The Most Ridiculous Weapons of Hitler and the Nazis
Hitler's insanity causes development of the most deranged weapons in history.
Hitler and the Nazi's contributions to science are unquestionable. While not developing the technology himself, Hitler supported many scientists to do groundbreaking work (some of it not so great). Scientific and industrial accomplishments include amazing work with rockets and space travel. The first photos from space were taken by a V-2 rocket, after the war, and were at a height 5 times that of the previous photo. The ME-262 was the first jet powered production plane. Also developed during the Third Reich's reign was the Volkswagen Beetle, a car designed so that every German could afford it.
Thankfully, a lot of time and energy was spent making these wunderwaffen (wonder weapons) instead of on much more feasible things, like the further development of the ME 262 or V-2 Rocket.
In the pursuit of technological advancement, Hitler and his cronies sometimes developed...oddities.
To say that Hitler was preoccupied with size would be an understatement. Hitler seemed to want the biggest, longest and heaviest of EVERYTHING. Sometimes his ideas were just flat out weird and bizarre.
Photo: Operation Backfire, 1945, UK government, released
The Heaviest Tank ever built
The Panzer VIII Maus
The Panzer VIII Maus was the sumo-wrestler of tanks. Checking in at just under 190 tons (The weight of 190 VW beetles), the Panzer VIII weighed about 50 tons more than the next heaviest tank, the Tiger-Maus (also Hitler's).
Maus means "mouse" in German, because Hitler was big on understating things.
The Panzer VIII Maus is the heaviest enclosed tank ever built, still to this day. A modern Abrams weighs only a third of the Panzer. Only two of these were ever made, and they had a massive 128 mm cannon, that could shoot through just about anything of the day.
One of the biggest problems was finding an engine strong enough to power the Maus. The Germans settled on a 1200 horsepower diesel engine. Because of its gigantic weight, the Maus crawled along at a blistering 8.1 mph. The average soldier could outrun of these.
Because it was so heavy, the Maus couldn't cross bridges, and was expected to ford rivers and streams. Anything it ran over, including concrete, was completely ruined.
Photo: Super Ewer
A multi-stage Projectile weapon with a barrel longer than a football field
The V-3 Cannon
The picture nelow, which looks like a old-time oil dike with a pipe running away from it is actually Hitler's V-3 Cannon. The "pipe" running up the hill is the laughably long barrel, which was just under one and half times the size of a football field.
The V-3 used a multi-stage firing and acceleration mechanism. After the V-3 was fired, the projectile would travel up the barrel. As the projectile would pass certain points, even more fuel was ignited, pushing it faster.
This example of German engineering fired a shell that weighed one and a half times that of a man. And boy did it fire - about 100 miles at maximum range. This meant the Germans would have been able to hit London from across the English channel.
Luckily, these V-3 cannons were very easy to damage from aerial bombardment.
Source: V-3 Cannon, wikipedia
Photo: German Federal Archives, Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1981-147-30A / CC-BY-SA
A Railway-based Artillery Piece with an 800mm shell
Landkreuzer P 1500 Monster
The Schwerer Gustav and Dora were the names of two railway based artillery pieces made by the Germans during World War II.
Despite all the cost and scientific excellence, Dora was never fired, and Schwerer Gustav fired a total of 48 shells in combat over a 2 week period in June, 1942. The original barrel was worn out, having already been fired many times during testing.
These massive pieces took 250 men to put together over a 3 day period. Additionally, both pieces needed constant air support to prevent them from being taken out by the Allies.
Source: Landkreuzer, Wikipedia
Designed ships longer and heavier than the Titanic
The H-class battleship
The H-class battleship proposals were developed in the mid to late 1930s, and were basically bigger and longer versions of the effective Bismarck (pictured) ships that were produced. And by longer, I mean comically huge, each iteration bigger and more absurd than the last.
The smallest of these designs, the H-39, was 30 feet longer than the Titanic, which we all know ended well.
The largest, designated H-44, made the Titanic look like a bath toy, and had a displacement of almost 3 times as much (estimated 144,000 tons to Titanic's 52,310).
The H-44 was designed with 20 inch guns, which doesn't sound too bad until you realize that is the how wide the shell is. These massive guns shot shells bigger around than an average hubcap, weighing more than two VW bugs.
Unfortunately, these plans were scrapped by Hitler, who would have wasted a lot of time and resources building these behemoths.
Photo: German Federal Archives, Bundesarchiv, Bild 193-04-1-26 / CC-BY-SA
Source: H-class battleship, wikipedia
Hitler wanted a death ray (doesn't everyone?!)
Orbital weapons platform "Sun Gun"
The Sun Gun was an idea Hitler was kicking around the office. In 1929, some German scientists took an idea of Hermann Oberth and weaponized it.
Basically, the idea was to put a concave mirror into orbit and use it to focus our sun's energy. This would have allowed the Germans to incinerate just about anything they wanted. The mirror was designed to be 3.5 miles long.
Sources: Life magazine
The Nazis weren't alone in odd weapon developments. Check out the British Project Habakkuk.