Also... Mauses. Given the scale of the tank, and the limited ammunition for the 12.8cm gun, having a secondary 75mm weapon was probably the smartest thing they could do.
Its pretty likely the production Maus would have had a 150mm L37 gun with a rather low rate of fire or an even more monster like 170mm, so the 75mm made all the more sense. It’s also a good backup against the vehicle being crippled by damage to its main gun tube which is an issue for any tank design. Being even longer then the Panther gun that 75mm would have been very deadly, and with ammunition load so heavily biased in its favor I believe it was effectively intended to be the primary armament, with the bigger gun only used against fortifications or in encounters specifically with heavy allied armor.
The main point of the Maus was totally massive armor on all sides, a much smaller vehicle could have mounted the desired main gun. Indeed the Germans had a napkinwaffen sketches for a Tiger III in the 75 metic ton class with both 128mm and 105mm guns. Meanwhile the damn Maus has thicker armor... on the bottom... than the front of a Sherman hull. 55mm vs 51mm, though the Sherman armor was well sloped and the bottom armor on the Maus was likely at least partly necessary for physical strength. Still crazy. The front belly armor was 105mm thick to ensure total immunity to mine blast breaching the hull.
I think the bigger issue with the Maus was that it would have been too heavy for most bridges and if it bogged down, nothing was getting it out.
Well, two or three other Maus could have gotten it out with luck and much use of the mighty pulley. The bridge issue is annoying, but I actually have wondered how many bridges really existed which could support a King Tiger but not a Maus. Once you hit railway bridges most of them could be able to support it; and ferries are always an option though not one the Germans seem to have put much thought into. Course, not like I’m a big King Tiger fan either.
The designers planned on having it ford most rivers anyway.
Snorkeling can work disturbingly well as long as you have divers around to inspect the bottom. The fun part is the need to power it with an extension cord while doing so.
It was basically designed to be a mobile pillbox.
Well, it seems to have had a multitude of roles in mind for its planned 5 tank per month production rate. In a situation like Kursk it would have worked fine in an offensive role which seems to have been the idea. I'm no longer convinced it was intended as a purely defensive asset. I was for a while, but it doesn't add up.
. On top of that it would have made a big, obvious target for aircraft and artillery and if it got overrun, the Allies could just bypass it and isolate it until the crew surrendered. Gee the task of making the Maus look like a poor design is so herculean.
You know the roof armor is so thick direct hits from 155mm shells wont necessarily hurt it even with armor piercing shells. The thing is armored like a heavy cruiser. Comically some of the roof armor is no less than 105mm thick (this is as thick as many battleship armor decks) and thus equal to the frontal armor on a Tiger 1, and none is less then 50mm. Biggest problem is landmines; though it’s so damn big the tracks may have had some innate resistance to breaking. Smaller allied AT mines had trouble breaking the tracks on Tiger tanks. Unlike P1000, at least it’s realistic to conceal a Maus when not in action. That really helps vs aircraft.
Anyway the point was not that the Maus is good, but that it isn’t as absurd as it first seems.
I wonder what the Ratte's power-to-weight ratio would have been. The closest analog to the Ratte would be the Karl Gerat mortars but even they were only 124 tons to the Ratte's 1000 tons.
Ratte was to have 16,000 or 17,000hp depending on the final choice of engines. The latter value, would mean 17hp per metric ton and the planned speed of 40kph might actually be reached!
That however is completely dependent on the vehicle actually weighing 1,000 tons and this is highly implausible. Indeed more or less physically impossible. The planned turret weighted 750 tons on Sharnhorst class battleships. For Ratte one gun would be deleted, which would save under 100 tons, and since side armor was to be increased its doubtful total weight would change at all and might even increase. Clearly you are not going to place a 750 ton turret on a 250 ton hull. In fact just providing side armor… on one side of the hull only, that was 120mm thick would weigh around 250 tons on its own!
More realistically P1000 would have been a 2500 ton class vehicle with 6.8hp per ton, putting it back down to the same level as Matilda and Maus. Coincidence? Well maybe since this is me remembering back of the envelope math for the whole vehicle and what little armor details exist years ago, but it adds up pretty nicely no? I did check my side armor calculation with much rounding.
Worth remembering that the Maus itself started as a 100 ton project and nearly doubled in weight. I suspect that unknown paper sketches existed of a smaller P1000 maybe with only one 28cm gun, or more likely a 21cm gun (Hipper turret maybe? Or the paper twin 24cm flak turret project perhaps?) and it just spiraled in size after someone suggested it be oriented as a mobile coastal defense/anti city weapon instead of a super anti tank vehicle.
I doubt Skimmer is defending the Maus design as such. The Maus can generate enough power to weight ratio to have the means of crossing terrain if the ground pressure can be managed somehow. In a way it's an impressive feat of engineering considering the transmission systems and sheer weight of the vehicle. At least on paper, we'll never know how the fully fitted vehicle would have turned out. Which is a shame in a purely tank engineering sense.
Well we do now routinely use heavy mining machinery of this weight class, and vastly beyond that weight successfully. The D575A-3SD bulldozer for example, biggest dozer that had more then one built; is 153 metric tons and can do 13kph all day long. But firm ground is a given. Ground pressure for Maus was 1.45kg per square centimeter. In comparison modern tanks all tend to be between .85 and 1.05 roughly. So its certainly going to be a problem. Weight would also be a problem on roads and embankments that may blow out on the sides and collapse from gross rather then specific pressure; happens with main battle tanks already. But since we are talking Nazis, they’ll just send along dedicated Panther tank hull built bulldozers for repairs, also Panthers to resupply fuel and ammo.