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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 06:40pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
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.

CaptHawkeye wrote:
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.

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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.

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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.

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. 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.

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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.

Gunhead wrote:
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.

-Gunhead


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.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 07:17pm
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Given the substantial amour seaskimmer described, what would be the best way to take out a Mauss? (excluding just bypassing it or land mines). I assume towed artillery would be your best bet.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 07:25pm
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spaceviking wrote:
Given the substantial amour seaskimmer described, what would be the best way to take out a Mauss? (excluding just bypassing it or land mines). I assume towed artillery would be your best bet.

Swarming it with infantry and sticking thermite grenades in any handy intake. At least the Ratte you would have had the added defense of this tactic require assault ladders to reach anything.

After that you need a gun that can penetrate 100mms of armor which you had in the British 17pdr and American 90mm. While rare there was HVAP for the 90mm and APDS for the 17pdr that could have done the job. (The Brits and Yanks were late to the game of issuing tungstun core ammo for any guns which can give you a 50% penetration increase of standard steel core)




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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 07:44pm
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Do you know whether napalm from airplanes would work? Molotov Cocktails writ extremely large seem like they might make a very good weapon when more normal expedients don't work.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 07:53pm
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xthetenth wrote:
Do you know whether napalm from airplanes would work? Molotov Cocktails writ extremely large seem like they might make a very good weapon when more normal expedients don't work.

It's not the fire that your tossing Thermite into intakes it's for smoke production. NBC tanks are still a way off in 1945 and if you can get a large smoke producer like thermite the crew must abandon the tank or suffocate. Yes Napam could do the trick but that method of delivery you might as well drop 500 kilogram bombs on it instead.




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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 08:06pm
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The M20 Super Bazooka and several different recoilless rifles would have been able to defeat the side armor when fired at a favorable angle. Defeating its frontal armor with gunfire would have been very hard. Even if its own 128mm Pak gun firing tungsten ammunition would be of questionable odds of breaching the armor at just 100m; though velocity drop off was slight so it would also have some chance of damaging it at considerably greater ranges. This is assuming a dead on shot with no target angle, would almost never be possible. Target angle is the difference in the axis of the shell vs the orientation of the front of the enemy tank, as opposed the angle of the slope. Obviously a large target angle will compound any angle of the slope of the armor and this quickly leads to ricocheting shells. This is one of the secrets to why heavy tank armor could be so effective in WW2 even on vehicles which look like on paper they should die from this or that weapon.

The best way to deal with Maus would be the same tactics the Russians used against the King Tiger that actually has pretty similar frontal armor, attack with 122mm and 152mm guns firing high explosive shells to batter it into submission via spalling and cracking the armor. The ISU-130 and ISU-152-2 with much higher velocity guns might have had some effect with AP shot but I’ve never found much specific on the performance of these guns.

Best western allied bet would be the T.34 heavy tank with 120mm gun. The US claimed some very high performance for this weapon; velocity was over 100m/s higher then the 128mm Pak. With HVAP it could have breached the Maus armor at over 2,000 yards given a perfect target angle, though regular AP would be questionable at any but very close range. The T.34 itself had excellent frontal turret armor up to 279mm thick on the mantle and 178mm on turret front but the hull was much thinner, 104mm max and it weighed nearly as much as a King Tiger with all the problems that brings.


Mr Bean wrote:
It's not the fire that your tossing Thermite into intakes it's for smoke production. NBC tanks are still a way off in 1945 and if you can get a large smoke producer like thermite the crew must abandon the tank or suffocate. Yes Napam could do the trick but that method of delivery you might as well drop 500 kilogram bombs on it instead.


Actually the Maus was to have a bottled oxygen system to protect the crew against fires and gas weapons! Fire weapons could still stall the engine and maybe damage it. Napalm is useful because its a lot more likely to get a hit then a 500kg bomb, or any HE bomb. You could drop napalm tanks from much closer distances because they didn't present a fragmentation hazard to the aircraft, and they splash just covers a bigger area. 17pdr sabot much have had a slim paper chance of breaching the frontal armor on a Maus but I wouldn't count on it, performance was erratic anyway. 90mm HVAP is also pretty marginal even at very close ranges though the extra long 90mm on the Super Pershing might have some effect.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 08:16pm
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What about aircraft? Given the almost total Allied Air superiority over the outmatched Luftwaffe, wouldn't tank killers be effective (or, failing that, HE bombs similar to the one used against Axis ships?)



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 08:33pm
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A 150m CEP was considered brilliant work for a fighter bomber with iron bombs.. in 1991. In WW2 500m was pretty good. Not much hope of iron bombing being effective against a few vehicles with such well protected suspension. Those side skirts over the tracks alone are 105mm thick! Course, removing them to work on the tracks would have been a bitch in its own right. The top armor is thick enough that almost all the standard allied rockets and aircraft guns would have been ineffective except perhaps the Mosquito Tsetse with the 6pdr autoloading gun. Even then you need an actual hit on the top, not the sides. I know the US was working on a shaped charge 5in rocket that might have been effective when the war ended, I'm not sure the British or Soviets had such a weapon in the pipeline. All the widely used rockets used either HE-FRAG warheads or kinetic semi armor piercing warheads to attack armor neither of which will work very well here. This is what happens when Maus has double or better top armor then typical WW2 tanks. The Nazis after all had a lot of air to ground experience to work from when they designed this sucker.

On paper the Russian PTAB 2.5 anti tank shaped charge bomblet would work; it could defeat 60-70mm of armor but against a 55mm armor plate this may not lead to much damage internally, and the most exposed top surfaces of the Maus were 105mm or 65mm thick. Normally the PTAB 2.5 was used when the Il-2 acted as a dive bomber, with four clusters totaling around 200 bomblets released against a single tank. In any case, Germany always had lots of light flak and it stands to reason that a Maus battalion would have been singled out for extra protection. The flak guns would also aid it with fighting infantry.

The difficulty of recovering and actually repairing a Maus would certainly increase the actual effectiveness of air attacks in terms of removing vehicles from combat, if not necessarily destroying them. Trusting in air power is generally a bad idea in WW2 because while everyone built utter swarms of planes, combat was also taking place on an awful vast scale and you just couldn't count on all that much air support, or any, being around when you really needed it. When Maus appeared in action surely special measures would be taken to hunt them down with air attacks and aerial artillery observers but how well such active measures could be would depend on the terrine and other factors.

Also since Maus in combat kind of assumes the war is lasting into late 1945... kind of suggests something is wrong with allied air power anyway.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 08:46pm
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Thanks. I guess the smart thing to do would thus have been not to engage the Maus but the soft targets supporting/repairing/refueling/supplying it. Or just avoid them all together, considering how few could have been constructed.

Guderian said that he hated the idea due to no MGs for close-quarter fighting, do you consider this a valid statement or just an explanation that was used to justify putting resources where it actually mattered?



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 09:12pm
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Its completely valid, and a number of Elephants had been knocked out due to lack of machine guns which Guderian cited as proof. A coax machine gun was added to the design as I recall; but the designers had good reason to want to avoid a hull machine gun as this was already known to be a serious weak spot in the design of typical WW2 tanks. IIRC Maus was always intended to have various high explosive grenade systems the Germans worked on as anti personal defenses, both tube launched and fired from a grenade launcher poked out the turret hatch. The threats of infantry anti tank teams were a factor in why the Maus had side skirts as well, while most WW2 tanks did not and operated with all the suspension exposed.

Guderian certainly also just wanted the project dead. In fact, we can partly blame him for Germany not loosing the war by the end of 1943. At one point in I believe it was right after Stalingrad, when Guderian was recalled to become inspector general of panzertruppen, Hitler wanted to stop all tank productive save 100 Panthers and 25 Tigers a month, while awaiting the Maus and its 5 tanks per month to increase things. After all why waste Aryan blood crewing anything but the ultimate tanks? Guderian claims he was able to talk Hitler and his yes men aids out of this plan and keep the Panzer IV lines going while allowing Panzer III to die off. Might be self inflation; but I doubt it. Guderian would have preferred to only produced Panzer III and Panzer IV based vehicles in as large of number as possible. Of course, Guderian being constantly rational; and constantly right is why he was dismissed from command several times by Hitler.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-10 05:47am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
Best western allied bet would be the T.34 heavy tank with 120mm gun. The US claimed some very high performance for this weapon; velocity was over 100m/s higher then the 128mm Pak. With HVAP it could have breached the Maus armor at over 2,000 yards given a perfect target angle, though regular AP would be questionable at any but very close range. The T.34 itself had excellent frontal turret armor up to 279mm thick on the mantle and 178mm on turret front but the hull was much thinner, 104mm max and it weighed nearly as much as a King Tiger with all the problems that brings.


I found the mention of the T34 funny as I'm driving one in World of Tanks (the game) against Maus, where the T34 is indeed one of the more effective vehicles against it due to the gun and armor :D.

Would there have been any other Western Allied tanks that would have been effective against the Maus though, particularly of the non-theoretical variety?

IRL they're kinda short on the heavy HE-shell throwing variety like the Soviet IS series, albeit the US Army did have some Shermans with 105mm howitzers, and SPGs with 155mm guns.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-10 10:25am
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The Sherman with 105mm kind of sucked because the turret was traversed by hand making it very hard to lay the gun on anything but a flat surface. It was okay for blowing up fortifications, but I doubt its shells would even work that well on Maus. The Soviet 122mm gun was far more powerful then a 105mm howitzer. The 155mm SP weapons were purely artillery pieces with the gun in the open and the crew working the piece from the ground. Best bet is a bunch of Pershings if you want stuff that saw action.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 09:11am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
...the Germans had a napkinwaffen sketches for a Tiger III in the 75 metic ton class with both 128mm and 105mm guns.


Tiger III? Was this the projected E-75, by any chance?



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 10:49am
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One was E-75, and it seems to have grown in weight during design until it really should have been an 'E-100' while E-100 had already hit 140 tons. E-100 may also have been aiming for the Tiger III designation.
While nothing was ever finalized E-75 might have used the existing Tiger II turret but with a 105mm gun. The other option was a common smaller 88mm turret shared with E-50 which was already more or less King Tiger size (meaning, 50 ton weight not bloody likely). Course the war would have had to go into 1947 for these vehicles to get into service. Only Maus was remotely near service, while E-100 had very extensive work done on the prototype.

Also beware that a fictional E-90 is floating around the internet that was given the name Tiger III as well. It looks neat but total fictionwaffen.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 06:42pm
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Speaking of the E-100. How well would it have performed if completed?



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 09:34pm
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They are very similar, coming out of similar specs. Turret is the same; the main difference is a fair bit less side armor and generally smaller dimensions to keep down the size of the tank. I presume that also means less ammo and fuel, and perhaps a more efficient drive train configuration but I’ve never found many details on this. The Maus mind you started at about the size of E-100 anyway, but Hitler fawned over it and insisted on heavier side armor. E-100 was able to crawl around in the background.

E-100 would almost surely be more effective for being about 48 tons lighter with the same amount of engine power, and generally having been designed in the E series so it’d be a little cheaper to produce beyond its reduced weight. The reduced armor would have a measurable effect on survivability though. It means your going from near immune sides to something more like Tiger 1 sides. HORRORS!

Anyway here, uploaded armor diagrams. First one is a tad wide so not inlined
http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/71 ... armor.gif/]


Image



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 09:39pm
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Where do you get these things?



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-11 10:00pm
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My hard drive after I harvested them from the internet? Frankly these are far less obscure than most stuff I search for. I just bet myself a armor diagrams for both vehicles could be found again on first page of Google search results, and was right. In hindsight it would have been quicker to just link to finding them new rather then logging into imageshack. I doubt I'm going out on a limb to say the internet will very quickly find you armor diagrams like this for every German tank. Maybe not for every assault gun.

Look ones for tiger tanks I wasn't even trying to find
Image

Image



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-12 04:58am
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Just a question,

How did/would the electric drive of the Maus affect its handling?

Was the E-100 to be more 'conventionally' driven?



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-12 08:19am
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The E-100 engine would be the Maybach HL234, which was intended to be reach 1,200hp, though the prototype used the less powerful Maybach HL230. I doubt the HL234 would be able to achieve the desired output, since the similar HL295 tested by the French in their AMX-50 program was also intended to have 1,200hp, yet could only stay reliable by limiting horsepower to 850hp. Tank engine tech at the time simply wasn't capable of reaching such a level.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-12 03:14pm
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Not to come off as completely insane but I wonder if the larger Germany super tanks could have been powered by steam engines maybe? They were approaching the size of locomotives and one thing Germany had plenty of during the war was coal.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-12 07:54pm
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Steam engines are inefficient at using volume and require far too much adjustment and regulating to ever work well on armored vehicles. The need for condensers is particularly troublesome, and you’d now have a tank which needs both fuel and purified feed water. The only time a steam tank made some sense was that odd US WW1 steam tank that was steam powered primarily so it could use the steam pressure to power a giant flamethrower. This would have made life really fun for the crew under enemy fire, do we cook to death from the burst steam pipes or the exploding flamethrower fuel first?

Electric drive made a vast deal of sense on Maus, because it’s just as hard to make a high performance transmission as a high power, high speed internal combustion engine in WW2. Its probably about the only way Maus could have ever worked. Electric drive greatly reduces the stresses on the engine by allowing it to run with minimal variations of speed, and no damaging shocks from the tracks via the driveshaft. It also means you can have full power from the drive motors at any speed since you aren’t limited by gearing, and electric motors have tremendous torque. This makes the engine power count for more. Steering would be easy and driving generally simple compared to normal tanks. Downside is, Maus had major cooling problems with the electrical components, and the whole system was expensive in labor and scarce raw materials (like this matters!) and bound to suffer from corrosion and similar problems in service. The main engine was actually started by an 8hp auxiliary engine, rather than relying on batteries because of its use size. This engine also drove the chemical overpressure system.

E-100 had a conventional drive train with a rear engine and front transmission, 8 forward, 4 reverse gears. With a very optimistically planned top speed of only 40kph, that is a lot of shifting… though it’s also likely that the tank could start in second or even third gear if it wasn’t trying to go up a hill.

As for choice of engine, HL 234 was supposed to produce 900hp stock, and 1,100-1,200hp with supercharging. Would it have worked? I have no idea, but 900hp would at least move it. The non supercharged version was supposed to power the E-50 and E-75. However, supposedly a 1000hp diesel was also being worked on as an alternative power plant for E-100. A diesel would have at least given more torque relative to the power rating. Not sure honestly how much faith one should have in the AMX-50 design process. That was one dog of a tank and a very poor and poorly run period in French history.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-12 11:53pm
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How about the Tiger P's electric drive? Was that an improvement or just an overcomplication? (although judging by the fact it never got pass the prototype stage it's probably the latter, but you can never be sure with the Reich's wacky selection process...)

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-13 07:47am
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It never worked right, and the normal Tiger was ready for combat before they could finish fixing it. This does not mean it was unworkable, but time counted in a war. The Tiger P had other problems too, it was powered by twin engines which is almost always a bad idea and it was very long for its width which made it less agile. The amount of copper needed for the electrical system was judged a problem; certainly his would matter a lot more for a vehicle you want to produce at a rate of 25 as opposed to 5 per month. Since the basic Tiger manual transmission worked okay, I think its safe to say electric drive was an over complication for a vehicle in that weight class.



"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-13 03:19pm
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What are the problems with being powered by twin engines, and how pronounced are they? Is it a matter of reliability, efficiency (size/fuel) or all of the above? I can definitely see an appeal for running two engines in redundancy and not having to use the biggest engines available. I'd see even more in the layout if you used two of the standard medium tank powerplant, like the Tiger (P) did. This is a purely theoretical question to me, since the Tiger's first combat deployment came about nine months before that of the Ferdiand, and although both were pretty disastrous, I don't remember the Tiger doing nearly as poorly by the time of Kursk as it had against the Sinyavino Offensive.



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