By Rob Morgan
My OstFront Winter set-up has, I have to admit, a few oddities among its armoured ranks, including a few of the attractive E-Series modelled by Pegasus in 1/76th. But of course, by the autumn of 1944, in Panzer terms, anything with a gun and half a tank of fuel would serve to hold back the Allies for a few hours, well, perhaps it might. I bought this, a detailed metal 1/76th model of the Reich’s biggest tank project, a few years ago in a sale at The Works discount store. I paid £3.99 for it, just as it appears in the photograph. A delightful model, but of course, a tank limited in its potential, a real monster in every way. Hitler approved the building of 150 of them in all, but Guderian was far from impressed. Only five hulls and a couple of turrets were built before the Red Army came along and overran the Kummersdorf site, but there could easily have been more.
Briefly, the PzVIII was armed with two guns, a lethal 128mm weapon and a co-axial 75mm in the turret with several close combat weapons too. Hitler actually wanted a 150mm gun as the main turret weapon! This vulnerable dinosaur, intended as a breakthrough tank, had a top speed of 12mph, and couldn’t use most bridges. Well, it weighed well over 100 tons; so a snorkel wading depth of 25 feet was provided and a complex pairing of two Maus’ required for the purpose. On the table it looks astonishing, and remains the world’s biggest ever battle tank. One single Maus afv was cobbled together by the Red Army and after some testing, ended up in the Kubinka Military Museum, where it’s still to be found.
I have used my Maus in a wargame, as a target for capture by a Red Army specialist unit, or destruction by the Wehrmacht. Yet, what if there were a few more PzVIIIs on the table? The 128mm gun’s efficiency was incredible, and capture of the site, if they were backed by a few close-in weapons and a determined tank killer squad or two, might have been more difficult. I don’t have more than one Maus, to use in ‘breakthrough’ mode, but perhaps there’s a wargamer out there who deals with the post-1945 possibilities for the Reich — the new powerful armour, new battlefield ordnance and weaponry, and other planned sometimes ‘mystery’ weapons — and can visualise a role for a group of Mice?