Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte – Hitlers Idiotic Heavy Tank Design

The 52-ton Soviet KV-1, which was, for a time, almost indestructable on the battlefields of WW2. Wikipedia / Public Domain
The 52-ton Soviet KV-1, which was, for a time, almost indestructible on the battlefields of WW2. Wikipedia / Public Domain

There are claims that the Soviet super tank never went into production while some claim that it participated in battles around Moscow and Leningrad in 1942. The Germans allegedly called it “The Stalin’s Orchestra” for it featured three turrets, one of which had rocket launching pods.

Krupp was almost given a carte blanche for his designs by Hitler, so he went one step further. They proposed the designs of the Landkreuzer P.1500 “Monster” ― a huge, mobile, self-propelled siege cannon, similar to the likes of their WWI designs. It was, basically, the Schwerer Gustav on tracks.

Nevertheless, it was an armament race between two bitter rivals and the Krupp company gained green light on June 23, 1942, to develop designs for the future tank. About that same time, Ferdinand Porsche, the automotive industry magnate, proposed the plans for the Maus, which was considerably smaller but easier to make.

In some sense, the Maus was a predecessor of Landkreuzer. Even though Speer cancelled both Landkreuzer projects in 1943, the Rat’s revival depended on the effectiveness of the Mouse.

Panzerkampfwagen «Maus» at the Kubinka Tank Museum. By ru: User: Superewer - ru: , Public Domain
Panzerkampfwagen «Maus» at the Kubinka Tank Museum. Wikipedia / Public Domain

In 1944, two prototypes of the Maus tank were built, only one of them with the turret. The war was all but lost for the Germans by that time and their fanatical belief in producing a game-changing weapon didn’t really fit in with their remaining financial and industrial capacity.

By the time the Maus was operational, the prototype was already seized by the Soviets. In its short operational phase, Maus showed some serious defects concerning the tank’s ammunition storage under the turret which caused additional damage to the prototype. The tank is currently on display in the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia.

The Landkreuzer project remained grounded, as Speer managed to finally convince Hitler with solid arguments that the tank was useless. Its large size would have rendered it unable to cross bridges, and travelling on roads would soon destroy them.

Its intended top speed was 40 kilometres per hour, resulting in a slow, highly visible tank, vulnerable to air bombardment and artillery fire, despite having heavy armour. Issues with transporting the vehicle to the battlefield were also prominent. No railway could bear the weight, and the width would be too large for any railway or tunnel to accommodate.