42 cm gamma mortar “Dicke Bertha”

The 42-cm gamma mortars were manufactured by Krupp to meet the needs of the General Staff for guns capable of destroying the heavy fortresses in Belgium and France.

Under the disguise short naval cannon 1909, the first mortar of this caliber was presented. After the first test runs and the improvement of the ammunition, the first 4 guns were delivered with the beginning of the First World War.
The additional denomination "Dicke Bertha", however, refers only to the version of the guns that are equipped with a wheeled carriage.
For the relocation of the gun 10 railway wagons were necessary and for the construction it took about 24 hours.

Especially when taking the fortresses around the Belgian cities of Liège and Antwerp showed the enormous firepower of the guns. However, unlike modern fortresses, the Belgian ones were not made of reinforced concrete, which explains the great destruction.

The guns were also used at Verdun, but due to the construction with reinforced concrete, the guns did not do so much damage.

After the First World War, all 42-cm guns had to be handed over to the Allies due to the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. However, one of the guns remained undetected on the test site of Krupp and was later discovered and used by the Wehrmacht. During the Eastern campaign and the siege of the Russian fortress Sevastopol, the gun was used for the first time in World War II. The second and final mission took place in September 1944, during the suppression of the uprising in Warsaw. The whereabouts of the gun is still unclear.

 

42 cm gamma mortar "Dicke Bertha"

 

 

 

Data sheet:

Designation: 42 cm gamma mortar
Country of Origin: German Empire
Manufacturer Companies: Krupp
Year: 1909
Number of pieces: 10
Caliber: 420mm
Tube length: 6700mm
Rate of fire: 1 shot/5 min
Mass: 76.400Kg

 

 

42 cm gamma mortar

 

 

 

 

 

You can find the right literature here:

 

German Artillery: 1914-1918 (Fact File)

German Artillery: 1914-1918 (Fact File) Paperback – October 3, 2015

The importance of artillery in warfare grew more and more throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. New developments such as solid cannon barrels improved hit accuracy and the range of projectiles. This Fact File volume focuses on German Artillery during the Great War, when it could be argued that artillery was for the first time the dominant weapon on the battlefield. Wolfgang Fleischer discusses the diversity of artillery developed and used during the First World War by the Germans.

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42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard)

42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 21, 2014

Big Bertha, Germany's World War I top secret mobile artillery piece, easily destroyed French and Belgian forts, helping set the stage for trench warfare.

In the first days of World War I, Germany unveiled a new weapon - the mobile 42cm (16.5 inch) M-Gerät howitzer. At the time, it was the largest artillery piece of its kind in the world and a closely guarded secret. When war broke out, two of the howitzers were rushed directly from the factory to Liege where they quickly destroyed two forts and compelled the fortress to surrender. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German soldiers christened the howitzers 'Grosse' or 'Dicke Berta' (Fat or Big Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, owner of the Krupp armament works that built the howitzers. The nickname was soon picked up by German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of Big Bertha was born. To the Allies, the existence of the howitzers came as a complete surprise and the sudden fall of the Belgian fortresses spawned rumors and misinformation, adding to the 42cm howitzer's mythology.

In reality, 'Big Bertha" was but the last in a series of large-caliber siege guns designed by the German Army for the purpose of destroying concrete fortifications. It was also only one of two types of 42cm calibre howitzers built for the army by Krupp and only a small part of the siege artillery available to the German Army at the outset of the war. Such were the successes of the German siege guns that both the French and British Armies decided to field their own heavy siege guns and, after the German guns handily destroyed Russian forts during the German offensives in the east in 1915, the French Army abandoned their forts. However, by 1916, as the war settled into a stalemate, the effectiveness of the siege guns diminished until, by war's end, 'Big Bertha' and the other siege guns were themselves outmoded.

This book details the design and development of German siege guns before and during World War I, to include four models of 30.5cm mortars, two versions of 28cm howitzers, and two types of 42cm howitzers (including 'Big Bertha'); in total, eight different types of siege guns. Accompanying the text are many rare, never before published, photographs of 'Big Bertha' and the other German siege guns. Colour illustrations depict the most important aspects of the German siege artillery.

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German Artillery of World War One

German Artillery of World War One Hardcover – September 14, 2001

World War I introduced the use of artillery on a hitherto unprecedented scale, changing the very nature of war from a series of set-piece battles to stalemates punctuated by attacks on frontlines. Starting with development of German artillery through 1914, this illustrated history describes in detail the light and heavy howitzers used by the Germans before going on to examine heavy mortars and long-range weapons. Specialist weapons for mountain, coastal and railway use are also covered, along with specialist engineer and infantry guns.

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Railway Guns: British and German Guns at War

Railway Guns: British and German Guns at War Hardcover – February 17, 2017

In the nineteenth century the War Office showed little interest in developing large heavy artillery for its land forces, preferring instead to equip its warships with the biggest guns. Private initiatives to mount a gun on a railway truck pulled by a steam engine were demonstrated before military chiefs in the Southern Counties, but not taken up. However, the development of longer-range guns, weighing up to 250 tons, to smash through the massive armies and trench systems on the Western Front in 1916, led to a rethink. The only way to move these monsters about quickly in countryside thick with mud was to mount them on specially built railway trucks towed by locomotives.

The railway guns were to be put on little-used country lines where they could fire on beaches, road junctions and harbors. The locations and cooperation given by the independent railway companies is explained, as are the difficulties of using the same lines for war and civilian traffic.

The First World War also saw the emergence of large training camps for railway men. When the war ended most railway guns were dismantled and lost in ordnance depots. The Army Council was uncertain about artillery needs in a future war, so training, and development stopped.

This book largely concentrates on the realities of the time, the type of gun, the locomotives, artillery targets, locations, and what it was like when firing took place. It is fully illustrated with pictures, maps and plans covering different aspects of railway guns their locomotives and equipment.

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