Super-heavy tanks are armored fighting vehicles of very large size, generally over 75 tonnes. Programs have been initiated on several occasions with the aim of creating an invincible vehicle for penetrating enemy formations without fear of being destroyed in combat; however, only a few examples have ever been built, and there is no clear evidence any of these vehicles saw combat. Examples were designed in World War I and World War II, along with a few in the Cold War.
History[edit | edit source]
World War I[edit | edit source]
The first super-heavy tank was designed by the Russian naval engineer Vasily Mendeleyev who worked on the project from 1911 to 1915. The tank was envisioned to be invulnerable to almost all contemporary threats but remained on paper because of its high construction cost. It was followed by the British Flying Elephant concept as a way to break through any potential defensive line, and the German K-Wagen (Großkampfwagen). Two of them were under construction when the war ended and both were demolished.
World War II[edit | edit source]
During World War II all of the major combatants introduced prototypes for special roles. Adolf Hitler was a proponent of "war winning" weapons and supported projects like the 188 tonne Maus, and even larger 1,000 tonne Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte and 1,500 tonne Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster. The British, Soviets and Americans all built prototype designs similar to the Jagdtiger, but none of these saw combat as the need for such a weapon turned out to be extremely limited.
Later[edit | edit source]
The idea of super-heavy tanks saw less development after the war, except in the Soviet Union where some relatively heavy tank prototypes were tested for the Cold War nuclear battlefield, one example being the Object 279. These may be considered super-heavy by the standards of Soviet tank design, where the emphasis was on small size and low weight, but they were no heavier than the contemporary U.S. and British heavy tanks of the period.
List of super-heavy tanks[edit | edit source]
- T28 Super Heavy Tank - Self-propelled gun, 86 tons, 2 pilot models built
- TOG1 (tank) - 80 tons, 1 prototype
- TOG2 (tank) - 80 tons, 1 prototype
- Tortoise heavy assault tank - Self-propelled gun, 78 tons, 6 pilot models built and tested
- Flying Elephant - First World War era project at 100 tons, not built
- K-Wagen - 120 metric tons, 2 were nearly complete when the war ended. Both were demolished.
- Panzer VII Löwe - About 95-100 tons, cancelled in favour of Maus.
- Panzer VIII Maus - 188 tons, 2 prototypes. Both were captured by the Soviet army. One can now be seen at the Kubinka Tank Museum.
- Panzerkampfwagen E-75 - 95 tons, designed to succeed Tiger II. Never built, only on blueprint.
- Panzerkampfwagen E-100 - 140 tons, 1 hull completed at factory. Captured by British and scrapped.
- Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte - 1000 tons, the project was cancelled.
- Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster - Self-propelled gun, 1500 tons. Tracks were complete when the project was cancelled.
- O-I series
- "Super Heavy Tank" - 130 tons. Purportedly one prototype was produced in 1944 and sent to Manchuria.
- "Ultra Heavy Tank" - Modification of the O-1 Super Heavy Tank with four turrets. Project only.
- Eighty ton tank - at least 1 prototype built in 1926. 80 tons with two 76 mm main guns and 4 machine guns
- Tank Grote (TG-5 or T-42) - 100 tons with 107 mm main gun and four subturrets. One prototype made - 1931 
- KV-4 - WWII supertank project. A proposed 90 ton KV arming one 107mm gun and a 45 mm mounted next to the main gun), but none were made.
- KV-5 Was a WW2 project to built a 100 ton KV tank arming a 107 mm ZiS-6M and a smaller turret arming a machine gun placed in front of the main turret, though none were built, only drawings remain of the tank
- IS-7 - 1948 Soviet prototype super heavy tank. 68 metric tons, 1050 hp diesel engine, 130mm main gun plus coaxial 14.5mm KPVT machine gun. 2 prototypes built.
- Obyekt 279 - 1959, 60 tons, Prototype tested.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Svirin, Mikhail (2009) (in Russian). Танковая мощь СССР [Tank Power of the USSR]. Moscow: Yauza, Eksmo. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-5-699-31700-4.
- Kholyavsky, Gennady (1998) (in Russian). Энциклопедия танков [Encyclopedia of Tanks]. Minsk: Kharvest. p. 25. ISBN 985-13-8603-0.
- Zaloga 1984:85
- KV-4 data sheet and pictures of the proposed designs
- Steven Zaloga - IS-2 Heavy Tank 1944-73 p.21-23
- Kubinka Tank Museum collection listing "Troyanov Super Heavy Tank"
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Zaloga, Steven J., James Grandsen (1984). Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two, London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0-85368-606-8.
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