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. 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 super-heavy tank destroyers, self-propelled guns, railway guns and tank destroyers and some heavy tanks are also called super-heavy tanks, for example the American T28 Tank Destroyer, British Tortoise Assault Gun, Nazi German Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster Railway Gun, and the Soviet IS-7 Heavy Tank.

History[edit]

World War I era[edit]

British Flying Elephant model

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] 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 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 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.

Cold War era[edit]

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]

British
  • TOG1 - 80 tons, 1 prototype
  • TOG2 - 80 tons, 1 prototype
  • Flying Elephant - First World War era project at 100 tons, not built
French
  • Char 2C (also known as FCM 2C) - 69 tons, 10 built in the 1920s
  • FCM F1 - 139 tons, 1 prototype
German
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. One prototype made - 1932 [3]
  • KV-4 - WWII supertank 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]
  • KV-5 - another Kliment Voroshilov series 100-ton-class tank. 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.

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]