The famous "Big Bertha"
Usually it is worth only to speak in the company of "techies" about super-big guns, somebody will certainly remember:
- And, “Big Berta”! She shot in Paris ...
But, according to the doctor of technical sciences, professor V. G. Malikov, there are at least two errors in such a judgment. First, it was not “Big Bert” who fired at the French capital, but “Colossal”; secondly, Berta could not spit out a projectile for more than a hundred kilometers. In general, it was like this ...
The night of March 23 1917 of the year passed without a siren howl, announcing the next air raid. However ... “in 7 hours of the morning I heard the strongest, as it seemed to me, bomb blast that shook the windows of our apartment at Ke Bourbon,” recalled Lieutenant A. A. Ignatiev, at that time military attache of Russia in France. - The sirens were silent, and we were even more surprised when, exactly at 7 hours of 15 minutes, the same blow was heard, and at 7 hours of 30 minutes - the third, somewhat more distant. On this sunny morning, Paris froze from the continuing and incomprehensible strong gaps of some unknown bombs. ” These were shells fired from super-long-range German guns.
The idea of subjecting Paris to artillery fire, thereby demonstrating its military power, and morally affecting the French, arose at the Kaiser's rate in the spring of 1916. At the initiative of General E. Ludendorff, it was decided to make a large-caliber gun that could reach Paris from behind the front line, which was then held in 90 kilometers from the capital of France.
The development of the instrument was entrusted to Krupp, who in 1914 made a naval gun, shooting at 56 kilometers. In order to hit Paris, it was necessary to significantly increase the initial velocity of the projectile. As you know, it depends on the length of the trunk. The calculation showed that the supergun will need a barrel with a length of at least 34 meters! It was impossible to cast such a barrel. Therefore, it was decided to make a compound. Behind the five-meter charging chamber was a multi-part internal threaded tube. A six-meter smooth-wall muzzle was attached to it. From the breech trunk was covered 17 meter cover.
An overly elongated but relatively thin barrel weighing ... 138 tons sagged from its own gravity. He even had to be supported by steel cables. After each shot, he hesitated for 2 – 3 minutes. At the end of the shooting, you even had to take it off with the help of gantry cranes and straighten it out.
Under the influence of hot gases produced during the burning of a kilogram of powder 250, friction against the walls of the barrel of a projectile with a mass of 118 kilograms the diameter of the barrel changed. If immediately after production the caliber of the supergun was 210 millimeters, then after firing it increased to 214 millimeters, so the subsequent shells had to be made all thicker.
The long-range monster was taken to the firing position on a railway platform with a carriage weighing 256 tons installed on 18 pairs of wheels. They also perceived recoil energy. There were no special technical problems with horizontal aiming. And from the vertical? In the place from which they intended to bombard Paris, the Germans secretly concreted the site. And on this “cushion” they made a turning circle for a huge platform and an instrument mounted on it. He served 60 commanders of coastal defense, led by Admiral.
Before each shot, some experts at first carefully examined the barrel, the projectile and the charge, others calculated the trajectory taking into account the data of weather reports (direction, wind speed). After taking off from a trunk raised to 52 ° 30 relative to the horizon, the projectile reached 20 kilometers in height in 20 seconds, and later 90 seconds went to the top of the trajectory - 40 kilometers. Then the projectile re-entered the atmosphere and, accelerating, fell on the target at a speed of 922 meters per second. The entire flight over a distance of 150 kilometers he made in 176 seconds.
The first shell fell on the Republic Square. In total in the French capital the Germans fired 367 shells, with a third of them hit the suburbs. 256 Parisians died, 620 people were injured, but the Kaiser command did not reach the goal set by Ludendorff. On the contrary, in July August 1918, the Allies launched an offensive that put Germany on the brink of defeat.
True, several hundred city dwellers left Paris. Rumors about the mysterious supergun "Big Bert", so-called allegedly in honor of the wife of A. Krupp, began to spread. However, as already mentioned, “Big (or Tolstoy”) Bertoi ”was called the short-barreled, 420 millimeter siege mortar, which the German army used during the siege of the Belgian fortress of Liege. And in the French capital three ultra-long 210 millimeter cannons “Colossal” fired. After the conclusion of a truce with the allies, the guns were dismantled, their details and documents hidden.
Nevertheless, the effect produced led to the fact that in World War I, ultra-long-range weapons were developed in other countries. Until the end of the war, French specialists managed to manufacture a heavy 210 millimeter cannon mounted on a multi-axle railway conveyor. The range of its fire was to be at least 100 kilometers. However, this supergun never reached the front line - it was so massive that during transportation no bridge could stand it.
British engineers have chosen the caliber 203 millimeter. The length of the barrel of the English gun was 122 caliber. That was enough for 109 kilogram shells to fly 1500 – 110 kilometers at the initial speed of 120 meters per second.
In Russia, as early as in 1911, military engineer V. Trofimov proposed to the Main Artillery Directorate a draft of a heavy weapon, the shells of which would rise into the stratosphere and hit targets at a distance of more than 100 kilometers. However, the project was rejected. Later, having learned about the shelling of Paris with the Colossal guns, V. Trofimov was the first to explain the essence of ultra-long range shooting, stressing that there is reason to suspect German engineers of borrowing his ideas published before the war.