Home > Ftr news > Maus Engine by CaptianNemo

Author: CaptianNemo

Some time ago it was announced that Wargaming and Kubinka would be teaming up for an ambitious project to restore the Maus. Regardless of whether they are serious or not, it will be an expensive undertaking as The_Chieftain showed in his Inside the Maus video. Currently, the Maus is basically a hollow box missing even controls and interior supports for the gun. Electrical equipment is missing and likely the electric drive motors are missing but it is hard to say.

But to drive it you need an engine to generate the electrical power to drive the tank. And yes, there are a number of lower hp engines that you could pull off the shelf to produce electricity to drive the tank forward at a very low speed. (There are a number of modern 6 cylinder 300-400 hp engines that would fit.)

You might start sputtering about now about how the Maus had the finely made German engine (they really were well made) with finely made German cams and one piece crank with all of the fine accessories that go with the engine. This is true, it did have all that and more. The suggestion for the 6 cylinder is simply because of reliability and ease of installation, as you will soon find out. On top of this, the engines are actually available. Finding a 70 year old engine is not always possible and finding one and then building it to the unique specs of an engine destined for the Maus will be no easy task. Admittedly, some engines are available and they are usually airplane engines, which are not running, are basically priceless and are generally not suitable for tanks in any case.

To the few people that suggested in the Maus restoration announcement article fitting the Maus with a modern engine, which is not a bad idea…Thanks. But there is a problem with that and it is the same problem that plagued the original design back in 1944 and, to a degree, the entire Maus development. To put it simply, the engine bay was designed to be large for 1942, but was hopelessly small for the horsepower that the designers later wanted to obtain in 1943/44, after the prototype was well under construction.

Engine History

Our story of the Maus engines begins with the beginning on January 8th, 1942. On that day, Porsche technicians started looking around for suitable engines for a new tank project(The 100 ton Panzer Project that later developed into the VK 100.01 Porsche). So they started their search at the best place to look for such a powerful engine, at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart-Untertükheim. The engine in question would need to be able to produce a minimum of 800 hp (Technically I should say PS but translators being what they are translate any statement of PS into HP and so that is what I use for the entirety of the article. ) which happens to be more horsepower than two Porsche Type 101/1, V-10, air-cooled engines, rated at 320 hp each running in tandem. The Porsche Type 101/1 if you recall from the discussion of the Porsche Type 102 (See: Tiger Tales: Type 102 – the forgotten VK.45.01(P)), had just been finished and test run in December 1941, upon which, it self-destructed.

Mercedes-Benz offed Porsche two different engine options. The first being a tandem arrangement of an off-the-shelf MB 809 and an MB 819 engines being paired together to produce approximately 800-810 hp in total. The second option was another off-the-shelf offer of the MB 507 engine of roughly 800-1000 hp.

After this initial offering development commences and a series of proposals for both hulls, guns and turrets with arguing going in circles between Porsche, Krupp, Hitler, Speer and various branches of the German Army Weapons Agency(Wa Prüf) on what was the best design and best specifications for the tank. This would lead to a series of designs throughout April, June and July. With mention occurring of an unknown 900 hp engine being suggested around July 1942 but I have no other details on that.

It would not be until October 5th 1942 that engines would be brought up again and this time it is inline with what more resembles the production Maus. The Porsche Type 205 A Sk. 7949 and Type 205 B Sk. 7948 which differed only in their choice of engine installations. The gun selection up until this point was not even finalized, and would not be, until February 1943.The two engines proposed were was a unnamed 44 liter 1000 hp diesel engine, for the Type 205 A Sk. 7949, which is almost certainly the MB 507C and for the Type 205 B Sk. 7948 Porsche proposed, what is called in Panzer Tracts 6-3, the 780 hp Type 205/2 engine which is most certainly the Type 203 X-18 turbocharged diesel engine. Once the Type 203 X-18 engine was admitted to be a complete and utter failure Porsche proposed his Type 203 X-16 engine of 700 hp as a replacement and later, the outgrowth of the Type 203 X-16 design, the Type 212 X-16 producing 1500 hp.

After this things begin to progress more quickly as orders begin to be placed for armor and various long lead components. On November 10th 1942 the DB 603 engine is brought up for the first time when it is proposed to be used in a Porsche 170 ton tank in two different stages of tune. The first in 900 hp unsupercharged and the second supercharged at 1500 hp. It is only on Feb 17th 1943 with the gun selection nearly finished and confirmed, that the use of the DB 603 for the Maus is mentioned. It is proposed to fit the DB 603 to the Maus with an output of 1375 hp but this is later amended to 1200 hp due to the difference in fuel availability. The proposal came with the intention that the Maus could use 87-Octane fuel and not the 74-Octane commercial gas which in reality was all that was available for ground vehicles. At the same time a rumor reached Krupp that the DB 603 was producing 1375 hp while Krupp was busy with the less radical Tiger-Maus project(Tiger-Maus is its own grand story).

Installed on February 8th 1943 the MB 509 producing 1080 hp, but not more than 1200-1250hp at max rpm, was used to power Maus hull number 1. The MB 509 is derived from the DB 603 engine with changes made to make it more suitable to tank use. The fuel used was commercial gasoline mixed with additives to bring the octane rating up to the engines specs. On February 23th 1943 the order of MB 509 engines was increased to eight with delivery expected to be in August 1943. Since the OKH (Supreme High Command of the German Army) had meanwhile expected and ordered a larger series run of the tank, the order for the MB 509 was increased to 180 engines on March 19th 1943 and were to be delivered in groups with the last engines to be delivered in November of 1944.

It is worth stopping and noting here that Krupp had, by around August 4th 1943, cut the armor plates out for at least 20 hulls and already delivered rolled armor for 10 hulls that were in various stages of completion at that time until a bombing raid on around August 4th 1943 in Essen put an end to this work by burying it under rubble. Which Krupp estimated would take up to 4 weeks to get to the 20 sets of cut armor. With the other 10 partly completed hulls in different stages of work. Ranging from nearly complete to be shipped out by rail to being nearly ready to be moved from the fabrication shops to being nearly ready to be welded together once cranes are repaired.

In a discussion on July 23rd 1943 the Army Weapons Office expressed that the MB 509 was just a transition solution and that in the long run a diesel engine had to be found as a permanent solution. An engine of around 1500-1800 hp was being expected to be needed due to the greater weight of the Maus. However, at this time, the director of Army Weapons Office did not know of the order granted to Daimler Benz for 202 MB 509 engines. The MB 509 (74 Octane) engine had been tested at this point on the test stand at high and maximum power for 500 hours by October 13th 1943 and produced 1200-1250 hp. Porsche was also annoyed that Daimler had not come to Porsche with the MB 517 design before advanced work was commenced with the MB 509 engine and Daimler contested this by saying that Porsche had come to them late in the Maus design process.

With just two test engines ordered on April 17th 1942, the MB 517 was to be used, and was used, in Maus hull number 2. Delivery took place in the Summer of 1944. The engine was also requested for Maus V1 on Dec 1st 1944, partly because the Waffen-SS Office had, ofc , gotten involved, and it was replied that the engine in Stuttgart-Untertükheim could be made available in two weeks’ time but that the engine could not just be given away as it was out of production and there was no spare parts. The MB 517 was a supercharged version of the MB 507 and was to be used specifically for the Maus but this was complicated in that there were no spare parts available for any eventual complications. On top of this the engine was not easy to produce and would be unavailable for mass production. It was also especially noted for taking up all available room in Maus engine bay. The engine in the end was fitted into Maus V2 in Bӧblingen with further testing needed all for the cost of just 125,000 Reichsmarks (engine alone). Final assembly and installation of the Maus V2 with the MB 517 began on February 2nd 1944.

Because of the lack of space in the engine bay, an enlarged Diesel engine, the MB 501 was impossible to fit in the current engine bay and Daimler told Porsche that they had come to Daimler fairly late in the “Maus” design process for engine and if they had come earlier an engine (MB 501 most likely) producing the calculated, needed, 1500-1800 hp would have been possible. The MB 501 was/is a V-20 engine that powered S/E-Boats of WW2 and later, as the MB 518, boats of the 1960s.

This is where is gets a little “complicated” the MB 509, DB 603 and MB 517 plus the MB 501 “idea” are all being worked on at the same time.
Because more power could not be obtained due to the limited engine bay dimensions, the MB 509 as mentioned, based off the DB 603, was slated for production despite Porsche wanting more horsepower. Because of this, Porsche agreed to accept the published figure of 1375 hp for the MB 509 engine. But there was a small problem with this, as mentioned above, the MB 509 engine could only produce this amount of power with 87-Octane aviation gasoline and not the 74-Octane gasoline used by the Army. In the end Porsche accepted the lower speed with 1200 hp being accepted for the MB 509. The MB 517 was dismissed for its long development needed to bring it to series production and for the extremely limited output in terms of production. Apparently the Navy only produced a handful of MB 507 (unsupercharged) engines at a time and by 1944 the MB 507 was out of production completely.

Thus the MB 509 was to be used for production producing about 1200 hp. Although since the Army, wisely, now wanted a diesel engine, early on in WW2 they were not thrilled with the concept of dieselization due to the low hp outputs among other things, one would have likely been developed eventually or the MB 517 plan resurrected and used in series production. But in the interim the MB 509 is not a bad choice.

The last engines mentioned for the Maus which I do not have dates for is the Porsche Type 203 X-16 engine which was developed from the failed Type X-18 engine. Reduced to 37 liters the X-16 was also a turbocharged diesel and intended early on for the Maus and produced 700hp. The Type 212, X-16 turbocharged diesel engine of 1500 hp was an outgrowth of the Type 203 X-16 by increasing the cylinder volume to increase displacement to 48 liters.


MB 809/MB 819 Daimler Benz
V-12 (UKN) 25.5L Weight Ukn, (MB 809)
V-12 320-360hp@2400 rpm (MB 809)
Water cooled Diesel. 60 degree Vee.

V-12 (UKN) Ukn L Weight Ukn, (MB 819)
V-12 450hp@ Ukn rpm(MB 819)
Water cooled Diesel. Heavy Transport Motor (Possibly some form of supercharging)

The MB 809 was instilled in the prototype VK.20.01(DB) in March of 1941.The engine was a success and the tank and engine were obsolete by the time they were ready. Engine development was halted with the halt to the development of the VK.20.01(DB). The MB 809 was reported as taking up no more space than the HL 190 engine, also proposed for the VK.20.01(DB), and was designed from the start to use diesel and minimize weight by using thin, welded, steel cylinder walls and other weight saving measures to maximize the amount of weight in the VK.20.01(DB) that could be used for armor, which ended up being pointless as the tank ended up being obsolete by the time it was completed.

It is one of the engines that information is rather hard to come by. The MB 819 was proposed for the Porsche Type 142 Heavy Tank Transporter project which deserves its own article, but in short it was a Semi-truck vehicle design that used a separate bogie to allow a tank, in this case the VK 30.01(P), to be suspended between the Semi-truck’s rear-end and the rear bogie and in doing so would allow for any variation in the shape and size of the tank(basically you can put any tank in-between the two points).

My running theory is that the MB 819 is a supercharged/turbocharged version of the MB 809 and this is due to the curious naming relationship that exists between the MB 507 and MB 517 that we can look at later.

MB 507 Daimler Benz

V-12 (Inverted) (158mm x 180mm) 42.35L Weight Ukn,
V-12 720hp@2000 rpm
V-12 800hp@2200 rpm
V-12 850hp@2300 rpm
V-12 1000hp@2400 rpm (I suspect it might actually be turbo-ed, or even a different fuel, but no confirmation atm)
Water cooled Gasoline, Four-Stroke. Unsupercharged.

On June 3, 1937, WaPruf 6 ordered two test motors, from Mercedes Benz with their delivery, on test benches ready for acceptance, planned for the spring of 1938. The MB 507 was a diesel version of the MB 503 which itself was a gasoline version, for tank use, of the DB 600 (M71 early name) aircraft motor. WaPruf 6 later released its two test motors to Daimler Benz for the VK.30.01 production. Although one source says both motors were rebuilt as MB 507′s and another states that an MB 503 and an MB 507 were installed in the VK.30.01 production with the remaining three being HL 210′s.

The MB 507 had been installed in one of the five VK.30.01’s(DB) around or after June 1942. The engine was noted as being available for the Tiger-Maus on November 25th 1942. The engine was offered, without supercharger, for the Panther Asuf. A(It was Asuf. A before the name changed to D) by Daimler Benz in December of 1943 but this attempt to offer the engine was countered when Albert Speer announced at a meeting on December 21st 1943 that the problems with the HL 230 would be shortly eliminated. The MB 507 was also suggested for E-100 (date unknown). The German Navy also employed the MB 507 in a series of boats built as the LS Midget-Torpedoboats (Leicht-S-Boote) series from 1940 to 1944. Not all of the boats were equipped with the MB 507 engine as the engine was not always available. The MB 507 was produced by the German Navy in just one factory near Stuttgart, from what I can tell, which limited supply greatly and even more so when the engine went out of production(date unknown atm, but suspected as being mid-1944).

MB 507 C Daimler Benz
V-12 (Inverted) (162mm x 180mm) 44.5L Weight Ukn,
V-12 580hp@1850 rpm (On the Karl Chassis).
Water cooled Diesel

An altered version of the MB 507, the MB 507C uses an increased bore over the normal MB 507 engine and not many seem to have been produced, it was used in some of the seven chassis of the Karl-Gerät series of super heavy self-propelled guns, the VK.28.01(I don’t have a date), suggested for the 100 ton Panzer Project and later, in October 1942, suggested for the Maus itself.

MB 509 Daimler Benz

V-12 (Inverted) (162mm x 180mm) 44.5L Weight Ukn,
V-12 1080hp@2400 rpm and with work, not more than 1200-1250hp.
Water cooled Gasoline, Four-Stroke.

The MB 509 was derived from DB 603 aircraft motor with reduced compression and with new pistons. It was installed on February 8th 1944 in the Maus V1 (TypeA) but needed 77 octane(German Octane rating) fuel to run. For driving trials commercial gasoline wass mixed with Flugkrafstoff B4, in an 1/3 mix, or C3, in a 1/5 mix, or Blei-Tetra-Aethyl (Tetraethyllead) , 0.09% Blei-Tetra-Aethyl by volume. The engine was Tested at 1200-1250 hp. It is possible that a lot of the aluminum parts could have been, or world have been replaced, with iron but I never have seen anything written on it.

Tetraethyllead can become very corrosive to fuel lines and just about every other part of the engine. Even the US Air Corp refused to use anything above 6 milliliters per gallon on the ground that it did not improve anti-knock. Although during post WW2 this was cut down to 0.5 milliliters for 80 Octane US Aviation Fuel and at least 4.0 milliliter for anything over 90 Octane with exceptions to the then current grade of 108-135 Octane US fuel for aviation use. With exceptions being made on the order of at least 4.6 milliliters per gallon at overseas bases.

Such problems included lead bromide reacting with the hot metal surfaces of the engine while running and the second is the formation of hydrobromic acid that is formed by the combustion gas when the engine is shut down. Although these were partly countered by constant and heavy oil lubrication of the engine which helped prevent such deposits from forming. Although even with such precautions it does lead to deposits on the spark plugs if not outright corrosion.

MB 517 Daimler Benz
V-12 (Inverted) (158mm x 180mm) 42.35L Weight Ukn,
V-12 1200-1250hp@2500 rpm when using 74-octane (Standard Issue Fuel)
V-12 1375hp@2300 rpm when using 87-octane
Water cooled Gasoline and Supercharged, Four-Stroke.

Derived from the MB 507 it is a supercharged engine. It was a very tight fit in the constrained engine bay of the Maus with little to no room left once the engine was installed. Despite high hopes the Engine offered no more real power over the previous engine and in return gave added complexity with an engine that could not be mass produced at any level.

DB 603 Daimler Benz

V-12 (Inverted) (162mm x 180mm) 44.5L Weight 920 kg
V-12 1200hp@Ukn (probably 2300) rpm when using 74-octane (Standard Issue Fuel)
V-12 1375hp@2300 rpm when using 87-octane
Water cooled Gasoline and Turbocharged

The DB 603 is, ofc, an aircraft engine. It is an enlarged version of the DB 601 which was in turn, more or less, an direct fuel injected version of the DB 600(M71). There is really not much to say about the motor as it is well known with several surviving in museums around the world. While workable for the Maus it is, unlike the MB 509, not refined to handle the abuse and lack of maintenance that would be expected in a tank. Plus it uses a lot of lightweight aluminum which is not truly needed for a tank but is however needed for an aircraft. I expect for tank use the MB 509 could have used copious amounts of iron in mass production, much like the HL 230, but have seen nothing written about it.

Type 203 X-18 and the X-16

Type 203 Porsche / Simmering-Graz-Pauker (Engine also labeled Type 180/2 or Type Sla 16 Motor)
X-18 (135mm x 160mm) 41.2L or 41.5L(Depends upon how the engine is measured) Weight ~2250 kg .
X-16 (135mm x 160mm) 36.5L Weight 2000 kg/2250 kg
X-16 700hp@2000 rpm
X-16 760hp@2500 rpm
Air cooled Diesel Fuel-injection and Turbocharged.

The original Type 203 was an X-18, diesel, engine of 41.5 liters and was developed in Vienna, Austria in a partnership between Porsche and Simmering-Graz-Pauker. The engine was a complete failure so a second engine, also called the Type 203, the X-16 was developed with a reduced displacement of 36.5 liters. Neither engine went into production but both were planned for several tanks and, as far as I know, the X-18 failed on the test stand and the X-16 made it to the mock up and testing stage. It was also proposed for the VK 45.02 (P2) Type 181C Design and there are hints that it might have been proposed for the Ferdinand as a Diesel 900 hp engine is mentioned.

Type 212 X-16
X-16 (150mm x 170mm) 48 L Weight 2500kg .
X-16 1500hp@Ukn rpm
Air cooled Diesel Fuel-injection and Turbocharged.

The Type 212 X-16 is an enlarged, 2.3L per cylinder, version of the previous Type 203. There is hardly any info on this engine. It was considered as a replacement for HL 230 but extensive redesign would have been required to fit into Tiger II and probably anything else that uses an HL 230.

MB 501/MB 518

V-20 (185mm x 250mm) 134.4L Weight Ukn.
V-20 1200hp@2200 rpm (MB 501)
V-20 1500hp@2400 rpm (MB 501)
Water cooled Diesel Fuel-injection and Turbocharged or Supercharged. V-20 (40 degree)

The MB 501 engines were used in high speed S-boats in the 1940s followed by MB 518 engine in the 1960s (1962/1963) where they were still in used on high speed S-boats. Source of the image is http://dave-mills.yolasite.com/german-e-boat.php The site also mentions an MB 511 but I am not 100% sure what that is. The MB 501 is included in the engine list for completeness. Data is surprisingly hard to come by.


Panzer III & Its Variants by Walter J. Spielberger and Hilary Doyle
Panther & Its Variants by Walter J. Spielberger and Hilary Doyle
Tigers I and II and Their Variants by Walter J. Spielberger and Hilary Doyle
Germany’s Panther Tank by Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle
Panzer Tracts No. 6-3: Schwere Panzerkampfwagen Maus and E 100 by Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle
Bertha’s Big Brother – Karl-Geraet by Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle
Flight Engineers Manual by Charles A. Zweng (Pan-Am Nav Service) Oct, 1956 4th revised ed.
Pilots Powerplant Manual by L. E. Shedenhelm US Dpt. of Commerce: Civil Aeronautics Admin. Oct, 1942



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