The 105 mm K.18 Panzer Selbstfahrlafette IV Ausführung A (Dicker Max) is a German self-propelled heavy artillery gun. The German Army requested a mobile "bunker buster" in 1939 to demolish the fortifications along the French border, also known as the French Maginot Line in the Alsace-Lorraine province. However, it would never serve that role since the only two vehicles ever built were completed in early 1941, long after the Battle of France had ended. The tank chassis was taken from the reliable Panzer IV E variant and was armed with the standard 105 mm K.18 heavy artillery gun. The ammunition utilized was tungsten-core rounds, which had excellent penetration capabilities when combined with the gun's high velocity. Both vehicles were transferred to the Eastern Front as tank destroyers, where one of them would go on to destroy a considerable number of Soviet tanks.
Introduced in Update 1.57 "Battle March", the Dicker Max would go on to become one of the most feared tank destroyers in its class. It can completely destroy any enemy tanks it hits with its enormous 105 mm K.18 heavy artillery gun. Precise aiming for weak spots is unnecessary, as its best armour-piercing shell's 187 mm armour penetration value can penetrate even the most strongly armoured heavy tanks encountered during engagements. However, it is vital to emphasize that such vehicles are only minimally armoured. Although it can penetrate any tank in its ranks, any tank in its rank can equally easily penetrate it. The vehicle is based on the Panzer IV E variant, which provides it with respectable speed and mobility. Players should use the "Dicker Max" superb gun depression to deliver unexpected blows to the opponent before withdrawing to cover and repositioning to avoid retaliatory artillery strikes.
Survivability and armour
The survivability of the Dicker Max is very inadequate. The all-round armour is very thin and poorly angled, varying from 20 mm to 50 mm, which is not enough to stop any rounds other than rifle-calibre bullets. Post-penetration survivability is bad, crew members or critical components (eg. gun breech, engine) will usually get destroyed, crippling the tank. It is also open-topped, meaning any plane with a gun can kill you. Fire from above will usually hurt or knock out all your crew members, and damage exposed modules like gun breech and ammo. Common aircraft like the P-47 can do this in just a few seconds with machine guns alone. The only plus side is perhaps that the 5 crew members are spread out on the hull sides, meaning it might take a few shots to destroy the Dicker Max using solid shots (eg. Sherman Firefly). Unfortunately vehicles firing explosive-packed shells (eg. ISU-152) still have no problem knocking out the Dicker Max in a single shot. Therefore, you not only have to avoid ground vehicles, threats from the sky must also be considered, which makes the Dicker Max a challenge to play.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
|Armour||Front (Slope angle)||Sides (Slope angle)||Rear (Slope angle)||Roof|
|Hull|| 12 mm (77°) Front glacis
50 mm (20°) Lower glacis
50 mm (14°) Driver ports
|20 mm||20 mm (9°)||12 mm|
|Superstructure|| 30 mm (14°) Front
50 mm (16°) Gun mantlet
|20 mm (21°)||20 mm (9-17°)||10 mm|
- Suspension wheels are 15 mm thick and tracks are 20 mm thick.
- The roof of the superstructure does not fully cover the top, thus still exposing the crew members.
|Game Mode||Max Speed (km/h)||Weight (tons)||Engine power (horsepower)||Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)|
The mobility of the Dicker Max is its biggest weakness. Powered by a weak 180 hp engine, the vehicle features a very low power-to-weight ratio resulting in sluggish acceleration even on hard surface, soft terrain only worsens the situation. The top speed is very limited although it is based on a Pz.IV chassis. The hull traverse is absurdly terrible, comparing to the agility of the Pz.IV, the Dicker Max barely turns on its tracks. Forward/backward jerk helps a little, though not a lot. Reverse speed is slow as always. All these aspects are further weakened as the Dicker Max usually drives in its most suitable environment: hills.
Modifications and economy
Like always, Parts and FPE come first to increase the survivability.
For a newly acquired Dicker Max, consider unlocking all mobility modifications early. Because its sluggishness is its biggest enemy, the Dicker Max can often lose the chance of firing simply because it cannot turn its hull quickly/climb up a small slope in time. This is more noticeable when the Dicker Max is getting flanked/circled. Even a heavy tank like M6A1 can easily drive around a stock Dicker Max and avoid its gun.
The next modifications to research can be the gun aiming drives, to speed up the targeting process as well as enhancing the accuracy of the cannon. This is critical for a sniper like Dicker Max as it relies on precision at long ranges.
Other modifications like the Pzgr.rot may not be as important: the stock shell is already lethal for common opponents such as T-34 and M4, the researchable round is only useful against heavy targets like M4A3E2.
The reason why Dicker Max shines as a sniper is the 105 mm cannon. The stock shell offers a good amount of penetration of 133 mm at 1,000 m, filled with more than 300 g TNT equivalent for an explosive filler, meaning the Dicker Max can frontally penetrate the majority of opponents and take them out in one hit them at a comfortable distance. The researchable shell takes a step further by having improved explosive mass and ricochet angles, easing the killing of heavily armoured tanks like KV-85, M4A3E2, and ARL-44. The reload time of ~13 seconds is slow but usual on such a big calibre.
Apart from the cannon itself, other aspects of it further improve the lethality of Dicker Max. The most noticeable feature is the amazing -15° gun depression. This angle is enough to hull-down on most slopes in most maps where vehicles with around -10° depression cannot hull-down (eg. M4). By hiding behind hills, the Dicker Max can conceal its weak body and only expose its destructive cannon.
The gunsight is also a huge advantage. While most WW2 era tanks are equipped with scopes of ~3.5x zoom, the Dicker Max has a 9.2x zoom scope which is even higher than the binoculars, meaning it can conveniently pick a spot that is far away from the frontline and destroy targets one by one. Through this nice sight, a tank 1,000 m away can seem like it is only 500 m away, making it very friendly to aim for weak spots. Even if the target realises that they are being shot at, they usually fail to land hits for ~2 shots in RB as most players cannot aim accurately at distant targets, and their poor 3.5x zoom makes aiming even harder. By utilising the great gun depression and gunsight to loom behind hills, the Dicker Max protects itself with distance and concealment to compensate its poor armour.
The only downside of the Dicker Max's firepower are the limited horizontal traverse and the elevation. Both of these require the tank to constantly adjust the hull in order to target which may or may not expose itself to an observing enemy.
|105 mm K.18||Turret rotation speed (°/s)||Reloading rate (seconds)|
|Ammunition|| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)|
|10 m||100 m||500 m||1,000 m||1,500 m||2,000 m|
|Ammunition|| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
| 14 (+12)
| 1 (+25)
Usage in battles
As with any open-topped SPGs (such as the Marder IIIs), this is not a vehicle to charge the opponent with. However, one that can very effective at long ranges and from behind cover. An alternative play style for these vehicle in a closer range is supporting standard tanks by watching their flanks. It is not a fast vehicle, especially in realistic and simulator battles, but once it finds a place to stop and take aim, its gun is a very, very efficient anti-tank weapon, comparable to that of the mighty KV-2 turreted assault gun. Its most notable feature is its extreme gun depression, over -15° to +10°, which allows this tank to take advantage of great hull-down positions behind hills, becoming near-invisible in RB and SB at distance. Its weakness however, is rather obvious: the crew compartment is thinly armoured, which means basically anything can penetrate it can cause havoc for the tank commander and his crew. Combined with its slow acceleration, this is a vehicle to be used in a tactical manner in both offensive or usually, defensive combat.
With only 50 mm of armour at its battle rating, the Dicker Max can be defeated frontally by any vehicle of its rank, even at some range. It is particularly vulnerable to SPAAs with a high rate of fire (heavy machine guns can penetrate the rear, or shoot down into the cabin should the opportunity present itself) and large-calibre shells.
After staying at one spot and scoring a few kills, you might want to consider relocating, even moving a short distance to a neighbouring cover i enough. This is because after a while, enemy tankers will know your position and direct their supporting aircraft towards your location. Airplanes are a devastating threat for the Dicker Max, especially their guns and bombs. Relocating can thus foil the attempts by incoming planes to target your original firing spot. You need to anticipate this move, as the Dicker Max does not have the good mobility to drive to anywhere in time.
Enemies worth noting:
- T55E1: this wheeled tank destroyer can be very annoying to deal with. Although it is thinly armoured thus can get easily destroyed by the Dicker Max, an experienced T55E1 commander will utilise its superior mobility. It is arguably one of the fastest and most agile vehicle at the BR, in conjunction with its low profile, it makes it fairly hard for a Dicker Max to target it effectively given Dicker Max's slow-aiming gun and poor mobility. It is almost impossible to fight back if a T55E1 manages to flank and circle a Dicker Max.
- KV-1E: this model of the KV-1 is fitted with additional armour plates, significantly boosting its protection even against Dicker Max's big cannon. When a KV-1E is angling or at a distance (or both) it is extremely challenging to score a successful penetration. The front and side of the hull and turret can usually shred off incoming shells. Effective ways to penetrate it is to shoot at the frontal plate or hull/turret side when the KV is not angling, or to target the rounded gun mantlet where it is only 75-90 mm thick, however this requires very high precision as the vertical areas it may penetrate are quite small.
Pros and cons
- Excellent penetration with both stock and researchable rounds.
- Large explosive filler guarantees the destruction of the targeted vehicle, even for the most armoured foes like the M4A3E2 and the IS-1
- One of the best gun depression (-15°) allows it to adapt any terrains with great ease and hide behind hills
- Outstanding gunsight zoom (9.2x) meaning it can comfortably engage targets from long range, thus avoiding exposure to enemy fire
- 5 crew members are spread out along the sides, meaning it is hard to get taken out by a single shot by most rounds
- Easily hidden when hull down
- Terrible mobility regardless of road quality: slow top speed, abysmal hull traverse, poor reverse, sluggish acceleration. Responds slowly to fast targets like T55E1
- Rather limited horizontal gun traverse of 16°
- Inadequate gun elevation of only 10°, meaning it cannot target properly when the opponent is above the Dicker Max
- No armour protection: low thickness around the vehicle. Can get penetrated by any gun
- Open-topped design makes it very vulnerable to strafing aircraft
- Reload speed is twice slower in average than its opponents
- Stock shells tend to ricochet on rounded armour (eg. turret cheeks of IS-1)
- Slow muzzle velocity gives the shell a noticeable drop, long range sniping can take time to get used to
- Large side profile
The role of the "assault gun" in the German army in World War II gave the infantry an upper hand in assaulting fortification. However, heavy bunkers could withstand large punishment from artillery and closing up to the bunker for a closer shot exposed the assault guns and artilleries to defensive artillery weapon. A weapon was needed to fight bunkers at an extreme range that the bunkers and other defensive weaponry would not be able to return fire, something with a very heavy gun to destroy these bunkers. Krupp began development of such a vehicle in 1939, but such a vehicle soon became unnecessary with the conclusion of the Battle of France. Thus, the project shifted from a heavy "assault gun" to a tank destroyer. Two of these vehicles were built in January 1941 and were presented to Hitler in March 1941. It was hoping that if proved favorable, the vehicle would be able to be put into service and production by Spring 1942.
The vehicle design during its development was called the 10 cm K. (Pz. Sfl. IVa) and the 10.5 cm K (gp.Sfl.). Another name it was called was Dicker Max (Thick or Fat Max). The design took a Panzer IV Ausf. E chassis and removed the turret to add an open-topped superstructure on top to hold the heavy 10.5 cm gun. The design had armour around 50 mm in the front angled at 15 degrees. Armoured compartments were present in the vehicle rear to protect loaders from overhead attacks. The front has a false driver port present on the right side of the vehicle with the real one on the left, whether it was there to deceive enemy fire or simply a design oversight is unknown. The commander, gunner, and loaders all have their own sights available to them to observe the landscape for targets. The engine is the 180 hp Inline-6 Maybach HL66P. Though the prototype vehicles used the Panzer IV as the basis, it is predicted that in production, the vehicle would use the Panzer III instead due to increased mobility of the suspension and running gear.
Trials with the two prototypes Krupp produced were done by Anti-tank Battalion 521. The battalion took the vehicles with them during Operation Barbarossa. One was destroyed due to catching fire and an ammunition explosion, but the other was able to last until the end of 1941.The sole vehicle also saw use in the German offensive Case Blue in Summer 1942, but it was not reported to be operational by the battalion afterwards. Opinion of the vehicle was that it was unsuitable for participation in a frontal assault due to its low armour and manoeuvrability. The gun was deemed effective in supporting an infantry assault and knocking out tanks, but the heavy muzzle blast caused large dust to obscure the gunner view, requiring an observer to watch where the shots land. No reports were made on engine and transmission problems, but there were issues with the brake system. Due to these issues, the Dicker Max did not see mass production for widespread usage. Thus, only the two prototypes were made before interest in the project dropped.
Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:
- reference to the series of the vehicles;
- links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.
|Germany tank destroyers|
|Pz. I Derivatives||Panzerjäger I|
|Pz. II Derivatives||15cm sIG 33 B Sfl|
|Pz. 38(t) Derivatives||Marder III · Marder III H · Jagdpanzer 38(t)|
|Pz. III Derivatives||StuG III A · StuG III F · StuG III G · StuH 42 G|
|Pz. IV Derivatives||Jagdpanzer IV · Panzer IV/70(A) · Panzer IV/70(V) · Dicker Max · Nashorn · Brummbär · VFW|
|Pz. V Derivatives||Jagdpanther G1 · Bfw. Jagdpanther G1|
|Pz. VI Derivatives||Sturer Emil · Elefant · Ferdinand · 38 cm Sturmmörser · Jagdtiger|
|Wheeled/Half-track||8,8 cm Flak 37 Sfl. · Sd.Kfz.251/9 · Sd.Kfz.251/10 · Sd.Kfz.251/22 · Sd.Kfz.234/3 · Sd.Kfz.234/4 · 15 cm Pz.W.42|
|ATGM Carrier||RakJPz 2 · RakJPz 2 (HOT) · Wiesel 1A2|
|Other||Waffenträger · M109G · JPz 4-5 · Raketenautomat · VT1-2|