Around the XV century in the fields of Europe battles appeared a new type of artillery. They had a short barrel of large caliber, "Looked" up. Called mortar weapons were intended to bombard enemy cities in such a way, to the core, stones or other ammunition flew through walls. Over time, there were other types of artillery, designed for shooting with high elevation angles - howitzers and mortars - which led to a significant reduction in the number of mortars. Nevertheless, mortars armies of different countries used for a long time. Recent cases of combat employment of these weapons took place during the Second World War, when the front got the German self-propelled mortars «Gerät 040" project.
History of mortars began in 1935 It was the development company "Rheinmetall-Borsig" (Rheinmetall-Borsig) rifled mortars 600 mm, which could produce projectiles weighing up to four tons at a distance of a little more than a thousand meters. Design was carried out under the direction of General of Artillery of Charles Becker (Karl Becker; 1874–1940) so the project (factory index «Gerät 040" or the product 040), I received a semi-official name "Carl". It was an outstanding, in artillery equipment theoretical, Doctor of Engineering Sciences, Professor: Becker's merits were marked his election as an honorary doctor of the University of Königsberg and honorary dean of philosophy at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin. AT 1937-1940 Imperial President Research Council. FROM 04.02.1938 Head of Department.
General of Artillery Carl Becker (Karl Becker; 1874–1940)
The prototype weapon was made in 1937 year. Prototype vosmikatkovym crawler was successfully tested in May 1940 of the year. Then in November 1940 in August 1941 year built a small batch of plants. A relatively small for this caliber firing range required to provide adequate protection, however chassis frame made of armor rolled sheet thickness 10 millimeters.
The firm "Rheinmetall-Borsig" produced one prototype and six combat self-propelled mortars. Since the products were isolated Fitting, each of them received a proper name:
I - «Adam" (it. Adam), later renamed the "Baldur" (it. Baldur);
II - "Eva" (it. Eva), later renamed the "Wotan" (it. Wotan);
III - «A» (it. Odin);
IV - «Thor» (it. Thor);
V - «Loki" (it. Loki);
VI - «Циу» (it. ZiU);
VII - «Fenrir» (it. Fenrir) - prototype - was not involved in the fighting. (Jentz, 2001: 6)
Artillery of the machine is a 600-mm rifled mortar, installed in the machine in the middle of the housing. The barrel mortars - monoblock. Castle horizontal wedge, a cylindrical-prismatic wedge. Concrete-piercing shells weighing 2170 Shoots kg at an initial rate 220 m / s and flew at a very steep trajectory, in the end portion which are dispersed by the force of Earth's gravity. The shell was reinforced concrete can penetrate thick 2,5 m. Detonated bombs after penetration through a concrete barrier.
Mortar can also shoot and high explosive shells. Easier explosive projectile (1250 kg, of which 460 kg explosives) I had slightly higher initial velocity - 283 m / s, which gave him the range in 6700 m. Firing range regulated by the angle of elevation of the barrel mortar and ground powder charge. The maximum time of flight of projectiles was 49 seconds.
With the lifting mechanism ensures achievement of the maximum barrel elevation angle + 70 ° and rotating it in a horizontal plane within a sector in a width of 4 °. aiming mechanism is actuated manually. two-stage pullback system was designed to pay off powerful recoil mortar - when firing is rolled back, not only in the barrel cradle, but also the entire machine in the machine housing. Rate guns was 1 shot at 10 minutes. ammunition was 8 shots that are transported on the conveyor ammunition, specially designed on the basis of the tank PzKpfw IV. Each conveyor has a 2.5-ton crane, Which brings up the shells and put them on the mortar tray. On the tray was placed 3 shell. Such cars have been collected all 13 pcs.
In the bow of a self-propelled diesel mortar was installed 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine "Daimler-Benz", used on the torpedo boats. At its self-propelled carriage, Mortar can move independently at speeds up 10 kmh, but the stock installation progress was very limited. Chassis for a board composed of eleven rollers of small diameter with individual torsion suspension, five supporting rollers, sloth rear position and a front drive wheel. Track width rack drive gearing was 500 mm, footprint - 7 square meters. tests have shown, that the movement of the chassis "Geraot-040"mass 124 tons in normal soils is not too much difficulty.
600-mm mortar is moving under its own power
To ensure stability when firing machine before firing head fell to the ground. To do this, torsion bar suspension track roller track undercarriage has been associated with the location of the feed mechanism lowering the machine to the ground. Actuated by motor reducer through a lever system turned to a certain angle opposite ends sensitive balance torsions. Translation machines from traveling to combat took on average 10 minutes.
Mortar "Karl», prepared for movement by rail
Maximum self-propelled speed of about 10 km / h would not let her alone to make long marches, and the fuel supply in 1200 l missed just four hours travel. Therefore, the main process displacement made railway transportation. When this setting is suspended between two specially appointed five-axis platforms, on which were mounted a special hydraulic cranes. Before loading the self-propelled gun to stop off on the rails, where it was attached to the boom, and hung between platforms. For transport by road special trailers were manufactured.
Transportation mortar "Karl" on the highway
On the highway the machine is disassembled on trailers. For this purpose, the installation is broken down into four parts:
- wagon weighing barrel 42 t;
- upper carriage weight 41,8 t;
- Bridge and the chassis weight 21,6 t;
- propelled carriage weight 82,3 t.
In this case self-propelled carriage mounted on a six-axle trailer, and to carry the remaining parts used three of four-platform.
By rail or road SAU delivered in the fighting area, then, if necessary, I am going, Fueling and its course getting to the firing position. Before firing self-propelled mortar left on stand, then the calculation of the 16 man produces and determines the orientation of the direction of the target. Its course «Gerät 040" was unfolding in the right direction, a driver powered lowering mechanism, and the other crew member made other preparations. With the help of crane transport and loading vehicle 600-mm projectile loaded in the mortar tray, It shall be sent to the bolt from the barrel by means of mechanical loading rod. Next, the same procedure was performed with the sleeve.
Locking barrel produced using the wedge gate. To lift shaft at the desired angle mechanism used with a manual drive. After raising the barrel by an additional route guidance in the horizontal plane. After loading and target calculation was removed to a safe distance and the shot. Then the calculation of the barrel lowered to the horizontal position and again charged the mortar. In preparation for the new shot it took at least ten to fifteen minutes.
Shell mortar "Karl", supplied by crane transport-charging machines
Propelled mortar "Karl" was originally composed in service 628 th and 833 th artillery battalions special power of the Wehrmacht (three guns in each division); in April 1941 year, one mortar was transferred from the 628-th in the 833rd Division, wherein the formed two by two guns battery. According to the new states 833rd heavy artillery battalion consisted of a headquarters, Staff batteries and two batteries firing. The first battery 833rd Division received two mortars "Geraot-040»№ I« Adam »и № II« Eva ». 2-I pack the same consisted of two mortars "Geraot-040»№ III« Thor »и № IV 'Odin'. Division I has become fully combat-ready to 01 May 1941 of the year.
The command of the 1st Battery was entrusted to Captain Hans Mesmana (Hans Messmann), 2-th battery commanded by Lieutenant von gollenberg (Freiherr von Collenberg Rudt). The commander of the 833rd Division was appointed Lieutenant Colonel Robert Schmidt (Robert Schmidt). each battery, Besides 2 mortir, I had 14 motorcycles, including two with wheelchair, 5 cars, 6 SUVs, two communication machines, 8 heavy half-track tractor with 8 trailers and trailers 4 Freight loading vehicle based Pz.IV tank. ensure the Group had 11 trucks (carrying capacity 3 and 4,5 tons). The battery consisted of 160 soldiers and officers, and could act completely independently.
Propelled mortar "Karl" was produced too late, that they were able to take part in the fighting on the Maginot Line, for which they were actually intended. However, they have been used on the Eastern Front. 1-th battery 833rd Division ("Human", "Eva" and 60 shells) taken to the location of the 17th Army (Group "South" Army), and 2nd battery ('Top', "One and 36 shells) transported to Terespol and gave a group of armies "Center". The battery was supposed to participate in the assault on Brest Fortress. And there was given a 12-th infantry corps of the 2nd Tank Group. Firing battery positions were under Terespol (city in Poland, Biała Podlaska County, Lubelskie) near the border with Belarus on the river the Western Bug (on the other side of the river is the city of Brest).
On the preparation of the 2 nd battery to operations known from the report, dated 2 we have 1941 of the year. The report describes the deployment battery to bombard the citadel of Brest Fortress:
"Possible landing sites, traffic routes, emplacements, objectives and the observed points are explored in 1 May:
landing sites: two guns are unloaded by crane on the w / d station Terespol and going directly to the w / e web. place of assembly should hide from the towers observers. All work for the unloading and assembly to be done within 1 night.
All other elements are unloaded at the w / d station 40 km west of Terespol, where there is a capitally built platform.
Battery mortar "Karl" in position
The first train with mortars came to the unloading station at night 18 June. His first mortar was collected on the night 19 on 20 June 1941 of the year. The second mortar was unloaded at night 20 on 21 June. Both mortars were in position to the south of Terespol. (Jentz, 2001: 16)
22 June gun № IV «Thor» released 3 shell. Difficulties were encountered in the preparation of the 4 th shot, shell jammed and could not make a shot. Mortar № III «One" released 4 shell, fifth shot could not be done again because of the projectile defect. Defuse two guns with projectiles wedged into the breech was only in the evening 22 June.
23 June "One" released 7 shells, "Thor" not fired, due to breakage. morning 24 June "Thor" made 11 shots, "One" - 6 shots.
Total spent 31 shell. Left 5 shells, three of which can not be used for shooting ". (Jentz, 2001: 18)
In the diary of the Chief of the German General Staff Franz Halder (Franz Halder; 1884—1972) for 24 June 1941 year listed issuing instructions to the inspector-general of the German artillery General of Artillery Fritz to Brand (Fritz Brand; 1889–1967) to find out the effectiveness of the fire plants "Carl" in the district of Brest. Already 28 June report was read by General Brand, action "Carl" artillery systems were found to be very effective.
After the capture of the Brest Fortress was able to establish, concrete bunkers that direct hits did not receive. The size of craters in the ground was in a radius of 15 m, in depth 5 m. Two shells did not explode. With the explosion of smoke and dust cloud rose to a height 170 m. Report on the use of mortar "Karl" was submitted personally to Adolf Hitler (Adolf Hitler; 1889–1945). An interesting fact, that one mortar (likely "Adam") Renovated sent ... in Terespol, to display Benita Mussolini (Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini; 1883—1945), It was at that time on the Eastern Front.
1-th battery, which was to act as part of the 4th Corps of the 17th Army, delivered by train to Przemysl. Moving has its own power to the firing positions is one of the self-propelled guns - "Eve" - crashed (He jumped caterpillar) and in the battles did not participate. Mortar "Adam" is only released 4 projectile against the Soviet fortifications, the so-called "Molotov Line", accompanying its fire attack 295th Infantry Division. by the way, protection "Charles" positions instructed from the company of the same division. In a report from the 23 June 1941 Year corps commanders noted the absence of the need to continue to use the battery "Charles", drawing attention to the technical difficulties in the application of these self-propelled guns. As a result, the 1st battery sent back to Germany.
6 August 1941 , the 833rd Division was rearmed at 8 towed 210-mm mortars and sent to the Eastern Front. Mortar "Karl" was sent to the rear and used at the siege of Sebastopol, together with the rail superheavy big gun "Dora".
In his diary for Halder 3 Martha 1942 year there is a record of the decision to transfer "Charles" to Sevastopol area. "March 4 1942 g. I received an order to send "Charles" battery ("Thor" and "Odin") the Eastern Front at the disposal of the 11th Army ".
Preparing to firing positions of superheavy mortars began in advance. 11 April 1942 the headquarters of the 11th Army headquarters informed the 833rd heavy artillery battalion: "According to the order of Army Staff during the preparation for the deployment of" Karl "plants revealed the following: place of assembly is too deep in the rear (20 km from the best). An extension to the firing position must be carried out on the last night before the shooting. It is necessary to prepare firing positions. Emplacements need in disguise ".
Place to bring the plants in the marching position eventually managed to find just 3,5 kilometers from the frontline. Problems have arisen with the firing positions. In a report from the commander of the sappers 18 April 1942 It was noted: "Selected 3 positions in the area Mamashay: 400 m. east of point 151, 2,5 km. east of point 151 and 1,5 km. south height 156. The dimensions of each firing position - Length 15 m., width - 10 m., depth 3 m. The 833rd heavy art. division there is no equipment required for the firing positions of people. for equipment 3 firing positions is required to remove about 1500 m. cube. ground, labor costs account for about 7000 man hours. Because of the terrain to make dredging can only 80 to 100 human. The work must be carried out only at night at a distance of only 1-1.5 km. From the front line ".
In a report of staff of the 11th Army of the 20 May 1942 year marked the arrival of the front 2 "Carl" installations, at 72 heavy and 50 light concrete-shells. A 25 May the headquarters of the 54th Corps reported selected for firing mortars to: forts "Maxim Gorky" (30-I 305-mm turret coastal battery) and "Bastion" (command post of the 30th Battery). The distance from the unloading position to the firing position was 3,5 km, self-propelled overcame him at night under the cover of aircraft, drowned out by the same noise of their powerful engines.
Unexploded 600 mm shell on the 30th Battery of Sevastopol
FROM 02 by 06 June "Carl" installation fired at specified targets ("Maxim Gorky" and "Bastion") 18 heavy rounds (sBtnGr): 02 June released 2 shell, 6 June - 16. Yet 54 heavy projectile was spent 7 June. 9-June mortars fired 50 light rounds (iBtnGr). 13 June address Army Command was sent a concise report - "Carla" left without ammunition ".
13 June "Charles" the battery was moved to the strip action 132-th PD. The battery to the end of June, brought up ammunition - 29 heavy shells and 50 light. 30 June "Carla" spent all 50 light rounds, and to 1 of July - 25 severe. They fired on the city blocks and old fortifications. So 30.06.42 they did on the Malakhov Kurgan 30 North side shots. "Carla" remained as part of the 11th Army to 10 July 1942 of the year. 19 July came the order to send a self-propelled mortars in Hillersleben (the Hilersleb) for reconditioning.
Surviving defenders of "Maxim Gorky" fort revealed, that the concrete structure has received several direct hits 600-mm shells, resulting in cracks in slabs, split off pieces of concrete, but in general the structure withstood. Gun barrel of the south tower was torn by a direct hit mortar shell. The rest of the guns continued to fire until the end of the defense of the fort, but the sector of fire was limited. Give a word about these events, the author of "Sevastopol notes," Major-General Alexander Ignatievich Kovtun-Stankevich (1900—1986).
"On the 30th the battery convey, that it has fired missiles at an unprecedented. When you hit one of them cracked a three-meter concrete. Petrov calls to the unit commander Alexander battery (George A. Alexander; 1909–1942, etc. pole.) and requires more precise data. Alexander says, that one of those shell, which shall be reported, I do not break. But data on the projectile puzzling - length about 2 m, caliber 615 mm. Can not be! Alexander calls for a someone from the staff. Rides intelligence chief K. A. Harlaškin. An hour later he calls, It is really just the shell, both reported Alexander. Now it is clear, what kind of weapon the prisoners said - a huge mortar shell with huge punching power ".
by the way, in the courtyard of the museum's Black Sea Fleet still kept two huge fragments from "Charles" projectile, released on the 30th Battery.
"Carla", re-equipment of 540-mm guns
AT 1943 by at least three mortars ("Loki", "Thor" and certain third) after making the resource guarantee received interchangeable trunks 540 mm length 11,5 caliber. After modernizing a steel denoted «Gerät 041". The shells of these mortars weight 1580 kg (betonoboynymi) and 1250 kg (high-explosive) were fired at a range of 10 400 m. The rest of the installation characteristics remain unchanged.
Already with two different weapons ACS "Karl" was used on both the European battlefields of the Second World War. They managed to take part in many operations, which required a fire well protected targets.
Hit 600-mm high-explosive projectile in the building of the hotel in Warsaw by the Germans during the suppression of the Polish uprising 21 August 1944 g.
for example, in August 1944 , the installation of "Qiu" shelling the center of Warsaw during the suppression of the Warsaw uprising and destroyed several city blocks. In particular, it took a few shots of the hotel building, This 66-meter-long structure at the time of construction in 1934 , it was the second tallest skyscraper in Europe. Photographer captures the moment of the explosion of one of the shells. The shell struck the building under the roof and exploded outside. If there was an explosion inside the building, most likely it would have collapsed.
"Charles", The exhibited in a museum of armored vehicles in Kubinka
Since the beginning of the onset of the allied troops in Normandy Wehrmacht commanders had to use mortars for defense. it, in the end, lamentable impact on the fate of the combat vehicles. already in the summer 1944 , the Allied aircraft seriously damaged the ACS "Thor", fragments of which later became the property of the attacking forces. AT 1945 by mortars under the names of "Eve" and "Loki" had been captured by the US Army. Besides, in the hands of the Americans came and pilot plant "Fenrir".
Setting "Qiu" was the trophy of the Red Army, seize it 20 April 1945 jüterbog, in town district. However, during the restoration under a layer of paint called «Ziu» found inscription «Adam», and after the restoration of the left on the body this name, which gave rise to the question - what device captured Red Army. Today it is exhibited in the Museum of armored vehicles and machinery in Kubinka (Moscow region) indoor hangar №6. There is still no precise information, why on the same self-propelled guns, there are two designations. The other three units were, apparently, destroyed by the Germans.
The great complexity of operation, together with the inadequate performance of range and accuracy due to put an end to mortars. After World War II artillery weapons function, designed for firing at hinged trajectory with high altitude, They were assigned to large-caliber mortars, and then on ballistic missiles.
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