German Intelligence on the M6 Heavy Tank “Dreadnought”

This is a German armored combat vehicle comparison chart (“Panzerkampfwagen Vergleich”), released in 1945. Here, we can see a distinct lineup of various vehicles side by side, starting from Deutschland / Germany, England-U.S.A. / Allied, and Russland / Russia. Light tank on the left, medium tanks in the middle, and heavy tank on the right, pretty conventional.
German armored combat vehicle comparison chart

At first glance, there appears to be nothing out of ordinary with this chart. But soon you will notice a rather unusual vehicle at the end of the Allied tank lineup. Instead of exhibiting the combat-proven British Churchill Infantry Tank, the chart instead draws upon the design of an American T1 Heavy Tank, peculiarly nicknamed “Dreadnought”.


We can draw some conclusions based on this evidence:
  1. The Germans were well aware of the existence of US heavy tank development since the beginning, particularly with the T1. This is based on the silhouette design. Taking shape on one of the earliest prototypes armed with commander’s cupola .30 cal machine gun and internally-mounted anti-aircraft .50 cal machine gun facing rearward. The prototype would most likely be the T1E2.
  2. They expected to see combat against the T1 on the battlefield at some point. It was even designated as “M1”, denoting M for “Model”, a designation used by the US Army for inventories that have been approved for production. In reality, the tank never left the US soil due to transportation issues and general objection by the Army Ground Forces from using heavy tanks.
  3. How they acquired data of the US heavy tank was rather straightforward, contrary to expectations. The T1/M6 saw frequent use by the US Army as a parade and propaganda tool in major US cities during the Second World War. The main purpose of it was to display the might of the US Armored Forces to general public, despite never entering combat at any capacity, and gaining support from war bonds in return. It would be no surprise if German Spies could easily obtain sufficient data on this behemoth of a tank.
  4. However, the data they obtained were quite outdated (and also slightly incorrect), especially by this time and year. The tank’s final form for production was notably different from its prototype form, including omission of the redundant commander’s cupola machine gun and rear-facing anti-air machine gun. The production designation wouldn’t be M1. Instead, it would be called as M6.
  5. “Dreadnought” was never an official name given by the US. It was the German who nicknamed it, hence the peculiarity.
The specification of the M6 / M6A1 “Dreadnought” as documented by Germany.
Special thanks to Whelmy for providing this valuable information.

4 thoughts on “German Intelligence on the M6 Heavy Tank “Dreadnought”

  1. This picture leaves more questions than anwsers …

    First off, what is the point of this diagram in 1945 ? Why even mentioning the Pz. Kpfw 2 ? And why only 4 tanks ? This is completely out of context

    Why is there written “(deutsch)” behind Panzer 2 & 3 ?

    Why mentioning the Mark II c at all ?

    What are you comparing in this chart ?

    1. The chart itself is written as “vehicle comparison” in the title, and most likely used to identify the tank silhouette.

      As for the rest, I have no clue, just like how the M6 (or “M1”) appeared in the chart for some reason.

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