Tiger I – the First Main Battle Tank


Although when it was deployed to Panzerwaffe units of Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS in 1942, Tiger I tank (PzKpfw VI Ausf. H) was classified a heavy tank, most modern main battle tanks essentially follow a very similar design – and definitely the designed principles pioneered by Tiger I with its focus on thick armor and a superior firepower.

Tiger I had a total weight of about 54 tons (typical weight of a modern main battle tank) and boasted 120mm frontal armor (penetrable by most Allied guns only at a very close range) and an extremely powerful 88mm KwK 36 gun – considered probably the best tank gun of World War II.

The KwK 36 was very accurate and high-powered, and its high muzzle velocity produced a very flat trajectory. This allowed its gunners a higher margin of error in estimating range and the sighting system of the gun resulted in excellent firing accuracy.

The Tiger I had frontal hull armor 120 mm thick, frontal turret armor of 100 mm and a 120 mm thick gun mantlet. It had 60 mm thick hull side plates and 80 mm armor on the side superstructure/sponsons, while turret sides and rear were 80 mm. The top and bottom armor was 25 mm thick; from March 1944, the turret roof was thickened to 40 mm.

The M4 Sherman’s 75 mm gun (or 76mm gun of Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks) would not penetrate the Tiger frontally at any range, and needed to be within 100 m to achieve a side penetration against the 80 mm upper hull superstructure. Consequently, it is no surprise that Tiger I achieved a kill ratio considerably higher than 10:1 against these tanks on a battlefield.

The tank’s weight significantly limited its use of bridges. For this reason, the Tiger was built with watertight hatches and a snorkel device that allowed it to cross water obstacles four meters deep.

Although from a technical point of view it was superior to its contemporaries, the low number produced, shortages in qualified crew and the considerable fuel requirement in a context of ever shrinking resources prevented the Tiger I from having a real impact on the war.


Sturmgeschütz III – First Mass-Produced Self-Propelled Artillery


Self-propelled artillery is an important armored component of every modern army. However, it was not always that way. In fact, at the outbreak of World War II, virtually all artillery was still being moved around by artillery tractors or horses. With one notable exception – the Wehrmacht.

German military doctrine of blitzkrieg required mobile fire support for armored units (tanks and motorized infantry). Which could be provided only by self-propelled guns adequately protected from artillery fire on the battlefield (as they were supposed to provide both indirect and direct fire support).

This requirement gave rise to the development of Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) – the first mass-produced assault gun (“Sturmgeschütz” means exactly that). And essentially the first mass-produced self-propelled artillery. In fact, StuG III was Germany’s second most-produced armored fighting vehicle during World War II after the Sd.Kfz. 251 armored personnel carrier.

It was also the first operational self-propelled artillery piece that carried their main armament in a fully enclosed and fully-armored casemate – the standard feature of most subsequent designs.

StuG III was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank, replacing the turret with an armored, fixed superstructure mounting a more powerful gun. Initially intended as a mobile assault gun for direct-fire support for infantry, the StuG III was continually modified, and much like the later Jagdpanzer, was employed as a tank destroyer.

Overall, the Sturmgeschütz III series assault guns proved very successful and served on all fronts as assault guns and tank destroyers. Because of their low silhouette, StuG IIIs were easy to camouflage and were difficult targets. Its design proved to be so efficient that Syrian StuG IIIs were in use until the Six-Day War of 1967 (!), and possibly even later.

How Did Germans Pull Off Such a Miracle?

During the World War II, the Allies fielded eight more or less revolutionary weapons. Nazi Germany developed and deployed twenty-four – three times more. The fundamental question is: How?

How on bloody Earth did German engineers who suffered from an acute shortage of resources (human, material, natural, production capacity, etc.) and often had to work under incessant, round-the-clock bombing by the Allies develop and deploy three times more revolutionary weapons (often substantially more revolutionary) than the Allies?

True, German engineers were better than American, British and especially Soviet – due to a much better education and training system. But they were definitely not that much better. So it was definitely not about professional knowledge or skills.

The answer is actually very simple. One word: drive. German engineers simply had far more powerful drive than their Allied counterparts.

They desperately (really desperately) wanted to win the war. And they knew for a fact that after the failure of the blitzkrieg on the Eastern front in December 1941, only a miracle weapon could win a war. So they were willing to do everything possible (and even seemingly impossible) to develop such wonder weapons – each in his own area of professional competence.

They so desperately wanted to win the war because (thanks to incessant and omnipresent Nazi propaganda) they sincerely believed that they were fighting the existential war.

Consequently, defeat in this war meant certain death for them and the inevitable destruction of Germany. In other words, they were driven by a survival instinct – a very, very powerful drive.

There was, however, another powerful drive. German engineers (weapons designers) were genuinely happy and had no desire to live under any other regime than Nazi Germany. Especially under the occupation regime (whatever it might have been).

They genuinely loved their Führer and their Nazi government who (unlike previous leaders and governments) genuinely cared for them and performed general miracles for them facilitating (in 1933-38) an incredible quantum leap in all areas of life in Germany.

So now they sincerely believed that it was their duty (a matter of honor) to perform a miracle for their Führer, their government and their country (the Nazi Germany). And they did perform genuine miracles – which, however, were not sufficient for a victory in the Second World War.


Why Didn’t Germans Win the War?

The astonishing number of truly revolutionary weapons developed and deployed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War begs the natural question: why didn’t it win the war?

The answer to this fundamental question is actually very simple: it is not enough to develop a revolutionary weapon (or even two dozen types of revolutionary weapons).

You must develop and deploy weapons that will provide you with a decisive strategic advantage. Advantage that will either win the war for you outright or to force your adversary to sue for peace.

None of the “wonder weapons” developed by the Nazis provided their armed forces (Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS) with a decisive strategic advantage. And it was not about quantity – it was about quality (i.e. about functionality of these weapons).

True, acute shortage of resources and (let’s be frank) highly inefficient management system for R&D and manufacturing operations prevented Germans from deploying these weapons in large quantities.

Lots of precious resources were wasted on pursuing too many of essentially identical weapons projects – as well as on genuinely insane ones (mega-tanks, H-class battleships, Natter and Me-163 rocket-powered interceptors, V-3 mega-cannon, etc.) or simply totally impractical ones (Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier).

Not to mentioned non-military projects (Ahnenerbe, quest for Holy Grail and, of course, the Holocaust) that consumed vital resources and thus hindered, not helped, German war effort.

However, even a radically more efficient management system would not have compensated the enormous, overwhelming and ultimately decisive superiority of Allies in all key resources – human and natural – and in their manufacturing capacity.

Plus, none of these weapons had the potential of putting an end to the incessant, round-the-clock Allied bombing of Germany which ultimately made a decisive contribution to their victory in the war.

However, in the next section, I will demonstrate how Nazi Germany could have won World War II (even after it became a war of attrition) by focusing all its efforts and resources on just three Wunderwaffe projects.


Could Nazi Germany Have Won the War of Attrition?

Horten_H_XVIIIInterestingly enough, it could have. Not necessarily would have (even if they had made the right decisions), but definitely could have.

In mid-December 1941, after the failure of blitzkrieg in Russia and entry of the USA into the war in Europe (declaring war on the USA was a colossal blunder on Hitler’s part), it became evident that Nazi Germany was now fighting an entirely different kind of war – the war of attrition.

Enemies of Axis powers (the Allied nations) possessed far superior amounts of resources – natural, human, industrial capacity, etc. Resources that were mostly protected from destruction by German Luftwaffe because the latter simply did not have aircraft (let alone in sufficient quantity) capable of reaching and bombing these resources.

And the capability of the Allied merchant fleet to deliver goods to Britain and the Soviet Union exceeded the ability of Kriegsmarine (U-boats and surface raiders) to intercept and sink cargo ships by at least an order of magnitude (probably by two orders of magnitude).

Axis powers not only had far fewer resources at their disposal, but these resources were well within the reach of Allied heavy bombers (which British and American air produced by the thousands). Bombers that could attack these resources basically around the clock (after Americans began to mass produce highly capable long-range escort fighters).

Consequently, the Axis powers could hope to win this war of attrition only by radically changing the playing field. Which they could have done only by developing and putting into operation the Wunderwaffe – the “Miracle Weapons”.

Weapons which will achieve sufficient battlefield superiority for Germany not to win the war (that was already impossible) but to force the Allies to sue for peace. Which at that time was basically the same thing.

Adolf Hitler and other top Nazis realized the vital need for the development of the Wunderwaffe probably at the beginning of 1942 and definitely after the disaster at Stalingrad a year later. Unfortunately for them, they chose a totally wrong approach to achieving this objective.

Nazis began development of a vast array of very different weapons (from tanks to aircraft and ballistic missiles) none of which provided (and would have provided) a decisive advantage in war. These weapons only consumed enormous amount of precious resources which ultimately led to the defeat of Germany in World War II and to the demise of the Third Reich.

Instead of trying to develop and put into operation literally dozens or new weapons (no matter how revolutionary), Nazi leaders should have concentrated on just three.

A nuclear bomb (obviously); its delivery system (long-range high-altitude jet bomber capable of reaching the United States at least on a one-way “suicide mission”) and a cheap surface-to-air guided missile that could have been produced in tens of thousands and deployed in just about every industrial city in Germany, Romania, etc.

Had the Nazis started this work in January 1942 and put all their resources (in excess of the bare minimum needed to stall the Soviet offensives on the Eastern front), by mid-1944 they could have developed and deployed all three components. Not necessarily would have, but could have.

A Horten 229 – type jet bomber flying at 1,000 km/hour at 15,000 meters with low visibility to radar (thus being untouchable by any air defense at that time) and carrying a five-ton 20-kiloton plutonium bomb (“the German Fat Man”) was exactly the kind of Wunderwaffe that would have forced the Allies to sue for peace after the destruction of London, Moscow and Washington DC.

Especially given their total inability to retaliate given the absence of an atomic bomb of their own and tens of thousands of surface-to-air-missiles (of the Enzian, Schmetterling or Rheintochter type) guarding the skies over German cities.

Fortunately to the abovementioned capitals, it did not happen. Due to their inability to focus on the crucially important projects, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leaders wasted their precious resources on too many Wunderwaffe projects (and on thoroughly insane – from the military perspective endeavors such as Ahnenerbe, the Holocaust, etc.).

Which ultimately led to the defeat in the Second World War and to the demise of the Third Reich.


Why Didn’t God Allow the Nazi Germany to Win the War?

In the fall of 1941, Hitler was literally days away from winning the war on the Eastern front and the whole war in Europe. But he let the practically inevitable victory to slip through his fingers, his blitzkrieg to be transformed into a war of attrition on two fronts which he was bound to lose – and ultimately lost. And God allowed it to happen. Why?

The answer is simple – because God respects human Freedom of Will. And thus allows an individual – including Adolf Hitler – to make even disastrous mistakes. And reap the consequences.

God did not care whether Adolf Hitler won World War II or not – all He cared about was whether he prevents the Soviet Union from destroying the Christian Church and the whole Christian civilization.

And thus provided the Nazis with just enough support to fulfil this Divine Mission. Which was enough to save the Church and the whole Christian civilization – but not sufficient to win the Second World War. 

Myth: Wehrmacht is Responsible for the Siege of Leningrad Death Toll

It is estimated that around 1.5 million civilians died (mostly from starvation) during the Siege of Leningrad (mostly during the harsh winter of 1941/42). Although the Wehrmacht almost completely encircled Leningrad by September 8th, 1941, the key word is “almost”.

In reality, there was no such thing as “Blockade of Leningrad” because the term “blockade” assumes that the object in question is encircled completely – no one and nothing can get in or out except by air.

During the Siege of Leningrad that lasted for 872 days (it was completely lifted only on January 27th, 1944), the city was never encircled completely. There was always a way to get in and out a significant number of people, supplies and military goods produced by Leningrad factories.

Contrary to a very popular misconception, the Soviet High Command possessed enough food and other vital supplies, transportation (i.e. ships and boats) and military aircraft (fighters) to supply Leningrad with everything necessary and sufficient to survive even an extremely harsh winter.

It was not done for but one reason – Stalin believed that Leningrad will fall (with or without this support) and thus considered that these vital supplies must be used elsewhere.

Consequently, the besieged city did not receive enough supplies to feed and otherwise support its residents. Not because there were none or they could not be delivered, but because Joseph Stalin personally decided to deprive the residents of Leningrad of these vital goods.

Therefore, the person truly responsible for 1.5 million dead during the Siege of Leningrad (the only true perpetrator of this monstrous crime) was not Adolf Hitler (as it is erroneously believed) or even Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb who commanded the Wehrmacht troops laying siege to the city (Army Group North), but the leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin.