The development of super heavy tank started as early as 1941, when Krupp started the studies of superheavy Soviet tanks.
In November of 1941, it was specified that the new heavy tank was to have 140mm front and 100mm thick side armor. The vehicle was to be operated by 5 men crew – 3 in the turret and 2 in the hull. This new panzer was to have maximum speed of some 44km/h being powered by 1000hp Daimler-Benz marine engine used in Schnellboot (torpedo boat). The main armament was to be mounted in the turret. The weight was to be up 90 tons.
In the early months of 1942, Krupp was ordered to start the process of designing new heavy tank designated PzKpfw VII Löwe (VK7201). Its design was based on previous project by Krupp designated VK7001 (Tiger-Maus) and created in competition with Porsche’s designs (including first Maus designs).VK7001 was to be armed with either 150mm Kanone L/37 (or L/40) or 105mm KwK L/70 gun. Lowe was to utilize Tiger II‘s components in order to simplify the production and service.
Designers planned to build two variants of this streamlined vehicle with rear mounted turret. Light (leichte) variant would have frontal armor protection of 100mm and it would weight 76 tons. Heavy (schwere) variant would have frontal armor protection of 120mm and it would weight 90 tons. Both variants would be armed with 105mm L/70 gun and coaxial machine gun.It is known that 90ton schwere Löwe was to have its turret mounted centrally and in overall design resembled future Tiger II.Variants of Löwe were both to be operated by the crew of five. It was calculated that their maximum speed would range from 23km/h (schwere) to 27km/h (leichte).
Adolf Hitler ordered that the design Leichte Löwe was to be dropped in favour of Schwere Löwe. Lion was to be redesigned in order to carry 150mm L/40 or 150mm L/37 (probably 150mm KwK 44 L/38) gun and its frontal armor protection was to be changed to 140mm. In order to improve its performance, 900-1000mm wide tracks were to be used and top speed was to be increased to 30km/h.
PzKpfw VII (schwere) Löwe
PzKpfw VII (schwere) Löwe
In late 1942, this project was cancelled in favour of the development of the Maus. During the development of Tiger II, designers planned to build redesigned version of Löwe (as suggested by Oberst Fichtner), which would be armed with 88mm KwK L/71 gun and its frontal armor protection would be 140mm (as planned before). Redesigned Löwe would be able to travel at maximum speed of 35km/h and it would weight 90 tons. It was to be powered by Maybach HL 230 P 30, 12-cylinder engine producing 800hp. Löwe would be 7.74 meters long (with the gun), 3.83 meters wide and 3.08 meters high. Löwe would be operated by the crew of five. It was planned that Löwe would eventually replace Tiger II.
From February to May of 1942, six different designs were considered, all based on the requirements for Löwe. On March 5/6th of 1942, order for heavier tank was placed and project Löwe was stopped in July of 1942.
Löwe project never reached the prototype stage but it paved the way for its successor’s development – Porsche’s Maus.