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Little David


Heavy Siege Mortar


United States | 1944



"The Little David Heavy Siege Mortar was developed to combat the expected fortifications on the Japanese mainland."



Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 05/14/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
In 1944, the United States War Department was planning for the invasion of the Japanese mainland and expecting to encounter very strong fortifications. As such, the Army wuld need a heavy weapon to combat such structures. Specifications were drawn up and the Army figured on a weapon larger weapon than the 16-inch (410mm) guns as found on the Iowa-class battleships shooting a 2,700 lb (1,200kg) shell as these massive weapons had proven ineffective against Japanese bunkers at Iwo Jima.

The new weapon was called "Little David", an American 36-inch (914 mm) caliber mortar, becoming the largest gun ever built (beating both the German "Dora" and "Karl" mega-guns). First used for test firing bombs during World War II, Little David was modified to serve as a siege mortar and it was planned to turn the instrument into an effective "bunker buster". When Japan surrendered, the mainland invasion became unnecessary and Little David was therefore never actually used in combat.

Its potential effectiveness was questionable, however, because of the gun's limited range and accuracy. This mobile mortar was capable of hurling a 3,650-pound projectile a distance of six miles via the giant 22-foot, muzzle-loading rifled mortar tube. Complete with its firing mechanism and other associated parts making up the tube assembly, Little David weighed in at 80,000 pounds. The mortar's metal base half-moon assembly underneath the tube (or barrel) was constructed in a squared huge box that weighed 93,000 pounds. The box would have to be buried underground by its own bulldozer for stability before firing.

Little David would have been transported by two artillery M26A1 tank tractors consisting of a Truck, 12-ton, 6 x 6, Tractor, M26 (Pacific) and a Semi-trailer, 40-ton, M15 (Fruehauf) - the latter also called the 'Dragon Wagon'. The tractors were designated TR-1 by their manufacturers and were powered by the Hall-Scott Type 440 series 240bhp, 6-cylinder gasoline engine. Hall-Scott designed the 440 engine exclusively for the M26A1 and built around 2,100 examples of them. While traveling, the mortar's tube and base assemblies each made up separate tractor loads, while a third tractor would haul the 3,600lb projectiles. A complete Little David unit also included a bulldozer with crane and bucket shovel to dig the emplacement. The huge mortar could be assembled and ready to fire in 12 hours. Comparatively, the largest (820MM) known German artillery weapons were hauled on no fewer than 25 railway cars and required three weeks to be erected into firing position using some 200 crewmen. In that respect, this made Little David more mobile than a railway gun.

One of the last survivors of the Little David gun is on display at the proving grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland, USA.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Little David Heavy Siege Mortar.
None.
Installed Power
6 miles
10 km
Range
Structure
The physical qualities of the Little David Heavy Siege Mortar.
7
(MANNED)
Crew
28.0 ft
8.53 meters
O/A Length
89,596 lb
40,640 kg | 44.8 tons
Weight
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Little David Heavy Siege Mortar.
1 x 36-inch (914mm) rifled barrel.
AMMUNITION:
Shells of HE (High-Explosive) weighing 3,650lb (1,361kg) each.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Little David family line.
Little David - Base Series Designation
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Little David. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 3 Units

Contractor(s): US Army - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
1 / 6
Image of the Little David
Right side view of the Little David firing tube, elevated at a 65-degree elevation
2 / 6
Image of the Little David
Left rear side view of the Little David cannon at a 0-degree elevation
3 / 6
Image of the Little David
Ordnance personnel loading the Little David siege gun
4 / 6
Image of the Little David
The 3,500lb projectile shell used by the Little David siege gun
5 / 6
Image of the Little David
One of the two tractors required to carry the Little David; this one carries the elevation, traverse and associated control mechanisms
6 / 6
Image of the Little David
One of the two tractors needed to transport the Little David gun; this one carries the barrel

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
FIRE SUPPORT / ASSAULT / BREACHING
SPECIAL PURPOSE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Little David Heavy Siege Mortar appears in the following collections:
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