VK30.01(P) 'Leopard' (Porsche Typ 100)

The VK 30.01 (P) 'Leopard'/ Typ 100 was Porsche's first tank design, and was the basis for the later Porsche Tiger.

Development

In September 1939 Ferdinand Porsche was appointed as chairman of the Panzerkommission, giving him a important role in German tank design, and presumably some overview of existing projects. A few months later, in December 1939, Porsche was asked to develop a 25-30 ton heavy tank, which at that point was to be armed with a 7.5cm Kw.K L/24 or possibly a 10.5cm Kw.K. At this stage there were few other limits on the new design, and the sketches show a 8m long, 3m wide tank. During 1940 the tank design bureau of the German Army (Wa Pruef 6) agreed to fund the design and production of trial vehicles, but also gave Porsche some restrictions to operate within (weight, crew, size, armour etc).

Porsche concentrated on designing the automotive elements of the new tank, contracting out the detailed work to other companies. Krupp were asked to build the armoured hulls, Steyr to produce the Porsche-designed air-cooled engines, Siemens-Scheuckert to produce the electrics and A.G. the suspension and tracks. The Nibelungenwerk was to assemble to completed tanks.

The armament changed early in 1941, when Krupp offered to design a turret for the new tank, in order to maintain their monopoly on gun armed tank turrets. Their design would use their 8.8cm Kw.K. L/56 tank gun. After producing an outline of their design, Krupp were awarded with the contract to produce the turret. This turret wouldn't be completed in time for the Leopard, but it would become the basis for the turret on the VK 45.01 (P) Tiger (P), and after that the Henschel designed Tiger I.

The Porsche design gathered quite an impressive range of names during its development. Porsche called it the Typ 100. Krupp documents refer to it as the VK 30.01 (P) (fully tracked, 30 ton, design 1, Porsche) and the Pz.Kpfw.VI (Porsche). Finally it was also known as the 'Leopard'. 

Krupp was given a contract to produce three armoured hulls in March 1941, with deliveries to come seven months after detailed drawings were provided.

On 26 May 1941 Hitler held a meeting on tank designs. One of the decisions made at this meeting was to increase the armour on the Porsche tank. This required a sizable increase in weight, and by July further work on the Typ 100 had been abandoned in favour of the heavier Typ 101, which inherited many features from the earlier design.

In July 1941 Krupp's contract was changed to one for the VK 45.01 (P) instead, and no armoured VK 30.01 (P)s were produced. However at least one test chassis was completed. The Eisenwerke Oberdonau of Linz, Austria, was given a contract to produce complete hulls from soft steel, for use in trials. The first of these was accepted in July 1941, in the same month that the first two Porsche Typ 100 engines arrived from Steyr. By the autumn one Typ 100 had been completed, using the soft steel hull, Steyr engines and a circular mock-up of the turret.

This single tank was used for extensive tests in 1941-42, and after the war Ferdinand Porsche said that it provided valuable experience of electrical steering and for the use of air cooled engines in Panzers.

Description

The Typ 100 had a fairly angular hull. From above the superstructure had a flat front and sides, with the front corners cut off. For most of its length the superstructure extended some way over the top of the tracks. Over the rear of the engine compartment it was narrower. The turret was mounted towards the front of the tank, although not as far forward as on the Tiger (P).

The most distinctive feature of the Typ 100 was its petrol-electric drive train. Porsche didn't believe that a normal mechanical transmission could cope with such a heavy tank (it soon grew well above the 30 tons suggested by the VK 30 designation). Instead he preferred a system in which a pair of Porsche 10-cylinder 10 litre  engines powered electrical generators, which in turn drove motors that powered the drive wheels. On the Typ 100 the Porsche Typ-100 engines and the generators were at the rear, the motors and drive sprockets at the front.

Suspension was provided by six pairs of rubber tired road wheels on each side. These were mounted in pairs. The bogie was attached to the hull by a pivot bearing. A rocker was attached to the pivot. This has a long end and a short end. The long end carried the axle for one of the road wheels. The torsion bar was suspended from this axle, and ran back under the pivot bearing. A rubber block sat between the short end of the rocker and the top of the torsion bar. The other road wheel was attached to an axle at the end of the torsion bar. Each bogie could thus rock on the pivot, allowing the paired wheels to move, and the torsion bar will have allowed the second road wheel to twist up and down. This torsion bar was mounted quite low down on the road wheels, below the axles, and the system was prone to gather up mud. There were two return rollers.

Names
Typ 100
VK 30.01 (P)
Pz.Kpfw.VI (Porsche)
Leopard

Stats
Production: 2 chassis
Hull Length: 6.58m
Hull Width: 3.8m
Height: 3.05m
Crew: 5
Weight: 30 tons
Engine: Two Porsche Typ-100
Max Speed: 60km/ hr
Max Range:
Armament: One 7.5cm KwK L/24 or one 10.5cm KwK L/28 main gun (early design), one 8.8cm K.wK L/56 (1941) and one 7.92mm MG 34 machine gun
Armour:

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

80mm

60mm

60mm

40mm

Superstructure

75mm

60mm

40mm

26mm

Hull

75mm

60mm

 

26mm

Gun mantlet

80mm

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 August 2017), VK30.01(P) 'Leopard' (Porsche Typ 100) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_VK3001P.html

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