"Karl-Gerät" (literally "Karl-device"), also known as "Thor" and "Mörser Karl", was a World War II German self-propelled siege mortar. It was the largest self-propelled weapon to see service
About this creation
The Karl-Gerat was a super-heavy mortar used by the German Wehrmacht during WWII. Seven guns were built, but only six saw combat between 1941 and 1945. It was used in attacking the Soviet fortresses of Brest-Litovsk and Sevastopol, bombarded Polish resistance fighters in Warsaw and participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the attacks against the Remagen Bridgehead. Only two exist today, the others were scrapped after the war. Its heaviest munition was a 60 cm diameter, 2,170 kg shell with a range of just over 10 km. Each gun had to be accompanied by a crane, a heavy transport trailer, and several modified tanks to carry shells.
This took about four hours worth of work over three days. It constitutes 951 bricks.
In March 1936 Rheinmetall made a proposal for a super-heavy howitzer to attack the Maginot Line. Their initial concept was for a weapon that would be transported by several tracked vehicles and assembled on site, but the lengthy preparation time drove them to change it to a self-propelled weapon in January 1937. General Karl Becker of the Artillery Department was involved in the development, from whom the huge weapon gained its nickname
In total, seven Karl-Geräte howitzers were manufactured. The first six had the nicknames "Adam", "Eva", "Thor", "Odin", "Loki", and "Ziu"; the seventh, the research and test weapon (Versuchs-Gerät), had no name. Delivery of the six production vehicles took place from November 1940 to August 1941.
The original heavy 60 cm concrete-piercing shells (schwere Betongranate) made a crater up to 15 m (49 ft) wide and 5 m (16 ft) deep. More range was desired and the light concrete-piercing shell (leichte Betongranate) 040 was introduced in 1942. Firing trials for the 54 cm shells were not completed until the end of 1944 and they were not used in combat before then. The original 60 cm heavy shell had no designation other than the name. The Gerät number was added for the newer shells.
The weapon was moved long distances via rail on a variant of a Schnabel car; the whole chassis was hung between two huge pedestal-mounted swiveling arms fixed to five-axle bogies. When it reached its destination, the weapon was detached from its supporting arms, driven to its intended firing location, then the chassis was lowered to the ground to distribute the recoil forces more evenly in preparation for firing. The Karl-Gerät proved to have no problems moving over normal soil, but under no circumstances was it allowed to make turns on soft soil lest it throw a track. The chassis had to be backed into position to fire, which expedited movement to a new position, but the firing position had to be precisely leveled and the approach route prepared ahead of time to fill in soft spots and any ditches, etc. It could only be loaded at zero elevation, so it had to be re-aimed between every shot.
There were two variants of the Karl-Gerät, the Gerät 040, the original model, armed with a short 60 centimeter caliber barrel and the
Gerät 041, a later model, armed with a long 54 centimeter caliber barrel.
In 1945, No. II (Eva) as well as No. V (Loki) were captured by US forces in March and April of 1945. No. VII, the test weapon, was captured by the US Army in Hillersleben and shipped to Aberdeen Proving Grounds but later scrapped. No. VI (Ziu) was captured by the Red Army, probably when they overran Jüterbog on 20 April 1945. This is on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum, although it is incorrectly marked as No. I (Adam). No. IV (Odin) was also captured by the Red Army. The fates of guns No. I and No. III (Thor) are not known. It is probable both were captured by the Red Army as their last known location was in Jüterbog, less than a month earlier.
Due to the enormous size and weight of the ammunition, twenty-two Panzer IV chassis were modified with a superstructure capable of carrying four shells that replaced the turret and outfitted with a crane as Munitionsschlepper ammunition transporters/loaders. Two or three of these Munitionsschlepper were assigned to each weapon.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get the ammunition carrier and the gun itself together, as LDD crashed whenever I tried to import the carrier to the Karl-Gerat file.
Weight - 124 metric tons
Length - 11.7 meters
Barrel length - 4.2 meters
Width - 3.2 meters
Height - 4.4 meters
Crew - 21 (gun commander, driver, assistant driver and 18 gunners)
Caliber - 60cm
Breech - horizontal sliding wedge
Recoil - hydro-pneumatic
Elevation - 55° to 70°
Rate of fire - 1 round every 10 minutes
Engine - Daimler-Benz MB 503 A 580 horsepower gasoline engine
Fuel capacity - 1200 liters
Range - 42 km
Speed - 6 to 10 km/h