Speer also recalled that at that point Otto Sauer, observing Hitler’s disappointment, began to rant about the good chances of manufacturing the Maus and the importance of developing new weapons technology. Buoyed by Sauer’s enthusiasm, Hitler was soon euphorically talking of building tanks weighing 1,500 tons and using them to overpower the Russians. He dismissed the problem of transporting them by declaring that they would be moved by rail in sections and put together just before being committed to battle!
At the conclusion of the conference, a Panzer colonel, just returning from the Russian Front and brought to the meeting at Speer’s request, told Hitler that a single hand grenade or incendiary charge exploded anywhere near the Maus’s ventilator opening could set fire to the oil vapors of the vehicle, rendering it hors de combat. Clearly disturbed by this unwanted revelation, Hitler blurted, “Then we’ll equip these tanks with machine guns that can be guided automatically in all directions from inside [the tank].”
The Maus was never to see action, and only four prototypes were made. The Type 205, when contrasted with the humble Soviet T-34 tank, proved that in matters of weapons evolution, quantity matters as much as quality.
Arnold Blumberg is an attorney with the Maryland State government and resides with his wife in Baltimore County, Maryland.
This article originally appeared on Warfare History Network.
Image: Wikimedia Commons