The biggest gun (okay, it’s crossed the threshold into artillery territory) we’ve ever featured on TAG’s Weird Gun Wednesday, the V-3 Supergun is also one of the largest in the history of the world. If that doesn’t intrigue you enough to continue reading, nothing will.
Where you’ve seen it:
A supergun based on the V-3 served as the crux of the plot in Frederick Forsyth’s thriller novel, The Fist of God.
If there’s one thing that can be said about the Nazis, it’s that they were never content with merely blowing something up. They wanted to blow stuff up more profoundly and at a greater distance than ever before possible. The V-3 Supergun was the consummate manifestation of that mindset. When the Supergun’s designers showed Hitler their idea for delivering artillery rounds across the English Channel (these guns had a range of 100 miles), he eagerly clapped his feeble hands and gave them the green light to begin construction. Two V-3 Superguns were constructed in bunkers in the north of France with the intention of barraging London, but they became damaged beyond functionality by Allied bombing raids. Two similar superguns were later used to bombard Luxembourg to moderate effect.
The Supergun utilized a strange, surprisingly dated, accelerant system to harness higher velocities: the multiple charge principle. Sequential rows of solid-fuel rocket booster charges were placed along the barrel’s 430-foot length (below, right) and timed to fire as soon as the round passed them, giving them an additional boost. Given its resemblance to the repugnant arthropod, the Germans codenamed the V-3 “the millipede.” Though it was prone to issues with the timing of accelerant ignition, the gun was surprisingly efficient—the crews could fire the Supergun at a rate of 300 shells per hour.
A smoothbore weapon, the V-3 Supergun launched a 300-pound, fin-stabilized shell at 4900 feet per second. For a sense of what an impressive invention this was, just envision a football lineman being hurled across the English channel at 3,300 miles per hour.
This overgrown oddball shows us what happens when boys who play with potato guns grow up to become engineers. Further, it reminds us to be grateful the Nazi regime was stopped when it was. Had they been given more time to refine weapons like this, the world could have ended up a very different place than it is today.
Opening photo courtesy of warhistoryonline.com