German PzKpfw VIII – The heaviest tank in history
The heaviest tank ever built was the WWII German Maus. In the course of development, the original idea of a super-heavy armoured vehicle changed and, above all, its weight steadily increased, eventually reaching almost twice the originally planned value.
Discussions continued on the main armament. Attention focused on four different weapons – the 150mm gun, a modified 128mm FlaK anti-aircraft gun, a modification with an extended barrel, and the 127mm naval gun used on German destroyers. A 128 mm KwK 44 gun was eventually installed in the massive welded turret, with a 75 mm KwK 44 co-axial gun to the right of it. To the left of the main gun was a 7.92 millimetre MG 42 machine gun. For production vehicles, it was considered to replace this weapon with the significantly more effective MG 151/20 20 mm air rapid-fire cannon.
PzKpfw VIII MAUS
CREW: 6 men
WEIGHT: 189 t
LENGTH: 10.09 m
WIDTH: 3.67 m
HEIGHT: 3.66 m
POWER UNIT: MB 517
POWER: 895 kW
MAX. 20 km/h on the road, 13 km/h off-road
PHM RESERVE: 3 200 + 1 000 LT
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 1 400 lt/100 km on road 3 800 lt/100 km off road
PANCERING: 160-240 mm
MAIN WEAPON: 128 mm gun + 75 mm gun
MAJOR WEAPON: 7.92mm machine gun
The chassis group had an unconventional design. Six four-wheeled bogies with their own suspension were located on each side, the top of the belt was supported by two pulleys and the chassis was supplemented by a drive and tension wheel.
The tracks had a record width of 1.1 m, to which it is difficult to find an analogy, except of course for mining excavators and similar heavy work machines. The tank was powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine, a generator and two electric motors. The crew of the armoured giant consisted of six men: a driver, a commander, two gunners and two loaders.
Only two examples were built and both were located at the Kummersdorf training area near Berlin at the end of World War II. The technicians damaged them with explosives before the surrender so that they would not fall into enemy hands in usable condition. One of the maus has survived to this day and is on display in the collections of the Russian Kubinka Museum in Moscow.