Home WORLD When Railroad Guns Ruled – How Germans Turned Trains Into Massive Artillery...

When Railroad Guns Ruled – How Germans Turned Trains Into Massive Artillery in WWII

War trains dominated combat for more than 100 years. Massive rail-borne artillery shelled the enemy while trains unloaded troops and supplies. For a brief moment, the terrifying machines were the most powerful weapon on the battlefield. But technology advanced.

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Railway guns like the German WWII K5 gun had a very narrow aim. To get around that problem, Germans developed a circular track, allowing the gun to rotate and fire in 360 degrees.

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Railway guns have been rendered obsolete by advances in technology. Their large size and limited mobility make them vulnerable to attack, and similar payloads can be delivered by aircraft, rocket, or missile.

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The Krupp 28-cm-Kanone 5 , in short K5 was a heavy railway gun used by Germany throughout World War II. This gondola was then mounted on a pair of 12-wheel bogies designed to be operated on commercial and military rails built to German standards.


Heavy artillery pieces that lobbed either 255 kilogram (562 pound) or 265 kilogram (547 pound) shells to a maximum range of 64 kilometers (forty miles), K5’s were fairly long range guns, with fifteen rounds per hour firing rate

With each train requiring a pair of locomotives, which included both steam and diesel propelled units, there was one consist for each railway gun and a third that was made up of freight, refrigerator, and passenger cars, which carried the shells, equipment, cordite, and large support crew that was needed during deployment.