Just before the start of World War II, the French defensive Ligne Maginot Lines, which ran along the German-French border, worried German military officials who feared that a potential invasion of France might fail. Hoping to address this dilemma, the Germans turned to design giant cannons to be used to destroy the Maginot Lines, where German designers spoke of the ability of these cannonballs to penetrate French shields and inflict heavy losses on the Paris armies.
In addition, the Germans did not use giant cannons during the invasion of France in 1940. Instead, the German military leadership preferred to rely on these cannons to deal a fatal blow to the Soviet forces in Crimea in 1942.
In the late 1930s, the German Krupp Corporation began designing the Schwerer Gustav in hopes of fulfilling Hitler’s desire to overthrow the French Maginot defenses. According to the designs, the length of the Gustav heavy cannon was estimated at 47.3 meters, the length of the bombardment cannon was estimated at 32.5 meters, while its weight was about 1350 tons. On the other hand, the caliber of this cannon was estimated at about 800 mm, coinciding with its ability to throw shells, weighing about 7 tons, for a distance of 47 kilometers.
In addition, heavy Gustav represented a railroad cannon. To use it, the Germans needed to disassemble it and transport it by rail before hundreds of engineers could reassemble it. Because of the size of the shells and the assembly and installation process, this cannon was not able to fire many shells, as German officials talked about the possibility of using it to fire only about 14 shells per day.
After their intervention in France through the Ardennes forests, the Germans preferred not to use the heavy Gustav cannon in 1940. In the midst of Operation Barbarossa, which was launched on June 22, 1941, the Germans moved to transfer the heavy Gustav cannon to the eastern front for use in the siege of Sevastopol ) in Crimea.
After the failure of its first attack on Sevastopol, the Axis armies, led by Germany, imposed a siege on this city. By the middle of 1942, the Axis armies launched a new attack on Sevastopol, hoping to wrest it from the grip of the Soviets.
In the midst of this second offensive, launched on June 2, 1942, the artillery and aircraft of the German Air Force launched massive bombing operations against Sevastopol. According to sources from that period, German Air Force planes dropped no less than 20,000 tons of bombs on Sevastopol in June 1942 alone.
During this assault on Sevastopol, the Germans for the first time relied extensively on the heavy Gustav. During the month of February 1942, the German forces began to transfer pieces of this cannon towards the Crimea. On the other hand, the Germans needed about 4 thousand workers and engineers and 5 weeks to install and install the cannon, so that it would be ready to bomb Sevastopol.
During its use from 5 to 17 June 1942, the Gustav Heavy Gun fired 47 shells towards Sevastopol. These bombings targeted the fortresses of Stalin, Maxim Gorky, Molotov and Siberia, and destroyed one of the weapons depots, located 30 meters underground, in Sevastopol.
With the end of his mission near Sevastopol, the Germans dismantled this cannon and moved it towards Leningrad. As the attack on Leningrad faltered, this giant cannon stayed in the region for two years before it was returned to German territory, where a number of specialists ensured its dismantling and destruction in 1945 to avoid falling into the grip of Soviet forces.
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