As terrible as war is, the technology that’s created to help one side overcome an enemy can be incredible. Even though its purpose is to harm an opponent, objectively, it can still be impressive.
During World War II, the Germans built a formidable super-tank called the Panzer VIII Maus, and its purpose was to be the strongest and most versatile piece of armored machinery ever to grace a battlefield. Germany lost the war, of course, but that doesn’t make this technological feat any less remarkable.
Here are 17 rare photos of the German Maus tank that are sure to amaze you…
During times of war, technological advancements are at an all-time high. Every side involved wants to overcome their enemy, and in order to accomplish this task, new cutting-edge equipment needs to be developed. A perfect example of this innovation was the German super-tank called the Panzer VIII Maus that was employed during World War II.
The Maus was the heaviest and most indestructible tank ever created. Its purpose was to punch holes in the enemy’s defensive lines while sustaining almost no damage itself. The Germans built the Maus hoping that it would win them the war.
The basic design was suggested to Adolf Hitler by a man named Ferdinand Porsche. It was originally going to be named Mammut, which meant “mammoth,” but eventually Maus (“mouse”) became the most commonly used name for it.
After seeing the prototype, Hitler agreed on the production and ordered 150 of them to be built. However, in November of 1943, development of the super-tank was ceased due to continuous engine problems, and only two versions were completed for evaluation.
The idea for the Maus came after the Germans made their first contact with Soviet forces. They were shocked by the strength of the Soviet army, and they wanted to ensure that every encounter with them afterward was a victory.
As you can see, the equipment used to build the super-tank was enormous. It was a slow and arduous process to piece together. Cranes and other heavy-duty construction equipment were used to carry all of the individual parts.
The Maus was comprised of two main guns, which was very different from the one-gun model that other tanks at the time had. The primary gun’s purpose was to combat anti-tank weaponry from the enemies, and the second, smaller turret was to fend off smaller armored vehicles.
The largest of the guns was able to hold up to 30 rounds of anti-tank munitions in order to handle opposing armored vehicles, and the smaller gun could hold up to 200 rounds of high-explosive bullets that could be used to pick off other enemy vehicles.
The tank was so big that several full-grown men could fit inside its circular undercarriage. Hitler was obsessed with making his weaponry bigger and better than anyone he was fighting, and the Maus certainly was both.
The hull sides and track system of the Maus were covered in an armored “skirt” with only the lower portions of the wheels exposed. The Germans wanted to ensure that the enemy was unable to destroy the wheels, which would have rendered the Maus useless.
Because of the enormous output that was generated by an aircraft engine, the crew inside couldn’t breathe when all of the exterior hatches were closed. They had to build a complex network of ventilators that supplied the soldiers with oxygen so they could remain inside for extended periods of time.
The Maus’s design didn’t come without its flaws, however. Its traditional internal combustion aircraft engine used two electric motors that drove the tracks, but due to the sheer size of the tank, it became clear early on that the engine wouldn’t be able to handle the weight of the tank.
Another problem was that the Maus was far too heavy to travel across standard road bridges. This made the ability to cross rivers nearly impossible. The Germans knew that if they intended on winning the war, they needed to think of a solution.
To alleviate the river-crossing problem, the Germans built a large metal snorkel onto the tank, which provided breathing air for up to six men. The tank could then be submerged up to eight meters under the water and still operate efficiently.
Even though the Maus was designed to operate in hostile enemy territory, one big oversight was that it didn’t have the necessary tools to withstand a ground infantry-force attack. The official Inspector of Tanks, Heinz Guderian, pointed out this problem, however, and additional machine guns were added.
All of the hard work that went into designing the Maus ended up being a waste of time. The super-tank never saw battle because of the consistent engine problems. One of the two prototypes was even destroyed by the Germans themselves to prevent its capture.
The other prototype, however, fell into the hands of the Soviets at the end of the war; it now rests peacefully in the Museum of Armored Forces in Kubinka, Russia. People from all over the world can now see just how enormous—and impressive—the German Maus was.
Had the German Maus been sent to battle, the outcome of World War II could have been very different. Thankfully, it wasn’t! Still, what a fascinating—and little-known—piece of history, huh?
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