Bizarre Nazi Weapons – Ratte Super-Tank


The Landkreuzer P. 1000 “Ratte” (“Land Cruiser” P. 1000 “Rat”) is an interesting design – but only from one (though highly important) perspective. It gives us a glimpse into behavioral patterns (especially decision-making) of Adolf Hitler as related to new weapons development and other important military issues.

Ratte was a brainchild of Krupp director Edward Grotte in June 1942 and in December of the same year it was presented to Adolf Hitler, who… approved it for further development, although it had no military sense whatsoever. More than that, it was Hitler himself who came up with the nickname Ratte.

A 1000-ton tank (five times heavier than Maus), it was to be armed with naval artillery (two 280mm and two 128mm cannons) and armored with 250mm of hardened steel, so heavy that only similar weapons could hope to damage it.

Ratte was to use the same turret that was used on the German battleship Gneisenau but modified by removing one of the guns and its associated loading mechanism.

Unfortunately a 35m long and 14m wide tank was an ideal target for dive bombers who could hit it with 500kg and even 1000kg bombs and thus with more than enough explosives to destroy it completely (a ten by four meters Maus tank had a similar problem).

True, Ratte was supposed to be protected with eight 20mm AA guns, but these were not protected by heavy armor and were thus highly vulnerable to an artillery fire.

Consequently, even if Ratte would have miraculously reached the battlefield (which was highly unlikely given that it would have inevitably destroyed any bridge and any road), it would have been almost immediately destroyed by enemy bombers (most likely even well before that – in transit).

Fortunately for Wehrmacht (and Panzerwaffe specifically), then- Reich Minister of Armaments and War Production Albert Speer recognized that and canceled the project in early 1943 before any prototype could be manufactured (i.e. serious resources have been wasted).

The Ratte project beyond the reasonable doubt that Adolf Hitler made military decisions based not on thorough cost/benefit/risk analysis (as he should have) but on emotions and fantasies (which, according to Heinz Guderian, “often shifted into gigantic”).

Which predictably led to disastrous and ultimately fatal strategic mistakes, defeat in World War II and the demise of the Third Reich.


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