20 Nazi-Inspired Inventions

A Panzer VIII Maus prototype on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum, Russia. Wikimedia Commons.

19. The Nazis designed and constructed colossal impregnable tanks with naval cannons as weapons

The Panzer VIII Maus (“Mouse”) was the largest fully enclosed armored combat vehicle ever built, weighing approximately 188 tons, and designed for the purpose of breaching fortified enemy defenses. 10 meters in length, 4 meters wide, and 3.5 meters high, the Maus was armed with an arsenal of guns including a 128mm cannon capable of destroying enemy armored vehicles at a range of up to 2.2 miles; designed to achieve maximum speeds of 20 kilometers per hour, field testing could only accomplish a top speed of 13 kph. To combat the issue of transportation, especially over bridges which would collapse under the immense weight, an ingenious solution was devised wherein a snorkel and air filtration system was developed allowing the tank to travel up to 26 feet underwater.

In total, however, just 5 were constructed, with only two deployed in wartime and the remaining prototypes left incomplete after the testing grounds at Kummersdorf was captured by the Soviets. Both finished tanks were ordered to defend the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Wehrmacht) in 1945; one did not reach Wünsdorf and was destroyed en route, whilst the second was disabled outside the Maybach I bunker by the placing of explosive charges in the engine.

Although the Panzer VIII Maus was the heaviest such vehicle ever built, other even larger and more destructive designs were almost implemented by the Nazis. The Landkreuzer P.1000 Ratte was a super-heavy tank, weighing over five times heavier than the Maus at 1,000 tons, armored by a foot of hardened steel, and armed with naval artillery cannons. Although gaining the personal support of Hitler, the project was canceled by Minister of Armaments Albert Speer in early 1943 after it was deemed impractical due to slow-moving speeds and the logistical difficulties of transportation.