Experimental German Tanks

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Experimental German Tanks

Post by Swordsman » 14 Dec 2005 13:44

A while ago on this Forum, I found some pictures and information of amazing experimental German Armored vehicles and Tanks. One was a 39 metre Tank with 2 turrets and 3 smaller barrels, the other was a Battleship gun mounted on gigantic Caterpiller tracks. I have repeatedly looked for this site again and have been unable to find it, can someone point me in the right direction?

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Davide Pastore
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Post by Davide Pastore » 14 Dec 2005 19:49

There is something (but not much) here:
http://www.achtungpanzer.com/p1000.htm#1000

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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:08

From http://www.member.tripod.com

In the latter stages of World War II, Allied air superiority on all fronts severely hampered German forces, especially armor. Aircraft like the Sturmovik, Typhoon, and P-47 wreaked havoc among the Panzer Divisions. With the late-war interest in superheavy panzer like the Maus and E-100 (and one could also include the Tiger II and Jagdtiger in this category), the need for complimentary air defense was clear. Towards the end of the war, Soviet forces discovered blueprints for a turret mounting twin 8.8cm flak guns which was to be mounted on either the Panzerkampfwagen Maus or the E-100. Later in 1945 a mild steel mock up of the turret was reportedly discovered. Because the flak vehicle would utilize the same chassis as the tanks it was protecting, maintenance and spare part inventories could be rationalized considerably.

It was envisioned that each Maus or E-100 battalion would include at least three of these vehicles. The Flakzwilling itself would be operated by a crew of eight: a driver, commander, gunner, mechanic, and four loaders for the rapid-firing flak cannons. For anti-aircraft operations, the three flak vehicles would be directed by a fourth vehicle. This command vehicle would have been equipped with a mobil range and altitude finder as well as a target tracking system. Unfortunately, no records as to the nature of this vehicle's systems, nor what chassis it would have been constructed upon, have surfaced
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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:11

In June 1942 Hitler and Krupp discussed the feasibility of a one thousand ton superheavy tank. Unusually, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche does not seem to be involved, although this project would be right up his alley. As of 29 December 1942 some preliminary drawings at least had been done, as the date on the drawing shows. By then the machine had been named 'Ratte' (Rat).

If built, P.1000 would have dwarfed its little cousin, Maus. Intended to be 35m long, 14m wide and 11m high, and armed with an ex-Kriegsmarine turret with two 28cm ShiffsKanone C/28. In other words a triple turret similar to those used on the Graf Spee class, but without the centre gun. Each gun weighed 48.2 tons and had a barrel length of nearly 15m. Projectiles were 1.2m long, Panzersprenggranate (armour piercing) rounds weighing 330 kg each and containing 8.1kg of explosive, or 315kg Sprenggranate (high explosive) rounds containing 17.1kg of explosive. The maximum range of these guns was 42.5km (26 miles). Some sort of secondary anti-aircraft armament in the form of 2cm Flak guns was planned.

One feature of the design, as indicated on the drawing, was the use of triple tracks, each individual track being 1.2m wide. Power was to have been eight Daimler marine engines (presumably E-boat), developed to produce a total 16,000 hp.

There are some anomalies in the design of Ratte, as depicted. The ammount of track in contact with the ground is inconsistent with the weight of 1000 tons, either it will have a rediculously low ground pressure, meaning that all that track is not necessary; or it will be heavier than 1000 tons. If we imagine the centre hull between the tracks to be an armoured box, without worrying yet about the belly or roof, and 200mm thick (and that is a bit light on by battleship standards), it works out to be about 730 tons on its own. That doesn't leave a whole lot for suspension, tracks, engines, belly and deck armour. The pair of guns on their own would be another 100 tons, and we can assume that the turret would have to be armoured to at least 250mm. If we include the barbette, the turret should account for at least 380 tons, not counting guns, gun mounts and shell hoists. The ammunition stowage is anybody's guess, but bear in mind every three rounds adds another ton to the total weight. If Ratte was built, it would probably end up closer to 2000 tons.
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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:15

In a paperback titled Tanks of the Axis Powers published over 20 years ago there is a brief mention of some of Germany's armoured follies. It mentions a 1500 ton superheavy tank, cased in 250mm of armour, armed with an 80cm gun and two 15cm weapons, and powered by four U-boat diesels. Although there was no illustration I have always been curious as to what this 1500 tonner would look like.

However we do know something about the proposed main weapon, the 80cm. Although not the largest calibre gun ever made, or the longest ranged, the 80cm railway gun 'Dora' was the biggest. As far as we know it was used only sparingly, to shell Sevastopol in the Crimea, and later Warsaw. Too large to be transported whole, Dora required several trains to transport it. Before assembly could begin, and this took several weeks to acomplish, a second track had to be laid at the chosen firing site. Movable straddle cranes also had to be assembled, these were on their own additional rails. The two 20 axle halves of the chassis were shunted onto the double tracks side by side, and coupled together. Only then could the cranes start putting the really big bits on. Once assembled Dora must have been an awesome sight, all one thousand three hundred and fifty tons of it. The barrel alone weighed 100 tons, the breech was also another 100 tons. It could fling a 7 ton shell about 45 km. As a piece of static siege artillery there was no question of its effect, but even its creators, Krupp, admitted while it was a valuable research tool, as a practical weapon of war it was useless.

Which brings us to the 1500 tonner, aptly named 'Monster' by armaments minister Albert Speer. It may have been an attempt to make some use of Dora, or simply an extension of a policy to self-propell all heavy artillery, but someone got the idea of putting Dora on tracks. The wartime sketch (provided courtesy Karl Horvat, an Australian researcher) is all we have, but it allows us to deduce a few things.

One reason why you can't simply scale up an existing tank design is ground pressure. If you know the mass and dimensions (i.e. area of track in contact with the ground) of a vehicle, it is quite easy to work out ground pressure. Put simply, weight will be roughly proportional to the volume or the cube of the dimensions, while the area of track in contact with the ground will be proportional to the square of dimensions. If we double the size of a tank, we get eight times the weight but only four times the track area, thus twice the ground pressure. (There's also twice the stress in suspensions, axles and everything else, it's why elephants have thicker legs than flamingos.) A very light tracked vehicle, such as a Bren carrier, will have what appears to be rediculously narrow tracks. As a vehicle gets heavier, the proportion of its width covered by track increases. A Centurion has about 40% of its width as track, while for the 188 ton Maus tank, the figure was about 66% or two thirds. In fact the most striking thing about Maus is this proportion of track width to overall width.

Assuming a pressure of 1.2 kg per sq cm for this 1500 tonner, that's about midway between that of a Centurion and a Maus, and seems a realistic place to start. Working backwards, we can use ground pressure and weight (1500 tons, or thereabouts) to find how much contact area it needs. Track width appears to be around 80% of the width, giving tracks of 2.4m width (each) for an overall width of 6m. The illustration appears to be about 6m wide, as is the gun on its rail mount. If we stick to an assumed six metre width, close to an upper limit if we ever consider movement by road, this behemoth thus requires 27m of track on the ground. There's only one problem with this, it won't turn.

The shorter a tracked vehicle is, that is track length on the ground, the less resistance there is to turning. Also, the wider it is, the outside track is able to generate a greater turning moment, and overcome the resistance of both tracks to being pushed sideways. A governing aspect of tracked vehicle design is the ratio of the distance between track centres, and track contact length. Typically, this is about 2:1 for most vehicles. The 1500 tonner has a length/width ratio of about 7.5 to 1, and this is horrific. The way out of this is chassis articulation. By using four track units, each 14m long, and allowing each pair to be turned independently, it might just work.

Having four track units ties in nicely with the four U-boat diesels. All the Porsche heavy tanks were electric drive, and it seems hard to imagine anything else for a machine this size. In a U-boat, the diesels drove dual purpose electric motor-generators, but on the 1500 tonner these would function as generators only. It seems logical that each diesel would have its own generator. These four generators would each run an electric motor in each of the four track units. Of course the diesels and generators could be anywhere in the vehicle, as no mechanical drive to the tracks would be required. The other pieces of information are harder to fit into the picture. Just where the two turrets, each with a 15cm gun, would fit I have no idea. If the layout of Dora is preserved, as the illustration seems to indicate, there appears to be no place for them. Also, having these turrets side by side, as Axis suggests, implies a much greater width than 6m if these turrets are not to foul. More puzzling still is the 25cm of frontal armour. The illustration shows that the loading decks, and of course the crew doing the loading, had no protection at all, nor would they need any being many miles from whatever they were shooting at. Having this extent of armour is only required if the machine is going to be used as a direct fire weapon, in other words as a tank and not a piece of self-propelled artillery.

It also appears that the shell hoists are retained, as on the rail gun. While having no on-board stowage of 80cm rounds is not an issue for SP artillery, it would be an absolute must for a 'tank'. Dora was supplied with 80cm rounds from the rail lines it sat upon, but this would not be any use to an SP operating away from any railhead. I imagine that ammunition vehicles would be required to deliver one round at a time to the hoists, they could possibly be similar to the Panzer IV carriers used with the Karl morsers. Apart from these carriers there would probably be a whole retinue of vehicles accompanying this giant machine; fire control and signals vehicles, a flak unit, the cook's truck, and so on.

We can only speculate how this machine might be moved. As with Dora, it could conceivably be transported by rail in pieces, but once assembled and moving under its own power beyond the rail network the fun would really start. As with all oversize vehicles, the planned route would need to be carefully surveyed. It would occupy the entire width of a road on its own, and travelling through any town en route would no doubt lead to a fair bit of urban renewal. Rivers would be less of a problem, as the machine's great height would permit fairly deep fording. However the greatest problem would be the high centre of gravity due to the mass of barrel, breech, recoil system so high up, and sideslope of the ground would be the main restriction to travel, lest the vehicle keel over. As with other large land vehicles, there is a distinction between 'movable' and 'mobile'.
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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:17

All from http://www.members.tripod.com

The Bär was a large self-propelled vehicle mounting an awesome 30.5cm weapon. The running gear was largely to be taken from the Tiger tank, but rather than torsion bars, leaf spring suspension was to be used. These springs would have most-likely resembled a larger version of the Panzer IV leaf spring mounting. Similar systems were suggested for prototype Jagdpanzers which were on the drawing board toward the end of the war. The gun was rigidly mounted, but provision was made for a wide range of elevations. These features make the Bär closely resemble the Sturmtiger.

Panzerkampfwagen Bär
Crew: 6 Armament: one 30.5cm KwK L/16
Weight: 120 tons Traverse: unknown, rigid mounted weapon
Length: 8.20 meters (sans gun) Elevation: 0o to +70o
Width: 4.10 meters Engine: Maybach HL230 P30
Height: 3.55 meters Gearbox: 6 foreward, 1 reverse
Radio: unknown, most likely an FuG 5 Speed: 20 km/hr
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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:18

In Spring of 1942, the Krupp firm began work on a tank to replace the Tiger. It was to be larger, heavier, and mount a 10.5cm KwK L/70 gun. The vehicle received the designation Panzerkampfwagen VII and was name Löwe (Lion). The model pictured is the 90-ton version which was to have 120mm frontal armor. The vehicle was to have a suspension consisting of overlapping pairs of roadwheels mounted on torsion bars.

A shortened, 80-ton version of the Löwe was proposed mounting the 8.8cm KwK L/71 with 140mm frontal armor. The technical specifications of this shortened vehicle were amazingly similar to the eventual Tiger II production models.

Panzerkampfwagen Löwe
Crew: 5 Armament: one 10.5cm KwK L/70 + two 7.92mm MG34
Weight: 90 tons Traverse: 360o
Length: 7.74 meters (sans gun) Elevation: unknown
Width: 3.83 meters Engine: Maybach HL230 P30
Height: 3.08 meters Gearbox: 12 speeds
Radio: unknown, most likely an FuG 5 Speed: 23 km/hr
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Post by Swordsman » 16 Dec 2005 16:19

Model by Thomas Hartwig, Bremen Germany.

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 refelct new information.

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 I've heard 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 Wester Allies, perhaps every Tiger II became a "Maus" upon further reflection.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, it was revealed that the Soviet tank museum at Kubinka had a Maus on display. Further examination of the vehicle suggested that it combined the hull of one prototype with the turret of the second. 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 managed to proceed a few kilometers further before the crew destroyed it.

The Maus was a huge and impractical vehicle. The Waffenamt was leery of it because of the producer, Dr. Porsche. Ferdinand Porsche was notorious for placing a higher value on technical brilliance than servicability. The petrol-electric drive used in every Tiger prototype designed by Porsche was carried over into the Maus design. 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. 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 sysem 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.

Maus was far too heavy to use most bridges, so provision was made for river and stream crossing underwater. As the drive was electric, one Maus could sit on the bank with power cut to the electric drive and power the fording Maus via electrical cable using it's petrol engine.

Armored protection on the Maus was amazing. Every surface which would be targetted by other tanks was protected by no less than 180mm or armor, which maximum protection reaching 240mm. The top was, however, relatively vunerable as protection was typically 40mm. As with most tanks, anti-aircraft protection would have been an absolute must.

The ever-increasing weight of Maus prohibited the use of the trademark external torsion-bar suspension developed by Porsche. The bogie system used instead was developed by Skoda. As with the Panzerkampfwagen E100, Maus was to be ultimately fitted with a 15cm KwK44 or a 17cm KwK44.

Panzerkampfwagen 'Maus'
Crew: 5 Armament: one 12.8cm KwK44 L/55 + one 7.5cm KwK44 L/36.5 + one 7.92mm MG34
Weight: 188 tons Traverse: 360o (power)
Length: 10.09 meters Elevation: -7o +23o
Width: 3.67 meters Engine: MB509 V12 1,080PS or MB517 Diesel
Height: 3.66 Gearbox: 2 forward, 2 reverse (electric)
Radio: FuG5 Speed: 20 km/hr
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 16 Dec 2005 16:57

I have seen no credible evidence that a 'E-100 Flakzwiling', 'Maus-Flakzwilling', P-1000 or P-1500 was ever proposed. I have only seen flimsy references in less-credible reference books, and a lot of references on websites.

Considering that the E-100 and Maus had been dropped at the time the Typhoons and other fighter-bombers started to cause significant damage to German vehicle (late 1944 and 1945), it would seem unlikely that an anti-aircraft version of said vehicles would have been suggested.

Furthermore, it is odd that the 8,8 cm Flak would be suggested for a vehicle meant to deal with fighter-bombers. The 8,8 cm Flak was incapable of hitting fast, low-level aircrafts, which is what the 15 mm., 2 cm., 3 cm. and 3,7 cm. anti-aircraft guns were used for (which is also why they were chosen for the regular Flakpanzer).

The drawing of the P-1000 above also suggest a very high length-to-width ratio, which would mean the vehicle would have had great difficulties turning.

Finally, the 12,8 cm Kw K 44 was the intended gun for both the Maus and the E-100, not a 15 cm Kw K (which was suggested early on in the Maus design process, but dropped later on).

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Post by zerum » 17 Dec 2005 22:02

Here is more about the "big" tanks:http://pedg.org/panzer/public/website/p1000.htm#1000

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Post by zerum » 17 Dec 2005 22:07

And a "picture" the big one i action
http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/1088/ratte8006va.jpg

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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 17 Dec 2005 22:11

Still no evidence to their existance or even their proposal, though.

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Post by Davide Pastore » 18 Dec 2005 09:05

zerum wrote:And a "picture" the big one i action


I can find some (very little) rationality behind the twin 28cm turret (as a mobile anti-landing anti-ship bunker, to patrol the Atlantic Wall), but what is the usefulness of that liiiiiiiiittle (15cm midget or so) casamated gun in the bow?

BTW, the Sd 251 is uncomfortably near. Should it happen to be caught by the tracks, the behemot crew would only heard a low "crac!". To say nothing of the leg infantry's red splashes all along the lower hull.

Davide

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Post by Tim Smith » 18 Dec 2005 17:57

The P.1000 and P.1500, if the plans for them really existed, get my vote for the most stupid Axis weapon of WWII.

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Post by Swordsman » 19 Dec 2005 10:44

zerum wrote:Here is more about the "big" tanks:http://pedg.org/panzer/public/website/p1000.htm#1000


Sorry this link doesn't work

Here's the 2000 tonner!
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