Long before the mighty American Abrams graced the modern battlefield, a handful of ridiculously oversized tanks had been designed in hopes of overtaking enemy frontlines—among which was Germany’s super-heavy tank ironically called Maus (“mouse”) that almost took over World War II if only its mass production advanced before the end’s war. Almost.

The Nazi Germans developed the Panzer Maus, an absurdly massive tank that continues to be the heaviest ever designed and built to this day, weighing an enormous 188 tonnes (188,000 kg). That’s nearly three and a half times the weight of a modern 62-tonne M1A1 Abram.

While pitting these two juggernauts against each other seems impractical, given that they were created at different times and equipped with various technological advancements, let’s set that one fact aside and say hypothetically, these two came face-to-face: Could the behemoth Maus stand a chance against the American beast?

The Late WWII Contender

The idea of the Panzer Maus came about amid the German forces struggling to keep hold of its invaded territories against the Soviet Union, who, around this time, managed to increase its firepower and arsenal in the frontline beginning in 1942. To keep up, the aggressors recognized the need for a matching, if not more dreadful, tank capable of penetrating heavily fortified enemy positions.

Shortly after hearing about the behemoth, Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler ordered three German manufacturers for the production of the Maus, issuing a separate directive to Porsche (responsible for the tank’s overall design), Krupp (armor and armaments), and Alkett (component assembly) in early 1943. With defeat looming over the German forces, Hitler was adamant that the mass production of the tank should soon begin, preferably by the end of that year, and expected to be delivered to troops at a rate of at least ten tanks per month.

Panzer Maus
The Maus hybrid V1/V2 prototype displayed at the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia, 2009 (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

However, due to its massive size, it encountered numerous issues. To begin, getting the enormous tank onto the battlefield was nearly impossible as it could not traverse routes that involved crossing a bridge because it was so heavy that it could not drive over without collapsing them beneath its sheer weight. The Germans attempted to resolve this predicament by proposing that the tank would have to go underwater to cross the bridge and for the crew to prop up a snorkel-looking extension to pump air into the main cabin, which was insanely ridiculous.

This, along with many other unresolved technical issues, resulted in further delays in mass production of the tank and eventually its suspension when Germany surrendered.

Maus Against M1A1 Abrams

After numerous tweaks and upgrades, the final version of Panzer VIII Maus featured a 128mm (5 in) main gun capable of destroying any enemy tank from a distance of 3.2 kilometers (approximately 2 miles). It also had a 75mm (3 in) cannon for infantry support and one machine gun as secondary weapons. The armor was 250mm (9.8 in) steel armor plating on the front, 200 mm on the sides (7.9 in), and 80mm (3.1 in) on the roof. Once deployed to the battleground, the Maus was intended to be operated by six men.