Thursday, 9 February 2017

VK 70.01 Super Gun

I briefly covered some German superguns before, but the topic is an endless source of amusement, so I present another one: a 150 mm gun for the VK 70.01 (Lowe).

Just as the Soviets all but gave up on putting the 152 mm Br-2 gun into a self propelled gun, the Germans came up with the idea of putting an even bigger gun (although the extra length didn't grant it must better characteristics) into a fully rotating turret. Of course, we know how this story ends: eventually the laws of physics and common sense won and this idea, like dozens of other German wonder-weapons, remained on paper.

Edit: my loyal reader Critical Mass helpfully comments that the VK70.01 was cancelled in favour of an even less practical tank, the Maus.


  1. The conclusions are pointing into an incorrect direction. The VK70.01 was not cancelled 1942 by Hitler because it was too heavy but because Hitler wanted an even heavier tank designed instead, which eventually turned out to be the MAUS.

    1. That's not what Pasholok claims either so eh. And the Maus (and for that matter E-100) were HARDLY more practically feasible vehicles - *and* were designed for a whole lot less ambitious gun.

      Everyone who had their head screwed on straight (and didn't potentially stand to make a pile of dosh out of them) was also distinctly unenthusiastic about those white-elephant projects so, yeah.

      As an aside one notes that only a few years later the Americans were able to put a 155mm L/40 gun into a technically entirely functional vehicle within a sane weight range - the ~65-ton T30 protos - but that was really more of a research experiment and they were working with rather more compact gun design and vehicle layout...

    2. Oh and there was also the ISU-152-2 I guess. Worked well enough from a technical standpoint from what I understand, but the barrel overhang made it terribly cumbersome to maneuver and there was literally no NEED for such monstrous firepower so the project got pragmatically canned.

    3. Yeah, the high power ISUs were a response to the Ferdinand. When it turned out there weren't that many Ferdinands around, the projects lost all purpose.

    4. There are multiple things to object from my perspective.
      A) the wrong implication created by the author that the VK was dropped because it was a white elefant as expressed by Pasholok:
      "Of course, we know how this story ends: eventually the laws of physics and common sense won and this idea..."

      -an idea which is rendered ahistorical considering the fact that the VK 70.01 was replaced by the MAUS design.

      B)The authors opinion that extra barrel length do not add much in performance:
      "(although the extra length didn't grant it must better characteristics) "
      -which may be correct from the soviet perspective with their domestic projectile break up issues but not for the german with their Pzgr.39 series projectiles, which were able to negotiate high impact velocities, at least within 0 to 45°.
      In fact, the more commonly known alternative to the 15cm L52 for the VK 70.01 was an even longer gun with even more muzzle velocity: the 10.5cm L70.

    5. I wasn't stating anything aside from the fact that the VK70.01 was terribly heavy and impractical and that it was cancelled. I will edit the article if it makes you feel better.

      The characteristics I am referring to are the ones in this document, namely muzzle velocity. It is only slightly higher than the muzzle velocity of the Br-2. "Soviet perspective" or whatever other excuse your rich imagination produced has nothing to do with it.

    6. "From the Soviet perspective" the relatively low-velocity 152 mm gun-howitzer already thoroughly murdered every AFV it hit so kind of a moot point anyway.
      What the Hell the guys who proposed this idea thought the Wehrmacht would need a high-velocity 150 mm against in *1942* somewhat eludes me, though... especially since they're not suggesting it be put into a specialist bunker-buster either, unlike the case of the 212.

      Probably just a case of the designers getting a bit over-excited and running away with increasingly speculative concepts the customer (ie. the military) actually neither wanted nor needed, doubtless encouraged by Der Führer's known soft spot for gratuitous gigantism and "style before substance."

    7. There was a certain possibility in 1941-1942 that development of tanks would degenerate into a weight race caused by the appearence of heavy soviet tanks encountered in 1941, particularely the KV series, which were twice as heavy as the heaviest german tanks on the battlefield. Rumors about soviet efforts in making even heavier tanks were not completely imaginative at this time, as designs for particularely heavy KV3 to KV8 series were made.
      Heavy 152mm howitzers are ineffective against armor thicknesses of levels encountered in such designs...

    8. Ironically at the time the Soviets themselves were canceling their superheavy projects wholesale after seeing what the Germans *actually* fielded, as opposed to lurid phantoms their intelligence guys had dreamed up. (Always wondered a bit about that episode, as the Soviets had some of the best spy networks around; Purge-related shenanigans or somesuch?)

    9. Yes, it appears to be what can be described best as an ironic twist of history. The MAUS production was finally cancelled nov. 1943. Tiger Ausf.B was a much more sensible design, after all, to replace Pz VI TIGER.

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  3. Some more primary source considerations on Vk 7001:

    The 15cm L52 was terminated late in 1941.
    The 10.5cm L70 was chosen as primary ordnance already by dec. 1941. The specifications called for a projectile to be able to reliably defeat 180mm RHA as of 80kg/mm² tensile strength quality (=225 BHN) at 1000m distance.

    On 29th of january 1942, it was decided to have optional possibility for installation of either 10.5cm L70 or 15cm L/40 in the turret.
    By 2nd of february, additionally, a 12.8cm L/50 turret was considered.

    By 9th of april 1942, the developmental order for construction of a 10.5cm L/0 tank gun and turret was signed.

    By 23rd of april 1942, the following choices were confirmed for further study:
    10.5cm L/70 with 965m/s (18kg projectile
    12.8cm L/50 with 810m/s (29.3kg projectile)
    15cm L/40 with 845m/s (with 34kg projectile, 4-5 rpm)

    on 26th of May 1942, the turret and armement of the LÖWE was declared obsolete and further detail construction ordered stopped.

    One day later, on 27th of May 1942 a telegram was send declaring that the LÖWE armed with 10,5cm L/70 was replaced by the design MAUS armed with 15cm guns:

    "Da aufgrund neuer Entscheidung der Turm "LÖWE" (10,5cm L/70) nicht mehr gefertigt werden soll, sondern durch "MAUS" mit den Geschützen 15cm L/37 und 7,5cm L/24 ersetzt wird, (...)"

  4. My only comment (slightly off topic) was that other than the modified postwar ISU-152 based on the IS-3 chassis, why no sloping the armor on the ISU series wasn't doable (a comparison with the SU-100, which was 75 mm sloped at 55 degrees, is relevant). Sloping the 90 mm armor at 55 degrees would have increased its survivability (and why not drop the crew from 4 to 5 to get this done?).

    1. During the war, the biggest concern was the simplicity of production. For an SPG, that meant taking an existing tank and making as few changes as possible. For the Object 704, this was not a concern, so it looks quite unlike its base vehicle.

      There was a suggestion to use the mass freed up on the ISU-122 due to the lighter weapon to add more armour, but it was never implemented.