S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com ORDNANCE Railroad Guns Continuation Page keywords = ordnance railroad Aberdeen Sandy Hook Proving Ground Baldwin Locomotive Works Vauclain armor track history self-propelled artillery gun cannon rifle recoil Maryland airplane bomb shell cartidge casing ammunition ammo

Updated:   08 Jan 2015; 18:05  ET [Page created 05 Jan 2012]
[original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/ordrrgns.html

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


ORDNANCE Railroad Guns Continuation Page 2


This continues from ORDNANCE Continuation Page 2.

[Something is horribly wrong here but I'm posting (re-posting?) this without finding out what
and without finishing it (adding 14", 16", and 18" RR gun pix and stories).]
  rev.gif (23 Mar 2017)

Please refer to the HELP section on Continuation Page 3.


On the Main Ordnance Page:
  "Jeep" vs. "GP"
  Unindexed ORDNANCE APOCRYPHA, below

On the Ordnance Atomic Cannon Page:

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 0:
    (combined here from the Main Page and Continuation Pages 1 and 2 on 18 Dec 2006).

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 1:

(Moved from Ordnance Page 2 on 12 Feb 2002).

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 2:

(now continued on this page)   new.gif (05 Jan 2012)

On the Ordnance Continuation Page 3:
  CALIBER (Calibre).
  Anzio Annie
  Russian Armor

On Ordnance Continuation Page 4:
  Drake Cannon
  Coastal Defense Guns at Fort Casey
  M274 Mechanical Mule

On the Atomic Cannon Page:
  Atomic Cannon CQ (Seek You = HELP!)

On the Atomic Cannon Continuation Page 1:
  Atomic Cannon in Asia!

Ordnance Models Page.

On this Ordnance Railroad Guns Continuation Page:
    (continued from Ordnance Continuation Page 2)   new.gif (05 Jan 2012)

The Ordnance Supergun Page

Comet Metal Products Authenticast Models Page.

As noted on Page 1, army ordnance buffs should visit the Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground* off Routes 40 and I95 just south of Havre de Grâce and the Susquehanna River Toll Bridge - very much worth the time (and allow plenty of that, in proportion to your interest!).  There are acres of tanks and armored vehicles, domestic and foreign, of all eras, Anzio Annie, a 280mm Atomic Cannon, a 16" coastal defence gun, a V1 buzz bomb and a V2 rocket, and a great indoor museum with a fine small arms collection!  This fabulous museum is an absolute must for the ordnance devotée!  More about the Museum and its history is on Page 1.

* - the Ordnance Museum is in the process of moving (in part) to Ft. Lee, Virginia (as of Jan 2012).

Here is Anzio Annie (the 280mm German "Leopold" K5 railroad gun - see also below) before she came to APG:

Anzio Annie (Leopold)
(Ordnance Museum Foundation Photo)

and as she sits on a scrap of track now:

Anzio Annie (Leopold) APG   Anzio Annie (Leopold) APG
(Ordnance Museum Foundation Photos)

[More on Anzio Annie on Page 3.]

The K5 railroad gun was the prototype from which the Atomic Cannon was developed; see much more on the Atomic Cannon page, et seq.,


note-rt.gif - material on the WWI-era 14" RR guns (which served) and 16" RR guns (which didn't make it in time) will follow here.  For the nonce, I am merely repeating what appeared on Ordnance Continuation Page 2.   new.gif (05 Jan 2012)

There is excellent coverage of railroad guns (not just German) in the 1976 Squadron/Signal Publications "Armor No. 15", "German Railroad Guns in Action", by Joachim Engelmann (distributed in Great Britain by Almark Publishing Co. Ltd.), or it's German predecessor, "Deutsche Eisenbahngeschütze" from Podzun-Verlag.

Speaking of railroads and ordnance (witness Anzio Annie at the top of this page), had you seen Dr. Nicholas D. P. Robinson's "http://www.cix.co.uk/~nrobinson/railgun/" railway gun and armo(u)red train site?  It was huge and slow loading, but ohboyohboy!  If you're not familiar with railway guns, just take a look at the German D1, below or at "http://www.cix.co.uk/~nrobinson/railgun/dora/index.htm" "Dora", a.k.a. "Schwere Gustav", 80cm (31½"), sitting on 40 axles, the world's largest mobile gun by far, and claimed by Dr. R. as the world's largest gun, period, which took an entire train of 28 support cars and spanned two curved tracks (for training) when self-erected; she was used effectively by the Wehrmacht to demolish the defenses of Sebastopol during WWII:

[More on Anzio Annie on Page 3.]

  [The good doctor advised (25 Feb 2001) that his site has been moved to a new server (yet again);
the links have been changed again and you should change your bookmarks accordingly.]

The good Dr. R. had evaporated and none of his links worked - I heard from him on 18 Oct 2006 and he advised that his website had been frozen and the the material was now at <www.railwaygun.co.uk>; well, it happened again and it is now (as of 02 Jul 2008) at http://www.aopt91.dsl.pipex.com/railgun/ [I am NOT updating the more-detailed links below].

Dora RR Gun Side View

Can you believe this?  But, oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.  Take a gander at her self-erecting herself (with a lot of human help, 2,000 of 'em); bear in mind that the gun, recoil mechanism, carriage, cranes, etc., were all parts of, or stowed on, a single-track train:
Dora RR Gun Erecting
You know; it's totally inappropriate to designate a gun this big and long as "she"!

Here's a "totally awesome" (quite literally) view from in front:
Dora RR Gun Photo

Bend and stretch, reach for the sky, indeed (and the top of the photo is MISSING!):
Dora RR Gun Photo

And just look at this cute little shell and casing:
Dora RR Gun 80cm Shell Photo
My, what a tiny Tommy!

Dr. R. now has a page of photos of the remains of Dora that you really have to see to believe and see also the commercial HO model on my model railroad page!

Photographs from Dr. Robinson's site; I can't spare more bytes; go there for more photos.

Per Dr. R., "The largest gun ever built had an operational career of 13 days, during which a total of 48 shells were fired in anger.  It took 25 trainloads of equipment, 2000 men and up to six weeks to assemble.  It seem unlikely that such a weapon will ever be seen again."
Let us earnestly hope he's right.

Dr. R. links a French site, Palpatine's (Jean's), with even more photos and these dimensions (edited, and English equivalents added, by SB,III)

Effective range 40 km {25 miles} <-- This was WRONG (it was 65 miles - MY mistake)!rev (07 Jan 2015)
Max. elevation 53°
Total weight 1350 tonnen {1,485 tons}
Barrel weight 400 tonnen {440 tons} including
110 tonnen {121 tons} breech block & ring
Overall length 43 m {141'}
Width 7 m {23'}
Height 12 m {39' 4"}
Barrel length 32 m (105'} (40 times its caliber)
Shell type Armor capped 3.75 meter {12' 4"} shell
(without propellant casing)
Shell Weight 7100 kg {7½ tons - 15,653 lbs}

    * - as reminded on 07 Jan 2015 by Dr. P. Wilhelm, Gustav's/Dora's range was 40k (40,000) yards = ~ 25 miles, NOT 65 miles; thanks, Dr. W.!   new (08 Jan 2015)

Dr. R. also links a German Dora site (nur auf Deutsch).

There is a lot of question over how many 80cm RR guns Krupp actually made after Hitler released an order for three.  Some undocumented accounts show that Schwerer Gustav was a proof piece and scrapped after test firings and that Dora E was the second unit.  Personally, I doubt this very much; it's amost as believable as building a test Empire State Building, Hindenburg, or Queen Mary and junking it after.  Just isn't likely, especially not in wartime Germany.  I would respectfully submit that the test unit was refitted (the normal procedure) and shipped to Sevastopol under the moniker Dora.

At last!  On the German site, I found this small picture of a BIG gun being fired:

Dora RR Gun Firing
(from German Dora site;
sorry, I can not provide a larger image.)

There WERE larger guns, by caliber (calibre) alone.  Of course, caliber (calibre) has two meanings; bore diameter and length in diameters.  Thus, the Paris Gun was by far the longest gun ever (unless one of the HARP models, or Saddam Hussein's equivalent, was longer) or just the beast described above at Aberdeen would qualify for diameter, as would the monster mortar in Red Square in Moscow.  However, Dora/Gustav is by FAR the largest railway (even mobile) gun ever!

Actually, looking at "Armor No. 15" again after many years, I see that there were several RR guns larger than the "standard" 280mm used in WWII; 30, 30.5, 32, 34, and even 37cm RR guns were used by the French, captured by the Germans, and turned on the Allies.  These were, however, "normal" length guns, neither howitzers nor extreme.

There were enormously long RR guns in use at 20.3 and 21cm dia.; the barrels were so long that, as with the WWI Paris gun, the 1,215cm (over 257'!) long barrels had to be trussed to keep from drooping.

Dr. R. found plans showing both a roadable version of Dora/Gustav and one to hide in a tunnel (to fire across the English Channel)!

Dr. R. also links an American site, Michael McSwiney's, with an enormous amount of information on German ordnance, especially on AFVs and Dora/Gustav and speculation about their roadable version.

Dr. R. has some background on the special paired boxcab oil-electric locomotives used to pull and power the Dora, the V 188.  Märklin makes (made?) a 3-rail model (37284) of them in HO scale in red and states that they survived and have been restored !  Trix makes the same model in green in HO 2-rail (22541).

The 1976 Squadron/Signal Publications "Armor No. 15", "German Railroad Guns in Action", by Joachim Engelmann, noted above, carries outstanding coverage of Dora/Gustav on pp. 35-41.

There is a 14" railway gun on display at the U.S. Naval Historical Center at the Navy Yard in SE Washington, D.C.; it was one of eight* built for service in Europe in WWI.

* - according to Navy Yard placarding, but read on:

(Photo from Dr. Robinson's site)

Frederick Westing's "The Locomotives that Baldwin Built" (1966, Bonanza Books/Crown Publishers/Superior Publishing Company, LoC 66-25422) reproduces the "History of the Baldwin Works - 1831-1923", which relates the almost-contemporaneous story of these guns.  They were intended for use against long-range German guns firing into Dunkirk from Ostend and the mounts were designed by the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, D.C., utilizing available standard naval 14" guns.  Baldwin's president, Samuel M. Vauclain, was also the Chairman of the Munitions Committee of the War Industries Board and offered on 25 Jan 1918 to have Baldwin, working with American Bridge Company, build five units in from 100 to 120 days and the first gun, scheduled for 15 Jun, was delivered on 25 May!  The mounts were on four six-wheel trucks and proved out just fine but could not be deployed to the Belgian coast and were instead sent to the Western Front, where they served for six weeks until the Armistice, firing 782 rounds in 25 days.  Six more mounts were completed after the Armistice, plus an additional two of an improved design, for a total of thirteen (not eight) units.  Incidentally, these land-based batteries were served by U. S. Navy crews (much like the very first tanks).

The Wehrmacht also built a giant 60cm howitzer-cum-mortar and a giant medium-length 54cm gun on huge tracked carriages which were hoisted on split Schnabel cars; here's the Hasegawa 1/72-scale model of the mortar, Mörser Karl:

Hasegawa 1/72 Mörser Karl

Six (6) 60cm Mörser Karl, Gerät 040, at 5.068m (16' 7½") gun length, were built but Hitler ordered that a longer-range (10km) version be made and the 54cm gun [7.108m (23' 3¾") long] was substituted on three (3) chassis to make the Gerät 041.

Here, from the good Dr. R's site are a drawing and the 60cm 040, the 54cm 041, the loading scheme, and the whole shebang, plus another kit picture:

Mörser Karl Drawing

60cm Mörser Karl 040 54cm Mörser Karl 041

Mörser Karl Loading Scheme

60cm Mörser Karl 040

Hasegawa 1/72 Mörser Karl
(Photos from Dr. Robinson's site)
[Three images restored 03 Jul 08]

Having managed to lose three of those Karl images, I appled to Dr. R.; he did not have them any longer, but sent these, instead:

Mörser Karl 3-view Drawing

Mörser Karl on Rail in Station

Mörser Karl on Rail in Field
(Photos courtesy of Dr. N. D. P. Robinson)

Oh, wow!  That last is clearly of the 54cm 041, and, if you look closely, the tracked carriage is being dropped onto (or lifted from) the rails at the left!

Wait a sec.; "if you look closely", that sure looks like a GI at the left and severe damage to the left schnabel arm and the carriage at the breech, in which case the carriage has quite literally dropped, not been dropped or lifted (16 Jan 2012).

A 27 Jan 2000 search for something else brought up TWO Hasegawa kits for Mörser Karl, the version with the railcars, kit #HA31032, and just the tracked version with a Pz IV ammo carrier, kit #HA31033, as well as their Leopold, kit #HA31028, all in 1/72 scale at around $30.00 each.   rev (16 Jan 2012)

See Ordnance page 3 for Russian Armor, with a link to a Dutch site and a Kiev museum with a twin-122mm-turreted armored railcar.

An old RR book of mine turns out to have had great WWII RR gun (and armored train) photos all along:  "Steel Rails to Victory", Ron Ziel, 1970, Hawthorn Books, LoC 76-126785.

The ORDNANCE Main Page has had to be split; this is a continuation of ORDNANCE Continuation Page 1, and, in turn, continues on ORDNANCE Continuation Page 3.

[Continued on Ordnance Continuation Page 3).]


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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