The largest cannon ever built: the Steel Monster Schwerer Gustav

Did you know that the Nazis built the largest cannon in the world? One thing is certain:Adolf Hitler had some “great” ideas – from killing a few million people and conquering Europe until draining the Mediterranean Sea .

When they were performing in the show to prove how great Nazi Germany was, the Fuhrer and his generals liked to do things in style. They even started to build the largest hotel in the world, but the project had to be canceled because of more pressing problems, such as the invasion of France.

The largest cannon ever built

Adolf Hitler (second to right) and Albert Speer (in brown uniform) inspect the Gustav cannon in 1943

In the 1930s, France built a series of massive fortifications, called the “Maginot Line”, to protect itself from an invasion from the east. These fortifications were among the strongest at that time, with underground bunkers, retractable turrets, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery sites, anti-tank locations, and so on.

None of the Wehrmacht’s equipment was able to penetrate this formidable defense, so Hitler turned to the Krupp munitions maker to find a solution.

Erich Muller, an engineer at Krupp, calculated that a giant-sized cannon was needed to break seven meters of reinforced concrete or a steel armor meter. The tun had to have an internal diameter of more than 80 cm. and a length of more than 30 meters, to be able to launch seven-tonne buses from a distance of more than 40 kilometers beyond the range of French artillery.

The cannon would weigh over 1,300 tons and have to be transported on the rail. It would be the world’s biggest cannon. When he presented these figures to Hitler, he approved them and the construction of the cannon began in 1937.

The world’s largest cannon weighed 1,300 tons

The largest cannon ever built

Cannon assembly required a great deal of effort. Here, the pipe is lowered onto the conveyor by means of two cranes

In less than two years, the cannon was ready. Alfried Krupp personally took Hitler to the Rugenwalde Polling in early 1941 to pursue the first test of gun testing. Alfried Krupp baptised the “Schwerer Gustav” cannon, that is, “Gustav cel Greu” after his father, Gustav Krupp.

monstrous weaponSchwerer Gustav was a  . Being so big and heavy, could not be moved ready assembled. It was dismembered and transported with 25 freight wagons to the place where it was assembled – a three-day task that required 250 people.

Only the laying of the rails and the construction of the site lasted for weeks and required the work of 4,000 permanent workers. The largest cannon in the world moved on parallel rails, which limited its mobility. In addition, the cannon barrel could only aim vertically.

Thus, the rails were placed in the curve and whenever the horizontal target had to be changed, the entire cannula was moved along the curved rails. Despite its enormous firepower, the world’s largest cannon had no way of protecting itself.

The largest cannon ever built

Several rails, similar to the junction in a station, had to be put in place for the cannon to be transported

It was defended by two Flak battalions that protected the cannon from possible air strikes.Considering the money and the time required to be built, the cannon had too little action in the war and was not used at all against the French.

Germany had invaded France in 1940, before the cannon was ready. Then the Germans simply went past the Maginot Line. Schwerer Gustav was used on the eastern front in Sevastopol in Russia during the siege of this city in 1942. 4,000 people prepared the cannon for five weeks.

Over the next two weeks, Gustav launched 48 shells, destroying long-distance forts, and an underwater ammunition depot 30 meters below sea level and 10 meters of concrete as protection.

Then the cannon was moved to Leningrad, but the attack was canceled. However, Krupp has built a can of the same size. Dora was named after the chief engineer’s wife.

The largest cannon ever built

Gustav is loaded for firing. Recharging the cannon takes between 20 and 45 minutes

Dora was located west of Stalingrad in August 1942, but was withdrawn in September so it would not be captured. When the Germans withdrew, they took Dora and Gustav with them.

In 1945, when the defeat was imminent, the Germans threw the cannons in order for the allied forces not to capture them intact. This ended the story of the Nazi supernatural.

With respect to the caliber, Dora and Gustav were overtaken by only two other cannons – British “Mallet Mortelle” (built in 1857) and “The Little David” of the Americans (built during the war). Both were 914 mm in size.

But only Gustav fought in the war. It remains the largest cannon ever used in the war – a record that will probably last forever, because modern rockets and high precision bombardments have made guns such as Gustav or David useless.

Allied soldiers pose in front of a projectile used by Gustav

An American soldier measures the diameter of what’s left of Gustav after being thrown by the Germans

A gun of Gustav at the US Army Museum

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