80cm Gustav gun file photo [5405]

80 cm Gustav Railway Gun

Country of OriginGermany
TypeRailway Gun
Caliber800.000 mm
Length47,300.000 mm
Barrel Length32,480.000 mm
Weight1350000.000 kg
Ammunition Weight4800.00 kg
Range47,000 m
Muzzle Velocity820 m/s


ww2dbaseThe gigantic 80-cm kanone known as "Gustav" owed its origin to a 1935 Wehrmacht study into what would be needed to penetrate the thickness of concrete, being boasted of in French newspapers, in the newly completed Maginot Line. Krupp AG, a leading German steelworks and armaments manufacturer, were approached with a request to provide ballistic data for hypothetical guns of 70-cm, 80-cm, and 100-cm calibres. This the factory provided, partly as a propaganda stunt and partly as a design exercise. Here the matter might have rested, except that in March 1936 Hitler paid a visit to the Krupp factory, and raised the same question. The proprietor, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen (1870-1950) was therefore quickly able to provide the FĂĽhrer with a comprehensive answer based on the earlier calculations. Krupp (no doubt fully aware of the fate that had already befallen Hugo Junker) was keen to assure Hitler that, although the building of such a monster cannon was a difficult proposition, it could in fact be built. After Hitler had departed, Gustav Krupp decided to take a gamble, and set his design team to work on the 80-cm model. In early 1937 he was in a position to lay a set of drawings before Hitler, who approved, and consented to the allocation of 10 million Marks for the project. The only stipulation being, that gun should be ready to demolish the Maginot Line defences by the spring of 1940.

The manufacture of the cannon proved even harder than had been anticipated. Forging and machining the massive barrel posed many difficult problems and the spring of 1940 came and went without the 80-cm gun being completed. Ultimately the Maginot line was simply outflanked by the German Army rather than demolished. Apart from Hitler nobody on the unenthusiastic German General Staff really missed having the wonder weapon.

Towards the end of 1940 the gun barrel was eventually ready and was test fired for the first time on the Hillersleben range near Magdeburg early in 1941. Finally, about a year later, the remainder of the equipment was ready. Taken to the Rugenward range on the Baltic coast of Pomerania, it was assembled and given its final firing tests in the presence of Hitler. Afterwards Krupp presented the Fuhrer with the gun free of charge as his personal contribution to the war effort. The gun was given the name of "Schwere Gustav" in honour of its originator, but the German artillerymen, with a little less respect, soon irreverently began calling it "Dora" (which is why, for a number of years, it was assumed there were two such weapons).

Although termed a railway-gun, the sheer size of Gustav meant that it actually traveled in sections to meet the loading gauge on German railways. Obviously it could not be transported in one piece. The gun itself was broken down into five units; breech ring and block, the barrel in two halves, the barrel jacket, the cradle and the trunnions. The rest of the mounting was split lengthwise so that as well as being dismantled from the top down, it was also broken into two halves for movement. All these components were carried on special flat-wagons, except for the bogie units which ran on their own wheels.

Gustav eventually went to war at the siege of Sevastopol in July 1942. The whole process of assembling Gustav's 1,329 tons took about three weeks and a force of 1,420 men commanded by a Major-General. When fully assembled it would be 141 feet long, 23 feet wide, and the axis of the barrel some 25 foot above the track. A special four-track section had to be laid to put the gun into action; on the inner tracks the gun bogies were assembled and linked together, and on the outer pair ran a gantry crane for assembling the rest of the weapon. Various parts of the mounting were then built up on top of the bogies; the barrel was assembled by inserting the rear half into the jacket and then fitting the front half on and locking everything together with a massive junction nut. The barrel was then fitted into the cradle and the whole assembly hoisted up and lowered onto the mounting. After this the breech ring was fitted to the end of the barrel by another huge nut and the 20-ton breech block slid into place.

Once ready it opened fire on the Soviet fortifications, within the besieged city, with 4.7-ton high-explosive shells effective to a maximum range was 29 miles. With 7-ton concrete-piercing shells a range of 23 miles was achieved, and one such shell is reported to have penetrated 100-foot of earth before detonating inside an underground ammunition store. Some fifty or so of these massive shells were fired into Sevastopol causing immense damage.

After Sevastopol, Gustav trundled out of the lime-light. It was taken off to besieged Leningrad, but the Russians had other ideas and had pushed the German army back before the Gustav could be made ready. Its only other recorded appearance was outside Warsaw in 1944 when some 30 shells were fired into the city during the abortive rising. After that Gustav vanished. Numerous reports of its discovery in pieces, its scrapping, its capture or abandonment have been suggested but none of them stand up to very close examination; spare barrels and ammunition were found, but the gun itself was never seen again (Despite some reports that it was found wrecked on its special train by a US army unit in Bavaria at the end of the war). It seems likely that it was simply scrapped some time during late 1944.

Gustav had cost 10 million Marks, and the price of the ammunition is unknown, but its only achievement seems to have been the demolition of a few Soviet and Polish defences and one ammunition dump, which was hardly a great achievement for a weapon that had cost so much in effort and money. For propaganda, or for boosting morale, or for frightening an unsophisticated enemy, Gustav, and the other super-guns, may have had their uses, but as a cost effective weapon of war it was nevertheless a non-starter.

Rail Gun (Ian Hogg, War Monthly vol 6, c.mid 1970s)
German Secret Weapons (J.B King & John Batchelor, Purnell's History of the World Wars Special, BPC Publishing, 1974)

Last Major Revision: Dec 2007

80 cm Gustav Railway Gun Interactive Map


80cm Gustav gun, date unknownAdolf Hitler, second from right, Albert Speer, right, and others, at the RĂĽgenwalde testing grounds in Pomerania (now Darłowo, Poland) on 19 Mar 1943 to see the giant 800mm railway gun “Dora,” sister gun to the “Gustav.”

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. aknobben says:
15 Feb 2008 05:18:29 AM

Is it possibly that the first picture is a 28 cm railway canon known as Anzio Annie? the front of the guncarriage looks like it. The second picture is certainly a Dora gun, the front of the carriage is different than the picture. Difference in height changes of the carriage
2. Ivo Aldo Auerbach says:
25 Jun 2008 07:53:40 PM

Muito bom estas curiosidades das Grandes Guerras e Batalhas da histĂłria.
3. Anonymous says:
4 Aug 2008 09:46:46 AM

to aknobben,
Anzio Annie is the US Army Ordenence museum in Maryland, the fisrt pic is definately not that gun. if you look closer you'll see the double carriage where the Anzio gun was a single. By the way to look at that gub is a experience in itself.
4. NagaSadow says:
31 Aug 2008 06:36:40 AM

Some corrections:

A: It’s Rügenwalde or Ruegenwalde not Rugenward

B: 'Dora' and 'Schwerer Gustav 2' (Heavy Gustav 2) were two different guns! 'Dora' was the gun used at Sewastopol, 'Schwerer Gustav 2' never left Germany.

C: None of the guns were used in Warsaw 1944.

D: The gun scrapped in 1944 was 'Langer Gustav' (Long Gustav), the incomplete third(!) super-gun, with a long 50cm barrel.
5. Anonymous says:
16 Jun 2009 12:22:59 PM

Dude that is freaking sweet!!! Where can i buy one of these babies? And does it come in fully automatic?
6. jasper says:
5 Aug 2010 02:26:50 PM

a big gun mounted on a train was used in the smashing down of the warsaw uprising in 1944. Which one was it?
7. Llewelyn says:
19 Jul 2014 04:46:15 PM

Nothing beats a gau-8 on a A-10 warthog
8. rj neptune says:
26 Jun 2015 04:43:19 PM

lov c this thing close up
9. FelixG91 says:
30 Jun 2015 03:31:55 PM

to RJ Neptune:

the gun is gone, but you can see a shell in London at the Imperial War Museum, its huge!

mistaking a K5 series railgun ( Anzio Annie Railway gun) for Dora isnt looking very closely or isnt aware of the size and design differences, Anzio Annie is tiny by comparison but a much more practical weapon.
10. Anonymous says:
13 Nov 2015 10:32:19 AM

11. Sean says:
16 Nov 2015 10:53:54 AM

this article was very helpful.
12. Dnasty says:
20 Nov 2015 09:33:15 AM

awesomer the awesome
13. Jan Bernhardt says:
15 Nov 2016 07:22:11 AM

There were, in fact, 2½ Gustav buildt.... The first Dora...The sekond Gustav 2 and the half of Lange Gustav, with an smaler caliber and a longer barrel....There are no dokumentation for Doras action in Warsaw.... There are fotoewidence of the destruktion of all 3 guns, in different places in germany.
14. Anonymous says:
19 Dec 2016 08:45:59 AM

this was very helpful in my reasearch project
15. Mark Prange says:
19 Jun 2017 07:37:26 PM

Used against Stalingrad?
16. Anonymous says:
20 Dec 2017 12:00:55 PM

Very scary weapon of desturtion
the German's went big our went home
17. Anonymous says:
21 Mar 2018 05:38:54 AM

You mentioned the fate of Hugo Junkers what was his said fate because after several searches his death seemed like of natural causes
18. Anonymous says:
28 May 2019 12:08:31 PM

need gun images for train
19. Anonymous says:
1 Jul 2022 07:46:42 AM

Replying to the question from "17. Anonymous", regarding the "fate of Hugo Junkers"; I found this online:

After the 1933 Machtergreifung, the Nazi seizure of power, Hermann Göring (Goering), the new Reichskommissar of Aviation, requested Junkers and his businesses aid in the German re-armament. Junkers declined, to which the Nazi’s responded to by demanding ownership of all patents and market shares from his remaining companies under threat of imprisonment on the grounds of High Treason. Eventually, to ensure the safety of his wife, Therese, and their many children, Junkers agreed. By that point, however, the Nazi’s had lost patience and confined Junkers under house arrest for a year, during which time he founded the Junkers Research Institute. On his 76th birthday, February 3, 1935, the Nazis visited Hugo Junkers for one last round of “negotiations” to persuade him to give them the rights to his companies. Though there is no official record of how it is known that Hugo Junkers died in his home that day. Very shortly after, his wife Therese ceded all control of the Junkers companies and patents to the Nazis for a tiny fraction of their worth.

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