By Marc Romanych, Martin Rupp, Henry Morshead
Within the early days of worldwide battle I, Germany unveiled a brand new weapon – the cellular 42cm (16.5 inch) M-Gerät howitzer. on the time, it was once the most important artillery piece of its sort on the planet and a heavily guarded mystery. while struggle broke out, of the howitzers have been rushed without delay from the manufacturing facility to Liege the place they fast destroyed forts and forced the castle to give up. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German squaddies christened the howitzers ‘Grosse’ or ‘Dicke Berta’ (Fat or massive Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, proprietor of the Krupp armament works that equipped the howitzers. The nickname used to be quickly picked up by way of German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of huge Bertha used to be born. This ebook info the layout and improvement of German siege weapons prior to and through international conflict I. Accompanying the textual content are many infrequent, never-before-published pictures of ‘Big Bertha’ and the opposite German siege weapons. color illustrations depict crucial facets of the German siege artillery.
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Extra info for 42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of WWI
In addition to normal camouflage measures, the batteries tried to avoid detection by limiting the number of rounds fired from a single position and the mobile batteries changed location whenever possible. R. howitzer out of action. More destructive to the siege artillery batteries were premature detonations of rounds in the barrels of the 42cm guns. The first incident occurred on the second day of the offensive when both M-Gerät howitzers of KMK Battery 7 were destroyed. Seeking a cause for the detonations, a team of munitions officers inspected all stocks of 42cm projectiles and shell casings, yet in subsequent weeks the barrel detonations continued – one M-Gerät in KMK Batteries 5 and 6, and one Gamma howitzer in KMK Batteries 2, 8, and 9 – for a total of seven 42cm guns damaged or destroyed.
After the fall of Namur, the French and British Armies retreated south towards Paris. 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.
5cm guns had fired 2,130 rounds while the four 42cm guns had fired 590 rounds; however, both the Germans and Allies attributed the rapid fall of the fortress to the devastating firepower of the 42cm howitzers, which destroyed five of the seven forts that were bombarded. 5cm batteries (four mortars) were sent to support the German Fourth Army’s attack to take the Channel ports. R. howitzer under camouflage netting at Verdun. The netting was removed whenever the howitzer fired. (M. Romanych) was stabilized in positional warfare, the siege guns were assigned to conventional artillery roles.