Later, the term “vundervaffe” became widespread in relation to armaments that were not only created by Nazi Germany, but also by other countries, both before and after World War II.
Some weapons that fall under the definition of “vundervaffe” were the fruit of megalomania — an attempt to maximize the characteristics of existing weapons, in order to obtain weapons that absolutely surpass everything the enemy could have.
A classic example of such a “prodigy” is the German project tank Panzerkampfwagen VIII "Maus", with an estimated weight of over 180 tons. Tank "Maus" was created on the basis of advanced technologies of German industry, including the electric propulsion system, and was supposed to be an indestructible weapon of breakthrough. The rapidly deteriorating situation of Nazi Germany and the overload of industry with pressing projects did not give these weapons a chance to appear.
If the tank “Maus” had almost no chances for development, another sample of the German megalomania, the “Royal Tiger” tank, was launched in almost 500 vehicles. Its mass was almost twice the mass of most heavy tanks of that time.
Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. B "Tiger II" or "Royal Tiger"
Germans alone cannot be blamed for megalomania. At different periods of the development of tanks, there were a significant number of projects of tanks mass 100-200 tons, developed by French, British, American, and Soviet designers. Obviously, even the failure of predecessors to create heavy and super heavy tanks did not allow us to conclude that this type of armored vehicles are unequivocally unpromising.
Heavy tanks, clockwise, starting from the top left image - French “Char 2C”, British А39 of the project “Tortoise”, Soviet “Object 279”, American T28-T95 (Turtle)
At the same time, the mass of some modern main battle tanks has approached, or has already surpassed, the 70 tonnes. In particular, this applies to the Israeli Merkava-4 tank, the American M1A2SEP3 Abrams, the British Challenger Mk 2 and the German Leopard 2A7 +.
If it were not for the problems with transportation and crossing of bridges, then projects of super-heavy tanks would surely try again to resurrect at a new technological level. And maybe they will still be implemented, for example, in the form of articulated combat vehicles.
The concept of the Swedish articulated tank “UDEX XX-20” and the arctic modification of the Pantsir-SA air defense system on the chassis of the two-link (articulated) transporter DT-30
As another example of megalomania can be given the battleships. Starting with the English battleship Dreadnought, their displacement has continuously increased, until it exceeded 70 000 tons of the Japanese battleship Yamato. In addition to increasing the size and displacement of ships, the caliber and the number of artillery guns of battleships increased.
Amazing value made battleships more an instrument of politics than an effective tool for warfare. A rapid development aviation and submarines turned these huge ships into floating targets.
The largest battleships of the 20th century - “Yamato”, “Iowa” and “Bismarck”
You can see a direct analogy between gigantomania in the field of armored vehicles and gigantomania in the construction of surface ships, but projects of superheavy tanks are considered as a curiosity, and an example of a waste of money, and battleships are considered one of the most significant milestones in the evolution of surface ships fleet.
During World War II, the gloomy German genius gave birth to another “vundervaffe” - the super-heavy rail gun “Dora” caliber 807 mm. The 1 350 tons gun, placed on a railway platform, was intended for firing 4,8-7 tons shells at a distance of 38-48 km.
The cost of the Dora cannon is comparable to the cost of 250 howitzer caliber 149 mm. On the one hand, the howitzers are a practical thing, and they would have guaranteed Germany more benefit in the war than Dora, but on the other hand, the 250 additional howitzers would hardly have decided the outcome of the war in favor of Germany.
Dora artillery gun
The project is a giant cannon trying to implement a Canadian engineer Gerald Bull. Initially, the project was intended for civilian use - bringing small-sized cargo to a low orbit at the price of 200-kg satellite into orbit at a price of approximately 600 dollars per kilogram. Not finding understanding in his homeland, Gerald Bull began working with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on the Babylon project.
The project to create a supergun Babylon, based on the principle of a multi-camcorping artillery gun, was launched in Iraq in the 1980s. In addition to the usual propellant charge, located in the breech chamber, there was also an elongated throwing charge attached to the projectile, which moved with the projectile as it progressed along the barrel, thereby maintaining constant pressure in the barrel. Nine tons of special propellant charge superguns could provide firing with shells caliber 1000 mm and weight 600 kg to a distance of 1000 kilometers.
After it became known about the beginning of the creation of the super cannon according to the Babylon project, the details of the super cannon were confiscated during transportation in Europe. In March, 1990, Gerald Bull died suddenly from an oversupply of lead in the body, presumably not without the participation of Israeli intelligence "Mossad", which apparently took the attempt to create an artillery "vundervaffe" quite seriously.
Estimated appearance and elements of the trunk Babushon Supergus
Nowadays, an attempt to create a fundamentally new type of gun - the railgun (railgun - rail gun) is actively being undertaken by the United States. Projects for the creation of rail guns were considered, starting with the First World War. Despite the fact that the principle of their creation is quite understandable, in practice, developers face a number of problems, as a result of which prototype railguns have not yet left the walls of the laboratories.
Developers in the United States are planning to gradually increase the capabilities of railguns with a gradual improvement in parameters - increasing the acceleration rate of the projectile from 2000 to 3000 m / s, firing range from 80-160 to 400-440 km, muzzle energy of the projectile from 32 to 124 MJ, projectile weight from 2 -3 to 18-20 kg, rate of fire from 2-3, shots per minute to 8-12, power sources, from 15 MW to 40-45 MW, barrel life from intermediate 100 shots to 2018, year to 1000, you need 2025 shots to 6 MW, you can use 10 shots from intermediate XNUMX shots to XNUMX to XNUMX MW, you can get from XNUMX shots to XNUMX to XNUMX MW, you need trunk from the initial XNUMX m to the final XNUMX m.
The lack of combat models of railguns makes many think of them as an attempt to create a “vundervaffe,” with one goal being the use of funds. However, attempts to create rail weapons are being made in other countries - China, Turkey; on a smaller scale, work on weapons of this type is being conducted in Russia. Ultimately, there is no doubt that rail weapons will be created, and will occupy their niche in warships (first of all), contrary to the opinion of skeptics.
The principle of operation and the prototype rail gun company General Atomics
Tests of the prototype rail gun
Another example of "vundervaffe" is often called attempts to create a new type of weapon, to use technologies that the enemy does not have.
History ballistic and cruise missiles, which are in service with the leading armies of the world, began in the 1940s of the 20th century with German V-1 and V-2 missiles. The absence at that time of precision targeting technology made this weapon essentially useless, but at the same time quite resource-intensive.
From the position of “strong in hindsight”, it can be suggested that it would be more beneficial for Nazi Germany not to implement these “vundervaffe”, but to concentrate on the production of fighters and attack aircraft vital for the front. But then the question arises, at what point to begin development? How to understand that the technologies necessary for the “vundervaffe” to become an effective armament complex have already appeared? Obviously, this can only be understood experimentally, i.e. on the basis of the work actually carried out - implemented (and possibly closed) projects of rockets, railguns, lasers ...
Regarding Nazi Germany - start the Germans before work on the creation of the atomic bomb, and the FAA-1 / FAA-2 could by the year 1944-1945 turn into a terrible weapon that could change the course of the war.
Clockwise, starting from the top left image - the V-1 cruise missile, the V-2 cruise missile, the Iskander missile, the Caliber cruise missile.
Nowadays, the main supplier of "vundervaffe" is the United States. At the same time, a huge number of projects are being developed to develop weapons on new physical principles, land, air and sea combat vehicles for various purposes and configuration.
In the accusation of the United States, many talk about the senseless spending of budget funds, but why consider other people's money? In the USSR, a significant number of research and development (R & D) works were also carried out on the creation of completely new types of weapons, many of which stopped at the stage of creating experimental or small-scale samples. It is these R & D, some of which may look like an attempt to create a “vundervaffe,” allowed the USSR to be at the peak of scientific and technological progress and lead in the field of armaments. Russia still enjoys the fruits of these R & D.
Experimental and limited-edition models of the USSR military equipment, clockwise, starting from the top left image - tank "Object 490", bomber-missile carrier T-4, attack ekranoplan-missile carrier "Lun", PLA of the project 661 "Anchar"
Hoping that the US will go bankrupt because of the construction of the “Wunderwaffe” is as naive as thinking that the USSR has collapsed because of the arms race.
Take, for example, the American project of the promising destroyer Zumwalt, which only a lazy Russian did not kick. Say and dear, and there are no promised lasers and railguns on it, and generally breaks. But you can’t deny that this is a new generation combat ship, with a lot of technical innovation factors. Here, both the best-implemented stealth technology, the full electromotive movement, and a high degree of automation (the crew of the Zumwalt destroyer is 148 people, while the destroyer Arleigh Burke has 380 people).
There is no doubt that the experience gained during the development, construction and operation of the Zumwalt class destroyers will be actively used to create new and modernize existing projects of warships. In particular, according to some data, in the course of further modernization of the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, they plan to switch to full electric propulsion, including in order to provide power supply with promising models of weapons based on new physical principles. In the newest British destroyer “Daring” the technology of full electromotive does not cause censures.
Destroyers "Arleigh Burke", "Daring", "Zumwalt"
In Russia, the Leader nuclear project destroyer, which by its parameters is more like a cruiser, is often criticized. Obviously, the Russian economy will not pull the large-scale construction of ships of this dimension, and the frigate of the increased dimension of the project 22350М looks much more promising from the point of view of mass construction.
On the other hand, the construction of ships such as the Leader nuclear-powered destroyer-cruiser is necessary at least in order to restore / preserve / develop the competence of the domestic industry to create ships of this class. Moreover, knowing that the “Leader” series of ships will definitely be small - the ship’s 2-4, it may be worthwhile when designing to lay the maximum technical innovation factor - electric propulsion, weapons based on new physical principles, maximum automation. There is no doubt that the first ship will be guaranteed to be problematic, but in the process of debugging an invaluable experience will be obtained that will allow in the future to build the most modern military equipment.
And let the fleet workhorses be the ships of 22350 / 22350М projects.
The frigate of increased dimension 22350M and the promising atomic destroyer “Leader”
In 2018, Russian President V.V. Putin, among other things, announced the speedy adoption of the Poseidon and the Petrel weapons systems, which were immediately attributed by many to the useless Vunderwaffe.
Cruise missile with unlimited range of flight “Petrel” and underwater unmanned vehicle “Poseidon”
Despite the fact that the prospects for using these complexes as effective weapons are doubtful, the technologies implemented during their development may revolutionize the development of other types of weapons, for example, small-sized nuclear submarines and unmanned aerial vehicles with long duration of flight.
And sometimes the weapon gets a "floating" status. For example, take the Armata platform. If the project develops without significant problems, no one will doubt the correctness of the decisions made and the need to create it. But if problems arise during the implementation of the Armat project, then there will be talk that there was no point in creating a fundamentally new platform, vundervaffe, with a lot of innovations, but you had to go on a reasonable way to further modernize T-72 / T-80 lines.
Combat vehicles on the Armata platform
What can be said in conclusion? The fact that within reasonable limits, the creation of a “vundervaffe” is necessary in order to go beyond the existing possibilities, to obtain new technologies for the creation of weapons that can radically change the methods of warfare.
It is often impossible to predict in advance which R & D will bring a positive result in the form of a serial product, and which will only allow to gain experience, including negative one. The existence of a modern, dynamically developing military-industrial complex is impossible without R & D with a large coefficient of technical novelty.
Obviously, it is necessary to observe a certain balance, between the rational modernization of existing weapons, the creation of new types of weapons with a minimal amount of innovation, and the implementation of breakthrough high-risk projects.
In this context, one should not be too skeptical about the fact that potential opponents have a large number of projects that did not lead to the appearance of serial products. One can only assume what results were obtained in the course of their study and where they will be applied in the future.