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History Revisited: Nazi 'Gustav' Was Largest Gun of All Time


It took 500 men to operate.

A story from the blogosphere takes us back in time to Nazi Germany to learn about the largest gun ever built: "The Gustav."

The story goes that back in 1939, Adolf Hitler needed to figure out how to infiltrate the French Maginot line, a highly fortified 930-plus mile long defensive wall along the French-German and French-Italian borders.

To achieve his goal, Hitler planned to simply obliterate the wall completely, hence the need for a "big" gun. He recruited one Friedrich Krupp to engineer a weapon capable of deploying enough ordinance to level the wall.  By 1941, the Krupp company produced the largest gun of all time, the "Gustav Gun."

Ironically, after the gun was produced, Hitler realized he could just circumvent the Maginot via Belgium.

But why let such a monstrosity go to waste? And it wouldn't -- not with the Nazis in charge anyway.

Hitler got his sinister wish and Gustav was eventually put to the test, but only twice. Once during the Siege of Sevastopol and once during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Thankfully, however, the gun was then allegedly captured by Allied troops and cannibalized for scrap.

The Gustav reportedly weighed a whopping 1344 tons and stood 4-stories high. Apparently, it was so heavy it had to be disassembled and attached to rail cars in order to be transported.

Oh, and did we mention it took a 500 man crew, including a two-star general to operate?

Gizmodo brings us the specs:

The Gustav had a bore diameter of 800 mm (just under a yard) and used 3000 pounds, more than a ton, of smokeless powder charge to fire its two primary shell types: a 10,584 lb. high explosive (HE) shell and a 16,540 lb. concrete-piercing shell—roughly the weight of an unladen 71-passenger school bus, travelling at 2700ft/s.

With a maximum elevation of 48 degrees, the HE shell could hit a target 29 miles away, while the bunker-buster could nail anything within 23 miles—both with reasonable accuracy. The Gustav could basically fire a shell over the widest point of Long Island, NY and hit nothing but water. If it did hit, the HE would leave a 30-foot deep crater while the piercing round could penetrate as much as 264 feet of reinforced concrete (or height of the Seattle Exchange Building).

Apparently, Gustav even had a 7 million Deutsch Mark sister named Dora that was reportedly destroyed by the Germans themselves lest it fall into the hands of Russians.

They were capable of dreaming and engineering anything. If only those powers had been used for good.

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