The armour was substantial: the hull front was 220 millimetres (8.7 in) thick, the sides and rear of the hull were up to 190 millimetres (7.5 in). The turret armour was even thicker, the turret front was up to 220 millimetres (8.7 in) and the sides and rear 200 millimetres (7.9 in). The mantlet was 250 millimetres (9.8 in), and combined with the turret armour behind, the protection level at that section was even higher.
The initial plan for the Maus was for the prototype to have been completed by mid-1943, with monthly production scheduled to run at ten vehicles per month after delivery of the prototype. The work on the Maus would be divided between Krupp, responsible for the chassis, armament and turret and Alkett, who would be responsible for final assembly.
The Maus tank was originally designed to weigh approximately 100 tons and be armed with a 128 mm main gun and a 75 mm co-axial secondary gun. Additional armament options were studied including various versions of 150 mm and 128 mm guns. In January 1943 Hitler himself insisted that the armament be a 128 mm main gun with a coaxial 75 mm gun. The 128 mm KwK 44 designed for the Maus was later reused under the designation PaK 44 in the casemate-style Jagdtiger tank destroyer.
By May 1943, a wooden mockup of the final Maus configuration was ready and presented to Hitler, who approved it for mass production, ordering a first series of 150. At this point, the estimated weight of the Maus was 188 tons. However, there is a story that concerns the main armament of the Maus being changed by Hitler who said that the 128 mm gun looked like a 'toy gun' when compared to the tank, causing the 128 mm to be replaced by a 150 mm gun.
The first, turretless prototype (V1) was assembled by Alkett in December 1943. Tests started the same month, with a mockup turret fitted of the same weight as the real turret. In June 1944 the production turret, with armament, was used for tests.
The Maus was surprisingly agile for its 188 ton weight. Its minimal turning radius was 7.25 m, almost twice that of a Tiger I at 3.55m, but significantly less the 18.6 m for an M4 Sherman mid production.
The Maus was too heavy to cross bridges. As a result an alternative system was developed, where the Maus would instead ford the rivers it needed to cross. Due to its size it could ford relatively deep streams, but for deeper ones it was to submerge and drive across the river bottom. The solution required tanks to be paired up. One Maus would supply electrical power to the crossing vehicle via a cable until it reached the other side. The crew would receive air through a large snorkel, which was long enough for the tank to go 45 feet (13 m) under water
In March 1944 the second prototype, the V2, was delivered. It differed in many details from the V1 prototype. In mid-1944, the V2 prototype was fitted with a powerplant and the first produced Maus turret. This turret was fitted with a 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, with coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun and a 7.92 mm MG34 for anti-aircraft armament. The V1 prototype was supposed to be fitted with the second produced turret, but this never happened.
By July 1944, Krupp was in the process of producing four more Maus hulls, but they were ordered to halt production and scrap these. Krupp stopped all work on it in August 1944. Meanwhile, the V2 prototype started tests in September 1944, fitted with a Daimler-Benz MB 517 diesel engine, new electric steering system and a Skoda Works designed running gear and tracks.
There was also a special railroad carriage made for transporting the Maus prototypes.
- Type:Super-heavy tank
- Place of origin:Nazi Germany
- Number built:2 (of which 1 incomplete)
- Weight:188 tones
- Length:33 ft 6 in
- Width: 12 ft 2 in
- Height:11 ft 11 in
460 mm (18 in) (in the area of the mantlet) 250 mm (9.8 in) (mantlet) 240 mm (9.4 in) (turret front) 220 mm (8.7 in) (turret side and rear, and hull front) 210 mm (8.3 in) (turret front behind the mantlet) 200 mm (7.9 in) (hull front)
190 mm (7.5 in) (hull side and rear)
- armament:128 mm (5 in) KwK 44 gun L/55,
75 mm (3 in) KwK 44 gun L/36.5, 7.92 mm MG34 machine gun
- Engine:V1 1080 hp,V2 1200 hp
- range:160 km (99 mi) (road)
62 km (39 mi) (off road)
- Speed:13 km/h (8.1 mph)