So, This is a VERY VERY BIG TANK. So big it crushes everything in its path (even the path itself).

Assuming I lead Nazi Germany, I WILL deploy/create this tank.

The issues of this tank are: (taken from wikipedia) 1. The large size and weight would have rendered the tank unable to cross bridges at the risk of collapsing them. and travelling on roads would soon destroy them.

   2. Though its top intended speed was 40 kilometers per hour, its
      huge size and high visibility would have made it extremely
      vulnerable to aerial bombardment and artillery fire.

   3. Its great size would also have made it nearly impossible to
      transport—no existing railway or train car could bear its weight and
      its width was too great for existing tunnels.

My Answer to this issues:

  1. This is my weapon-of-last-resort, launch it to cities which are
     captured by allies. crush even the buildings just to recapture the
     cities. Launch this tank when battle on plains are inevitable.

  2. Increase weight and armaments - Add more plates capable of
     holding of artillery fire (though I think none is present at that
     time, the added armor should just make the tank not explode on a
     single shot of artillery). Protect the engine, probably build it
     under the hull as such that if this is bombed by an aircraft, it
     will take the hit (again, I do not know any WWII tech that is
     capable of rendering this tank invulnerable but if there is, do let
     me know). Regarding land mines, I have to use other tanks to move
     forward before this tank, and if there are no tanks available,
     humans will. I will also add a gunner in front, sides, and rear of
     the tank so that I could check if there are any enemies who would
     put explosive charges under the tank.

  3. As this tank is my last resort, I would deploy them from Berlin,
     going forward to cities that are already captured. This would also
     increase the consumption of diesel which I think would be the
     biggest problem of having this tank. The trip to other cities may as
     well be very very long, So I think I can create 1 for Berlin and
     industrial districts capable of manufacturing this tank.

The strengths of this tank (as per my knowledge)

  1. With my superior firepower and armor, I would have destroyed a
     lot of enemy tanks, killed plenty of infantry which may disheartened
     enemy morale.

  2. The sheer size would strike fear for advancing troops, giving
     morale boost on my troops.

  3. Recapturing cities would be a breeze (But most of the structures
     would be destroyed, thanks to me also)

  4. To deploy this tank to other cities(and maybe captured nations),
     I would have to transport this tank as parts, put them in a train ,
     assemble it in a factory, and its ready to rumble.

So with my points taken (and maybe some of your suggestions) Can I win my WWII campaign with this tank?

EDIT: The period my WWII campaign is 1939 and the latter part of 1941. I chose this period because it is still viable at this time, during early 1942 or more then the viability becomes 0 due to the scarcity of raw materials, fuel and factories.

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    $\begingroup$ Short answer: no, for the reasons you have already stated. In 1939, you can produce the tank, but you don't need to; in 1942, you need the tank, but can't produce it. $\endgroup$ – nzaman Feb 17 '18 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ No, anything so big is basically a juicy target to any airplane or even artillery. $\endgroup$ – Sasha Feb 17 '18 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ the russians built a giant tank, and what they learned is once you make a tank heavy enough dirt is like quicksand, the tank becomes immobile as soon as you drive it over a field or a dirt road. It also ends up with a huge turning radius so you cant even drive around bad spots easily. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 18 '18 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Another argument against it: even if you solve basic mobility, and manage to armor it so much, that it is invulnerable to everything that is precise enough to hit it (4 motor strategic bombers can not hit it while in motion), it will be extremely vulnerable during train transport and reassembly/disassembly. Since the Germans to disassemble it to cross the Rhine, Elbe... etc or whatever direction they want to advance, you can be sure that the allied air forces will throw in everything to prevent a single train from escaping the district where the tank is. $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Feb 18 '18 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ And during assembly: The Allies will blow up every factory while retreating that might have chance to reassemble the Ratte, so the Germans would have to set up a new on the field, with all the machines, cranes, power station, etc... A huge magnet to Typhoons, Thunderbolts, Il-2-s and all other kind of attack aircraft... And even if the Ratte survives all these, it only has to lengthen the war enough that Manhattan Project comes to finish.... And even without nukes, it can never cross the Ocean against the Allied air and sea might, so the US would simply start making even bigger monsters. $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Feb 18 '18 at 18:04

The problem with these giant tanks is that killing them is easier than building them. They will be no tougher than an armored cruiser or battleship, and ships were sunk with bombs from carrier-based and land-based bombers.

Historically Germany had been quite inefficient, and fiction tends to ignore that. Do you want to create the equivalent of an Indiana Jones movie or something more like Saving Private Ryan?

Do you want the German equivalent of the Maginot line?

Breaking the line could be a role for that tank, by the way. Say the Germans pour lots and lots of money into a couple of those things. They come up with clever ways to resolve mobility problems, for instance the landcruisers are built to disassemble and reassemble easily, and each comes with a couple dozen specialized trains and a battalion of assembly workers.

At the start of the war, when Germany had the initiative, they create opportunities to make the landcruiser work.

  • Say they assemble one near Aachen, drive it 30 km or so to the Meuse, and engage the surface works of Fort Eben Emael instead of the historical solution, a glider assault.
  • Another one gets shipped by riverboat to Wörth am Rhein, is assembled there, and then overruns the Ouvrage Schoenenbourg.
  • One gets attached to the Romanian forces during the Siege of Odessa to help overrun the city.

In the middle of the war, they are mostly held in readiness for opportunities that never come up. Say one was in southern France, disassembled on transport train and waiting for the Spanish decision to go after Gibraltar. Another was transported to the Siege of Leningrad, where it made a credible showing -- but no more credible than another Panzer regiment would have been.

At the end of the war all are lost. Those near the Normandy get bombed to bits before Overlord. Some end as stationary bunkers when they run out of fuel or a track breaks, to be bypassed and mopped up later. Every now and then an Allied regiment gets chewed up when it unexpectedly encounters one that can still move. (Count on the Soviets to generate lots of casualties with direct attacks, while the Americans send wave after wave of fighter-bombers.)

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    $\begingroup$ Rep for pointing out the cost-to-value ratio, easier to kill than to build. $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 18 '18 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Note that, for this approach to work after the war breaks out, Germany must have absolute air supremacy - and have it everywhere. If they don't have it locally, aerial reconnaissance will find the tank during assembly, and a partially-assembled Ratte has got to be a lot more vulnerable than a completed one. And if they only have local supremacy and deny reconnaissance, that in itself will be a tipoff. And if they can produce total air supremacy, they've clearly got the war won already. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 27 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast, I think you overestimate WWII recon, except perhaps for the last year in the West. Railway guns were big and clumsy, too. Same for armored trains. Yet both had their uses. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Mar 27 at 14:57

Answer: No

You point out that you consider this a weapon of last result. Therefore, it wouldn't be used during the time frame you indicate due to the successes of the Nazi military at that time.

But let's assume that you give in to temptation and use it. After all, a weapon unused is a useless weapon.

  • You're not giving enough credence to the issue of road and bridge damage. You're literally destroying your ability to conduct a war by sending this leviathan anywhere. Even if, as the last resort, it won the battle — you're stuck having to do some very rapid, very expensive infrastructure repair or you can't take advantage of the victory. How do you keep a city you cannot access?

  • No one has really pointed out (probably because it's basically implicit in the road damage problem) that this tank has a LOT of trouble turning. This is the biggest problem with "super tanks." The longer you make them and the heavier you make them the harder it is to turn them. This is because turning a tank requires pivoting on one, basically unmoving tread. That's a LOT of friction. You're more likely to get the tank stuck by burying the treads you're dragging (if you can drag them at all, 500 tons...).

  • In reality, this tank cannot push through or drive over much of anything (engine power doesn't scale with the size of a tank). Like the larger Panzers, it's an open country tank. It's too big and bulky to bring it into a city. It takes only a handful of collapsed buildings to add up to the 1,000 tons of tank and anything that falls on it simply adds to its tendency to bog down. The gearing and motors that turn turrets are never as powerful as the tread engines (and can't be, space inside the tank is not infinite). Naval guns would be almost useless within the close quarters of a city. This tank's primary operation would be to act as mobile support artillery from a substantial distance. Which means it's only use in a city battle is to level the city... thereby removing the value of taking the city.

  • George Patton once said, "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man." Given its size, weight, difficulty turning, capacity for becoming bogged down, low speed, etc, this is basically a fixed fortification. In fact, once you're inside the basic firing radius of the tank, its usefulness drops considerably.

One of Hitler's many flaws was that he was enamoured with HUGE things. He loved massive battleships, massive tanks, massive cities, massive everything. He failed to understand the lesson of cavalry: lightly armored highly mobile cavalry almost always wins out over heavily armored inadquately mobile vehicles. Lightly armored highly mobile things are cheaper and faster (C&F) to build, C&F to repair, and C&F to deploy. Rather than directly engaging their heavy, nearly immovable counterparts, they simply sweep around them and take another target.

The real danger is when things are just a little different, like the U.S. Shermans vs. the Tiger Panzers. Equivalent manufacturing, repair, and deployment costs, but enough of a firepower and armor difference to scare the bejeebies out of Sherman drivers. Who's afraid of a massive tank sporting a naval gun that takes so much time to turn you can spin around it taking shots at its treads? Or sporting a barrel so long that once you're under it shooting at the treads it doesn't matter where the barrel points anymore? Adding close-in defensive weaponry only makes the tank heavier, harder to use, and more expensive to manufacture, repair, and deploy, turining it every-so-slowly into just another fixed fortification.

No, having the tank at the beginning of WWII wouldn't have changed the outcome. I agree with Albert Speer, who saw "no reasonable use for the tank."

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that the tank would have no impact on the outcome of the war. Much like the V-2, employing this tank would hasten the Allied victory, by diverting resources from the production of more useful weapons. $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 19 '18 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark, while your point is valid, the OP specifically asked, "Can I win my WWII campaign with this tank?" Regrettably, that makes your point moot. $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 19 '18 at 8:41

TL;DR: It's not worth it.

While a Rätte would certainly look cool, it is nowhere near as useful as the 40 Panzer IVs, 80 Panzer IIIs, or 60 SturmGeschütz IIIs they could make instead.

Long answer:

There are actually quite a few problems that would make the P.1000 Rätte impractical.

1: Building the accursed thing. Back in 1939-41, Germany did not have very good production facilities. Yes, they were able to make the Panzers and the Stukas, but it took them 10 years to build up even a decent army.* In addition, one of the main reasons why Germany started the war was that they had insufficient resources. As a result of these factors, it is highly improbable that they would have been able to complete a Rätte before 1945.

2: Fuel economy would suck. While Germany was able to make synthetic diesel, they were barely able to produce enough for their "small" tanks, let alone enough for this huge gas-guzzling monster. In addition, this synthetic diesel left behind a lot of residue. While this was not a huge problem for the "standard" tanks, as their engines were relatively simple, it would be the end of a Rätte; the engine on it would be so huge and complex that it would be almost impossible to affect field repairs upon it.

3: Getting it to the battlefield. Due to the shear weight of the Rätte, it would be unable to cross streams and rivers without getting hopelessly mired in the muck. In addition, it would destroy bridges and roads, making them useless for other troops. Because of these, it would by necessity have to be transported in bits and pieces by railway. This raises the problem of that any Allied fighter-bomber pilot who sees the train is would use it as target practice, destroying the Rätte before it could even be deployed.

4: Keeping it supplied. One major problem with any "battleship on land" concept is that it would be almost impossible to keep it supplied with ammunition and spare parts, as these would be substantially different from those used by other tanks and artillery. It's no use having a landkreüzer if you don't have compatible ammo for it to fire.

5: More importantly, Keeping it alive. Unfortunately for anybody unlucky enough to be in its vicinity, artillery and bombs would be magnetically attracted to Rättes. After all, it is the quintessential "large slow target." Because of this, it would be pummeled with various types of heavy weapons fire the moment it reached the battlefield. It could be kept intact by adding more armor, but this would make it substantially heavier.

6: Movement. It is an unfortunate fact of life that the heavier something is, the harder it is to move. Also, as @JBH pointed out, this tank cannot bust through walls like it does in the first scene of Captain America: The First Avenger, as usable engine power decreases in direct relation to tank weight. Finally, the heavier the tank is, the harder the ground has to be. The minimum hardness for the Tiger series was "two guys jumping up and down on it won't create an impression"; for a Rätte the ground would have to be several orders of magnitude harder. In other words, the Rätte would only be able to move on flat, crevice-less stretches of granite. Anything softer, and the ill-fated tank would get hopelessly mired.

7: You wouldn't even need heavy weapons to destroy it. As the Russians discovered during the battle for Stalingrad, all it takes to destroy a tank is one well placed grenade, preferably stuffed down a convenient exhaust pipe. This destroys the engine, immobilizing the tank. At this point the Rätte would be an immovable bunker. To quote Patton, "Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man." Another tactic, used by the Western Allies, is to affix a satchel charge to the drive wheels. This does the same thing, albeit that the Rätte's crew would still have a heater for during the winter.

8: No worthwhile targets. One of the reasons why tank-cannon calibers don't get above 120 millimeters is that anything larger is overkill for ground-based operations; there just isn't anything big enough to be worth firing at. Sure, you can fire it at bunkers, but that's what Sturmpanzers, SturmGeschützes, and Sturmtigers are for. These were all good tanks, and one of them (the SturmGeschütze) is still used today in some countries.

As a result of all this, it can be conclusively stated that a Rätte would be completely useless.

*Nota Bene: Although history books often laud Germany as having this "big huge army which we barely defeated", the Wehrmacht was actually relatively small; it's just that they got extremely lucky early on.

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First of all, 1939 to 1941 are the years where the Nazi and their allies were jumping from success to success. No European city was captured by allies until much later.

Second, from Berlin to any other European city there is no way for you to avoid crossing rivers, and you already pointed out this is a weak point in your tank.

Third, to stop a tank you don't have to hit the motor. Soviet fighters were pretty effective at sticking small bombs to the wheels, and once they are gone your tank is just a big lump of steel with a cannon, exposed to aerial attacks.

Fourth, you will hardly find decent roads during WWII. Again, your tank will sink into the ground, incidentally or on purpose.

Lastly, consider that the amount of resources (mass equivalent to 20 Panzer, quoting Marc's and Mike's comments) you have to put into one of these beasts makes you even more vulnerable: a single failure along its production/usage will block all the resources there. While a single failure on 1 of 20 Panzer would not prevent the other 19 to be operative.

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  • $\begingroup$ And fifth, if your tank is so big and heavy then each one you build probably replaces three conventional tanks that you can’t build, so you will lose more battles everywhere that these tanks aren’t present. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Feb 17 '18 at 8:08
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeScott, on a mass-for-mass basis, this tank replaces 20 Panthers or Tigers, or 40 Panzer IVs. $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 19 '18 at 6:47

lets address your points.

  1. use it in cities as a last resort.

    This thing cannot drive in a city, it can't run over buildings becasue buildings often have basements, which would rip the treads apart. City roads have sewers and utilities (and old abandoned parts of the city) underneath them that cannot support its weight for this thing a city is worse than a swamp. It can't stick to the few solid roads because it cannot hairpin turn like a normal tank without ripping its tread assembly apart. It is only useful in a city sitting still, at which point building an actual permanent bunker would be way cheaper.

  2. increasing the weight an armament.

Horrible idea, this monstrosity is already pushing the limit on metallurgy at the time, make it even bigger and it will simply rip itself apart as the forces exceed the sheer strength of the steel available. And of course the heavier you make it the less maneuverable it becomes, and this thing could only be driving over specially prepared roads as it is.

  1. build it where you use it.

Why? An actually bunker/fortress will be cheaper, faster, easier, stronger and better armed for the same price.

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A well-placed enemy artillery shot would kill everyone inside Even without piercing the armor or setting off internal ammunition, a large explosion on the other side of a sheer metal armor wall produces spalling. World War II designs did not have significant spalling protection, so men on the inside would be hit by pieces of their own armor. Given how slowly this thing will move, it's possible for concerted artillery to concentrate fire on it, and only one solid hit makes this tank a useless statue.

All men inside would quickly be deafened and shaken to terror Assuming that you put an artillery-sized gun on top, the tank resounds with every shot output, ringing even well-protected ears and heads.

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Things like the P-1000 were considered very fantastical even in the period where they were being considered, and I doubt that many people were taking the ideas seriously.

Even 100 ton tanks like the E-100 or the Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus were considered to be diversions of effort from things which could make a difference, like the E-25 tank destroyer or the E-50 Standardpanzer.

enter image description here


enter image description here

*E-25 tank destroyer

The entire Landkruiser concept was an inexcusable diversion of resources. As you yourself note, it was effectively immobile compared to ordinary tanks, much less Allied fighter bombers.

enter image description here

This is what is fighting German armour in the West

It would have been easily bypassed and even in open plains rapidly immobilized by the simple expedient of bombing the ground around it or having engineers lay minefields or use explosive charges to create giant craters. Much like the "H" battleship series or gigantic cannons like Gustave and Dora, or even plans for the rebuilding of Berlin as "Germania"

enter image description here

enter image description here

Two views of Speer's model of Welthauptstadt Germania. To indicate scale, the domed Volkshalle was 200metres tall

It is rather ironic that the German Army had taken the spirit of the "Sturmtruppen" of the end of WWI and combined it with the fluidity of mechanized warfare as theorized by B.H. Liddell-Hart and J.F.C. Fuller to create highly mobile combined arms Panzer forces, only to be dragged towards relative immobility but the very leadership which had valued "Lightning War" in the first place.

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    $\begingroup$ Readers beware! The links in this answer go to a site called Infogalactic. "Infogalactic does not share the highly centralized structure of Wikipedia or the ideological dogma of the Wikimedia Foundation" ... except that it repackages Wikipedia articles verbatim, shamelessly replacing Wikipedia's logo with their own. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 18 '18 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ Infogalactic also uses a different engine and articles are being rewritten as time and resources allow. The process is still in the early stages, but look around at the site and read the introduction: infogalactic.com/info/Infogalactic:Introduction $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Feb 19 '18 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP, at least they're following the license, giving credit (more or less), and not packing the pages full of ads the way most Wikipedia clones do. $\endgroup$ – Mark Feb 19 '18 at 6:52

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