The most powerfull gun of all times
Sometimes, madness leads to genial ideas. One can say : "is a gun a good idea ?" Well, it must be true, or else why do we build so many ones? Guns,as any weaponery, require high technology, and fine engeneering.
The Dora gun. A masterpeace, indeed.
The immense weapon you can see have existed. Moreover,
there were two of these incredible guns. It has been manufactured by Krupp for
the third Reich during WW-2. Hitler wanted "a gun able to pierce a meter of
stell, seven meters of concrete, or thirty meters of dense earth". As you can
see, it's a railroad gun. But it's so large that two railways are just enough to
ensure stability and weight distribution.
Three calibers could have been used: 700, 800 and even 1000 mm ! The Oberkommando Heer conducted the fisrt tests of these enormous guns during 1935, for the growing Reich. You must know that railroad guns where very numorous during WW-2: they represented mobile high-power artillery. Before the Dora, the largest of these were 280 mm units. The design of the gun, which was very demanding, ended in 1937.
Even now, we can hardly imagine how we could manufacture the enormous 290 tonnen barrel, an huge steel pipe, 32 meters long. Monobloc trunion craddles, on which are put the trunion pins of the barrel, are as tall as a 4-floor building : these oversized parts needed long preparation, and initial delivery date during spring 1940 could not be met. The gun was ready in '41, and undergone testing at the Hillersleben training ground. It was ready for action in late 1942.
Unfortunately (for the gun), all its targets where almost down or captured at this time: the Maginot line, Gibraltar...
The only target the Dora crushed was Sevastopol. During five days, the gun shot 48 shells over 7 targets. Its monstruous power put down the forts of the town, delivering never seen damage at each shot. You know the "bang" a rifle does, so try to imagine the sound of apocalypse when a 7 ton shell is fired, using thousands pounds of gun powder, enough to send it dozens of miles away... This is not sci-fi, this was the madness of a tyran, and probably the most outstanding achievement in conventionnal balistics.
|Effective range||40 km|
|Total weight||1350 tonnen|
|Barrel weight||400 tonnen
including 110 tonnen breech block & ring
|Overall lenght||43 m|
|Barrel lenght||32 m (40 times its caliber)|
|Shell type||Armor capped 3.75 meter shell (without propellant casing)|
|Shell Weight||7100 kg|
More photos of the monster:
The gun was far too heavy to be placed on a turning table, so, to aim at its target, it was necessary to push the gun along a curved track. Hence, the gun was able to shoot over a large area:
Here is the armor piercing shell: armor tipped, three meters long, 7100 kg. The soldier is standing aside the propellant casing, that is 1.30m high. Impressive...
Loading such massive ammunition was impossible for any team of (servants). To push the shell in the breech a power ramming gear was used. You can see it on this photo, rear to the breech. It has been took during loading operations :
For the same reasons, shells were lifted to the upper (platform) using two shell hoists. You can see these on the next photo, where the barrel is raised to its maximal elevation. The hoist, like many other systems on the gun, where very basic and electricaly operated. They are comletely at the end of the carriage :
None of the two (and half) guns survived the war intact : their commanders (mad nazi officiers) had enough time to blow them up. As far as I can tell, the craftmanship they represented was then lost. Here is a 800 mm barrel (made of two part) with an US soldier :
Last photo : another soldier giving a good idea of the immensity of a 800 mm gun :
Note : the only document I have on these gun (except the book where I found the photos) says that one of the two completed gun never left the proving ground. There is no clue that can help saying if it was wether the Dora or the Gustav, but according to my book, it was the Gustav.
Unfortunately my site is the only one in the web having a
page about this gun (at the moment). This means there is no link for the Dora in
my links page. Anyway, if you know or have anything about this weapon, please
send me an E-Mail.
Funny trick : I had a dog when I was younger. It was a female called...Dora. Now she's dead, but she left many happy little dogs behind her. Let's hope it won't be the same for this gun...