Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus (“Mouse”) was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944. It is the heaviest fully enclosed armored fighting vehicle ever built. Only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured by the advancing Soviet forces.
These two prototypes – one with, one without turret – underwent trials in late 1944. The complete vehicle was 33 ft 6 inches long, 12 ft 2 inches wide, and 11.9 ft high. Weighing 188 metric tons, the Maus’s main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm gun. This 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armored fighting vehicles then in service, some at ranges exceeding 3,800 yards.
The principal problem in the design of the Maus was developing an engine and drivetrain which was powerful enough to propel the tank, yet small enough to fit inside it. The drive train was electrical, designed to provide a maximum speed of 12 mph and a minimum speed of 0.93 mph.
The vehicle’s weight made it unable to utilize most bridges, instead it was intended to ford to a depth of 6 ft 7 in or submerge up to a depth of 26 ft and use a snorkel to cross rivers.
The Maus was intended to punch holes through enemy defenses in the manner of an immense “breakthrough tank”, whilst taking almost no damage to any components.
Five were ordered, but only two hulls and one turret were completed before the advancing Allies found them.