The Elefant (German for "elephant"(duh)) was a heavy tank destroyer used bythe German Wehrmacht in small numbers during World War II
About this creation
The Elefant was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant. The German military's designation was Panzerjäger Tiger (P) and the ordnance inventory designation was Sd. Kfz. 184.
Here is the Elefant with its six-man crew and in an alternate "chocolate" color scheme.
Porsche's company had already manufactured about one hundred chassis for their version of the Tiger tank. Since the competing Henschel Tiger design was chosen for production, the Porsche chassis were no longer required for the Tiger tank project. It was therefore decided that the Porsche chassis were to be used as the basis of a new heavy tank destroyer, mounting Krupp's newly developed 88 mm Pak 43/2 anti-tank gun.
The Elefant was fitted with an 88 mm Pak 43 anti-tank gun. The Pak 43 had originally been developed as a replacement for the famous Flak 88. The Pak 43 had a longer barrel than the Flak 88, which gave it a higher muzzle velocity. This improvement gave the Pak 43 significantly greater armor penetration ability then the Flak 88.
The Elefant first saw combat in the Battle of Kursk, where eighty-nine were committed. With its massive gun it was able to knock out a T-34 from a range of 3 1/2 miles. Although highly effective against armored vehicles, they performed quite poorly in other respects. Most combat losses were from mine damage and mechanical failure. Within four days nearly half of the vehicles were out of service due to technical problems and mine damage to tracks and suspension. Combat losses to enemy action were very low as the very thick armor protected the Elefant from almost all Soviet antitank weaponry; in fact, most of the vehicles destroyed or captured had been abandoned by their crews after mechanical failure.
The Elefant was the most successful tank destroyer in the war in terms of kills per loss, reaching an average ratio of approximately 10:1. During the Battle of Kursk, the 653rd Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalion claimed to have knocked out 320 enemy tanks, with a loss of only 13 Elefants.
The only vehicle capable of knocking out the Elefant was the Soviet SU-152 tank destroyer, which mounted a huge 152mm howitzer. The shell itself was not capable of piercing the Elefant's thick armor, rather, it used enormous explosive force to disable the vehicle. The blast from the exploding 152mm shell either blew the casemate housing the gun entirely off the chassis, or killed the crew with sheer concussive force.