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9. 8. 2018

Schwerer Gustav

Schwerer Gustav (English: Heavy Gustaf) was a German 80 cm (31.5 in.) railway gun. It was developed in the late 1930s by Krupp in Darłowo (then Rügenwalde) as siege artillery for the explicit purpose of destroying the main forts of the French Maginot Line, the strongest fortifications in existence at the time. The fully assembled gun weighed nearly 1,350 tonnes, and could fire shells weighing seven tonnes to a range of 47 kilometres (29 mi). The gun was designed in preparation for the Battle of France, but was not ready for action when the battle began, and in any case the Wehrmacht's Blitzkrieg offensive through Belgium rapidly outflanked and isolated the Maginot Line's static defenses, eventually forcing the French to surrender and making their destruction unnecessary. Gustav was later deployed in the Soviet Union during the Battle of Sevastopol, part of Operation Barbarossa, where, among other things, it destroyed a munitions depot located roughly 30 meters below ground level. The gun was moved to Leningrad, and may have been intended to be used in the Warsaw Uprising like other German heavy siege pieces, but the rebellion was crushed before it could be prepared to fire. Gustav was destroyed by the Germans near the end of the war in 1945 to avoid capture by the Red Army.

Schwerer Gustav was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat and, in terms of overall weight, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built. It fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece. It is surpassed in calibre only by the unused British Mallet's Mortar and the American Little David bomb-testing mortar (both 36 inch; 914 mm).

Adolf Hitler (second from right) and Albert Speer (right) in front of the 800mm gustav railway gun in the year 1943

Dora was the second gun produced. It was deployed briefly against Stalingrad, where the gun arrived at its emplacement 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the west of the city sometime in mid-August 1942. It was ready to fire on 13 September. It was withdrawn when Soviet encirclement threatened. When the Germans began their long retreat they took Dora with them.

Model of the Dora
By Scargill - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

On 14 April 1945, one day before the arrival of US troops, Schwerer Gustav was destroyed to prevent its capture. On 22 April 1945, its ruins were discovered in a forest 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) north of Auerbach and about 50 kilometres (31 mi) southwest of Chemnitz. In summer 1945 Schwerer Gustav was studied by Soviet specialists and in autumn of the same year was transferred to Merseburg, where the Soviets were gathering German military material.[13] Thereafter, the trail of the gun was lost.

In March 1945, Dora was transferred to Grafenwöhr and was blown up there on 19 April 1945. It was discovered by American troops some time after the discovery of Schwerer Gustav. The debris was scrapped in the 1950s.

Part of the third (52 centimetre) gun was found after the war in the Krupp production facilities in Essen.

The world's largest "Dora ensemble" is located in the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr in Dresden.

Model in the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr
By Jan Wellen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Zdroj:, YouTube