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Monday, August 25, 2014


World War II was the test bed for mechanical innovations. While the Germans were in the forefront of this vicissitude, other nations were not behind. Though the concept of long range land attacks was used from ancient history, it was mastered during WWI and WWII. “Bigger, Faster, Longer” was the need of the hour and numerous super heavy guns were either designed or manufactured. Hitler’s obsession for heavy guns resulted in designing of many of these super-guns. Whenever any debate on military innovation takes place, names like “Schwerer Gustav”, “Karl-Gerät”, “K5 railway gun” or the “V-3 cannon” comes up.
Here is a list of some of the Super-Heavy Guns that saw combat in WWII.

Todt Battery- Originally named Battery Siegfried as part of the Germans' invasion plans for England, a battery equipped with 4 nos 38 cm SK C/34 naval gun each protected by bunker of reinforced concrete was installed just south of the Pas de Calais in 1940. It was to support the invasion by bombarding the southeast of England and simultaneously keeping the English Channel free of Allied warships.
Build by Krupp this 15 inch Caliber guns (originally for use in naval application) had a range of more of 55km and could effectively engage enemy across the English Channel.

Karl-Gerät- The largest self-propelled guns ever build and used in combat. It was designed and built by Rheinmetall and first saw combat in 1941 in Belarus. A total of 6 numbers were built each with a distinctive mythological names and saw combat mainly against Russia and Poland.
These 24 Inch caliber howitzers had a maximum range of 10 Km (Thor, Odin & Loki) and need 21 soilders to operate.


Obusier de 520 modèle 1916- Though built during WWI this French make Railroad gun saw action in WWII under the Germans. This was the biggest piece of ordnance built by Schneider et Cie during the First World War. It was used during the seize of Leningrad but had very little contribution.
This 20 inch caliber gun had a barrel length of 11.9 mtrs and an effective range of 16 Km.

Krupp  28-cm-Kanone 5 (E) (Anzio Annie) – Most famous of the 21 K5 railway gun was

Anzio Annie. For the first time it saw action was in 1944 during Allied landing (50,000 troops) in Anzio, Italy. With the help of K5s the Germany army nearly defeated the Allied effort in Italy, and bringing the invasion to a standstill at Cassino for next 3 months.
The K5s used 11.1 Inch caliber shells with a maximum range of 64 Km. While the length of the K5 was 32 Mtrs , it’s barrels had a prodigious barrel length of more than 21 mtrs.

1938 Railway gun TM-3-12 – This was a Soviet Railway gun built in 1938 from Obukhovskii 12"/52 Pattern 1907 naval gun from the sunken battleship Imperatritsa Mariya. They were used in the Soviet-Finnish war in 1939-1940. In June–December 1941 they took part in the defense of the Soviet naval base on Finland's Hanko peninsula.
These guns had a turret length of around 13 mtrs and a caliber of 12inch. It had a maximum range of 43 km with a 314kg shell.

Schwerer Gustav & Dora– The “Grand Daddy” of all guns. The single largest-calibre rifled weapon ever built and used in history. Designed by Krupp Industries it was used during WWII
by the Nazi's only against the Russians during Operation Barbarossa and siege of Leningrad. At 1350 Tonnes it is the heaviest artillery of all time firing and capable of firing 7500kg world’s heaviest shells.But it could only fire 2 rounds per hour due high reloading time. It required a non combat crew of 2750 to operate.
This 31 Inch caliber cannon had a humongous barrel of 32.5mtrs length. It had a range of 47km.


Sturmtiger – First introduced in WWII arena in 1944, Sturmtiger was a Tiger I tank retrofitted with land version of Kreismarine navalised anti-submarine rocket launching weapon. It was briefly used in WWII, mainly during the Warsaw Uprising.
This 68 tonne machine ran on 690 hp Maybach engine with a max speed of 40km/h. It had operational range of 120km. Its 15 inch caliber rocket launchers had a max firing range of 6km with 376 kg rockets.

V-3 (Vergeltungswaffe 3) cannon- The V3 also known as “Hochdruckpumpe” was a massive cannon, also known as the "London gun" designed by Germans to lob shells from it site on the coast of France across the English Channel and hit London, though it was never used against London. These were used during the bombardment of Luxembourg.
The length of these 5.9inch caliber cannons were almost 4 times that of “Schwerer Gustav” at 140mtrs, a range of 165 Km.

38 cm Siegfried K (E)-K12 - The K12 was a railway gun developed solely to satisfy the passion Hitler Hitler wore for heavy caliber guns. The 38 cm Siegfried cannons were originally designed as the main armament of the Bismarck-class battleships. Only 4 numbers were built without much remarkable effect on the war.
This 15 Inch caliber cannon had barrels of 18.4mtrs length. It had a range of 55.7km. 

42 cm Gamma Mörser - The 42 cm Gamma Mörser, also known as kurze Marinekanone L/16 (short naval gun with 16-caliber barrel) was a German siege howitzer developed before WWI in 1909.During WWII the Gamma Mörser was deployed against the Maginot Line in 1940, the Siege of Sevastopol and the Warsaw Uprising.

This 16.5 Inch caliber cannon had barrels of 6.7mtrs length. It had a range of 14.2km.

28 cm schwere Bruno Kanone – Originally Belgian coastal defense guns L/42 of WWi era mounted on railway carriage manufactured by Krupp. The guns only saw action during the Battle of France in June 1940.

This 11.1Inch caliber cannon had barrels of 11.08mtrs length. It had a range of 35.7km.

35.5 cm Haubitze M1- The Haubitze M1 was practically an enlarged 24 cm Kanone 3. It was manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig and was introduced in 1939. A total of 8 nos were build. It saw service mainly in the Eastern Front. It saw action in Battle of France ,Operation Barbarossa, the Siege of Sevastopol, the Siege of Leningrad and a played a very important role in negating the Warsaw Uprising.
This 14Inch caliber cannon had barrels of 8.05mtrs length. It had a range of 20.8 km.

Some of the guns that needs a special mention though they were not used during WWII or later replaced by heavier guns. The most famous was the “Paris Gun”. The others were “Skoda 305 mm Model 1911”, “BL 9.2-inch Railway Gun”, “BL 15 inch Mk I naval gun”,” Type 90 240 mm railway gun”, ” 240 mm howitzer M1” and the more modern “GC-45 howitzer”.

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