By Marc Romanych, Martin Rupp
Titanic Bertha, Germany's international warfare I most sensible mystery cellular artillery piece, simply destroyed French and Belgian forts, aiding set the level for trench warfare.
In the 1st days of global struggle 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 earth and a heavily guarded mystery. while battle broke out, of the howitzers have been rushed at once from the manufacturing unit 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 monstrous Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, proprietor of the Krupp armament works that outfitted the howitzers. The nickname used to be quickly picked up through German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of massive Bertha was once born. To the Allies, the lifestyles of the howitzers got here as a whole shock and the unexpected fall of the Belgian fortresses spawned rumors and incorrect information, including to the 42cm howitzer's mythology.
In fact, 'Big Bertha" was once however the final in a sequence 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 different types of 42cm calibre howitzers outfitted for the military via Krupp and just a small a part of the siege artillery on hand to the German military on the outset of the battle. 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, via 1916, because the battle settled right into a stalemate, the effectiveness of the siege weapons reduced until eventually, through war's finish, 'Big Bertha' and the opposite siege weapons have been themselves outmoded.
This publication info the layout and improvement of German siege weapons sooner than and through international battle I, to incorporate 4 versions of 30.5cm mortars, models of 28cm howitzers, and varieties of 42cm howitzers (including 'Big Bertha'); in overall, 8 sorts of siege weapons. Accompanying the textual content are many infrequent, by no means earlier than released, images of 'Big Bertha' and the opposite German siege weapons. color illustrations depict crucial features of the German siege artillery.
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Extra resources for 42cm "Big Bertha" and German Siege Artillery of World War I (New Vanguard, Volume 205)
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. The fortifications consisted of an outer ring of 29 armored concrete forts surrounding an inner ring of older forts with a large citadel in the center. The fortress was garrisoned by four divisions and was expected to hold out for several months as the rest of the Russian Army withdrew from Poland.
About half of the siege artillery was employed on the Eastern Front. The siege guns’ first action was to support the German Eighth Army’s attempt to take Osowiec in February. Located in northeastern Poland, the fortress consisted of a group of four large masonry forts sited on high ground surrounded by marshland. The attacking force was the reinforced 11th Landwehr Division. 5cm mortars. R. R. howitzer), and KMK Battery 1 (two 42cm Gammas) joined in. Even with six siege guns shelling the fortifications, the bombardment was unsuccessful due to the siege batteries lacking observation and having to fire blindly at their targets, and also because of the effective Russian counter-battery fire which hit both Skoda batteries.
The capture of these three forts broke the fortress ring and German infantry occupied the city. The remaining six forts quickly fell on the 24th and 25th. One of the forts – Andoy – surrendered after Skoda mortars pounded it with 450 rounds and smashed all but one artillery turret. 5cm Beta-Gerät mortar being loaded by its crew. 5cm projectiles were not particularly effective against the concrete of the forts at Antwerp, although direct hits from Beta mortar projectiles did destroy two armored cupolas.