This is the Schwerer Gustav, or, in English, the Heavy or Great Gustav. And very, very heavy and great it was — it weighed 1,350 tonnes and could fire a 7 tonne shell to a range of 30 miles.
Developed by Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, the Heavy Gustav 800 mm caliber monster canon was explicitly designed as a siege artillery weapon to penetrate and decimate the super thick reinforced concrete fortifications of the French defensive facility known as the Maginot Line.The infamous, Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, was personally involved in the gun’s commissioning.
image/text credit: Ultimate Military Channel
In fact it was not until Hitler visited the Krupp company and enquired about the viability of such a theoretical weapon that things were finally set in motion and the colossal cannon was born.And so it was in June of 1942 and at the Eastern Front siege of Sevastopol that Gustav was called in, and first used in combat.
In spite of a massive conventional German aerial and artillery bombardment, the tenacious Soviets, safely hidden in their massive underground bunkers, had so far managed to hold the strategically critical port city of Sevastopol.It was therefore hoped by the German High Command that Gustav’s imminent arrival would help break the stalemate and end the siege in their favour.
Transported to the Crimea on a heavily customized 1.5 kilometre long 25 car train, Gustav was painstakingly positioned, assembled, and secured by some 3800 personnel. And when the world’s largest ever gun was finally unleashed, it proved to be utterly devastating.
Over a short 4 week period commencing on the 5th of June 1942, Gustav operated with clinical and overwhelming force — with a single 7-tonne concrete piercing shell reportedly penetrating more than 100-feet of earth before obliterating a crucial Soviet underground ammunitions store.By early July, Gustav had brought the siege to a decisive conclusion – with the Soviets surrendering and with the city of Sevastopol left in ruins.