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  • It towered over 38 feet (11.6 metres) high. It  weighed 1,490 US tons (metric 1,350 tonnes) or  

  • about the same as 198 male African  elephants. It's barrel was 106 feet  

  • and 8 inches (32.5 metres) in length and  fired 12-foot-long (3.6 metre) shells

  • Schwerer Gustav or Heavy Gustav, the  largest artillery gun ever built. An  

  • immense weapon of war designed with one major  purpose--to knock out France's Maginot Line.

  • Haunted by how their country was occupied during  World War I and alarmed by how Germany seemed to  

  • be rearming in violation of the Treaty  of Versailles, in 1929 the French began  

  • building the Maginot Line, a complex defensive  network. Over the next 9 years France built some  

  • 900 miles (1,448 km) of fortifications, with  280 miles (450 km) of defenses specifically 

  • on the border with Germany. The Maginot  Line included bunkers, above and underground  

  • fortresses as well as concrete gun emplacementsobservation posts, depots and rail lines.

  • Realizing that the Maginot Line would make  it tough to invade France, in 1934 Germany  

  • set out to make an artillery gun that could fire  from beyond the range of the French artillery.  

  • Furthermore, to take out larger fortificationsthe gun's shells had to be able to penetrate 23  

  • feet (7 meters) of reinforced concrete or  3.28 feet (1 meter) of steel armour plate.

  • However, it took German weapons  manufacturer Krupp AG far longer to design,  

  • prototype and construct such an immense  artillery gun than originally planned.  

  • Unfortunately Schwerer Gustav wasn't ready when  Germany attacked France in the spring of 1940.  

  • However, in the end Germany successfully  invaded France by going around the Maginot  

  • line and sending troops into France  through Belgium and the Netherlands.

  • But Gustav's wrath would  still be felt by the Allies.

  • It wasn't until 1942 that Gustav was ready for  duty. By this time, Germany was invading the  

  • Soviet Union. Gustav was sent to Sevastopol, a  well fortified port city in Crimea. Due to the  

  • size of the gun, it took 25 rail cars to ship  it. Once Gustav arrived in the region, over  

  • 3,000 German soldiers spent over 3 weeks layingspecial railway spur line used for assembling the  

  • gun and positioning it to strike at targets. They  also dug a 26-foot (8 meter) tunnel for sheltering  

  • the weapon as it would be vulnerable to aerial  attack. Additionally, two anti-aircraft battalions  

  • set up positions surrounding Gustav to help  protect it. It took a 500 man crew of engineers,  

  • scientists and workmen some 54 hours to  set the gun up and prep it for firing.

  • Meanwhile, on June 2, 1942 the Germans  launched a new operation on Sevastopol,  

  • simultaneously attacking the encircled  Soviet forces by land, sea, and air. Finally,  

  • on the third day after the battle had  already begun, Gustav was ready for use.

  • It had two shelling options: it could fire a high  explosive shell weighing around 10,000 pounds  

  • (4,536 kg) with muzzle velocity of nearly 2,700  feet per second (820 m/s) over a range of about 30  

  • miles (48 km). These shells contained around 1,543  pounds (700 kgs) of explosives. On impact they  

  • could create a crater 30 feet (about 9 meterswide and 30 feet deep (about 9 meters) deep!

  • Also Gustav could launch a 15,400 pound  (7,000 kg) concrete piercing shell at  

  • a muzzle velocity of around 2,362 feet per  second (720 m/s) up to 23 miles (37 km) away.  

  • Packed with about 550 pounds (250 kg) of  explosives and an aluminum alloy ballistic  

  • nose cone it could penetrate 23 feet (7 metersof reinforced concrete at maximum elevation.

  • So did Gustav live up to the hype? Kind of.

  • During its first day of battle, Gustav fired  and took out some coastal artillery. It  

  • also fired 6 shells at Fort Stalin, a concrete  fortified bunker, but failed to neutralize it.  

  • The next day Gustav fired 7 shells  at Fort Molotov with mixed results.

  • But then Gustav utterly decimated White Cliff.

  • Also known as 'Ammunition Mountain', White  Cliff was an undersea ammunition magazine  

  • nearly 100 feet down (30 meterat the bottom of Severnaya Bay.  

  • Also it was encased in nearly 33 feet (20 meterof protective concrete. Gustav penetrated and  

  • destroyed the arsenal, blowing it apart withshots. Also some of the boats in the bay sank.

  • Over the next several days Gustav continued  to provide heavy duty artillery support  

  • to help decimate other important targets  around Sevastopol. At times it was rough going,  

  • it took a 300 man crew about 45 minutes to  load each shot. On the best days, Gustav  

  • was able to fire 14 shots. Notably the railway gun  bombarded and destroyed Fort Siberia with 5 shots

  • Also Gustav fired on the Maxim Gorki  Fortresses. With just 5 shells,  

  • Maxim Gorki 1 was left in smouldering  ruins and Maxim Gorki 2 damaged.

  • By the time Sevastopol surrendered to the  Germans on July 4th, Gustav had 13 days of  

  • operational use and had worn out its original  barrel. It had been fired nearly 50 times in  

  • battle and another 250 or so times during  quality control checks during manufacturing.  

  • The gun was fitted with a spare barrel and the  original barrel was returned to the factory 

  • Schwerer Gustav was a technical marvel, but  also a boondoggle. Although its fire power  

  • was impressive, the technical and logistical  limitations of the gun restricted its use. It was  

  • incredibly labor intensive to build; it required  more than 1,000 tons of steel, thousands of  

  • man-hours and an estimated 7 million Reichsmarks  (upwards of 24 million USD in today's money). All  

  • this for just 48 shots in a war where  resources were in limited supply.

  • Gustav was temporarily dismantled and then  later shipped to the northern region of the  

  • eastern front, where it was rebuilt in  anticipation of an attack on Leningrad.  

  • The Russians pushed the Germans back and  the attack never happened. The gun, pending  

  • further service, was warehoused near Leningrad  in the winter of 1942-1943. It's not clear where  

  • Gustav was shipped after that, however there are  unconfirmed reports of it being used in Warsaw.

  • Ruins of the artillery gun  were found in April 1945.  

  • The German had stripped Gustav for parts and  used demolition charges to destroy what they  

  • couldn't take with them so it wouldn't fall  into the hands of the advancing US troops.

  • German weapons manufacturer Krupp AG was  actually in the process of making an even larger,  

  • longer range artillery gun to be called "Langer  Gustav"--Gustav Long. The weapon was found  

  • unfinished in a workshop when the American  forces took the town the company was in.

  • For even more insane weapons,  

  • go watchWeapons Even The Military Made  Illegalor check out this one instead!

It towered over 38 feet (11.6 metres) high. It  weighed 1,490 US tons (metric 1,350 tonnes) or  

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1,350 Ton Gun - Largest Artillery Gun Ever

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    Summer posted on 2020/11/13
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