PANZERKAMPFWAGEN VIII MAUS

(1943-1945) 


By Rob Arndt

 



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.

 





Land Cruiser P-1000 "Ratte"

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!

 


 

 











 

 





 

 

 

 

 






 

In order to transport the Maus, a  special 14-axle railroad transport car (Verladewagon)
was produced by Graz-Simmering-Pauker Works in
Vienna

 

 













 



 

    

 


 

 
 

 

This German drawing shows a sectionalized elevation of the Mouse hull. The following salient features may be distinguished:
driver's seat (20) and periscope (14 and 18); radio operator's seat (12) and radio (21); radio antenna (28); air intakes for main engine (30); main engine (3); generator (4); the right motor of the two electric motors driving the sprockets (9); auxiliary fuel tank (29). 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 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.

 

 
















 


 

 

 

 



 

 
 

 Front view of Maus 

  

   Rear view of Maus

  

   Completed Maus

  

  Maus displayed in Russian
Kubinka Museum
outside Moscow


















                                                                           

 

 


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

 

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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 super heavy 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.

 

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 the formidable appearance of the original Mice.
Note the exceptional width of the tracks.

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.

 

ARMAMENT

 

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.

 

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



KV1 as Pz 756(r)



KV 2  as Pz 754(r)

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.

 

 

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.





A39 Heavy Assault Tank Tortoise









 



 

 


 

 

 

 


 


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, with the same gun and turret layout as the Maus, except that a 150mm or 170mm gun was envisaged as the main weapon. 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. Construction of the E 100 prototype proceeded slowly at Henschel's test plant after Hitler's order to cease work on super-heavy tanks, and at the end of the war only the bare hull and suspension were completed.

 

 





 
 
 
 
 



The E-100 was originally designed as an Waffenamt alternative to the Porsche-designed super heavy Maus tank. It 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 designof 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.

 

 



E-100 and PzKpfw IV

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.






 






E-100 as discovered uncompleted in 1945

The abandoned hull of the E-100

 
 
The E-100’s giant tracks
 
 
 How the E-100 was discovered in 1945 by Allied troops!
Note the sheer size of the monster!
 
 









 



 


PzKpfw E.50




 








PzKpfw E.75







PzKpfw E.100










Panther III







STRANGE VEHICLES OF PRE-WAR
GERMANY & THE THIRD REICH
(1928-1945)
 

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