Hitler created the largest gun ever, and it was a total disaster

Hitler gustav railway gunScreen grabHitler looking at the Gustav gun.

Eager to invade France, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler demanded a new weapon that could easily pierce the concrete fortifications of the French Maginot Line — the only major physical barrier standing between him and the rest of Western Europe.

In 1941, the year after France fell, German steelmaker and arms manufacturer Friedrich Krupp A.G. company began constructing Hitler’s Gustav gun, according to “Top Secret Weapons” documentary.

The four-story, 155-foot-long gun, which weighs 1,350 tons, shot 10,000-pound shells from its mammoth 98-foot bore.

Here’s what the gun looked like when fired:

The massive weapon was presented to the Nazis free of charge to show Krupp’s contribution to the German war effort, according to historian C. Peter Chen.

In spring 1942, the Gustav gun made its debut at the siege of Sevastopol. The 31-inch gun barrel fired 300 shells on the Crimean city.

German nazi gunScreen grabTwenty-two US troops standing on top of a captured railroad gun, providing reference for its size.

As the Nazis would soon find out, however, the ostentatious gun had some serious disadvantages:

  • Its size made it an easy target for Allied bombers flying overhead
  • Its weight meant it could be transported only via a costly specialised railway (which the Nazis had to build in advance)
  • It required a crew of 2,000 to operate
  • The five-part gun took four days to assemble in the field and hours to calibrate for a single shot
  • It could fire only 14 rounds a day

Within a year, the Nazis discontinued the Gustav gun, and Chen notes that Allied forces eventually scrapped the massive weapon.

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