Siege of Sevastopol, 1942, Karl-Gerät and Schwerer Gustav


⇒ “Karl-Gerät” (040/041) (German literally “Karl-device”), also known as Mörser Karl, was a World War II German self-propelled siege mortar (Mörser) designed and built by Rheinmetall. Its heaviest munition was a 60 cm (24 in) diameter, 2,170 kg (4,780 lb) shell, and the range for its lightest shell of 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) was just over 10 km (6.2 mi). Each gun had to be accompanied by a crane, a heavy transport trailer, and several modified tanks to carry shells.

Seven guns were built, six of which saw combat between 1941 and 1945. It was used in attacking the Soviet fortresses of Brest-Litovsk and Sevastopol, bombarded Polish resistance fighters in Warsaw, participated in the Battle of the Bulge, and was used to try to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge during the Battle of Remagen. One Karl-Gerät has survived and the remainder were scrapped after the war.

Karl-Gerät, Sevastopol

Weight 124 t (137 short tons) (firing)
Length 11.15 m (36 ft 7 in)
Barrel length 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in) L/7
Width 3.16 m (10 ft 4 in)
Height 4.38 m (14 ft 4 in) (firing)
Crew 21 (Gun Commander, Driver, Assistant Driver, 18 x Gunners)

Shell separate loading, cased charges
Caliber 600 mm (24 in)
Breech horizontal sliding wedge
Recoil hydro-pneumatic
Elevation 55° to 70°
Rate of fire 1 round/10 min

Engine Daimler-Benz MB 503 A gasoline or Daimler-Benz MB 507 C diesel
580 hp (590 PS)
Power/weight 4.8 hp/ton
Suspension torsion-bar
Fuel capacity 1,200 l (260 imp gal; 320 US gal)
42 km (26 mi) (gasoline engine)
60 kilometres (37 mi) (diesel engine)
Speed 6 to 10 km/h (3.7 to 6.2 mph)


⇒ Schwerer Gustav (English: Heavy Gustaf) was the name of a German 80 cm (31.5 in.) railway gun. It was developed in the late 1930s by Krupp in Darłowo (then Rügenwalde) as siege artillery for the explicit purpose of destroying the main forts of the French Maginot Line, the strongest fortifications then in existence. The fully assembled gun weighed nearly 1,350 tonnes, and could fire shells weighing seven tonnes to a range of 47 kilometres (29 mi). The gun was designed in preparation for the Battle of France, but was not ready for action when the battle began, and in any case the Wehrmacht‘s Blitzkrieg offensive through Belgium rapidly outflanked and isolated the Maginot Line’s static defenses, eventually forcing the French to surrender and making their destruction unnecessary. Gustav was later employed in the Soviet Union at the siege of Sevastopol during Operation Barbarossa, where among other things, it destroyed a munitions depot buried in the bedrock under a bay. The gun was moved to Leningrad, and may have been intended to be used in the Warsaw Uprising like other German heavy siege pieces, but the rebellion was crushed before it could be prepared to fire. Gustav was destroyed by the Germans near the end of the war in 1945 to avoid capture by the Red Army.

It was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built in terms of overall weight, and fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece. It is only surpassed in caliber by the unused British Mallet’s Mortar and the American Little David bomb-testing mortar (both 36 inch; 914 mm).



Type Railway Gun
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1941–45
Used by Wehrmacht
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Krupp
Designed 1934
Manufacturer Krupp
Unit cost 7 million Reichsmark
Produced 1941
No. built 2
Weight 1,350 tonnes (1,490 short tons; 1,330 long tons)
Length 47.3 metres (155 ft 2 in)
Barrel length 32.5 metres (106 ft 8 in) L/40.6
Width 7.1 metres (23 ft 4 in)
Height 11.6 metres (38 ft 1 in)
Crew 250 to assemble the gun in 3 days (54 hours), 2,500 to lay track and dig embankments. 2 Flak battalions to protect the gun from air attack.

Caliber 80 centimetres (31 in)
Elevation Max of 48°
Rate of fire 1 round every 30 to 45 minutes or typically 14 rounds a day
Muzzle velocity 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) (HE)
720 m/s (2,400 ft/s) (AP)
Effective firing range about 39,000 metres (43,000 yd)
Maximum firing range 47,000 metres (51,000 yd) (HE)
38,000 metres (42,000 yd) (AP)


Karl-Gerät – Wikipedia

Schwerer Gustav – Wikipedia

World War 2: The Lost Footage

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