Hitler Had An Obsession With Larger And Larger Tanks

by Daniel Russ on March 22, 2015

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 The Maus

Pennemunde was the DARPA of Nazi Germany. It was there that ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, sound weapons and modern tanks were first forged into highly advanced lethal technology was created.

Before Pennemunde existed, Hitler was an artillery soldier in World War I fiighting for Kaiser Wilhelm. It was there in those trenches Hitler learned to love the power of heavy guns. And it was there that Hitler learned to hate the static linear war of attrition that trench warfare was. Both these things affected the overly ham handed guidance he gave to weapons manufacturing in Germany. It was on the battlefields of World War I that the Lance Corporal saw the British Mark I tank crawl over trenches and deliver heavy concentrations of machine fire all the while sitting impervious to most of the small arms a German company carried.

Hitler was convinced that Prussian maneuver warfare did not have to die with the end of cavalry. Cavalry would instead be a sort of model of how arrmored vehicles work together. Lucky for him commanders like Heinz Guderian agreed and Prussian cavalry officers expressed tank warfare as modeled on cavalry maneuvers when Germany invaded Poland and France. It worked.

Hitler saw the Panzer Mk Is and watching a heavy machine gun in an armored chassis race by at the lightning speeds of 39 miles per hour and was convinced that this is how to accomplish his tactical vision. There would be no more static grinding trench warfare, and there would be no repeat of World War I.

Predictably tanks grew larger and larger and mostly at the behest of the Fuhrer. The Mark I Panzer weighed 5.8 tons and had a machine gun. The Panzer Mk. II weighed 8.8 tons and carried two 7.62mm guns. The panzer Mk III weighed 23 tons and had a 37mm cannon and two 7.62mm guns. The Panzer MK IV weighed 25 tons and had a 75mm gun and two machine guns. Without covering every single panzer iteration, needless to say the trend was to heavier tanks. Hitler conceived the Maus, a 188 ton land battle cruiser that was 70 feet long and 4 stories high.

After a while, mobility becomes an afterthought.

Only two Maus prototypes were ever created. This machine was too heavy to be practical in anyway other than in Hitler’s head. On the other hand the Panzer Mk VI Tiger I and the Tiger II were spectacular on the battlefield when they were working. Micheal Whitman destroyed dozens of T-34s and Shermans in his Tiger only to be incinerated in his own tank that recieved a round from a British M4 Firefly.

Yep, the Sherman with a 17 pounder gun on it.

 

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