Karl-Gerät file photo [8663]

Karl-Gerät

CountryGermany
ManufacturerRheinmetall AG
Primary RoleSelf-Propelled Gun

Contributor:

ww2dbaseIn Mar 1936, German manufacturing firm Rheinmetall AG began to work on a super-heavy howitzer for attacking the French defensive Maginot Line. Initially, the idea was to build a large caliber weapon that was to be transported in pieces and assembled near the front, however the time needed to assemble such a weapon made the proposal inadequate, thus by Jan 1937 the plan had changed for the design to be self-propelled. Firing trials took place in Jun 1939, and driving trials were in May 1940. Because General Karl Becker of the German Army was deeply involved with the development, the design eventually bore his name, Karl-Gerät. Between Nov 1940 and Aug 1941, seven Karl-Gerät howitzers were built; they were nicknamed Adam, Eva, Thor, Odin, Loki, and Ziu (the seventh had no nickname). 22 Panzer IV tanks were especially converted to each carry four shells for these large-caliber howitzers. They were still mostly transported in pieces as originally thought, mainly for speed concerns, but their Daimler-Benz engines also offered a 10 kilometers-per-hour speed for front-lines maneuvering and aiming.

ww2dbaseKarl-Gerät self-propelled howitzers were first used against the defenses at Brest, Belarus in Aug 1941. In Jun and Jul 1942, three of them fired on the Russian city of Sevastopol, causing devastation to concrete bunkers. For the following two years, they were, more than once, ordered to assist in the siege of Leningrad, Russia, but each time the plans were canceled. On 13 Aug 1944, a battery was created with Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer number 6, "Ziu", to be attached to the German 9th Army and to be assigned to counter the Warsaw Uprising in Poland. "Ziu" arrived at the Warsaw West train station at 0700 hours on 17 Aug 1944, but the train containing its ammunition did not arrive until the following day. Through the following 30 days, three more Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzers arrived at Warsaw, bombarding Polish insurgent positions from outside the city. In Dec 1944, at least one of them participated in the Battle of the Bulge.

ww2dbaseAs the European War neared its end, Number 2 "Eva", Number 5 "Loki", and Number 7 were captured by the Americans between 21 Mar and 11 Apr 1945; Number 7 was shipped to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, United States for evaluation, and it was later scrapped. Number 6 "Ziu" was captured by the Russians on or about 20 Apr 1945 near Jüterbog, Germany; it is now on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia. Number 1 "Adam" and Number 3 "Thor" were likely to be captured by the Russians as their last known location was in Jüterbog.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

SPECIFICATIONS

Number 1 'Adam'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 503 A 12-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x54cm L/11.55 howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed10 km/h
Range42 km

Number 2 'Eva'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 503 A 12-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x60cm howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed10 km/h
Range42 km

Number 3 'Thor'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 507 C 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x60cm howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Speed6 km/h
Range60 km

Number 4 'Odin'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 507 C 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x54cm L/11.55 howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed6 km/h
Range60 km

Number 5 'Loki'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 507 C 12-cylinder diesel engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x54cm L/11.55 howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed6 km/h
Range60 km

Number 6 'Ziu'
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 503 A 12-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x60cm howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed6 km/h
Range42 km

Number 7
MachineryOne Daimler-Benz MB 503 A 12-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 580hp
SuspensionTorsion bar
Armament1x60cm howitzer
Crew21
Length11.15 m
Width3.16 m
Height4.38 m
Weight126.4 t
Speed6 km/h
Range42 km

Photographs

Prudential building in Warsaw, Poland exploding as it was hit by a shell from a German Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer, 28 Aug 1944An unexploded shell from German Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer, basement of Prudential building, Warsaw, Poland, 30 Aug 1944German Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer German Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer
See all 7 photographs of Karl-Gerät Self-Propelled Gun



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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Nov 2009 03:40:54 PM

The Karl series weapons were produced during the 1930's. Work on the actual hardware began during 1937,and the first guns ready by 1939 The Karl Gerat 040/60cm mortar was the largest self-propelled weapon ever built. It could fire high explosive shells that were 2.5 meters long and weighed 4,800lbs. 6.7 miles and created a crater over 50ft wide! Rate of fire 6 rph (rounds per hour). Barrel life was 60 rounds six production weapons were built. Ammunition was transported in special tracked Munitionsschlepper's converted from the PzKpfw IV each vehicle carried four rounds. The crew was over 1,400 men,and was commanded by a Major General. The Railway version 041/54cm Karl Gerat fired the same high explosive ammunition that was 2.5 meters long and weighted 4,800lbs. range was 10.4 miles with same rate of fire 6 rph (rounds per hour) a slow rate of fire about one round every 10 minutes. Ammunition was carried by PzKpfw IV's, that carried four rounds. Barrel life was the same 60 rounds. Both of these Karl weapons were massive and ponderous brutes alot of time and effort went into servicing these weapons technically they were self-propelled however,their mobility was limited. For long-distance travel they were carried slung between specially designed railway cars Shorter trips the weapons were broken-down and carried on special trailers. Assembly was within range of the target. The whole process was difficult, but the Karl weapons were not designed for mobile warfare. The massive Karl's were really fortification smashing weapons, and they had only limited tactical mobility. They had to be carried to the firing position by special trailers in sections and then assembled on site within range of the target. During the last days of W.W.II most were destroyed by their crews. Only a few of the PzKpfw IV ammunition carriers survived. One weapon may survive in Russia,as a museum piece. What is a Mortar: A muzzle loading weapon for indirect fire with either a rifled or smooth bore. It has a shorter range then a howitzer, and a high angle of fire between 45 and 90 degrees.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
4 Nov 2009 04:22:05 PM

The manpower needed besides the firing crew necessary to maintain, move, supply and defend the weapon,was just enormous. The men needed: You needed the Artillerymen, different crews to fire and handle the huge rounds and power-bags,Communications to link all field telephones under Command and Control and the Fire Control Section, Supply order and issue all necessary cleaning supplies, tools, spare parts for all wheeled and tracked vehicles.The mechanics to service all vehicles. Crews to dispose of all un-used power bags, Medical personnel, Cooks and unit orderly messengers, Infantry and flak gun crews to protect the weapon. This detachment could be about 1,500 men, not covering some units assigned during operations and under command of a General. Anyway,this is my guess knowing most armies operate this way, except today their are no railway guns, just conventual artillery.

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Karl-Gerät Self-Propelled Gun Photo Gallery
Prudential building in Warsaw, Poland exploding as it was hit by a shell from a German Karl-Gerät self-propelled howitzer, 28 Aug 1944
See all 7 photographs of Karl-Gerät Self-Propelled Gun




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