Military tanks are an impressive sight that makes enemy infantry shake in fear, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to make the enemy flee in terror. That’s where the super heavy tanks come in.
Super heavy tanks is the classification for the heaviest and biggest military tanks. Almost all of the super heavy tanks were constructed by mad engineers around the time of WWII. Especially the Nazi engineers where more crazy than most – or maybe they were just allowed more freedom in a desperate attempt to turn the tide of the war.
Here are the top 10 heaviest and biggest military tanks ever.
Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster
In 1942 Hitler approved the design and construction of an extremely large tank, but the project was cancelled in 1943 before any actual construction had begun. The tank was supposed to be more than fifteen times as big as a normal tank and it should have been armed with a 800 mm Krupp cannon (the main cannon on a normal tank like the M1 Abrams is 105 mm).
The 800 mm Krupp cannon is the largest artillery weapon ever built. Each projectile weighted 7 tons and it could be fired up to 37 km (23 miles). I haven’t seen any pictures of the Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster, so you must make do with a picture of the Krupp cannon (check out the soldier in front of the cannon).
Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster
Germany, 1942 – 42 meters long, weight 1500 ton, crew 100
Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte
The Ratte was very similar to the Monster. It was also designed in 1942 and it was also cancelled within little more than a year. Unlike the Monster, the Ratte were supposed to be armed with a warship turret with two 280 mm cannons. Other armaments on the Ratte would have included a 128 mm cannon, eight 20 mm anti-aircraft guns and a few 15 mm machine guns.
Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte
Germany, 1942 – 35 meters long, weight 1000 ton, crew 20
Some German guy have built a model of the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte. His last picture of the model really gives you an idea about the size of this thing.
Panzer VIII Maus
The Panzer VIII Maus is the biggest tank ever built. It was small compared with the Monster and the Ratte, but still three times bigger than a normal tank. The design was complete in 1942 and production started in 1942, but only two were completed before the war ended.
The completed tanks were armed with a 128 mm primary cannon and a 75 mm secondary cannon.
Panzer VIII Maus
Germany, 1944 – 10 meters long, weight 188 ton, crew 6
A super heavy tank very similar to the Panzer VIII Maus. This project was also started in 1942, but no models were ever completed. A single hull was built in 1944, but no turret was fitted before the war ended.
The E-100 Tiger Maus was supposed to use the same turret as the Panzer VIII Maus. Thanks to a lighter weight, it would have been faster and more practical on the battlefield than the Panzer VIII Maus.
Germany, 1943 – 10 meters long, weight 140 ton, crew 5
The FCM F1 is the heaviest and biggest tank not of Nazi origin. It was supposed to replace the Char 2C, which is one of the heaviest tanks to ever see combat. Unfortunately France was defeated before the FCM F1 project was completed, so none of these tanks were ever built.
The FCM F1 was supposed to have a 90 mm cannon, a 47 mm cannon and six machine guns. It is worth noticing that this tank was more than 10 meters long, but still only a little bit more than 3 meters wide so it could be transported by train.
France, 1940 – 11 meters long, weight 139 ton, crew 9
The O-I was a Japanese attempt at building a super heavy tank. It has been reported that one model was completed and sent to Manchuria during WWII, but it is highly unlikely that the rumor is true. The O-I probably ended up as a cancelled project in much the same way as most of the other super heavy tank projects.
The O-I had three turrets. The main turret had a 105 mm cannon, one of the minor turrets had a 37 mm cannon and the other minor turret had three machine guns.
Japan, 1944 – 10 meters long, weight 130 ton, crew 11
The K-Wagen was one of the first attempts at building a super heavy tank. Again it was the mad engineers of Germany that did the attempt, but for once it was before the Nazi era.
The K-Wagen didn’t have a main turret. Instead it had four 77 mm fortress guns mounted on the sides and seven machine guns. It is the second largest tank ever built – only the Panzer VII Maus is bigger since all the other super heavy tank projects were cancelled before they could be completed.
Germany, 1917 – 13 meters long, weight 120 ton, crew 27
T-28 (Gun Motor Carriage T95)
The T-28 was designed by US Military during WWII. It was supposed to be used to break through German defenses and an eventual invasion of Japan.
The T-28 didn’t have a normal turret, so one might classify it as a tank destroyer and not a super heavy tank. This is probably the reason it was renamed from T-28 to Gun Motor Carriage T95 and later back again.
It was armed with 105 mm cannon and a single machine gun. It was so heavy that it had to use four tracks instead of the normal two.
USA, 1945 – 11 meters long, weight 95 tons, crew 8
The TOG2 was the largest British tank ever built. Just like most of the other super heavy tanks, it was designed during WWII. A single prototype was completed in 1941, but no further development occurred and no TOG2 ever saw combat.
The TOG2 was armed with a 76 mm main cannon.
United Kingdom, 1940 – 10 meters long, weight 80 tons, crew 8
Another British super heavy tank. The problem with this one was that the first prototype weren’t completed before 1946, by which time the interest in super heavy tank development had disappeared.
The A39 Tortoise was armed with a 96 mm cannon and three machine guns.
United Kingdom, 1944 – 10 meters long, weight 78 tons, crew 7
How Big Were They Really?
Check out this diagram, that I have glued together:
Be aware that the two biggest tanks (Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster and Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte) never made it past the design phase, so they might have ended up looking very different from above. I just glued their pictures together from pictures of other tanks, so you could get an idea about how enormous they were.
Why Did They Disappear?
It is interesting that almost all the tanks in the top 10 were built during WWII. What made the engineers at that time try to build such monsters and why have no such tanks been built ever since?
The main reason for building the super heavy tanks was immunity from enemy fire. A super heavy tank would have featured thick armor that would be impenetrable to most WWII weapons. Being able to move around on the battlefield without fearing enemy fire would have been quite an advantage, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to be immune from everything.
Enemy aircraft would surely target a super heavy tank on the battlefield, since it would be a big and easy target. Escape would be impossible for most super heavy tanks, since they would to slow to move away from the enemy fire.
Today, enemy fire is much more powerful than during WWII. It is easy to imagine how rockets or missiles could destroy a super heavy tank much easier than a group of smaller tanks.
The lack of defenses against air strikes weren’t the only problem with the super heavy tanks. The construction of such a monster would require enormous amounts of raw materials – something that was in short supply during WWII and probably used better elsewhere.
Another problem would be the transportation of a super heavy tank. Most of them were too big to be transported by train, so they would have to rely on their own ability to move forward. Problem was that most of them were extremely slow, so they might not reach the battlefield before it was too late.
In addition, the super heavy tanks were often so heavy that they would destroy normal roads. They would therefore have to drive through fields and so on, which meant even slower movement than were possible on normal roads.