrees from vertical] of Sherman, Cromwell, Churchill, T-34/85 and JS-2 tanks at ranges of 3500+ meters. The turret included mounts for rangefinder [by Zeiss], but was not fully finished and some of the missing components were shipped later on.

Maus I was to be fitted with Krupp's second turret but it was never delivered and it remained fitted with the simulated turret. On 25 July 1944, Krupp reported that two hulls would be available soon and two more later on. On 27 July 1944, Krupp was ordered to scrap those four hulls. On 19 August 1944, Krupp informed Porsche that it was ordered to stop further work on Maus. In September of 1944, the second prototype started its tests. It was installed with a Daimler-Benz MB 517 diesel engine that made little difference in comparison with the previously used engine. An advanced electric steering system was used to steer the vehicle. Its running gear, designed by Skoda, consisted of double-wheeled trucks supported by twelve return rollers with 1100mm wide tracks. The crew had to be provided with oxygen supplied by built-in fans/ventilators when all the hatches were closed.

In order to transport the Maus, a special 14-axle railroad transport car [Verladewagon] was produced by Graz-Simmering-Pauker Works in Vienna. From mid January to early October of 1944, trials took place at the armored vehicle proving grounds in Kummersdorf [near Berlin] and then at the Porsche proving grounds at Boblingen. Tests were long, delayed by engine failures and production delays caused by Allied bomber attacks on German factories. During the tests, it was determined that in case of any failure each Maus would have to be towed by two other Maus tanks. It is also reported that Germans worked on Flakzwilling 8.8cm auf Maus, which was to be Maus mounted with a modified turret housing two 88mm Flak 43 guns and used as a heavy Flakpanzer.

Some sources state that according to Porsche, Hitler's aim for the Maus was to plug holes in the Atlantic coastal defenses on the Western Front, where its limited range and mobility wouldn't have been too much of a hindrance. The popular version states that V2 prototype was blown up by the personnel at proving grounds in Kummersdorf, while some sources state that actually V2 saw combat while defending the facility at Kummersdorf. When war ended, the almost finished V1 turret and third hull were found at Krupp facilities in Essen.

Overall, Maus was an interesting design but it would be of limited combat value because of its poor mobility and heavy weight making it more of a mobile fortification rather than a super tank. One fully assembled example [V2 turret mounted on V1 hull] was tested at Kubinka in 1951/52 and can be seen today in the Museum of Armored Forces in Kubinka [near Moscow] in Russia.


A report on the German Maus super-heavy tank, from the "Intelligence Bulletin", March 1946


The German Mouse Super-Heavy Tank Became Hitler's White Elephant




One of the subjects of liveliest controversy during the Allied invasion of France was the heavy tank—the 50-ton Pershing, the 62-ton Tiger, the 75-ton Royal Tiger. Were these worth their weight? Did they gain—in protection and fire power—as much as they sacrificed in mobility? Adolf Hitler's mind was presumably made up on this point. A pet project of his, which few were aware of, appears to have been a superheavy tank that would have dwarfed even the Royal Tiger. Dubbed the Mouse, this behemoth of doubtful military value was to weigh 207 tons, combat loaded. Two were actually built, although they were never equipped with their armament.

The Mouse is an amazing vehicle, with spectacular characteristics. The glacis plate up front is approximately 8 inches [200 mm] thick. Since it is sloped at 35 degrees to the vertical, the armor basis is therefore 14 inches. Side armor is 7 inches [180 mm] thick, with the rear protected by plates 6 1/4 inches [160 mm] thick. The front of the turret is protected by 9 1/2 inches [240 mm] of cast armor, while the 8-inch [200 mm] thick turret sides and rear were sloped so as to give the effect of 9 inches [230 mm] of armor.




For the main armament, a pea-shooter like an 88-mm gun was ignored. Selected instead was the powerful 128-mm tank and antitank gun, which was later to be replaced by a 150-mm piece 38 calibers in length. [The standard German medium field howitzer 15 cm s.F.H. 18 is only 29.5 calibers in length]. Instead of mounting a 7.9-mm machine gun coaxially, the Mouse was to have a 75-mm antitank gun 76 calibers in length next to the 128- or 150-mm gun. A machine cannon for antiaircraft was to be mounted in the turret roof, along with a smoke grenade projector.


   German Railroad Tank Hunter
Part of German armored trains, the two turrets each had an
88mm/56 [Tiger I turret]
which could knock out almost any tank then in existence.


In size, the Mouse was considerably larger than any German tank. Its length of 33 feet made it nearly 50 percent longer than the Royal Tiger. Because of rail transport considerations. its width was kept to 12 feet [that of the Royal Tiger and Tiger]. A 12-foot height made it a considerable target.


In order to reduce the ground pressure so that the tank could have some mobility, the tracks had to be made very wide—all of 43.3 inches. With the tracks taking up over 7 of its 12 feet of width, the Mouse presents a very strange appearance indeed from either a front or rear view. With such a track width, and a ground contact of 19 feet 3 inches, the Mouse keeps its ground pressure down to about 20 pounds per square inch—about twice that of the original Tiger.


Power Plants


Designing an engine sufficiently powerful to provide motive power for the mammoth fighting vehicle was a serious problem. Though the Germans tried two engines, both around 1,200 horsepower [as compared to the Royal Tiger's 590], neither could be expected to provide a speed of more than 10 to 12 miles an hour. The Mouse can, however, cross a 14-foot trench and climb a 2-foot 4-inch step.


Whatever the military possibilities of the Mouse might be, it certainly gave designers space in which to run hog wild on various features which they had always been anxious to install in tanks. One of these gadgets was an auxiliary power plant. This plant permitted pressurizing of the crew compartment, which in turn meant better submersion qualities when fording, and good anti-gas protection. Auxiliary power also permitted heating and battery recharging.


One of the fancy installations was equipment designed for fording in water 45 feet deep—a characteristic made necessary by weight limits of bridges. Besides sealing of hatches and vents, aided by pressurizing, submersion was to be made possible by the installation of a giant cylindrical chimney or trunk, so large that it could serve as a crew escape passage if need be. The tanks were intended to ford in pairs, one powering the electric transmission of the other by cable.


The electric transmission was in itself an engineering experiment of some magnitude. This type of transmission had first been used on the big Elefant assault gun-tank destroyer in 1943, and was considered by some eminent German designers as the best type of transmission—if perfected—for heavy tanks.


Another interesting feature of the Mouse from the engineering point of view was the return from torsion bar suspension—such as was used in the Pz. Kpfw. III, the Panther, the Tiger, and the Royal Tiger—to a spring suspension. An improved torsion bar design had been considered for the Mouse, but was abandoned in favor of a volute spring type suspension.

Why the Mouse?


Just why the Germans wanted to try out such a monstrosity as the Mouse is a question to be answered by political and propaganda experts. Whereas such a heavy tank might conceivably have had some limited military usefulness in breakthrough operations, it was no project for Nazi Germany experimentation in 1943, 1944, and 1945. For not only did German authorities waste time of engineers and production facilities on the two test models, but they even went so far as to construct a special flat car for rail transport.

The drawbacks inherent in such a heavy tank are patent. Weigh not only denies practically every bridge in existence to the Mouse, but it impedes rail movement unless railways are properly reinforced at bridges, culverts, and other weak points.

Fording to 45-foot depths would have solved many of the stream-crossing problems in Europe, but it seems that the Mouse could actually cross in water no deeper than 26 feet.

Though sitting in a rolling fortress, the six men of the Mouse crew are practically as blind as in any tank. Because of low speed and high silhouette their vehicle would be most vulnerable to hits. Since it is reasonable to suppose that heavily fortified, static positions suitable for attack by a Mouse would also be fitted with very heavy, high-velocity guns capable of antitank fire, the even occasional combat value of the Mouse comes into question.

The German 128-mm Pak 44 [also known in modified forms as the 12.8 cm Pak 80] is reputed to be able to penetrate 7 inches of armor at 2,000 yards. Since the Germans actually had their Pak 44 in service in 1945, when the Mouse was not yet in the production stage, it would appear that the Germans had the antidote before the giant tanks were ready. Moreover, in the later days of the war, a rolling colossus like a Mouse would have been almost impossible to conceal, and would have fallen an easy prey to air power.

The psychological factor thus appears to have played a large part in the demand for construction of the Mouse. The German Army would never have desired such a tank, especially in 1942 when its design was apparently initiated. On the other hand, it would have made lurid headlines and Sunday supplement copy in both Allied and German press circles. But whatever the public reaction might have been, it seems questionable that the Mouse could have exerted any psychological effect on Russian, British, or American front-line troops unless the Germans possessed almost overwhelming strength, as they did when they crushed the Maginot Line in 1940. In 1944-45 it would have been too easy a mark for Allied gun and planes the first instant it appeared.

Mice of the Future

The appearance of such a vehicle in the opening phases of a future war is not to be entirely discounted. When Red Army armored units counterattacked German forces advancing northward toward Leningrad in 1941, the Soviets effected a substantial surprise and just missed obtaining a considerable victory by throwing in for the first time heavy 46-ton KV tanks backed by 57-ton modified KV's mounting 152-mm tank guns in their turrets.

   KV1 as Pz 756 [r]


   KV2 as Pz 754 [(r]

The first days of a war are a time of uncertainty. This is a period when peacetime armies are proving themselves, when their personnel are still anxious to determine the validity of their matériel and tactical doctrines, when they are anxious to discover what the enemy is like. Rumors grow fast, and untried men are likely to be impressed with the mere report of the size and gun power of a superheavy tank. Officers and noncoms should therefore be aware of the possibility of encountering such colossal tanks. They should see that their men know the deficiencies and real purpose of outlandish vehicles of the class of the German Mouse, and that they do not attribute to these vehicles capabilities out of all proportion to their actual battle value.


   Panzerkampfwagen VII 'Löwe'


   Panzerkampfwagen VIII 'Maus'


   Panzerkampfwagen IX


   Panzerkampfwagen X


Panzer IX and Panzer X never existed as projects on drawing boards and were only drawings made by an artist.  

The two modern looking tanks were not even considered by the designers, but instead were propaganda sketches published in the German "Signal" magazine in 1944 to build up the German morale at home and misinform the Allies about the German tank development. In 1944, however, the German war industry was not in a position to develop and produce such advanced designs at the time when it was not even able to fully supply replacements for lost armored vehicles.

PzKpfw X was to be wider but lower than Maus and was to be armed with the German 88mm or even 128mm gun. Both designs were very advanced and modern including many features (such as hidden road wheels and tracks along with rounded armour) which can be found in modern main battle tanks.


The E 100 project was the Heereswaffenamt rival to the Maus, as there was considerable opposition to Porsche and his unconventional mechanical ideas. Under Heydekampf at the Panzer Commission [Porsche was removed as head of this commission] a long-term plan was drawn up to produce a rationalized series of Entwicklung-typen [development-types] or E series. This range of tanks were to use standardized parts and were to be built in classes of varying sizes to replace existing vehicles. The types had a designation with a number indicating their weight in tons: E 10, E 25, E 50 [Panther replacement], E 75 [Tiger replacement] and E 100.

Of these, only the E 100 project was actually started, as an attempt to rival Porsche's work. When Porsche started work on the Maus, an initial order was placed with Henschel, builders of the Tiger II, for a much enlarged, super-heavy version of the Tiger II. This project was known as the Tiger-Maus or VK 7001 PzKpfw VII Löwe [Lion]. The armament was to be the same 128mm gun as the Jagdtiger. With the Entwicklung-typen programme, the VK 7001 order was replaced by the E 100. Road wheels, sprockets and idlers were to be similar to those used on the Tiger II. Armored covers were proposed for the tracks, which were one meter wide.


The E 100 was authorized in June, 1943 and work in earnest continued until 1944 when Hitler officially ended development of super heavy tanks. After Hitler's announcement, only three Adler employees were allowed to continue assembly of the prototype, and the work was given lowest priority. Even with these handicaps, the three workers were able to virtually complete the prototype by war's end at a small Henschel facility near Paderborn. The prototype lacked only a turret (which was to be identical to the Maus turret save in armament).

For its initial tests, a Tiger II Maybach HL230P30 engine had been fitted. This engine, of course, was far too weak to properly power the 140 ton E-100. The production engine was to be the Maybach HL234. The HL234 developed 800hp, which is only 100hp better than the HL230P30. Some sources indicate that a Daimler-Benz diesel which developed 1000hp would have ultimately been used.

The Maus mounted the 12.8cm KwK 44 L/55 found in the Jagdtiger. Using the same turret, the E 100 was initially slated to use the 15cm KwK44 L38, but provision was made to eventually up-gun the vehicle with a 17cm KwK 44.

The E 100 was very conventional in its architecture. The standard rear-engine/front-drive layout was maintained. The engine deck of the Tiger II was also carried over into this design [rather than the updated design of the E 50/75]. The suspension was characteristic of the E-series, however, in that it was of the externally-mounted Belleville Washer type. While the engine-deck layout of the prototype was taken directly from the Tiger II, it is entirely possible that it would have been changed to match the E 50/75 had production of the E-series actually began to allow for maximum commonality of components.

The armor on the E 100 was designed to withstand hits from just about any anti-tank round of the day. Armor on the turret ranged from 200mm on the sides and rear to 240mm on the front. The turret roof was protected by a seemingly paltry 40mm of armor. Unfortunately, the round shape of the turret front could have deflected shots downward into the top of the superstructure. Armor protection on the superstructure varried from 200mm on the front to a total of 180mm on the sides and 150mm on the rear. The top of the superstructure was protected by the same 40mm of armor found on the turret. The hull had 150mm of armor on the front and rear and 120mm on the sides behind the suspension. Protection on the bottom of the hull was good at 80mm.

Given the armored protection of the E-100, most tanks would have needed a shot to deflect into the top of the superstructure from the turret front to knock it out. The vehicle would have, however, been highly vunerable to air attack as the angles presented to dive bombers or fighter/bombers would have been protected to only 40mm. This protection is comparable to the Tiger II in the same areas.


Tank Destroyer Project based on E100 chasis armed with 170mm KWK44 L/71

Landkreuzer P1000 "Ratte"

On 23 June 1942, Dir. Dip. Ing. Grote [along with Dr.Hacker] from the Ministry of Armament, who was responsible for the production of U-Boote suggested the development of a tank with a weight of 1,000 tons. Hitler himself expressed interest in this project and allowed Krupp to go ahead with it. The project was designated as the Krupp P.1000 [Ratte - Rat].

The world will probably never see an armored land vehicle on the scale of the 'Ratte'. Tellingly, Germans did not even refer to it as a tank: they called it a 'Land Cruiser'. The Ratte was so large its dimensions had more in common with a naval vessel than a tank.

This behemoth would be 35 meters long, 14 meters wide and 11 meters high. P.1000 would be equipped with 3.6 meters wide tracks per side made of three 1.2 meters tracks, similar to those used in excavators working in coalmines. It was planned to power P.1000 with two MAN V12Z32/44 24 cylinder Diesel marine engines with total power of 17,000hp [2 x 8,500hp] or with eight Daimler-Benz MB501 20 cylinder Diesel marine engines with total power of 16,000hp [8 x 2,000hp]. According to the calculations, this would allow the P.1000 to travel at maximum speed of 40 km/h. P.1000 would be armed with a variety of weapons such as: two 280mm gun SK C/34 naval guns, used on 'Scharnhorst' and 'Gneisenau' warships, mounted in a modified naval heavy cruiser turret fitting two guns instead of three, single 128mm gun like that mounted on the Jagdtiger or Maus, eight 20mm Flak 38 anti-aircraft guns, probably with at least four of them as a quad mount, and two 15mm Mauser MG 151/15 guns.

The SK C/34 was a devastating piece of artillery capable of penetrating more than 450mm of armor at its maximum effective direct-fire range of roughly five kilometers. The guns could also be elevated up to 40 degrees to achieve a range of 40 kilometers. Armor-piercing shells and two types of high explosive shells were available for these naval guns. One difficulty facing the 280mm dual battery would have been the Ratte's inability to sufficiently depress its weapons to fire at nearby targets. Accompanying vehicles would have likely accomplished this task.

The 128mm ant-tank gun's location on the Ratte is a point of contention among historians. Most believe it would have been mounted within the primary turret, though some think a smaller secondary turret would have been mounted at the rear of the Ratte near the engine decking. The rear turret makes more sense logistically, but the surface area of engine decking at the rear of the Ratte might have made this unrealistic. A third option would have been a hull-mounted version of the 128mm gun similar to that seen on the Jagdtiger. This would have at least been able to engage nearer targets than either of the other options.

The heavy-machineguns and some of the 20mm guns would have probably been mounted inside ball mounts in the hull of the Ratte. A quad 20mm flak gun could have been mounted on the extremely large top surface of the turret and additional 20mm guns mounted on the top hull at the rear of the Ratte. If they were willing to put up with the exhaust fumes, an entire platoon of Panzergrenadiers could have sat atop the rear hull.

The Ratte had the crew compliment of at least four heavy tanks, and to compensate for the immense weight of the vehicle the Ratte would have sported three 1.2 meter wide tread-assemblies on each side totaling a tread width of 7.2 meters. This helped with the stability and weight distribution of the Ratte but its sheer mass would have shattered and churned pavement like a plow through sod and collapsed all but a handful of bridges in Germany. Fortunately, the height of the Ratte and its nearly 2 meters of ground clearance would have allowed it to ford many rivers with ease.

The Ratte's much smaller cousin, the Maus, turned out to be a ruinous waste of resources for very limited applications in combat. Had the Ratte's development progressed even a fraction as far as the Maus it would have devastated Germany. The Ratte was so large that it would have required naval-scale manufacturing with months of skilled laborers' time involved in the construction of each individual tank. Just building and assembling its components would have required transportation and handling equipment usually relegated to a shipyard.

Rendition of the P1000 Ratte 'Landkreuzer' near to an E-50 medium tank and Sd. Kfz 250


The development history of the Ratte originates with a 1941 strategic study of Soviet heavy tanks conducted by Krupp. This study also gave birth to the Ratte's smaller and more practical relative: the Maus. From the start the Maus was envisioned as an even larger and more formidable version of a heavy tank, while the Ratte was to be a class of vehicle unto itself.

While development of the Ratte does not seem to have progressed very far some sources believe that a turret was completed for the Ratte and then used at coastal defence battery Ørland near Trondheim, Norway. Several such emplacements survived the war, many mounting turrets from broken-up vessels very similar to the turret intended for the Ratte. However, despite references to a Ratte turret being used as a fixed emplacement there is no evidence that it ever existed. The 'Gneisenau' was broken up in 1944 and its turrets were used as emplacements near Rotterdam in Holland. Similar turrets were used near Trondheim in Norway which was the supposed location of the Ratte turret.

While the Ratte was supposedly a 1000-ton vehicle this number was an almost mystically optimistic figure, much like the 100-ton weight intended for the Maus. The turret alone for the Ratte would have weighed more than 600 metric tons. The actual combat-loaded weight of the Ratte would have been closer to 1,800 tons. The speed, range, and longevity of the engines and transmission would have suffered accordingly.


The Ratte was a very problematic vehicle and the size of the Ratte was responsible for most of the issues it would have encountered on a hypothetical battlefield. A Ratte on the move would have been relegated to fields and countryside because of its road-destroying weight. Without bridges as a river-crossing option, only river crossings were envisioned due to a favourable height, allowing it to be partially submerged. However,  U-boats Schnorkels were also fitted for amphibious fording of deep rivers.

Gunners on a Ratte would have found it awkward to engage targets from close or medium range with even a hull-mounted 128mm gun. Concealing the Ratte from aircraft would have required a blimp hangar or some sort of bizarre camouflage that would make it resemble a building. Such camouflage is feasible, if comical, but would have been useless the first time ground units spotted the Ratte. From that point on the Ratte would have been constantly harassed by fighter-bomber, although its armour was impregnable  to aircraft bombs, with up to 36 cm of hardened steel plates. Even if the Ratte's 20mm AA guns had managed to drive these off, the Ratte was such an enormous target that high-altitude bombers could have been employed to attack it.

Not everything was bad about the Ratte. Infantry would have been less of a risk than with the Maus because of the number of point defense weapons and the space for infantry to ride on the vehicle's hull. The Ratte would have likely served as the cornerstone of a unit of traditional military vehicles and these would have assisted in defending it from enemy tanks and aircraft. Enemy armor posed almost no conceivable threat to the Ratte. They might have destroyed things like the AA guns on the turret or damaged radio antennae or weapon optics, but beyond minor damage enemy tanks were toys next to this mammoth vehicle. Enemy artillery was slightly more threatening and became downright dangerous if the Ratte made the mistake of straying within range of naval bombardment.

The greatest strength of the Ratte would have been its ability to single-handedly halt a major enemy offensive. It would have been slow and poor on the attack but the sight of a Ratte looming out of fog on a battlefield would have almost immediately scattered enemy ground forces. If they did not flee right away they would have once they realized their weapons were nearly useless against it.

Make no mistake, the astronomical cost of building a Ratte would not have been offset by its strengths. Once deployed and used in combat, it was just a matter of time before enemy aircraft destroyed it. With such poor speed and the limitations of the terrain the Ratte would not have enjoyed the same advantages of a wide open sea as its naval counterparts. The Ratte could have turned the tide of a single battle at the cost of a campaign.

The Landkreuzer P. 1500 'Monster' was a pre-prototype ultraheavy tank meant as a mobile platform for the Krupp 800mm Schwerer Gustav artillery piece.

If completed it would have easily surpassed the Panzer VIII Maus, and even the extremely large Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte in size.

It would have been 42 m [138 ft] long, would have weighed 2500 tonnes, with a 250 mm hull front armor, 4 MAN U-Boat [submarine] Diesel engines, [though it would only have enough power to reach up to speeds of 10-15 kph] and an operating crew of over 100 men.
The main armament would have been an 800 mm Dora/Schwerer Gustav K [E] railway gun 10 times bigger in diameter than modern tank cannons, and a secondary armament of two 150 mm SFH 18/1 L/30 howitzers and multiple 15 mm MG 151/15 machine guns.

In early 1943, Armaments Minister Albert Speer cancelled both projects.


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