Super-heavy tank

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British TOG2 (80 tons) at The Bovington Tank Museum

Super-heavy tanks are armoured fighting vehicles of very large size, generally over 75 tonnes[citation needed]. 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. Sometimes, incorrectly[citation needed], super-heavy tank destroyers, assault guns, railway guns and some heavy tanks are also called super-heavy tanks, for example the American T95 Gun Motor Carriage (later designated "Super Heavy Tank T28" by the US Army), British Tortoise heavy assault tank (officially "Tank, Heavy Assault, Tortoise (A39)"), Nazi German Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster Railway Gun, and the Soviet IS-7 Heavy Tank.

History[edit]

World War I era[edit]

model of the Flying Elephant design

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.[1][2] Following the production of their first tanks, the British "Flying Elephant" was designed as a tank that would be resistant to artillery fire. Since mobility was more important than protection, and the tanks already developed were successful, work on the project was stopped. The German K-Wagen (Großkampfwagen) was a very heavy design carrying 4 guns and needing a crew of 27. Two of them were under construction when the war ended and both were demolished.

World War II era[edit]

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 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.

Cold War era[edit]

The idea of very 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 British super-heavy tanks such as the TOG2 and TOG1. And so they are heavy tanks.

List of super-heavy tanks[edit]

British
  • TOG1 - 80 tons designed for conditions similar to those experienced in WWI , 1 prototype
  • TOG2 - 80 tons improved design of TOG1, 1 prototype
  • Flying Elephant - First World War era project at 100 tons, not built
French
  • FCM F1 - 139 tons, for breaching German defensive lines. ordered but not built before Fall of France
Nazi German
  • 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 cancelled in favour of Maus, 1 part-built hull at factory captured by British and later scrapped.
  • Panzer IX - Was a Super-Heavy Tank of the German "Signal" WWII Military Propaganda magazine.
  • Panzer X - It was another Super-Heavy Tank of the German "Signal" WWII Military Propaganda magazine.
  • Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte - 1000 tons, the project was cancelled. A turret was finished, but it was used for coastal defense.
Japanese
  • 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.
Soviet
  • Eighty ton tank - at least 1 prototype built in 1926. 80 tons with two 76 mm main guns and 4 machine guns[citation needed]
  • T-42 (Tank Grote or TG-V) - 100 tons with 107 mm main gun and four sub-turrets. Models and drawings produced [3]
  • KV-4 - 1941 project. A proposed 90-100 ton tank, carrying a 107 mm main gun and a 45 mm or 76 mm secondary; various layouts were considered, with the hull-mounted 107 mm an a 76 mm turret chosen as the final option.[4] Feasibility stage only.
  • KV-5 - another Kliment Voroshilov series 100-ton-class tank design. Armed with the same 107 mm main gun in a large, KV-2-style turret, and two 12.7 mm machine gun turrets (one on the forward hull, one on top of the main turret); powered by two V2 diesels due to wartime lack of a 1200 hp engine. Project stopped due to Siege of Leningrad and cancelled without anything built.
Russian Empire
  • Tsar Tank - A giant wheeled gun platform of 1914 which was abandoned because it was underpowered and vulnerable to artillery.
German Empire
  • K-Wagen - 120 metric tons, 2 were nearly complete when world war I ended. Both were demolished.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Svirin, Mikhail (2009). Танковая мощь СССР [Tank Power of the USSR] (in Russian). Moscow: Yauza, Eksmo. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-5-699-31700-4. 
  2. ^ Kholyavsky, Gennady (1998). Энциклопедия танков [Encyclopedia of Tanks] (in Russian). Minsk: Kharvest. p. 25. ISBN 985-13-8603-0. 
  3. ^ Zaloga 1984:85
  4. ^ KV-4 data sheet and pictures of the proposed designs

Bibliography[edit]