Around 1940-41, Krupp, Alkett and Mercedes-Benz began working together on a promising minesweeper of the original design. Such a machine was supposed to neutralize enemy ammunition by hitting them with their own wheels. Thus, in one design combined roller trawl and its tractor. The original architecture of the minesweeper allowed to solve the tasks, however, the finished sample Räumer S, built by 1943, did not suit the military. Despite the use of relatively powerful booking, this car could not protect the crew from the detonation of mines and the blast wave. The further development of the project was abandoned, and the only prototype of such a machine as a whole survived until the end of the war.
The failure of the first draft of the minesweeper with a special chassis did not stop work in this direction. Already in the 1943 year (according to other data, a little earlier), Krupp began to design another similar demining machine. At the same time in the new project of the minesweeper was proposed to use several new ideas. So, it was planned to build a car according to an articulated scheme. In addition, it had to differ from its predecessor by a more powerful booking and, as a result, a significantly increased weight. In connection with the last factor, the project received the designation Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug - “Heavy demining machine”. In addition, there is the designation Krupp Räumer S.
American soldier and captured Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug. You can estimate the size of the car. Photo Tankpedia.org
The new project proposed the use of a chassis with durable metal wheels that would make it possible to make a track on the minefield in the form of two relatively narrow lanes. After that, various types of armored vehicles could go through the minefield. This method of application led to the formation of the original technical appearance of the machine. Judging by the serious differences from the previous sample, the authors of the project Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug decided to abandon the majority of ideas that did not justify themselves.
A prospective demining machine should have been built according to an articulated scheme and consist of two main modules connected with a special hinge assembly. To save time and money, it was decided to make both modules as unified as possible. As follows from the available data, both modules had to receive completely identical hulls with their own power plants, transmission, etc. In addition, both halves of the car had to have their own offices of management with crew jobs. This, among other things, allowed the crew to change the direction of movement of the vehicle without any problems.
The armored module case for the minesweeper was designed from scratch, without using any existing units. From rolled armor plates, it was proposed to weld a construction of a complex shape formed by a mass of rectilinear panels of various shapes and sizes. The front part of the case, which contained the control compartment, was made in the form of a large compartment and significantly protruded in front of the front axle. To protect against shelling or blasting of mines, a sloping armored bottom of a large size was envisaged. In addition, the frontal projection protection consisted of three sheets installed at different angles to each other. In the narrow upper front plate, on the left side, there was a driver's access hatch. The control compartment had vertical sides with doors for access inside.
Behind the relatively wide front compartment, the hull noticeably narrowed and reduced its height, which was done to properly position the wheels with the required track width. The central part of the minesweeper module contained the transmission units. Under the bottom of the main part of the body there was a large casing covering the axle of the wheels and associated units. Such a layout of the transmission and the undercarriage allowed the axle to be lowered to the level of the lowest part of the armored hull and thereby maximize the clearance of the car.
The aft compartment of the module had a slightly larger width in comparison with the central one, however, it was distinguished by lower height. This part of the hull accommodates the power plant. On the sides of the stern of the module were provided grilles for engine radiators. Under the bottom of the stern should be located units of the hinge and control systems.
The layout of the minesweeper. Figure Ww2incolor.com
According to reports, the minesweeper Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug was to be equipped with two (one per module) carburetor Maybach HL 90 engines with 360 hp power. each. With the help of a mechanical transmission, engine torque was to be transmitted to the wheelset of the module. The use of the articulated scheme made it possible to significantly simplify the transmission, since there was no need to turn the wheels to maneuver.
The undercarriage of the heavy minesweeper was built on the basis of four wheels of the same design. Products with a diameter of 2,7 m were proposed to be made of metal and equipped with special blocks-shoes. The strength of such blocks was calculated in such a way that they could provoke the explosion of various mines, but did not suffer during the explosion. At the same time damaged "shoes" could be changed. The axles of the wheels were fixed rigidly, without any shock absorbers.
The wheels were driven in an original way. The transmission was not tied to the axle of the wheels and had to set them in motion using a gear. In the wheel hub mounted gear wheel with internal gearing, which is in contact with the gear on the drive shaft. Due to this, the transmission units could be located with a noticeable excess over the axle of the wheels, which made it possible to better protect them from the explosion.
To connect the two modules of the machine, as well as to control the course and compensate for unevenness of the supporting surface, an original hinge mechanism was proposed. Under the bottom of the aft parts of the two modules, a special block of several elements was to be mounted. Directly to connect the modules proposed device of two cylinders, rigidly mounted on the housing. At the same time, they could swing freely relative to each other in a horizontal plane and around a common axis. On the hinge of one of the cylinders should be located rocker used in the control system. The second module housed the cylinders connected to the rocker. By supplying fluid to the cylinders, it was possible to change the angle between the two modules. By changing the angle between the modules, the car could take turns.
The heavy minesweeper Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug had a combat mass at the level of 130 t. The length of the machine was 14 m, width 3,5 m, height 3,2 m. The clearance exceeded 1 m. The crew was to consist of two people. According to one source, it was the commander and driver, according to other sources, two drivers located in both cabins. Working together, two drivers in different cabs could drive the car forward or backward without any problems, while performing some maneuvers.
Winners continue to explore the unusual machine. Photo Aviarmor.net
The principle of the combat operation of the demining machine was simple. She had to go to the enemy’s minefield and ride it. Due to the high specific pressure, large wheels with “shoes” should either crush and destroy the mines or provoke their detonation. In the event of an explosion, the undercarriage and hull design was supposed to protect the crew and units from debris and shock waves. After passing through the minefield and making the passage, the car could go back without turning or other maneuvers. To do this, the control was transferred to the driver in the rear cockpit.
After the passage of the Krupp Räumer S on the minefield, there should have been a track about 3,5 m wide, consisting of two relatively narrow lanes. At the same time, an uncleaned area remained between the bands, which could be dangerous for equipment and manpower.
According to various sources, the first and only prototype of the Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug was built in 1943-44. Soon after, he was tested in a landfill. To the best of our knowledge, trawling tests have not been carried out. The results of the checks are unknown, but the minesweeper was not recommended for commissioning. Probably, the customer was not satisfied with the specific features of the promising machine, which could seriously hinder its operation. In addition, some design flaws called into question the very fact of successful completion of the task.
Later, on the basis of the study and evaluation of a single prototype, a tentative list of claims that could arise from the German military was formed. A characteristic feature of the Krupp Räumer S, which can make it difficult or impossible to operate, was unacceptably large dimensions and weight. 130-ton machine could not move to the place of combat work on their own. For transportation, it would have to be disassembled into a mass of component parts, which could seriously impair the mobility of the miners.
Certain problems could arise during the neutralization of anti-tank mines. When a relatively powerful ammunition was undermined, there was a noticeable risk of damage not only to the wheel shoes, but also to some elements of the hull. In this case, the characteristics of the minesweeper could seriously fall, up to the impossibility of continuing the work. In addition, damage to the hinge elements located outside the armor case was not excluded. When the articulation unit was damaged or destroyed, both as rigid elements and hydraulics, the minesweeper lost the ability to maneuver. Significant damage to the hinge could provoke its destruction, which is why the car risked "breaking" and completely losing its stroke.
One of the modules of the minesweeper on the railway platform. Photo Aviarmor.net
Also the survivability of the machine on the battlefield caused some doubts because of its large size. Such a minesweeper without any weapons advancing on a minefield could easily become a target for enemy artillery and die without having made a passage for the troops. At the same time, stopping the car during trawling made the passage already made useless. In addition, evacuation of a damaged minesweeper turned out to be a very non-trivial task, although in some cases it could be carried out using a rear module.
According to the results of testing a single prototype, it was decided to stop all work. In its current form, the Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug heavy demining machine had no prospects and could not be put into service. To correct the shortcomings and eliminate the deficiencies identified during the tests, additional work and some time were required. In addition, some drawbacks of the design were fundamentally unavoidable. As follows from the available data, no work was carried out to improve the minesweeper. The prototype was returned to the factory where it was kept until the end of the war.
The allies found out about the existence of the Krupp Schweres Räumer S project only in the spring of 1945. At this time, the minesweeper was at the plant in Hillersleben, where he became a trophy of American troops. After detection, the car was studied and made some conclusions. Due to the lack of documentation, specialists had to limit themselves only to the most general estimates. Apparently, the assessments of American experts were far from positive. It was decided not to carry out additional tests of the machine. After the end of the war, due to the lack of prospects and due to a shortage of metal, the only prototype of the new machine was disassembled and sent to the smelter.
The task of overcoming the minefields faced by the participants of the Second World War until the very end of the fighting. To solve it, different countries developed projects of various techniques that used certain principles of work. Some ideas of that time are still used, while others remain out of work. An example of the latter can be considered the proposal to connect the roller trawl and the chassis of the minesweeper. Both German-made similar machines did not produce the expected results and demonstrated the futility of such a proposal. The minesweeper project Schweres Minenräumerfahrzeug was the last attempt to realize the original idea. In the future, German engineers and their foreign colleagues did not try to create such systems.
Chamberlain P., Doyle H. Complete German Reference tanks and self-propelled guns of World War II. - M .: AST: Astrel, 2008.