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The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest

 
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The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:16:39 PM   
heinrich55

 

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The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest

April 16, 1945
Near Baruth, south of Berlin
Overcast

So this is the end of it all, thinks Major Staudt. He is standing in the open turret of his Panther tank watching, perhaps, one of the last gasps of the proud and mighty Third Reich. Earlier he was told of this great honor and yet, as his ears took in the orders from the General, it sounded like a suicide run, a worthless and futile gesture against the onrushing Red Tide.

And yet he accepted the dubious honor, knowing there was no way to decline. Someone less qualified would be chosen and he would be disgraced. The only way clear to him was to take the assignment and then see to the safety of his last command. Perhaps there would be some way he could save his men from being fed into the horrific churning cauldron of death looming before Berlin.

His gaze runs across the armor of his command. It is a motley collection of tanks and halftracks, culled from the last working remnants of the training battalion at Kummersdorf. The crews are highly skilled in their craft, the last remaining instructors from the training grounds. Some are old men and others young boys. Not one of them showed any reluctance at this assignment – it was almost as if they were expecting it.

There before him lies the small town of Baruth. They have been ordered to head east and destroy any and all Soviet forces. Intel from the briefing says the Russians are coming from the west, but of course they are – any idiot with half a brain already knows that. The Red Hordes approach and he is expected to stop them with his ad-hoc remnants.
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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:18:41 PM   
heinrich55

 

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The Major watches as his men maneuver smartly in columns, moving through the small town of Baruth. The ground shakes with heavy armor, the last might of the Wehrmacht on display. He is proud of the men but saddened by the thought that most will probably not survive this day.

He spoke moments ago with his unit commanders. They appeared restless, uncertain, but projected an expected eagerness to get into action. Their actions were belied by the sadness in their eyes and the almost unbearable weariness in their faces. These were men who had been at war for almost 6 years.

Despite all this, they were willing to go into Hell once more for him, their commander, and their fellow comrades. He remembered his eyes involuntarily welling with tears and he had to quickly look away and compose himself before continuing the briefing. This poignant moment did not go unnoticed by his loyal officers and merely strengthened their resolve.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:20:26 PM   
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The ground literally shakes with the mightiest armor that can be mustered. The Panzer VIII, known as the Maus, is on the hunt. This is 188 metric tons of steel, a moving pillbox – barely moving, the Major allowed himself the thought with a wry smile. The thickness of the armor is staggering, the size of the vehicle dwarfing his Panther and the Elefant assault gun nearby.

He had joked with Unterfeldwebel Hagen, the Maus’ commander, calling the craft Tirpitz after the giant German battleship. To Hagen’s disapproving frown Staudt had remarked, “Come on Hagen, it does have a damn naval artillery piece for a main gun, right?”

Hagen looked shocked for a moment and then burst out laughing, saying that he wished OKW would hurry up with his promotion to Admiral which would be commensurate with his current posting as commander of the Maus. They had been good friends from then on, the Major and the Sergeant. That was many months ago, and now seemed like years.

Major Staudt notices a young boy standing outside his apartment building, taking pictures of the giant Maus. Some other villagers are watching with amazement. He sees there is no hope left in their faces though, despite seeing the giant armored tank that is part of the “wonder weapons” they’d been promised all those years before. They just want it all to end, with or without victory. They are sick of it all.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:22:30 PM   
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The Major was quickly alerted to the sound of an aircraft engine approaching their position. Machine guns were trained fast in that direction. He noted his men were weary but still had their instinct for survival.

As the plane came into view he noted it was a Fiesler Storch, one of their own. He ordered his radio operator to put out the command on the net to hold fire, as it was a German reconnaissance aircraft. “Fritz,” he called to the radio operator, “Don’t tell the men it might be the General. There could be an accidental testing of machine guns if they suspected.”

His radio operator gave a conspiratorial grin and quickly relayed the hold fire command to the unit. The Major noted that most of his men had already lowered their gun barrels, so keen was their aircraft identification skill by this time of the war. With the Luftwaffe all but non-existent, it was often easier to shoot first and then look, so prevalent were the Soviet Jabos.

Major Staudt gives the command for all units to move forward. Let the death ride begin, he thinks, but keeps this terrible thought to himself. The earth trembles with the might of the Wehrmacht, once more.

He watches as people rush into their houses, consumed by fear. They know that the big guns have chosen today to rip their world apart. The Major cannot blame them. Fate has brought them to this location, this small village. There is little he can do to alter the probable outcome.

“Herr Major, Zuckermann is coming up behind us,” calls out his radioman.

“Danke, Fritz.” he nods. Fritz cannot hear him over the roar of their engine but he can see his message was received.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:23:57 PM   
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Sturmmann Alt stops his armed halftrack near the tree line on the outskirts of town. He is across the road from Diemer, who holds a position behind the last house on the road. This is the limit of the little town of Baruth.

“Herr Major, Untersturmführer Poe reports they have reached the limits of town,” reports radioman Kraus over the intercom link.

“Ja, Danke Fritz,” acknowledges the Major absently. His thoughts are crowded with uncertainty. Where is the enemy? he wonders. We had a plane in the air. Why no reports of any sighting?

“Get me Captain Kohl on the link.”

“Done, Herr Major,” Fritz replies moments later.

The Major orders Kohl to break left, force his way out of the heavy forest and see what is happening on their flank.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:25:43 PM   
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Untersturmführer Bynum leads his men through the forest. They are approaching the outskirts of Baruth now. Noise discipline is excellent and he notes the positions of his fellow squads with satisfaction. Even after all these years the men are not going slack.

The shadows fall long from the trees and what little noise their footfalls make seem to be swallowed up in the density of the forest. He is concerned at the quiet – it is foreboding. Where is the enemy? That is the big question.

Bynum notes that von Ritter has moved several of his squads into the houses along the roadway. He motions to Sturmmann Waltz to take up positions in the last house on the fringe of Baruth. Waltz had anticipated this and Bynum nods silently with satisfaction as Waltz steers his men to the right. They have a halftrack for some support there. Bynum will then move the rest of his men further up the roadway, searching for the elusive Soviets.

“Herr Major. Contact!” Fritz can’t keep the excitement out of his voice. “Poe reports a T-34 heavy coming through the field just to the front of our position. They are taking evasive action.”

At last, thinks Staudt. He has unconsciously pounded his fist against the top of his Panther. Now it comes.

Oberleutnant Luedner takes the radio traffic with studied calm. He reports back to the Major; several T-34 tanks, mark 85 version. They are coming at a charge, he reports. These are the ones with the deadly 8.5 cm. guns, thinks the Major – very deadly.

“Herr Major, Rolf is already engaged. He reports several hits on the enemy tank, damage reported, tank not killed.”

Like wild electricity the reports spark from the tanker’s radios in the unit. Everyone knows the enemy is coming and coming fast. Training starts to kick in, actions taken automatically, drilled into the crews over the past 5 years.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:26:58 PM   
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Obergefreiter Rolf has the first sighting. It is definitely a T-34 Mark 85 version, with a deadly 85mm gun on it. He calls the ranges out to his gunner. Moments later he is rocked as their gun roars defiantly. Smoke and hot gasses obscure his vision, but he strains his eyes to sight the enemy tank. As the wind dissipates the smoke he can see a flash on the enemy tank.

“Treffer!” he roars. “Keep firing. They are not finished yet.”

In quick succession his crew rips off four more shells. The tank is filled with smoke and burned powder but his loader never misses a beat, slamming a new shell home as fast as the gunner can fire.

No one asks out loud why it has taken so many shells but those with time to think wonder it to themselves. Rolf has shouted several more times that they have hit the enemy. Still he lives.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:28:30 PM   
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Rolf is watching carefully, trying to discern the shell placement. They are launching shells at about 600 meters, a significant distance. He is jolted with the recoil of the fifth shell…..

“Treffer! He burns,” shouts the tank commander. There is a moments allowance for jubilation. This is the most deadly game, hunt or be hunted. Rolf knows that his tank can just as easily be the next victim.

“Good job Männer,” he exhorts his crew. “Nice shooting. You are making the Corporal look good.” He has been an instructor for a while now but only ranks a corporal. With a shortage of men he finds himself a tank commander for their little battlegroup, and a proud one with the first kill of the day.

The Major receives new reports of enemy T-34 activity to the far right flank. Unteroffizier Kiser has reported in from the right flank, spotting the enemy tanks rushing in from that direction. He will have to divert his reinforcements around the wooded area to his right to engage the new threat.

“Fritz, send Zuckermann and his panzers to the right.”
“Jawohl, Herr Major,” is the immediate reply.

Moments later the Major hears Oberleutnant Luedner call in a kill. He nods with approval. The Mark IVs are getting the first licks in. In his experience the Russians usually swarm with waves of tanks. The best his little battle group can do is cut them down to size at a distance. Keep it up he silently urges his tankers.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:30:42 PM   
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Oberleutnant Leudner is jarred by the recoil of his tank gun, time and time again. He orders his radioman to alert the Major. There is a wall of Soviet armor, all Mark 85 versions of the T-34, pouring across the field behind the main treeline on the outskirt of Baruth.

His mouth is dry but he can hardly feel his heartbeat, so tightly focused is he on survival. And that is, after all, what this is; simply survival. The first shot, the best shot, make them all count and try not to burn. He keeps urging his men on to calm them and himself. There are so many targets….





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:31:53 PM   
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Oberleutnant Leudner is jarred by the recoil of his tank gun, time and time again. He orders his radioman to alert the Major. There is a wall of Soviet armor, all Mark 85 versions of the T-34, pouring across the field behind the main treeline on the outskirt of Baruth.

His mouth is dry but he can hardly feel his heartbeat, so tightly focused is he on survival. And that is, after all, what this is; simply survival. The first shot, the best shot, make them all count and try not to burn. He keeps urging his men on to calm them and himself. There are so many targets….





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:34:08 PM   
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Unteroffizier Kiser now receives reports from Pfalz and Wohler, only moments before he sees the ugly sight himself. Enemy tanks, many of them, are reported streaming across the wide-open field on the right flank. He has done his duty, stationing his halftracks as a scout picket line.

“Fall back,” he orders his unit. They need no urging. Halftracks are a mere snack to hungry Russian tanks. The commanders begin to swing their halftracks around and seek cover, feeling very naked before the superior enemy tanks.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:36:59 PM   
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Leutnant Schmidt was beginning to feel the effects of yet another mostly sleepless night. He was running on autopilot, gently rocking in the open turret of his mighty Elefant assault gun. Orders seemed to be taking him on a long route away from the battle, skirting a large copse of heavy forest and pushing him towards the right flank, mainly for covering duty.

Due to lack of reconnaissance, the field he was driving towards was not flat as it appeared on the map. Instead, it rose up, effectively blocking his view. He crawled along the forest edge not able to see more than maybe 300 meters to the gentle crest of the slope.

Schmidt was jolted out of his drowsiness at the first reports of contact from the left flank. Then he heard the cannon shells exploding and knew the battle was on. He still couldn’t see anything to the front and was leaning in to urge his driver to pull out into the field to rush the crest of the hill.

Then the radio erupts with tank sightings to the right flank – His flank! He has the huge side steel slab flank of his assault gun facing an enemy attack, not his gun.

“Spin right, quickly!” he shouts over the intercom. His driver adroitly spins the huge steel monster as if it is a toy. Binoculars to his eyes, Schmidt is quickly scanning the horizon and…..”There!” he calls, just as his gunner spots the enemy. They are partially concealed in the forest edge – a good spot he thinks.

The gunner calls for a slight adjustment of the hull and the driver quickly complies. It seems like only seconds before the gunner calls to Schmidt.

“Herr Leutnant, target, 960 meters, flank on….”

“FIRE!” roars the Leutnant. An 8.8 cm shell casing springs from the gun breech as the loader slams another home. There is a satisfying clang of steel on steel as the empty casing hits the turret deck.

How long does it take for the shell to arrive…..thinks Schmidt idly….

There is an explosion…”Treffer!” he shouts triumphantly as he sees the smoke from their target, his mental calculation instantly forgotten. The T-34/85 is brewing up in a horrible convulsion of smoke and flame. His crew is roaring a cheer of happiness.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:38:34 PM   
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The 8.8 cm anti-tank shell easily pierces the hapless enemy tank. The lead tank erupts in a gout of flaming destruction for all the following tankers to see. The aggressive moment of reckless abandon, a wild tank charge across a field in Germany, the heady flanking rush to get to Berlin, all now forgotten in the horrific realization that they are simply targets to be burned.

Frantically the enemy tank commanders start looking for where the shell came from. Moments later a giant gasp of smoke and dust billow around another T-34/85. It is a miss but from where? They still haven’t located their sudden tormentor. The next shell may not miss. Where is the enemy?





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:40:27 PM   
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Luedner is trying to track yet another enemy tank. View is intermittent, blocked by tree trunks. The gunner is moving the turret slowly, stalking the enemy.

Suddenly a blinding flash in his peripheral vision is followed by the horrible clang of steel on steel. He looks quickly to his right to see Meyer’s tank shrouded in dust and smoke. “Verdammt” he swears out loud.

“Herr Oberleutnant….,” cries out his auxiliary driver in alarm.

“Ja, I see it,” he forcibly interrupts his crewman. “Nothing to be done. Watch for the enemy,” is his terse command. He doesn’t want his crew to be distracted by the sight. Meyer’s tank has taken a hit on the weaker turret front, tearing open the tank. Moments later he sees Meyer’s well-drilled crew pouring out of the tank, springing numbly from all hatches. They are so fast that he cannot tell of any injuries.

“They all got out.” He shouts the good news to his crew knowing this will calm them. “I want targets,” he roars. He must keep them concentrating on their survival.

To their left he senses more than sees Rolf’s tank roar again, hurling another shell through the trees. Is that fire he sees on the horizon?





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:43:05 PM   
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“Hit and Kill! Good shot Hans.” Praise for his gunner; well deserved. Rolf is mighty pleased. They are still alive and now flames roar from the internal explosion of yet another enemy tank.

“Schnell, Männer, more targets,” he calls to his crewmen. “Only the dead rest today.” He gives a silent prayer to God to bring them safely through this conflagration.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:44:26 PM   
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Sturmmann Waltz crouches with his men in the woods. They have precious little cover and he constantly worries about their position. The SS corporal takes his squad command very seriously. Normally a corporal would not run a squad but they have lost so many non-commissioned officers over the years, especially these later years.

Untersturmführer Bynum pulled him aside when they lost their sergeant, a decorated veteran. You have big shoes to fill – fill them well, was all Bynum said to him. He has tried to live up to the fallen sergeant’s reputation.

“Look there…he burns!” shouts one of his squad mates. All eyes strain and there the flames are flickering on the horizon, through the silent trees. A Soviet tank is dying. There may be hope for them to survive today, thinks Waltz.

“The tread-heads are doing us proud,” he grins to the men, bolstering their courage. Silently he prays his brother tankers kill them all before they get any closer. Some of the newer men have no idea of that horror. He shudders involuntarily.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:45:38 PM   
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The Soviet tank rush on the German left flank falls into disarray. Luedner’s crew torches another T-34/85 with a direct hit. The Russian tank commanders only see glimpses of the enemy tanks through the trees. A few have stopped with a sighting, only to erupt in flames. The others yell at their drivers to speed up and change directions. They start racing away from their burning comrades in a desperate bid for cover.

On the far right flank, Obergefreiter Wohler has the furthest position. He was alerted to the rush of enemy tanks and ordered to cover. They have just found a spot behind a building when suddenly a near hit screams in, showering them with dirt.

“Get us out of here,” he shouts to his driver. A second shell now hits their track on the right side.
“Damage to starboard,” yells the driver.

“Go-Go-Go!” is Wohler’s anxious reply. They have only seconds to live.

Wohler’s radioman is white-faced but quickly puts out the alert that Soviet tanks are pushing through the woods on the far right flank.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:47:23 PM   
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Wohler’s driver skillfully swings their craft around and slams into reverse. Gears scream and protest as their halftrack struggles backward, away from impending death. Wohler struggles with his 2.0 cm cannons, sweeping the forest for their tormentor but he cannot see anything to shoot at.

Another near miss bathes the halftrack with dirt – Wohler spits it out of his mouth and tries to wipe it from his vision. The driver is yelling something unintelligible in anger and frustration, trying to will their halftrack to move faster. The damage is slowing them.

Wohler can hear the panicky voice of his radio man, yelling over the net to warn their comrades of the threat. He still cannot find a target.
Another fountain of earth pours over them – another miss. Are they being spared by the Gods this one last time, he wonders, or are they simply amusement, being toyed with for sadistic pleasure?

“We need to…..” These are his last words. They have survived maybe 30 more seconds on earth when the enemy tank shell tears into the front of their halftrack. His sergeant sees the oily black smoke rising from the area of his last position and assumes the worst.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:48:54 PM   
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Lt. Schmidt is calling out targets and possible ranges as fast as he can. His gunner and loader are performing Herculean tasks and shells are pouring out of the huge 8.8 cm. gun. The smoke fills the interior and then is expelled, empty shell casings crashing against one another on the assault gun floor.

Schmidt and his crew survived the hell of Kursk simply by accident. They had the honor of leading their unit in the northern pincer attack and ran onto a mine. Pioneers had been ahead of them but missed that one. They were shaken up but unharmed. They waited for a recovery vehicle while the rest of their friends trundled by. Tough Luck some of them called to him as they passed by. He was embarrassed by his helplessness.

Hours later the recovery FAMO had arrived and towed them back for repairs. Only then did they discover the fate of their fellow Elefants. The unit had run onto yet another minefield, covered by enemy AT guns. One by one his friends had been immobilized by mine damage or track hits.

Then the enemy swarmed them, like ants. Some genius had designed the assault gun without any machine guns. The crews were helpless. With only small arms, they were powerless to prevent the relentless assault by Soviet infantrymen. Molotov cocktails were smashed into vision ports or engine grills. The crews burned to death or were slaughtered when they tried to escape from their flaming steel coffins. All his friends were dead. He could see their faces, even now, smiling and laughing…all gone.

They were saved by an accident of fate, as Schmidt knew they would have burned along with their comrades if not for the mine damage. He smoldered with the hate ever since, but was assigned to train new tank men at Kummersdorf. Now he had a chance to pay the Russians back.

Schmidt now finds himself a spectator in an intricate ballet performed between the driver and gunner. They have targeted an enemy tank, and the driver deftly spins the tracks to move the ponderous hull slightly, allowing the gunner to fine-tune the sights. This will be their third shot on the same tank. At over 800 meters, their skill is tested. Schmidt marvels at their professional competence.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:50:25 PM   
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The gunner grips the trigger and an immense roar fills the assault gun, only partially lessened by their headphones. Schmidt is watching through his binoculars. There are several Russian tanks milling in the field, turning in their direction, possibly having spotted the flare of their giant gun.
One erupts in smoke. A KILL!

“Hit and kill!” he reports excitedly to his crew. “Max, you are earning your pay with a vengeance today” he praises his gunner. “Keep it up. There are so many more out there.” Can they kill them all? he wonders.

Their gun roars two more times, and Schmidt reports two more hits on a T-34/85 that has swiveled to face them.

“They are clearing out Max,” he shouts. He sees the Russian tankers bailing out of their stricken machine. Another down.

“Next target; tank to 11:00 o’clock, moving flank on, left to right, speed maybe 12 km,” he calls to his gunner. He makes a quick mental count of their AT shells and thinks they might be getting low.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:52:33 PM   
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<Niggle> Maus armament was a 12.8cm PjK as in the Jagdtiger (a development of an anti-aircraft gun via AT gun) with a coaxial 7.5cm KwK </Niggle>

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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:52:41 PM   
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Major Staudt’s gunner calls out the contact at the same time that Unterfeldwebel Hagen spots the same enemy T-34/85. Up to this moment, the Major has been focusing on tactics – now he finds himself fighting for his life as well as that of his crews’.

“Hagen, do you see?” the Major radios to the commander of the giant Maus.

“Ja, Herr Major. Two o’clock; we are on him,” is the laconic reply. Ice-water for blood? thinks the Major. Or does he think himself impregnable?

The Maus commander is wrapped up in the immediate drama unfolding in his magnified sights. He could see the expression on the Soviet tank commander’s face as the man realized the threat he was facing. The enemy commander dropped from sight almost immediately, bringing a small crease of a smile to Hagen’s lips.

“Sepp, are you on him?” queries Hagen, and just as he finishes his question he feels the movement of their ponderous turret. “Any time now….I could have read a book,” he gently chides his gunner. He knows it will take a while to get on target. Everything with his land battleship is slow.

What? he thinks quickly. There was a flash from the enemy…did he just fire? Seconds later the enemy shell glances off their massive frontal armor, driven down underneath the tank and detonating into the dirt.

Instinctively he has dropped down into his own hatch, angry they didn’t get the first shot off and slightly shocked that the enemy gunner managed a hit on the first round, while moving!

“What was that?” asks Klaus, one of the loaders.

“Mother of a whore,” swears Hagen, “They hit us!” His incredulous look of surprise causes Klaus to burst into laughter.

“Of course they did,” he says completely at ease. “We are bigger than a verdammt city block. What did you expect?” He is smiling at his sergeant’s surprise.

“Unterfeldwebel, I have him,” calls out the gunner with utter calm.

“Spank the Bitch,” roars Hagen.







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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:54:23 PM   
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An ear-splitting howl deafens everyone, despite their earphones. The entire gun carriage rocks as if hit by the hammer of Thor. If Hagen hadn’t been braced against his commander seat he would have been knocked down. This has dwarfed the hit they took moments before from the enemy tank. The incredible violence of their tank gun never ceases to amaze him, and he has his breath taken away by the rapid change in air pressure.

Major Staudt has just ordered his gunner to fire on the enemy tank. The flat crack of his long 7.5 cm cannon reassures him with its familiarity as the air in front of his tank turns bright orange with the exploding gasses.

Suddenly he is buffeted by a nearby explosion and would have been blinded by a gigantic gout of flame had he been looking to his left. The Maus, he thinks with alarm – it has blown up. His Panther tank, very large by normal standards, actually rocks with the blast wave, and they are not exactly close to the Maus.

He quickly looks to his left, expecting a desperate sight, only to see in amazement that the Maus is intact, flames still boiling away from the front of the damn battleship gun.

Untersharführer Nossen is just now getting up from the floor. Every window in the building he and his squad are occupying has shattered. There are only some minor cuts from the glass, but he can’t imagine what the Russians just fired at them. And, where did it hit? He calls to his men, asking if they are okay. Everyone is stunned, but they are okay.

Nossen looks to his friend Paul, asking what hit them. Paul merely shakes his head and points out the window. The Maus, Nossen realizes, eyes wide with amazement. Of course, the battleship on treads.

All his men are at the windows, staring like little children at the gigantic steel colossus. “Back to stations,” he roars. “Playtime at the Zoo is over. Just a little Maus to see. Nothing special.” He is smiling and the men are grinning sheepishly back at him.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:55:36 PM   
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Major Staudt’s shell and the massive Maus shell arrive on destination at just about the same time. If there was any way to slow things down, the tie would be broken and the Major given credit for the kill. But, there is no way to distinguish this, as the unfortunate Soviet tank is shattered by the violence from both a 7.5 cm AT shell and one that is almost twice that size.

All this is simply horrifyingly academic to the Soviet tank crew. They are torn to shreds by the shells and the large pieces of their own tank that are shattered by the violence. A side of the turret is shorn off, leaving the remains canted over in mute testament of the horror of war.

The Major sees the destruction more clearly than Hagen, as he is still unbuttoned and watching with his binoculars. To his right, one of the Jagdpanzers is hunting something in the same area with a vengeance. They have fired several shells in rapid succession now, but apparently they were not firing at the same tank he was, or they would have ceased firing by now.

“Stay alert Männer,” he cautions. “More are coming.” Then he can’t resist and says, “That roar you heard was an angry Maus. Bigger, yes. But not quicker. We claim the kill. Your kill, Alfons,” he credits his gunner.

The gunner looks up for a moment, gratitude and absolute loyalty in his tired eyes. Such men, thinks the Major. He feels as if his heart will burst with pride this day, pride of his gunner and his crew, pride for his entire kampfgruppe.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:57:01 PM   
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Out of sight to the Major’s left, desperation overtakes the two halftracks of Untersturmführer Poe’s section. They had advanced up the highway towards Zossen, but when the Russian tanks came swarming, they rushed north and then west, looking for cover.

The Russian tankers, desperately seeking cover from relentless fire that was flaming their comrades, have now spotted the two halftracks. Both radio in to their lieutenant, letting him know their plight. He immediately orders them to rush to safety, taking whatever means to protect themselves.

Alt and Diemer order their respective drivers to race at top speed across the muddy meadow. The drivers, eyes wide with fear, understand the stakes and start racing their vehicles through the gears, seeking safety in motion
.
As they begin to accelerate, treads throwing a wall of mud behind like speedboats on a lake, the Russian shells begin to fall all around them. Large explosions cover the two halftracks in their desperate race to safety.

Diemer hears the dull crang and muffled explosion to his left and instinctively looks, just in time to see the death of his friend, Alt, and Alt’s crew.

“Faster!” he yells to his driver. Another near miss; dirt and smoke shrouding their vehicle. Come on, he silently urges his halftrack. Suddenly everything is black….






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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/10/2011 11:58:43 PM   
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Now he is lying in the mud, uniform smoldering. He is stunned, shaking his head, not able to comprehend what has happened. His hearing is muffled, something shrill in his ears…no wait, that is screams. He gathers his wits and rolls to his hands and knees. His halftrack…yes, they must have been hit. How did he get here? He…must have…been….thrown clear.

It all comes to him now, and the screams are terrible. He is up in an instant, rushing towards the flaming halftrack. His crew, he must get his crew. The heat is terrible as he runs up to his blazing vehicle. He rushes in from the rear, seeing the driver and co-driver pinned in the wreckage. The engine is flaming away, greedily licking at his men.

The driver is pinned in crushed wreckage but his co-driver is not. The co-driver has lost an arm and is unconscious. The driver is burning and Diemer sees he cannot free the man.

The driver is out of his mind from fear and pain, screaming in agony, flames charring his flesh as he tries desperately to beat them away. Dear Gott, there is nothing to be done for him, thinks Diemer in horror and desperation.

A pistol shot rings out and the flaming wreck of a once-human being jerks and is silent, still flaming but mercifully quiet. Diemer wonders who just shot his driver, then leadenly looks down and sees the pistol in his own hand and knows he just did what he instinctively knew had to be done.

Holstering quickly, he drags his co-driver from the flaming vehicle. They are close to the woods so he keeps on dragging his crewman through the mud and towards the comparative safety of the trees, hoping the man doesn’t bleed out before he can try to stem the injury. He notices that the Russians aren’t shooting at them anymore and thanks Heaven for that.

Moments later Diemer’s section commander, Untersturmführer Poe, takes fire from relocated Soviet armor. In less than 25 seconds the Russians knock out his halftrack. Poe is more fortunate than his other section members. He and his crew all manage to bail out of their stricken halftrack and seek cover in the house they thought they were concealed behind. The SS infantry Sanitäter immediately begins working on their wounds.





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/11/2011 12:00:52 AM   
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Feldwebel Frenner is astonished as he watches shell after shell strike the enemy tank, barely 500 meters distant. He did hear and see the destructive power of the Maus as it tore apart the lead of two T-34/85 tanks, but apparently they could not see the tank he has been firing at.

Frenner cannot complain about his crew’s accuracy. It is incredible. His gunner and loader have been punching out shell after shell, maybe 4 seconds between firing – it is an impressive display of teamwork.

Better still, every single shell has hit the target. He cannot fault them one bit, and yet the enemy tank does not burn. The gunner and loader don’t stop or slow to ask. They simply continue their muscle memory and shell after shell tears into the Soviet tank.

Now! Yes, a violent explosion, gout of smoke, ugly wall of flames 30 meters high….

“JA! Finally!” roars Frenner. “He burns. About time. Next target.”

“Feldwebel, we are almost out of anti-tank shells,” comes the report from the loader, his face grim. “That last one almost cleaned us out.”





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/11/2011 12:01:56 AM   
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Frenner is very concerned with this last bit of news. He has the co-driver report this by radio to Uberfeldwebel Baedeker. Baedeker acknowledges and advises Frenner that he is moving Karn’s Jagdpanzer up to starboard of his position.

If only they could have taken a full load when they pulled out of Kummersdorf, he thinks ruefully.




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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/11/2011 12:03:03 AM   
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Scharführer Baeder has left his second in command of their halftrack section and climbed the floors of the factory, prominent on the skyline to the outskirts of Baruth. As the staff sergeant in charge of the few remaining halftracks, he feels the need to see what is progressing on the battlefield in case he has to extract the infantry, should things go badly.

Because he is a veteran and inveterate pessimist he expects things to fall apart soon, not because of faulty leadership – he would follow Major Staudt THROUGH the gates of Hell if need be – but because there are just too many Russians and too few of them to make a difference any more. Besides, his curiosity about the “wonder weapon” has been aroused.

Baeder takes up a position on the roof of the factory. He doesn’t have field glasses but he can see well from this vantage position.
No sooner has he arrived on the roof when he sees Soviet tanks rushing across the field before him. He can see the giant turret of the Maus slowly swinging to cover the enemy tanks.

There is a huge firestorm of flame that erupts from the front of the Maus…have they been hit? he instinctively wonders. No, they are fine, but the enemy…





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RE: The Roar of the Maus - The Biggest and Baddest - 10/11/2011 12:03:49 AM   
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Baeder sees a gigantic fountain of dust and smoke as the huge shell hurled from the Maus punches into an enemy tank that was moving at full tilt.




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