By Marc Romanych, Martin Rupp, Henry Morshead
Within the early days of worldwide warfare 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 variety on this planet and a heavily guarded mystery. whilst struggle broke out, of the howitzers have been rushed without delay from the manufacturing facility to Liege the place they speedy destroyed forts and forced the citadel to give up. After repeat performances at Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, German infantrymen christened the howitzers ‘Grosse’ or ‘Dicke Berta’ (Fat or gigantic Bertha) after Bertha von Krupp, proprietor of the Krupp armament works that equipped the howitzers. The nickname was once quickly picked up by means of German press which triumphed the 42cm howitzers as Wunderwaffe (wonder weapons), and the legend of huge Bertha used to be born. This ebook info the layout and improvement of German siege weapons ahead of and through international conflict I. Accompanying the textual content are many infrequent, never-before-published pictures of ‘Big Bertha’ and the opposite German siege weapons. color illustrations depict an important points of the German siege artillery.
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Extra info for 42cm 'Big Bertha' and German Siege Artillery of WWI
It was up to the siege guns, which still had ammunition, to widen the gap in the fortress ring by reducing the adjacent forts. 5cm and 42cm batteries, including KMK Battery 2’s two Gamma howitzers which had recently emplaced along the rail line northwest of Maubeuge, fired their remaining rounds at Forts Leveau, Héronfontaine, and Cerfontaine, destroying them in a matter of hours. French resistance collapsed around midday when troops abandoned the rubble of Forts Sarts, Cerfontaine, and Leveau.
Munitions were limited to approximately 200 rounds available per battery. The attack began on August 13 with a slow artillery bombardment of Forts XIV, XV, and XVI, and intensified over the next two days. Despite pounding by the siege guns, Russian troops stubbornly held and the forts had to be assaulted by infantry. On the morning of the 16th, German troops attacked Forts XV and XVI. During the fight for Fort XV, a 42cm shell hit a German infantry company, causing heavy casualties including the company commander.
Among the strongest and most modern forts were Douaumont and Vaux, which coincidently bore the brunt of the German attack. However, the battle for the forts was not decisive because the defending French Second Army did not base its defense on the fortifications. The German offensive began on February 21 with an intense artillery barrage that slackened off after a few days and then continued in varying intensity for several months. 5cm guns fired on smaller, intermediate fortifications and various strategic points.