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The most Ridiculous weapons of Hitler and the Nazis

Updated on June 14, 2015

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

V-3 Cannon
V-3 Cannon

A multi-stage Projectile weapon with a barrel longer than a football field

The V-3 Cannon

The picture to the right, 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 (not the explorer) 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

Time Magazine

The Nazis weren't alone in odd weapon developments. Check out the British Project Habakkuk.

For more interesting weapons during World War II, check out My Tank Is Fight!


There are quite a few more interesting weapons - Please leave a comment

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    • Grifts profile image

      Devin Gustus 3 years ago

      @williamslaw: I'm glad you enjoyed it. The whole time period is fascinating, but I particularly enjoy learning about the European side of WWII

    • williamslaw profile image

      williamslaw 3 years ago

      Very interesting. I had no idea about this! Thanks.

    • NickHerc profile image

      NickHerc 3 years ago

      Never heard before about H-class battleship and I consider myself a history nerd. Thank you for the educative lens :).

    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 4 years ago

      An interesting article indeed. The Germans did create many fantastic weapons and were ahead of the Allies much of the time. The Manhattan Project (Hydrogen and Plutonium Bombs) our Jet airplanes and our space program were all developed by either captured or German scientists.who defected. Thanks for a fun look back. Cheers

    • profile image

      Thamisgith 4 years ago

      Interesting. Not exactly "blue sky thinking" - but definitely a bit wacky.

    • Coffee-Break profile image

      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      I like the way you said the Panzer VIII Maus was unable to cross bridges and destroyed all the roads.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I think every super power did that in past and some of them is doing right now.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I had no idea! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 4 years ago

      What an interesting subject! I love unusual facts and stories.