So before I relentless mock another stupid tank, I’ll just have to briefly explain how the Nazis handle military contracts, which always makes me feel ever so delightful, nothing like explain the contractual competition of the Third Reich to make one feel ever so snugly.
But I digress, the Nazis being giant horrible fans of Social Darwinism, a failed ideology only the mad, deranged and awful still believe in, actually did something that pretty much everyone else also did, put up a couple of companies, give them an objective, let’s say “A super-heavy tank that could kill Metal Gear”, wait, wrong franchise, “A REALLY BIG FUCKING TANK”, and then let them vomit out some prototypes.
The prototypes would compete against each other, Porsche would lose due to their drive train and transmission being goddamn stupid as fuck, and everyone else would generally win.
Porsche had this thing about gasoline-electric drive, which is essentially what modern hybrid cars have today, a gasoline engine driving an electric generator, which then drives electric motors, just without anything even vaguely looking like modern batteries.
Henschel & Son was the company who actually got the orders for the Tiger and the Tiger II, because their transmission wasn’t idiotic as fuck in the 1940’s, even if both of those tanks were notoriously under-powered and had reliability issues out the nose, those problems could be easily placed on the shoulders of Adolf “I like big tanks and I can’t lie” Hitler.
So the Ferdinand, which was it’s initial common name, the official name was Panzerjäger Tiger (P) and the ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 184, was basically the leftovers from Porsche’s failed big for the Tiger I.
For some hilariously optimistic reason, Porsche had produced a hundred chassis for their version of the Tiger, both proposals used a Krupp turret you see, which with the vastly superior Henschel design being selected, were now just redundant junk.
But Hitler really like Ferdinand Porsche, so somebody decided to use the chassis for a really big Tank Destroyer instead, mounting the Tiger II’s nice big 88 gun (8.8 cm Pak 43 for you massive nerds).
In a remarkable stroke of luck, the hybrid drive system was actually really easy to relocated the front of the chassis, seeing as it’s just a bunch of electrical cables, not a great big stonking drive shaft that needs moving, so the chassis could fairly easily be used for the Tank Destroyer Role.
Ninety-One were made, with an additional three being converted into recovery vehicles, and eighty-nine of them were baptized in fire and failure at the Battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle of World War Two.
Now, to be fair, the Ferdinand’s gun was really amazing, at range, with support, however, the Ferdinand was slow as piss and kept breaking down and the repairs could only really be done from outside of the tank itself, it also had no machine gun for close defense.
So Soviet Infantry could take them out from the side, it also didn’t help that the Soviets had so many tank it didn’t really matter what the Ferdinand’s Kill/Death Ratio was.
Especially seeing as the massive weight (65 tonnes) required FIVE recovery tanks to pull it and the Germans never had enough of those.
Kurst was a failure and the fifty surviving Ferdinand would be recalled for reworks a few months later, 43 of them being refitted with a better commanders Cupola, a machine gun in a ball mount, improved grates on the exhaust and Zimmerit anti-mine paste (More than a few Ferdinand’s were lost to mines).
The now renamed Elephant would continue to serve poorly to the end of the war, for some awful reason several were shipped off to the Italian theater, nobody bothering to check the freaking bridges and roads if they could handle a 65 tonnes heavy monster of a tank, surprise, they couldn’t, so the Elephants mostly just got stuck somewhere and were used as static defenses for a while.
The Elephant Tank Destroyer, great gun, shit everything else. The story of Nazi Germany in a nutshell. The Elephant I’d argue was an even worse tank than the Maus, mostly because more of them existed.