42cm "Big Bertha" and German Siege Artillery of World War I by Marc Romanych, Martin Rupp

By Marc Romanych, Martin Rupp

Colossal Bertha, Germany's global struggle I most sensible mystery cellular artillery piece, simply destroyed French and Belgian forts, supporting set the degree for trench warfare.

In the 1st days of worldwide struggle I, Germany unveiled a brand new weapon - the cellular 42cm (16.5 inch) M-Gerät howitzer. on the time, it used to be the most important artillery piece of its style on the planet and a heavily guarded mystery. whilst conflict broke out, of the howitzers have been rushed without delay from the manufacturing facility to Liege the place they quick destroyed forts and forced the castle to give up. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German infantrymen christened the howitzers 'Grosse' or 'Dicke Berta' (Fat or huge Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, proprietor of the Krupp armament works that outfitted the howitzers. The nickname was once quickly picked up through German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of huge Bertha was once born. To the Allies, the lifestyles of the howitzers got here as an entire shock and the unexpected fall of the Belgian fortresses spawned rumors and incorrect information, including to the 42cm howitzer's mythology.

In truth, 'Big Bertha" used to be however the final in a chain of large-caliber siege weapons designed by way of the German military for the aim of destroying concrete fortifications. It used to be additionally just one of 2 forms of 42cm calibre howitzers equipped for the military through Krupp and just a small a part of the siege artillery to be had to the German military on the outset of the struggle. Such have been the successes of the German siege weapons that either the French and British Armies determined to box their very own heavy siege weapons and, after the German weapons handily destroyed Russian forts in the course of the German offensives within the east in 1915, the French military deserted their forts. even though, by means of 1916, because the warfare settled right into a stalemate, the effectiveness of the siege weapons decreased till, by means of war's finish, 'Big Bertha' and the opposite siege weapons have been themselves outmoded.

This e-book info the layout and improvement of German siege weapons earlier than and through international battle I, to incorporate 4 types of 30.5cm mortars, types of 28cm howitzers, and kinds of 42cm howitzers (including 'Big Bertha'); in overall, 8 kinds of siege weapons. Accompanying the textual content are many infrequent, by no means sooner than released, images of 'Big Bertha' and the opposite German siege weapons. color illustrations depict an important features of the German siege artillery.

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Extra info for 42cm "Big Bertha" and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard, Volume 205)

Sample text

R. howitzer. The siege batteries fired on three forts and several interval concrete battery positions along the west side of the fortress. Fire control was provided by artillery observers in airplanes and a fixed balloon. Although the bombardment was slow, it was effective, and on the 16th and 17th four heavily damaged forts were easily taken by infantry assault. The loss of the fortifications panicked the Russian garrison and the entire fortress was captured on August 18. Meanwhile, in central Poland, the biggest siege of the Eastern Campaign took place at Novogeorgievsk, the Russian Army’s largest and most important fortress.

5cm Beta-Gerät mortar battery was equipped with the apparatuses. Three apparatuses were needed to move one Beta-Gerät. R. howitzer of SKM Battery 6 in action on the Eastern Front in August 1915. (M. Romanych) 34 To mitigate the bombardment, the French partially evacuated their defenses, returned artillery fire, and even launched an attack to neutralize the main grouping of German artillery northeast of the fortress. However, the measures were inadequate, and on September 5, the VII Reserve Corps launched an assault.

To block the German Army’s advance, ten French infantry regiments with 52 batteries of artillery were left to hold the fortress at Maubeuge. The fortifications were a ring of six partially modernized forts and seven smaller fortified interval works. Most were made of masonry and not strong enough to stand up to 21cm or larger artillery. R. howitzer was one of several siege artillery batteries sent to Flanders in late 1914 to shell the cities and trenches in Flanders. (M. Romanych) KMK Battery 1 in position near Osowiec in February 1915.

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