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42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 (Big Bertha)

Imperial Germany (1914)
Picture of 42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 (Big Bertha) Heavy Siege Gun

The 420mm Big Bertha siege gun became a famous World War 1-era heavy artillery piece.


Detailing the development and operational history of the 42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 (Big Bertha) Heavy Siege Gun.  Entry last updated on 2/1/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Big Bertha was a German initiative set into action before World War 1 (1914-1918). The Germans, like their counterparts in Austria-Hungary, observed the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 with great interest where German Krupp guns were utilized to good effect by the Japanese in sinking all Russian Navy capital ships from land-based positions during the Siege of Port Arthur. The famous "Big Bertha" would become a child of this observation and research with design, development and manufacture across twelve examples handled by Krupp Armaments Factory of the German Empire. It is believed that the 42cm L/12 nickname of "Big Bertha" was bestowed upon the weapon in honor of Bertha Krupp, owner of the Krupp production empire.

Big Bertha was a 96,000lb (43 ton) system that could lob 1,800lb shells nearly 8 miles (7.8) firing a 419mm projectile. The mounting hardware allowed for an elevation range of +40 to +75 degrees and a traversal of 4 degrees to either side. Muzzle velocity was 1,300 feet per second. Such was the size and weights in play with the Big Bertha that the weapon required a crew of dozens some six hours to assemble and disassemble the weapon. When not transported by Daimler-Benz tractors, the system was broken down and hauled via railway in no fewer than ten transport cars.

The Big Bertha's first notable combat action was against the "impenetrable" series of Belgian forts at Liege on August 12th, 1914. The huge German guns laid waste to the Belgian defenses in four days, demoralizing Allied forces and convincing the Germans to continue exploration into more mobile and powerful howitzers which inevitably included the famous "Paris Gun". Though highly inaccurate due to the distances involved and technology at play, the Paris Gun would terrorize Parisians from a range of 70 miles away showing that even the French capital was not safe from war.

Big Bertha crews could manage a rate-of-fire of 8 rounds per hour. While twelve total units were constructed prior to and during the war, eighteen additional barrels also existed. After the war, the Big Berthas were either confiscated by the conquerors or scrapped and none saw service into World War 2. At least two were outright captured and one sent to the United State's Aberdeen Proving Ground for extensive testing. This specimen was later on display at the US Army Ordnance Museum and, for whatever reason, scrapped sometime in the 1950s. No existing Big Bertha guns are known.

Any available statistics for the 42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 (Big Bertha) Heavy Siege Gun are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering initial year of service, country-of-origin, manufacturer and total production numbers. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed armament and ammunition carried, global users (from A-to-Z) and model variants in the series.


Supported Mission Types:
Tank-vs-Tank
Recon/Scouting
Troop Transport
Infantry Support
High Mobility
Tank Destroyer
Special Forces
Towed Artillery
Self-Propelled Artillery
Rocket Artillery
Anti-Armor
Airspace Denial
Engineering
Logistics
Prototype/Development
Special Purpose
Amphibious
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: Imperial Germany
Service Year: 1914
Manufacturer(s): Krupp Armaments Factory - Imperial Germany
Classification Type: Heavy Siege Gun
Production Units: 12
Global Operators:
Imperial Germany
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Operating Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the 42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 (Big Bertha) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
200


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
19.29 ft


Meters
5.88 m


Operating
WEIGHTS


Tons (US Short)
47 t


Kilograms
43,000 kg


Pounds
94,799 lb

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
None. This is a towed artillery piece. Daimler-Benz tractor for towing in four major components OR across ten rail cars.

Engagement
RANGE


Miles
9 mi


Kilometers
15 km

Armament and Ammunition:

1 x 420mm (16.5in) gun barrel

Ammunition:
Dependent upon ammunition carrier.
Optional Systems / Capabilities:

Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) Protection: None
Nightvision (NV) Equipment: None
Variants: Series Model Variants
• 42cm Type M-Gerat 14 L/12 ("Big Bertha") - Base Series Designation; 12 units produced.