BLITZKRIEG 1946

A reconstitution project

Blitzkrieg 1946 is aimed at representing non-operational tanks of the Wehrmacht, ranging from pre-production prototypes to more obscure paper projects. It is about bringing "what-if" operational camouflages and markings to forgotten models of the latter period of the war, that could have roamed the battlefield from 1942 to 1946 if the war had turned a different way, or just branches of programs that were not chosen in the end. What if Germany has resisted the onslaught long enough to unleash a whole array of these deadly V-waffen ? Would have these models really turned the tide or would have these been some lousy failures engendered by a megalomaniac brain obsessed with Wagnerian ideas of "grandeur" ?

Who say size doesn't matter ?

A battle raged on production matters between Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer. The Führer ideas of land battleships and other super-heavy tanks and other high-tech armament on the cutting edge of technology were all expensive as hell, as opposed to the methodical, practical and cold realism of Albert Speer. One of the few that often gets the final word, cancelling many projects that will be shown here. Probably the most outstanding of these were the Landkreuzer P1000 Ratte and the P1500 Monster. The first had a battleship turret while the other was a gargantuan SPG fitted with the biggest piece of ordinance in the world at that time, the 800 mm "Dora" manufactured by Krupp. These behemoths came close to production but only parts were built (the turret for the first, part of the tracks for the second) until both projects were terminated by a stroke. They would have indeed taken a terrible burden on steel supplies and other resources, not mentioning the expenses and skilled labor hours, all for for dubious operational capabilities at the end, other than a vigorous propaganda value.

New predators for the eastern front

Since the soviet keep the pace with Germany in terms of armour and weaponry, when the IS-2 were issued late in 1943, the new red army champion outmatched the best tanks Germany has to offer like the Panther and the Tiger. Not only the response came with the Königstiger, but took also the shape of the 75 tons Jagdtiger. And this was only a mere appetizer. All four were scheduled to be replaced in late 1945 by a new generation of super-tanks with incredible levels of protection (100 to 250 mm, well sloped). The full replacement for both the Tiger and the Königstiger was to came from the Löwe (Lion) or PzKpfw VII (leichtes) program. This 75-tons tank was to be equipped with a brand new, super-high velocity 105 mm L/70n an evolution of the legendary 88 mm. The 105 mm would be adopted in the end, but more than ten years after by NATO... It was then replaced by the Schwere Löwe by order of Hitler, armed with a 150 mm KwK 44 L/38, before being dropped and Porsche's Maus adopted instead. Also in development were the medium Panther II with a new tailored narrow-profiled schmalltürm. These projects were present through the E program (see later).

The Entwicklung (E) program

This standard or universal chassis program was started by Heinrich Ernst Kniekamp, Chief Engineer of Waffenpruefamt 6 in may 1942. These vehicles were classed by weight and rôles:

E5: Light tank of 5-10 tons only, two-men, would have been produced by Bussing, Daimler, Steyr and Weserhutte. Planned duties were scouting, flamethrower, mobile/fast infantry support, light APC, radio relay, or light Panzerjäger with a 80mm PAW 600.

E10: light tank of the 10-25 tons category were to be built by Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz Magirus AG in Ulm in very large quantities to replace the Panzer 38T and its whole range of derivatives like the Hetzer and the much-simplified Waffentrager (platforms) in general. The Jagpanzer E10 stayed at the scaled mockup/plans stage. Other of the experimental waffentragers like the 38(d) were equipped with 88 mm to 105 mm guns. E25: (from 25 to 50 tons). Designed & produced by Alkett, Argus, Adler and Porsche. This wide medium class was to provide the bulk of the Panzerdivisions, with a whole range of chassis for heavy scout tanks to standard battle tanks capable to replace the Panzer III-IV, or the existing 3rd generation tank hunters. The Sturmgeschutz 27t - Porsche E-25 Jagdpanzer design was one of the most advanced. It should have replaced the Jagdpanzer IV in late 1945.

E50: The Standardpanzer (50-75 tons) was to be designed by Argus, Auto Union and Adler. This program was aimed at replacing the Panther and Tiger and provide a new family of heavy jagdpanzers.

E75: (Up to 100 tons) The heavy tank family, tailored to replace the Tiger II (Königstiger) and the Jagdtiger heavy tank hunter.

E100: 100 tons and more. The new super-heavy tank family. The most representative of these was the Maus battle tank, which was to be standardized as the E-100 super-heavy battle tank in 1945. Only two chassis prototypes of the latter were built.

Antitank Missile carrying-vehicles

Germany also pioneered the concept of missiles like no other nation before and was well more than 20 years advance in these concepts, many new innovative weapons systems being tried out at the end of the war. The whole range of missiles started with new generation of shaped-charge projectiles like the Püppchen, up to the V-1. There was a whole range of vehicles which could have carried and deployed these armament in operations, and possibly some would have taken place on tailored launchers to be fitted on new generation tanks by 1946. The Panzertöt rocket launcher was intended for small tracked or wheeled vehicles, mass-produced, and the Panzerabwehrwerfer 600 pear-shaped cannon could have launched high precision self-propelled winged rounds. There were also a whole range of ATGMs in development like the Pfeifenkopf (radio-guided missile), the Steinbock (infrared-guided), and the Rottkäpchen, probably the most promising and well advanced of these, a small wire-guided missile with a warhead powerful enough to defeat 200 mm of armour.

Anti-aircraft defense vehicles

Flakpanzers were in 1945 also seen like transition vehicles, as a new generation of SAMs were tested. The most impressive of the Flakpanzers however would have been the Panzer-V based twin-30 mm autocannon Schwere Flakpanzer Coelian. Anti-aircaft missiles ranged from a low-flying aircraft defence systems with racks of 35 small "Föhn" winged rockets, or the hand-held Fliegerfaust, to the high altitude defense system provided by the guided Schmetterling, the Rheintochter, or the very heavy Wasserfall and Enzian, able to destroy entire formations at once. Just like the A4, these heavy rockets would have needed tailored carriers/erectors and a whole convoy to be mobile.

Ballistic strike

Ballistic (conventional) heavy explosive fire was provided by a whole range of missiles that could have been launched on site by a convoy of specialized vehicles. The famous A4 (V1) with 1 tonne of explosive, proved indeed impossible to destroy in flight contrary to the autonomous cruise missile V2. 2500 were built, many fall o,n London. The next generation, A5 Rheinbote was to be simpler, but still with a 40 kgs warhead (a few were fired against Anvers after D-Day), but the summit of German ballistic development was contained into the A9/A10 program. Probably difficult to deploy by carrying vehicles, these intercontinental missiles were able to strike American east coast cities, after a near-space flight that rendered all interception attempts futile. Of course the A9/A10 would have a sufficient payload to carry an atomic bomb if the program has been completed.

Links and resources

The Vk 1602 Leopard on Wikipedia
The Löwe on Achtung Panzer
The E-series on Achtung Panzer
The E-100 on Wikipedia

Leichtes Spähpanzer LEOPARD (VK 1602)

Light tank - 1 prototype 1942.

The Vk.1602 was designed in 1942 to be the replacement for the Panzer II generation of scout tanks for heavy combat conditions (Gefechtsaufklarung). It was an all-improvement both in protection and armament, featuring a brand new 50 mm L/60 armed turret, and protection. The chassis was built by MIAG and the turret by Daimler Benz. The gun was also used by the late Panzer III. Although it was heavily armoured (80 mm on the front plate), and equipped with a 550 hp engine, the speed was barely sufficient for a scout tank, as the range. The development took place between March through October 1942, the production was first shceduled for October 1942, and then in april 1943. A single prototype was built, but production never took place. There were two versions, the Schwere (26 tons) and the leichte (18 tons).

The hull was reminiscent of the Panther with sloped sides all over. To ease ground pressure, especially on soft ground encountered on the eastern front, it was equipped with 35 cm wide tracks and seven interleaved wheels per side. The Leopard was much heavier than previous editions of the Panzer II at near 22 tons. They would had served as HQ tank platoons in Panzer units.

Its 50 mm L/60 was deemed insufficient against most soviet tanks of the time, so it was thought to redeploy the production machines against western allied forces. Anyway, the whole program was cancelled in january 1943 by Albert Speer, ad the cheaper and faster Sd.Kfz.234 armoured car was chosen instead, equipped with the same turret. It had however some influence on latter designs like the E10 serie.

Vk 1602 Leopard Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 4,74 x 3,1 x 2,6 m (14.7 x 10.2 x 8.6 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 21.8 Tons (48 300 ibs)
Armament 1 x 50 mm 50mm KwK 39/1 L/60, 7.92 mm Mg.34/42
Armor 20 to 80mm (0.8 - 3.15 in)
Crew 4 (driver, commander, gunner, loader)
Propulsion Maybach HL 157 P 550 hp (410 kW)
Speed 55 kph (34 mph)
Suspension Torsion bar
Range and consumption 165 km (103 mi) 560L
Status 1 prototype


VK 1602 Leopard
A fictious Leopard in service by mid-1943.

Daimler Benz Panther (VK 30.02)

Medium Tank - 1 prototype 1942.

The Daimler Benz VK 30.02, or the "Alternative panther" as it could have be was a nimble and fast medium (at 35 tons), with roughly the same weight size and mobility than the T-34, but with a far better gun and optics. The design incorporated well-tested and less labor-intensive solutions like leaf spring suspensions combined with doubled small roadwheels and return rollers. It was to be propelled by a DB diesel with the drive sprockets at the rear. One could only guessed what if this model was adopted instead of the much bigger MAN design. The DB could have been substantially cheaper to produce as well, perhaps enough to see 8-9,000 in service instead of the 6300 Panthers eventually cranked up from MAN's factory. It was not mystery that this was the favourite contender for Albert Speer. The MAN design however had a more modern suspension, with larger tracks and would have fare better in soft grounds. Its turret was roomier, allowing the future mounting of the planned L/70 75 mm. In addition it was propelled by the same engine as the Tiger for better commonality and was chosen in march 1942 after intensive trials.

DB Panther Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 6,00 x 3,2 x 3,7 m ( ft)
Total weight, battle ready 34 Tons ( ibs)
Armament 1 x 75 mm KwK-42 L/71, 2 x 7.92 mm Mg.34
Armor 10 to 80mm (0.8 - 3.15 in)
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, radio)
Propulsion Maybach HL 210 P45 V12 Gasoline 650 hp pwr 19.1 hp/t
Speed 56 kph (35 mph)
Suspension Torsion bar
Range 195 km (xx mi)
Status On prototype 1942, not chosen


DB Panther
A fictious Daimler Benz panther in Northern Italy, 1945. This is the second type, fitted with an interleaved drivetrain.

Porsche Tiger II or VK 45.02(P)

Heavy Tank - 1 prototype 1942.

The Porsche Type 180 or Vk45.02(P) was unveiled on 23 march 1942. This "Alternative King Tiger" was never produced despite the technological breakthroughs that were poured in the transmission, and propulsion. In addition to a sloped hull and an aesthetic but functional turret, this model, like the Ferdinand or Tiger(P) built after the Tiger I, combined conventional engines with an electric generator, coupled to electric motors linked to the final drives and transmission. The suspension units were very innovative too, being extremely robust, very compact and not prone to clog on dirt or packed snow. Ferdinand Porsche was given the first order for the Production of the Tiger Ausf B or Tiger II and proceed to the construction of 50 turrets before the order was cancelled and production goes to its rival Henschel. The latter eventually will produce around 500 of what were possibly the most amazing tanks of ww2, despite their teething problems. Henschel's turrets were not ready on time so the first 50 hulls were given the available Porsche turrets, used as an easy recognition of the first batch.

Porsche Tiger 2 Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 12,00 x 5,2 x 4,7 m ( ft)
Total weight, battle ready 60 Tons ( ibs)
Armament 1 x 88 mm KwK-43 L/71, 7.92 mm Mg.42
Armor 80 to 150 mm (3 - 6 in)
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, radio)
Propulsion Porsche Twin V10 Gasoline 550 hp, electric motors
Speed 56 kph (35 mph)
Suspension Torsion bar
Range 195 km (xx mi)
Status One prototype 1942, not chosen


Porsche Tiger II
What if rendition of the Porsche's Tiger II in operational colors, mid-1944.

Panzer V Panther II (1943)

Medium tank - 1 prototype 1943. This project was later merged with the E-50 program. It resulted in Hitler's insistence for an up-armored Panther, as well as to increase commonality with the Tiger II in development. By April 1943, the planned panther II received on paper a glacis 100 mm (3.94 in) thick, with 60 mm of side armor and production was scheduled in September 1943. The same 75 mm (2.95 in) L/70 KwK 42 gun was used and a prototype was ordered in August 1943 propelled by a Maybach HL 234 900 hp (671.4 hp) engine, coupled with the GT 101 gas turbine. By the summer of 1943 it was chosen to upgrade the panther instead (Ausf F), and eventually the E50 project took over the program. US forces eventually stumbled upon the prototype fitted with an Ausf. G turret in 1945, now displayed at Fort Knox. The Ausf F was smaller in scope, mainly consisting of an upgraded turret with a narrow front, the "schmalltürm".

Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 6,87 x 3,27 x 2,9 m (22.5 x 10.7 x 9.8 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 48+ Tons (ibs)
Armament 1 x 78 mm KwK-44 L/70, 2 x 7.92 mm Mg.42
Armor 30 to 100mm (1 - 4 in)
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, radio)
Propulsion Maybach HL 234 800 hp
Speed 50 kph (30 mph)
Suspension Torsion bar
Range 170 km ( mi)
Status 1 prototype



A fictious Panther II in service in 1945, with steel-rimmed wheels and standard turret. The Schmalltürm would have been probably used too.

E-50

Medium tank - Paper project + mockup, 1944.

The Panther Ausf F was basically an Ausf G fitted with a Schmalltürm turret. Its front plate was 120 mm thick, designed in November 1943 by Rheinmetall. Although several turret prototypes were built, Daimler-Benz and Ruhrstahl-Hattingen steelworks also produced alongside up-armoured chassis. None were achieved before the end of the war although production was scheduled to start in april. In parralel, studies for this program were integrated into the Entwicklung-50 serie, the new standard medium panzer aimed at replacing the Panzer III-IVs. The E-50 mixed Panther and Tiger parts, had a longer chassis identical to that of the King Tiger but with a different glacis plate, paired steel-rimmed roadwheels, upgraded armour, and a schmalltürm in standard, housing the new 88 mm (3.46 in) L/71 gun. The suspensions were of the conical spring system (Bellville Washer) and propelled by a Maybach HL234 giving 900 hp, with a planned top speed of 60 km/h.

MAN was to built apparently a single prototype, but at least summary plans and a scaled mockup existed. The design was much simplified and far less labor-intensive than previous ones.

E-50 Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 8,20 x 3,30 x 3,10 m ()
Total weight, battle ready 55+ Tons ()
Armament 1 x 75 mm KwK 44 L/71, 2 x 7.92 mm Mg.42
Armor 30 to 100mm ()
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, radio)
Propulsion Maybach HL 234P 800 hp
Est. Speed 60 kph (40 mph)
Suspension Bellville Washer coil springs
Est. Range 180 km
Status Paper project


German E-50
A fictious standardized E-50 Mittlerer StandardPanzer in service in 1945, with the standard IR Vampir night vision combat system.

Panzer VII Löwe (VK 7201)

Heavy tank - Paper project + mockup, 1942.

Another alpha predator intended for the eastern front, the löwe ("Lion") was to be the replacement for the Tiger I. Although the concept had some similarities with the latter E-100 Standardpanzer, it began way earlier, in 1941, with the aim of answering to the KV and IS series of soviet heavy tanks. One of its early specs was a 140mm front and 100mm thick side armor, three man turret, 1000hp Daimler-Benz marine engine (used by Schnellboots), and a new 105 mm gun for 90 tons. The study was started as a program by Krupp as the PzKpfw VII or VK7201 in february 1942. It was partly based on a parallel project VK7001 (Tiger-Maus), and in competition with Porsche's Maus. The final design reused as many components from the Tiger II as possible, and with an option for the KwK-44 105 mm L/70 cannon (Leichte variant) or a 150 mm L/37-40 (Schwere variant). The turret was well rounded with an apparently cast mantlet of conical shape to reduced the amount of armour. Another design put the turret at the rear, with a very streamlined hull. Eventually Hitler choosed the Schwere version, which received 140 mm of frontal armour and 1 meter wide tracks. But in july 1942, the program was cancelled in favor to the Maus instead.

What is certain is that a 150 mm armed tank would have beaten anything the soviets had in store by 1944, but the use of a marine engine would have needed possibly a lot of adaptations and trials. The transmission choice would have been also a problem and reliability and range on the battlefield dubious as best. The final design anticipated these aspects and reverted to a Maybach HL230 giving 800 hp. Estimated speed was around 35 kph.

Leichte Löwe Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 8,50 x 3,2 x 2,9 m
Total weight, battle ready 90 Tons
Armament 1 x 105 mm KwK-44 L/70, 2x 7.92 mm Mg.42
Armor 30 to 140mm
Crew 5 (driver, commander, gunner, loader, radio)
Propulsion DB 1000 hp of Maybach HL.230 800 hp
Speed 35 kph (20 mph)
Suspension Torsion bar ?
Est. Range 140 km
Status Paper project, cancelled 1942



A fictious Löwe in service in 1945.

Panzer VIII Maus

Super Heavy Tank - 2 chassis prototypes 1944.

Called the Panzer VIII in the official nomenclature, it was the Porsche project 205, unofficially dubbed Tiger IIP. In short, this monster was never produced due to a lack of material and gasoline, and the cost of a single tank was also opposed to the overwhelming forces of lighter soviet tanks. This super-heavy tank came close to production, with up to three chassis and two turrets built. However the initial order of 150 was cancelled by Hitler in october 1943, and the project itself in november. The v1 prototype was nevertheless completed and thoroughly tested, but its limitations soon became apparent. The latest, valiant Maybach HL 800 in development, although rated to nearly 800 hp was no more sufficient to move the 190 tonnes of the combined weight of the turret and chassis. These figures were just overwhelming. An U-boat Daimler-Benz MB 517 diesel engine was adopted in september 1944, an the suspension and tracks were entirely revised by Skoda on the V2. Both were captured by the Red Army at Kummersdorf, tested, and one was carried back to Russia where its stands today, at the Kubinka training grounds museum. A single, well placed panzerfaust shot in the tracks could disable this monster. But armed with a 150 mm as projected, it would have been a formidable opponent for any tank of the time, including the new Is.3 Stalin.
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Maus Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 10,10 x 3,67 x 3,63 m ()
Total weight, battle ready 188 Tons ( ibs)
Armament 1 x 128 mm KwK-44 L/55, 75 mm KWK-44 L/36, Mg.42
Armor 50 to 250 mm (2 - 6 in)
Crew 6 (driver, commander, 2 gunners, 2 loaders)
Propulsion Daimler-Benz MB517 Diesel 12 cyl 1200 cv (V2)
Speed 13 kph (8 mph)
Range and consumption 60 to 180 km for 2300L
Status Cancelled 1943 and august 1944


maus
Porsche Maus of a schwere Abteilung defending east Berlin in the fall of 1945.

E-100

Super Heavy Tank - 1 chassis prototype 1944.

The poor mobility of the Maus conducted to the projekt E100 (Or Entwicklung-100) proposed by Krupp in 1942. Sometimes called "Tiger-Maus" it was a Tiger-based model equipped with a Maus turret and various ordinance guns, but notably the new Krupp KwK 44 149 mm. The final issue was to have a lighter, faster, simplified Maus version ready by the fall of 1944. Projected speed was 30 km/h, and final weight about 138 tons. A hunter version was also scheduled to use the 173 mm KwK 44. Propulsion was assumed by a V12 Maybach of 700 or 800 hp. The chassis was lower, narrower and shorter than that of the Maus but with massive side skirts, armour slightly decreased, with 12 standard interleaved doubled roadwheels per side (48 in all) and external Bellville-Washer coil spring suspensions.

The entire project was cancelled by the beginning of 1944, followed by the Maus in august, but the incomplete hull left to three Adler employees was discovered by allied forces on Henschel's factory floor in 1945.

The E-100 chassis at the Henschel FactoryE-100 chassis on trailer as captured by British troops in 1945


E-100 Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 10,27 x 4,48 x 3,29 m (33.8 x 14.8 x 10.1 fts)
Total weight, battle ready 138 long tons (154 tonnes)
Armament 1 x 150 mm KwK-44 L/38, 75 mm KwK-44 L/36, 2x 7.92 mm Mg.42
Armor 60 to 240mm (0.8 - 3.15 in)
Crew 6 (driver, commander, 2 gunners, 2 loaders)
Propulsion Maybach HL 234 V-12 gas. 800 hp (634 kW) pwr 5.48 hp/ton
Suspension Belleville washer coil spring
Range and consumption 165 km (103 mi) 560L
Status 1 partial prototype, cancelled 1944


Entwicklung 100
E-100 of a Schwere Panzer Abteilung in Eastern Prussia, early 1946.

P.1000 Ratte

Land cruiser - Paper project (1942).

All these programs were easily shadowed by another project of epic proportions : The Land-Kreuzer ("land cruiser"), also officially known as Projekt P1000 Ratte. This was to be the first of a new kind of "land battleships" (or "land ironclads" as described by H.G. Wells a century before), a mobile fortress capable of leading an entire Panzerdivision while covering the offensive by long range, powerful battleships guns, provide cover by anti-aircraft defence, and being a coordinating HQ as well. It was designed by Krupp's submarine chief-engineer and officer Grote, suggested to Hitler which immediately approved the plan in june 1942. This was a 1000-tons (on paper) super-heavy tank, equipped with a naval "panzerschiff" twin mount 280 mm turret (derived from the standard Kriegsmarine triple gun turret), one or two 128 mm, eight 20 mm AA guns Flak 38 (probably of the quad Flakvierling type), and two Mg42 Mgs of 15 mm Mg 151 HMGs. It was so heavy that a unique six tracks system (two pairs of three) was conceived. Armour was impregnable even to aircraft bombs, with up to 36 cm of hardened steel plates. Only river crossings were envisioned due to a favourable height, allowing it to be partially submerged. The wide hull contained a small bay for BMW Motorcycles, several storage rooms, a compact infirmary area, and a self-contained lavatory system.

Propulsion was assumed by either two MAN V12Z32/44 24-cylinder U-boats marine diesel engines (8,400 hp each (6,300 kW)) or eight Daimler-Benz MB 501 20-cylinder marine diesel engines of 2,000 hp used in E-boats. Final output was to be 16,000 hp needed to move the tank. U-boats Snorkels were also fitted for amphibious fording of deep rivers. On the beginning of 1943, Albert Speer then in charge of the war production cancelled the project, as well as a self-propelled gun version of 1500 tons, the P-1500 "monster", armed with the 800 mm Dora/schwerer gustav gun which would have been even bigger.

P1000 Ratte Specifications

Dimensions (L-W-H) 35/39 oa x 14 x 11 m (128 x 46 x 36 fts)
Total weight, battle ready 1000 tonnes (1100 short tons)
Armament 2 x 280 mm 54.4 SK C/34, 128 mm KwK-44 L/55, 8 x 20 mm FLAK, 2 x 15 mm MG 151
Armor 150 to 360mm ()
Crew 20 to 60
Propulsion 8x Daimler-Benz MB501 20-cylinder marine diesel engines
Est. Speed 40 kph (25 mph)
Est. range and consumption 190 km (120 mi) 25,000L
Status Paper only. Cancelled in 1942


P1000 Ratte
Rendition of the P1000 Ratte "Landkreuzer" near to an E-50 medium tank and Sd.Kfz. 250 in 1944.

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