Eager to invade France, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler demanded a new weapon that could easily pierce the concrete fortifications of the French Maginot Line — the only major physical barrier standing between him and the rest of western Europe.
The four-story, 155-foot-long gun, which weighs 1,350 tons, shot 10,000-pound shells from its mammoth 98-foot bore.
The massive weapon was presented to the Nazi’s free of charge to show Krupp’s contribution to the German war effort, according to historian C. Peter Chen.
However, as the Nazi’s would soon find out, the ostentatious gun had some serious disadvantages:
- Its size made it an easy target for Allied bombers flying overhead
- Its weight meant that it could only be transported via a costly specialized railway (which the Nazi’s had to build in advance)
- It required a crew of 2,000 to operate
- The 5-part gun took four days to assemble in the field and hours to calibrate for a single shot
- It could only fire 14 rounds a day
Within a year, the Nazi’s discontinued the “Gustav gun,” and Chen notes that Allied forces eventually scrapped the massive weapon.
Here’s a video of the Gustav:
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