An Artist's Representation of The German Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte Super Heavy Tank.

An artist’s representation of the German Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte super heavy tank.

Circa 1942, a proposal was made by Krupp for a super heavy tank, the Landkreuzer P.1000 ‘Ratte’ (which translates to ‘Rat’). By 1943 this project would end up being canceled by Albert Speer, the Minister of Armaments and War Production; ostensibly given the gross resources that would have been required to produce this vehicle as will become clear shortly. The impetus for the Ratte project stems from a 1941 study of Soviet heavy tanks that was conducted by Krupp; this same study lead to the development of the Panzer VIII Maus, also a super heavy tank design. It was Krupp director Edward Grotte, the then Special Officer for Submarine Construction, who suggested the vehicle design for the Ratte. Grotte had existing experience in designing tanks having worked with the Soviets before the war began; and with the Soviets his flare for designs such as the Ratte would be seen. On  June 23, 1942 Grotte proposed to Hitler a massive vehicle design which was to have naval artillery and thick hardened steel armour. While Hitler seemed to favour the project giving Krupp the green light to begin development, by the time Speer had canceled the project, it existed only on the drawing board. The proposed weight of the Ratte would have been 1,000 tonnes; by comparison a Tiger II weighs 68.5 tonnes. It is not so difficult to see why the vehicle reached such a massive weight in reviewing it’s specifications. The Ratte’s primary armament was to have been twin 280 mm SK C/28 naval cannons; one of which weighs 48.2 tonnes alone and the shells for which weigh no less than 300 kg (660 lb). Secondary armaments for the Ratte were to have been a single 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 cannon, two 15 mm MG 151/15 autocannon, and no less than eight 8x 20 mm Flak38 anti-aircraft guns. Armour for this beast was to have varied from 150 mm to 360 mm; again comparing to the Tiger II which had armour ranging from 25 mm to 185 mm we can see the Ratte was better armoured. To handle the weight of the vehicle it was to be equipped with  three treads on each side with an individual width of 1.2 metres and a total width of 7.2 metres. To move this massive machine two proposals were made:

  1. Eight Daimler-Benz MB501 20-cylinder marine diesel engines, producing 16000 horsepower
  2. Four MAN V127Z32/44 24-cylinder marine diesel engines, producing 17000 horsepower

The engines were to have had snorkels to allow for traversing water. Speaking practically the Ratte as a design had many flaws. On the battlefield the Ratte wouild have existed almost like a bulls-eye for Allied warplanes. The vehicle would have likely required a supporting group of ground and possibly air forces to assist and protect it; not unlike modern Aircraft carriers. The proposed weight for the vehicle would have made road and bridge travel grossly impractical. It is not uncommon that special vehicles and equipment are constructed to assist principally in the areas of transport, recovery, and maintenance for a vehicle. No such equipment existed or could have been modified reasonably from existing equipment to accommodate the Ratte; certainly not with the material limits existing as the war progressed for the Germans.

Works Cited:

1. “Krupp Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte (Rat) Super Heavy Tank Project (1942).” Military Factory – Military Weapons: Cataloging aircraft, tanks, vehicles, artillery, ships and guns through history. N.p., 29 Apr 2011. Web. 13 Sep 2013. <http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=293>.

2. “Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 Aug 2013. Web. 14 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landkreuzer_P._1000_Ratte>.

3. “Tiger II.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 31 Aug 2013. Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_II>.

4. “28 cm SK C/28 naval gun.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 11 Jul 2013. Web. 15 Sep 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/28_cm_SK_C/28_naval_gun>.