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Remembered Today:

Large caliber German shell casing


iain mchenry
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Language is a very democratic thing. Words mean what users agree that they mean and usage changes over time. Most people accept a bit of flexibility in definition, so as to avoid fussing over it and thereby failing to communicate anything of value. :P

Regards,

MikB

But the usage has NEVER changed in professional military circles. If we want to study war, then surely we have an obligation to try and learn and use correct military terminology.

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I totally agree with you angie999.

John

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If we want to study war, then surely we have an obligation to try and learn and use correct military terminology.

Where a term defines a technical distinction which assists clarity - eg. shrapnel vs shell splinters - I'm quite happy to go along with that.

But where a "correct" term actually obscures distinctions, as this one does - cartridge case could apply from the smallest smallarms to the largest artillery - I think it's quite reasonable to use an expression like shellcase. Nobody reading the actual title to the thread would have expected it to involve, say, a spent case from an HMG or anti-tank rifle. But if it had read 'cartridge casing' instead, they'd have been quite likely to expect that.

Regards,

MikB

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  • 3 weeks later...

Coming into this very late, having just spotted this thread. The shell by which TonyCad's brother is standing is a from a 38mm German naval gun.

There are three such gun positions to the north of Verdun.

Christina

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  • 10 months later...
An American dealer's catalog came out this week and in it is a German shell case, which he is calling 255mm and over three feet tall (10" diameter, 40-1/2" tall). It has the same maker, Patronenfabrik Karlsruhe, dated July 1918.

Hi Chip,

This is my first posting, I joined so I could ask; does anyone know what gun fired this calibre? It was actually 25,2 cm according to the listing (252 mm), but I cannot find any Kaiserliche-Marine ship that had 25,2 cm Geschütze. Nor can I find any coastal or railways guns that used this caliber. But, it is correctly Marine marked etc. Any ideas? Thank you, Tony http://www.kaisersbunker.com/

Hey! I just noticed under my name, I am a private again! It has been a while.........

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None of the Minenwerfer used cases. They were loaded with a bag of propellant first (Mittlerer und Schwere Minenwerfer, also Flügelminenwerfer) and the with the Mine.

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42 cm shell

On the back of the pic is written 'unsere Mörsergeschosse

Regards,

Cnock'

post-7723-1141813835.jpg

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Guys;

I hate to dispute what our learned Pal Cnock has posted, but there are a couple of problems with the shell in the PC being a real 42 cm Moerser shell. The photo was seemingly taken in an indoor photo studio; note the painted backdrop and the quite level floor. There were a variety of shells made for the gun(s) (of course also several models of the basic gun; I am guessing that the shells were interchangable with the different guns. But I digress.) Two weights that I have read were 2550 lbs for the armored fort-busters, and that the heaviest was the first shell designed, a brute at 3150 lbs. (The source for the first shell I mentioned may be more reliable than the second)

What was the process that got such a shell out of stores and into a photo studio? And what photo studio had a floor that could bear such a weight? I just thought of one possibility; that the backdrop was portable, and was moved to a firing emplacement, and that the "floor" is a concrete surface at the emplacement. However, given the German secrecy about this gun, this seems unlikely, to allow photos of the actual shell to float about the post.

My grand-father Heinrich was an artillery sergeant, who, after inventing a couple of advances in artillery technology, was allowed to study and become a Feuerwehr=Offizier in 1893. A few years later he was forced to leave active service, as his wife had poisoned him in the Kaserne by mailing him food laced with Deadly Nightshade. (Note - my wife grows this stuff in her vegtable garden; she says it is pretty; also, the only handgun she likes to shoot is the .44 Magnum; I am a well-behaved spouse!) Disabled, g-f had to leave active duty, but became a reserve officer.

When WW I came he was activated and made the "Id" of the Generalkommando of III. Reservekorps; in other words the head of the ammunition supply section of the operations side of the corps HQ. They went to Belgium and the corps attacked the Antwerp forts, and were assigned a good compliment of the 42 cm howitzers, and also the 30.5 cm mortars. According to his correspondence, he managed to spend a good deal of time at the batteries of these guns firing on the Belgian forts; he had a staff car and an aide to "keep shop" back at HQ. I have letters he wrote to my father from the batteries firing on the forts. He was very possessive of these siege guns, calling them "my big guns".

(I have to run out the door for a little while. Finish this soon.)

Bob Lembke

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Hello,

If You look to the pic, You see that they actually imitated the size of a 42 cm shell, it is made form different pieces, and seems to be made in light alloy.

Should have mentionned this before.

P.S. Bob.

I cannot reach You on the email address You communicated to me.

Regards,

Cnock

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Hello,

If You look to the pic, You see that they actually imitated the size of a 42 cm shell, it is made form different pieces, and seems to be made in light alloy.

Should have mentionned this before.

P.S. Bob.

I cannot reach You on the email address You communicated to me.

Regards,

Cnock

Yes, another point is that the shell simply does not look right. What it does look like were the art PCs made during the war, which often showed an alleged 42 cm shell, often calling it a Brummer, (a "growler"), this shell looking just like the "shells" on those art cards; and sometimes a stylised 42 cm gun, always way off the mark, often with quite a long barrel, actually a gun, not a howitzer.

My e-mail address is boblembke@aol.com . I am a trusting soul, and am happy to put it out there.

Back to my narrative, which I hope is of interest.

These letters from these batteries are really interesting. In conjunction with the Antwerpen volume of the Schlachten series, written by the "Ia" (chief of staff) of the Generalkommando, the man that my g-f reported to, I could go to Belgium today and place the battery on that day of firing to within 100 meters, I think, using the letters and the material in the book.

Although my g-f wrote amazing things in his letters (one said that "I am worried about our 5th Division; it is almost out of ammunition." - from memory; it could have been the 6th Division. Wouldn't the Belgians and Brits loved to have gotten their hands on that letter!), but he never clearly described the guns, calling some the "very heavy guns", mentioning a shell weight of "9 Centners" (must have been the 30.5 cm guns), and the "very heaviest guns", with a shell weight of 20 Centners (i.e., the 42 cm guns). I suspect that these are throw weights, i.e., the shell alone, not the shell, cartridge case, and propellant. I have letters from Russia as well referring to these guns, but never in a very specific way, and never mentioning the caliber. So it is clear that there was considerable secrecy, and, possibly, on the basis of the art cards, a program of disinformation.

My father told me that my g-f said that they had two sets of shells for the Dicke Berta; 2300 lb shells for longer range, and 2700 lb shells for firing at closer targets. Such a statement required my father to translate from whatever my g-f said to pounds, but my father had a wonderful memory, and had a technical education, so the result probably was quite precise.

The family history, which generally has proved to be extremely accurate, also said that my g-f worked on the design of the very special shells for the Paris Gun, but there is absolutely no documentation. My g-f contracted malaria in Russia in 1915 (as my father did at Gallipoli on the same year) and he was weakened and could not serve at the front again, but performed a series of technical staff duties for the rest of the war.

Bob Lembke

PS: I have, in a book, a photo of a 42 cm gun on the Krupp firing range with quite a long barrel, also painted in a camoflage paint scheme. Anyone know of these? Never heard of such a gun in action.

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PS: I have, in a book, a photo of a 42 cm gun on the Krupp firing range with quite a long barrel, also painted in a camoflage paint scheme. Anyone know of these? Never heard of such a gun in action.

Hello Bob

The gun you mention is the "schwere Kartaune" and was developed and used by the germans in 1917/1918.

It used the craddle of the 42 cm big bertha's and had a longer barrel in 30,5 cm calibre.

Regards Arie

kopievansk0069gp.jpg

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Hello Bob

The gun you mention is the "schwere Kartaune" and was developed and used by the germans in 1917/1918.

It used the craddle of the 42 cm big bertha's and had a longer barrel in 30,5 cm calibre.

Regards Arie

Yes, that's it. I recognized the carriage, the photo was from the rear, and I don't think that the pic was captioned. From your photo it is clear that the caliber was less than 42 cm. Once the 42 cm guns made the large elaborate forts obsolete, they also made themselves obsolete. A 30.5 cm gun was still a real beast, but would have been much more practical a gun to operate, provide ammo, etc.

Bob Lembke

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Coming into this very late, having just spotted this thread. The shell by which TonyCad's brother is standing is a from a 38mm German naval gun.

There are three such gun positions to the north of Verdun.

Christina

Hello everybody,

here, two pictures taken in"Bois de Warphemont" near Spincourt, north of Verdun, showing a 38cm shell and the emplacement of the 38 cm SKL/45 "Langer Max" which fired on fort douaumont on february 1915

Others positions were "Bois de Muzeray and "Sorel Farm".

Regards, :D

Pascal

38cm.jpg

langermax1.jpg

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Bob,

Your post nr.37

An Austrian battery of 30,5 cm was in action near the Belgian coast early 1915, supporting the Marinekoprs, then lacking heavy artillery.

Regards,

Cnock

post-7723-1142011276.jpg

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Cnock;

Thanks for posting the great pic.

When the war started the Austrians rushed several batteries of their 30.5 cm mortars to the West Front to help deal with the Belgian and French forts. After reducing some French forts the big guns (Austrian and German 30.5 cm mortars, and the Krupp 42 cm howitzers) were attached to my grand-father's III. Reservekorps protecting the north flank of the German advance into Belgium, and then advancing to reduce the fortress complex of Antwerp, the third largest in the world. Some or all of the Austrian guns were the famous 30.5 cm Moto-Moerser, the transport system being designed by the noted Austrian automotive engineer, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. These guns, broken down to some degree and distributed onto several carriages, could really whip down the road. One component was a small crane used to assemble or disassemble the gun, and probably to also handle the shells, in some situations.

After Antwerp was taken some of the big guns went with the III. Reservekorps into Russia. An amusing letter of my grand-father's from 3. 1. 15. from Russia mentioned "my big guns" (they were not really his big guns, General von Beseler would have a better claim to them, but, as I previously posted, the old artillery NCO was very possessive of the guns, and spent as much time with them as possible.

I am not familiar with this in detail, but obviously some big guns were left in the west. The III. RK, formerly only two reserve infantry divisions, was facing up to almost the entire Belgian Army, and the naval division rushed there led by Churchill, a total of about eight divisions, plus lots of fortress troops in the 40-50 forts and fortlets, so it was strengthened with about three other hastely assembled divisions, one of which was the Marine and Sailors' Division that just had been pulled togeather in the German naval bases at the outbreak of war. This must have been the core of the Marine=Korps that soon formed. The naval division and the other scratch units assembled to support the original two divisions were seriously lacking divisional artillery and other elements. It is quite understandable that the available heavy artillery was split between the formations when (I think), only the two original divisions (5. u. 6. Reserve Divisionen) went east.

Bob Lembke

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  • 8 months later...

Hello everybody,

Yesterday i visit the second site of 38cm "Langer Max" near Verdun. The site named "Bois de Muzeray"

Muzeray04.jpg

Best regards,

Pascal

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Yesterday i visit the second site of 38cm "Langer Max" near Verdun. The site named "Bois de Muzeray"

Best regards,

Pascal

Weren't the three German 38 cm guns at Verdun battleship guns mounted on rail carriages? If so, why would they need such an elaborate structure? And would they not have been moved fairly often, for several good reasons?

Bob Lembke

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Hi Bob,

No, the three Langer Max near Verdun were on fixed carriages.

The building of the first two positions begins by the end of 1914, these positions were "Ferme Sorel" and "Bois de Muzeray".

The concrete platforms were inclined by 5° to increase the vertical maximum angle of the guns and allow a maximum range of 27.000m with a 750kg shell.

The german denomination for this type of platform was: Anschiessgerüst

The third position "Bois de Warphemont" was built in 1915. It had a semi-circular form to allow a side angle of 144°

The german denomination for this type of platform was: Bettungsschiessgerüst.

Bois de Warphemont

38cm.jpg

Best regards,

Pascal

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Hi Bob,

No, the three Langer Max near Verdun were on fixed carriages.

Best regards,

Pascal

Very interesting. I think I remember reading multiple times about three very large railroad guns at Verdun. I think this may include Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918, von der Reichsarchiv, which I generally consider to be an accurate source, written not long after the fact by general-staff-quality officers that often took part in the events they describe. Possibly the railroad guns were also there, or possibly there was some disinformation going on. I have seen many examples of German disinformation undertaken re: their 30.5 cm and 42 cm guns used in Belgium and later in Russia, and eventually at Verdun.

Do you have particular interest in these ultra-heavy guns? My grand-father worked with the 30.5 cm and 42 cm guns, I have a lot of evidence about this, but the family oral history also says that he (a Feuerwerk=Hauptmann and an artillery inventor) also worked on the very special ammunition for the "Paris Gun". I have a tiny bit of evidence, but I doubt that I will ever be able to prove that, due to the war-time secrecy.

Bob Lembke

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The building of railway carriages "Eisenbahn und Bettungsschiessgerüst" for the 38cm SKL/45 only take place at the end of year 1917.

Eight guns of this type were produced and progressively entered in activity by the begenning of january 1918.

Pascal

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Do you have particular interest in these ultra-heavy guns? My grand-father worked with the 30.5 cm and 42 cm guns, I have a lot of evidence about this, but the family oral history also says that he (a Feuerwerk=Hauptmann and an artillery inventor) also worked on the very special ammunition for the "Paris Gun". I have a tiny bit of evidence, but I doubt that I will ever be able to prove that, due to the war-time secrecy.

Bob Lembke

Bob,

I have an interest for all that concern the battle of Verdun including ultra-heavy guns of course.

Pascal

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Bob,

I have an interest for all that concern the battle of Verdun including ultra-heavy guns of course.

Pascal

I also have qute an interest in Verdun. I am more of a collector of information than "things" (corroded old shells, mouldy kit, etc.), but I have quite an interesting artifact, a piece of my father's upper left arm bone knocked out by a French 75 fragment on Dead Man's Hill on 28. 12. 16. during a flame attack on the French.

I will take the liberty of sending you a PM or an e-mail.

Bob Lembke

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