VK6501 – the forgotten heavy tank

Hello everyone,

today, we are going to look at one of the last pieces of the Henschel/Krupp puzzle, the VK6501 (also known as Panzerkampfwagen VII or Henschel SW). In World of Tanks terms, it’s a tier 5 heavy tank candidate, that might yet be implemented.


VK6501 (a 65 ton design, as the name suggests) was born in early 1939 (January, to be specific), when the German army decided it’s a good idea to develop even heavier breakthrough tanks, specifically something from the 30t to 65t category, armed with a short 75mm L/24 within roughly the same turret dimensions as the Panzer IV (heavier armament was considered, but scrapped in favour of additional armor protection). The vehicle was to have a (very strong for that time) 80mm thick frontal armor for its weight of 65 tons and it was supposed to go roughly 20-25km/h.

The order to project and build mock-ups went to Krupp, who was tasked with building a turret for this vehicle with three possible armament options: 75mm L/24, 75mm L/40, 105mm L/20. The mockup was ready in March 1939. The 105mm armament was however scrapped very soon (June 1939): the turret was to resemble the Durchbruchswagen turret, it was quite cramped and manipulating with the massive 105mm shells was deemed too uncomoftable. In the end (in March 1940), the turret selected was practically identical to the DW turret and carried the 75mm L/24.


While the turret was designed by Krupp, the suspension and hull was to be designed by Henschel and it carried typical Henschel elements and shapes (especially the suspension). It was big however – too big to fit on any of the railway wagons. Therefore Henschel decided to design the hull as breakable into 3 pieces. A powerful engine was envisaged by the Henschel company: the 600hp Maybach HL224, that could make the 65 ton vehicle go as fast as 20km/h.

In September 1939, it was decided to produce the initial 0-series batch. Waffenprüftamt awarded the contract for that to Krupp in February and March 1940 to produce certain armor components and to assemble the turrets with guns, while the hull was to be produced by Henschel, which was to also perform the final vehicle assembly. First turrets were however planned to be produced as late as in 1942.

After the Battle of France, it was however decided by the Waffenprüfamt that vehicles over 30 tons are not practical because of the bridge weight restrictions. The armor components contract was cancelled in August 1940 and the turret contract was cancelled in October. Apparently, one soft-steel hull was completed nevertheless in 1941 (and possibly even tested in Sennelager), but by that time the VK450X program (what would later become the Tiger) already had higher priority and by the end of 1942, Henschel was ordered to scrap the already produced parts.


Weight: 65 tons
Crew: 5
Armor: 80mm all around, DW turret (80mm mantlet)
Engine: 600hp Maybach HL224
Maximum speed: 20km/h
Armament: 75mm L/24, 75mm L/40, 105mm L/20

In World of Tanks

As you can see, it’s a perfect tier 5 heavy tank. For tier 6, it’s too underarmed I think. Actually, it was quite surprising that Wargaming decided to downtier the VK3001H, instead of implementing this tank, as it would have been nearly ideal for the tier 5 spot. Either way, there is a chance we’ll see it in WoT one day.

Doyle – Panzer Tracts 20-1

69 thoughts on “VK6501 – the forgotten heavy tank

  1. Maybe as tier 5 premium heavy? There are russian, british and american premiums already.

    • I’d rather see either the NbFz or the Italian P40 become the German tier 5 premium heavy, not another VK prototype.

  2. That’s quite funny that people don’t like the idea of new “T-54 like” tanks, but most of the german tanks look the same. Same with a lot of US tank’s hulls. That’s how development works :)

    • I think the reasony why people are offended with the T-54-ish tanks is that half of the chinese tree was just russian copy-paste including a whole lot of T-54 clones and such that all have that nasty reverse-soupbowl turret. That hasnt happened to other nations the same way yet.

      • This.
        Right now there’s T-54, T-62, T-34-2, Obj. 907, Type 59, WZ-120… And all of them are basically the same tank.

        • The T-54, WZ-120 and Type 59 are basically the same tanks because they are all developed from the T-54A.
          The T-34-1/2/3 are tanks designed to mimic the T-54 before USSR transfer the plans.

          • And while the basic concept of the 907 is the same, the weird slopes distinguish it a lot from the rest.

  3. I don’t really understand what made it so big and heavy. The 80 mm frontal armor doesn’t imply a 65t mass (after all the Pz IV had 80 mm thick frontal armor on its late models). Its 7,5 cm L/24 gun was relatively small (considering it could fit in late Pz III variants like Ausf N) and the size of the engine wasn’t so huge either.

    So what made it so big and heavy?

      • “The vehicle was to have a (very strong for that time) 80mm thick frontal armor for its weight of 65 tons (…)”

        Anyway, the Tiger I had an all around armor of 80 mm, even more on the front and the turret with heavier gun and slightly more powerful engine weighing 57t. And it was also huge.

    • Note that those late-model Pz IVs with the thickened front had to have their flank protection shaved back to whatwasitnow, 30mm (vulnerable to Soviet AT rifles), to avoid *totally* overloading the suspension; and even then with the long-barreled 7,5cm thrown in were chronically and permanently nose-heavy.
      One also gets the impression the total surfae areca of 80mm plate on them was *rather* less than it would’ve been on this thing which also proposed to have its broad-side-of-barn sides that thick.

  4. it could actually be a decent tier 5 premium. give it the 75l40 and it woult propably have roughly the same performance as many other premium gun on that tier. 80mm of armour is decent but for from “overprotected”.

    if it were to become a premium i would proapbly buy it….but then again, i dont like slow tanks…

  5. “As you can see, it’s a perfect tier 5 heavy tank. For tier 6, it’s too underarmed I think.”

    O’rly?! Let me gues what Tanks it will face with a 75mm L/24 Tier6-7 good luck with this Crapgun, even Tier5 is horrible with L/24, KV-1 hooray…

    The L/24 belongs on T3 and T4!

  6. I dont believe the 65 ton number to be accurate the KT for example weights in at 68 tons and has a similar armor scheme while having double the frontal armor unless of course this tank is even bigger than the KT. Dimensionally doubling the thickness increases the weight exponentially not linearly as your increasing volume by the cube.

        • *rolls eyes*

          Obviously it’s just a rough comparison to show you that with such dimensions, the weight was realistic. There are tons of things you don’t know, such as for example the weight of the Maybach engine (the vehicle was longer, yet was supposed to have about the same internal space as Panzer IV, so one can assume the engine was bigger and thus heavier) and other things. The DW turret design was also thickened etc etc etc.

          • The KT was LWH 7.38, 3.75, 3.09 or a full 20 cubic meters larger a massive difference, and again weighed 68 tons with alot more armor a massive engine a larger turret and a much much larger gun

            • Its not a box and LxWxH does not give a true reflection of the weight of the tank and we do not know how it was constructed – it could be a heavy frame with plate welded or bolted on as was the method in early designs,

            • No they arent boxes but the differences in size armor and armament between the vk and KT are so massive its extremely unlikely they would be any where near the same weight

          • Looking at one linear measurement is bad math internal volume is what matters doyles information is wrong the math juat does not support him plain and simple

            • Agreed, for similar shapes assuming a shell or surface area and same thickness (same mass per square metre) as the main determinant then it is a square relationship. That is if tank B is 2X the length of tank A and all other external dimensions are in the same relationship and the thickenss of the surfaces is the same in both tanks then the mass of tank B would be 4X the mass of tank A.

            • Right another good comparison vehicle the best perhaps the Ferdinand weighing in at 65tons with slightly larger dimensions due to the casemate and the same side and rear armor and 200mm of frontal armor I mean cmon and sporting the 88l71

        • Also the size is pretty much the same as for the armor coverage. You can’t count in the difference in height, because that can be (and probably is) caused by different turret. And it’s 8cm anyway, that’s nothing compared to the total height. So unless you know the hull total area, you just gotta believe the data provided.

          • Comparing to the tiger is actually not ideal the KT is closer in weight and out sizes the vk by a large margin

            • The FCM Char 2C was a ton heavier than KT, but armor was only 45mm front, 22mm sides.

              So, “size” and “armor” aren’t the only factors in weight.


            • Locomotive parts (engine, fuel, cooling, transmission, suspension) have larger influence on weight than armor thickness. It’s not the same thing to build engine from aluminum or cast iron, for example.

            • Another bad at math the fcm also is quite a bit larger and ill reiterate this linear increases in length width and height mean exponential increases in volume including armor plates the fcm char2c was LWH 10.2, 3, 4.09meters meaning 126 cubic meters of volume or about 40 cubic meters more than the KT. 40 cubic meters is about the same size as a room in ahouse thats 12sq meters or 128 sqft

  7. “Actually, it was quite surprising that Wargaming decided to downtier the VK3001H, instead of implementing this tank, as it would have been nearly ideal for the tier 5 spot.”

    It wasn’t surprising – VK3001H is developed and tested, all you have to do is to add / remove some digits. 3D model of VK6501 should be developed from scratch, maybe turret from DBW or Panzer IV could be adapted but that’s all. Moving VK3001H is much faster, cheaper and make more sense from Tiger tree point of view.

    • Actually I think putting 3001H between DW and 3601H makes a lot more sense considering it is the development branch of Tiger. Maybe WG will make 6501 a premium T5 in the future.

      • VK6501 was the heavy version of VK3001, it would make sense.
        VK 3001H with historical stats would be a decent tier V medium instead.

  8. Using a slow firing 105mm derp, this would have made a perfect tier V premium.
    Not so great frontal armor but very good sides for its tier would make the tank an excellent teaching vehicle for angling.

  9. Why 65 tonnes?

    If I look at armor, armament and engine (speed) I can get roughly the same ‘stats’ with a tank in the 35 tonne class. Or I could ask in this way,,, – Tiger one have better protection, better armament, better speed and still weights less, how? This tank weights 30 tonnes to much for it’s stats.

    It makes me wonder, what are the rest of the weight used for?
    Did they have marble floor or a build-in 30.000 liter aquarium?

    Or did I completely miss something vital?

    • Doyles information is wrong the Ferdinand weighs 65 tons and has 200mm frontal armor and is almost exactly the same size if not larger volumetrically due to the casemate

      • The fact that the tank is called VK 65.01 means that it was the projected weight by the german engineers themselves.
        Try to at least look at naming conventions before jumping on guys that spent their life on the subject.

      • Yep, that is why I don’t get it.
        Leopard 2, M1 Abrams, Challenger 1 and Chieftain Tanks you can get for same or less weight than VK6501.

      • Why is armor the only consideration here when comparing weights? By a rough estimate, the armor plates constitute only about 20-25% of the full tank weight. The culprit here might be the engine – in ’39, an engine rated 600hp will have weighted more and have more volume than the same hp engine four years later, and other transmission related parts.

        • Really 20% right thats why the maus weighs three times that of a king tiger not all the armor that couldnt be it

        • Wait, no, botched the math. A box of roughly the size of this tank hull without the top and bottom plates (they are thinner than the rest) with 80mm sides would weight about 25 tonnes. Add about 25% to account for turret and missing top/bottom and we’re in the 30 ton region with just an empty shell. Toss in a huge ass heavy engine and it’s starting to look plausible.

          • The huge ass heavy engine would have weighted about a tonne, (Tiger 1′s first engine was 650HP, the later, bigger, heavier and better at 700HP was only 1200kg.)
            So a 30 tonne box + turret and a one tonne engine,,,, do NOT equal 65 tonnes.

          • While a Tiger1 shell weights 31 tonnes… Gosh, I wonder where all that weight went.

          • Assorted mechanisms like transmission, primary and any auxiliary engines, batteries, radios, the turret and related junk, gun, ammunition, fuel, crew, possibly some structural framework depending on the construction… Hell, it’s not like the tracks and suspension bits are weightless either and they only get heavier as the rest of the mass goes up.

            That aside, a tank *this* big with merely the same-old 7,5cm L/24 the Pz IV and StuG already had? Talk about “less bang for your buck”…

  10. So, let me get this straight. Would this thing be basically a slightly chunkier but maybe more durable Pz IV? I mean the weapons look fairly similar, only slightly worse versions on the VK65 than on the Pz IV (75 L48 on Pz vs L40 on the 65, and much the same for the 105 guns, a shorter version on the 65). I dunno, I guess my point is, to me, it looks like a Pz IV that traded what speed it has and some of its firepower for better armor (won’t say its great, but better) and nearly double the weight, or have I missed something?

    • The Germans for some reason didn’t bother with developing a turret, they just mounted a modified PzIV one. That’s why their amarment looks similar. And it was one of the reasons why it was cancelled. It doesn’t offer any adwantage in firepower to mass produced tank three times ligher, has really complicated suspension and engine, has to be disassemled to transport.

  11. would be interrested to see if this gets added and in what configuration. it needs to stand out from the rest, since i am a collector of German vehicles in this game. i dont mind having multiple vehicles on the same tier, i have all the tier 6 meds. but all drive differently to some degree.

    the recently added VK20.01D for me was a great dissapointment, slower, less amoured and with the same weapons as the Pz III. at least the Pz II en Pz1 C have new weapons that also makes them fun to drive not the Vk 20.01D.

    and from recent reports from this site, i fear the new arrivals in version 0.8.8 add nothing new to the line up.
    DW same gun selection as PZ III & Vk 20.01D, tier 5 Vk3001h i hope it keeps the 88 in a balanced T5 set up or at leas the 75L70. and the Vk36.01h needs only one re-balance, more penetration on 88L56 or special variant exclusively for itself and maybe Vk30.02D.

    but still no hard facts so can still be the “storm in a glass of water”

    on topic the Vk65.01, looks like a fine candidate for the tier 5 heavy 80mm all round.as mentioned the 75L24 could be a good stock gun but is nowhere near a topgun candidate at that level.
    while an 80mm alround hull armour would make it the best armoured hull on T5 only chruchill I and T1 have better frontal amour where the T1 only 3mm more.

    looking at the guns on T5 HT the penetration falls between 120-145mm where as the damage spread is from 115 – 240 Dmg. as i see it contenders for topgun are: 75L70 (150/135), 88L56 (132/220) offcourse balanced for T5, the 75L70 could be balanced according to the old PzIV stats, for me it was the informal HT at T5 where the Pz III/IV was the true med. it carried the firepower but not the armour to combat the other nations heavies.

    for me a T5 HT should carry a balanced 88L56, a prefer alfa over the DPS style 75L70 but both can be applied. both the 75L43 and 48 are for me underpowered for a T5 HT in both damage and pentration.

    • In theory this tank could carry the 105mm derp as main gun.
      While not ideal, this tank is basically a tier V KV-5 and should be played in a similar way.

      • It even has a small turret in front, too. So you can probaly deal with it the same way as KV-5.

        • With that rounded mantlet thing I’d be surprised if that part was meaningfully weaker than the rest of the front.

      • true, but i laready have that on the Pz IV and with its mobility it can flank and derp rear and side armour. try to do that in a tank twice as big and slow. so it will turn into a slug fest with HE rounds.

        i would prefer a gun with penetration and respectable alfa damage, these things were designed as breach / support tanks hence the 75 and possibly 105 derp style guns, in other words take lots of hits and destory enemy fortifications for the supporteed infantry units.

        these are not in WoT, all vehicles need to destroy other combat vehicles and therefor derp style weapons only work on the lower tiers, all 105mm derp have around 50mm of penetration with HE, since most HT on T5 and upward have more then enough armour to almost (avg 80mm)

        as a result all HE damage done is cut in half or outright resisted, that is not a situation i would like to be in in a Heavy tank and since T5 HT will meet up to T7 vehicles the derp is even less effective.

        considering its size and armour protection the closest analog is the Churchill, so WG in my opinion can give it a high DPS gun with ok penetration and low alfa (75L70) or a gun with more alfa (88L56).

        but since WG doesn’t have to listen to me, we can only hope that they take pity on the German line and add some competetive vehicles and not just filler tanks or duplicates with even worse characteristics.

  12. I guess the 105mm howitzer is supposed to be the top gun..At tier 5, it would work.
    Since it is the L/20 variant it may only fire HE. (the 105mm L/22 found in the Wespe can only fire HE either)
    Not that it really needs AP I think

    I still do not believe that this tank will weigh 65 tons, maybe some calculations may be necessary, but I am too dumb to do these calculations given what type of steel was used and the mass of it. Think about how you did it like when you debunked the “Kleintiger”

    There is also an option to make this tank a premium heavy. Right now, the only premium heavy is the Löwe (the B2 is very rarely on sale or never). I am still unsure which armament it would use, but as far as I know, it was intended to use it with a derp gun. A 75mm L/24 is too weak in tier 5 though, even in a premium tank

    • that was the idea of this post if i read it correctly, but it’s easier for WG just to switch Vk30.01h to Tier 5 and re-balance it. and put in the Proto Panther in its place.
      same as E-50 and E-50M same overall model with different stats and re-shuffled internal modules.