Heavy tank destroyer
German World War II armored fighting vehicles gallery
This famous heavy tank destroyer came to existence partly incidentally as by-product of Tiger tank development. Prof. Porsche had been so sure to win the tender for the Tiger tank design, that he had started production of his version of the vehicle even before the end of the competition. However his design was eventually not selected and he was left with 95 (or 100 according to some sources) useless semi-finished heavy tank chassis.
In September or October of 1942, it was decided to convert them into heavy tank destroyers armed with 88 mm gun. Fighting compartment was shifted to the rear and large casemate superstructure was installed to protect it. The vehicle was called Ferdinand, after its creator Ferdinand Porsche. In its original version, Ferdinand had no secondary anti-infantry weapon which soon showed to be a significant drawback. All surviving vehicles were therefore retro-fitted with hull machine guns in 1943 (among other upgrades). Modernized vehicles received a new name Elefant.
Ferdinand was using so called petrol-electrical drive consisting of two petrol engines, electric generators and electric motors. It was a complicated and maintenance-intensive system which brought more problems than benefits. Ferdinand was also too heavy and slow and prone to mechanical breakdowns.