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What’s scary about the world’s most ‘terrible’ weapon?

20/03/2022 09:35 GMT+7

The Paris Gun is the name given to a German military long-range artillery piece used to bombard Paris during World War I.

On the morning of March 21, 1918, residents of the capital Paris (France) were shot from the Paris Gun installed on a railway hidden in the woods 112 km from the city. The 120 kg Paris Gun projectile flies 40 km into the stratosphere to its target in 170 seconds.

According to the documents, preparing to fire the Paris Gun was a logistical nightmare for the German army at the time. The impact was so strong that each shot of the gun barrel widened a little. Therefore, the Paris Gun can only fire 20 cannons when the barrel is worn out.

The German Krupp Corporation built a total of 7 barrels for the Paris Gun super cannon. The 21 cm barrel is 28 m long and is fitted with a 6 m long smooth fuselage extension mounted on the output. The super artillery complex weighs 256 tons and is mounted on a railway platform specially designed for military purposes. The entire barrel assembly is reinforced to prevent it from sinking due to being too long and heavy, as well as anti-recoil when firing.

What's scary about the world's most 'terrible' weapon?
The Paris Gun was larger in diameter than any towed gun or gunboat used before.

The weight of the bullet is about 120 kg, the range is 130 km, the warhead velocity is about 1600 meters / s, the maximum orbital altitude is up to 45 km. The movement of projectiles through the stratosphere at high speed is one of the key factors in the cannon’s unique range, due to the greatly reduced air resistance.

The Paris Gun is operated by 80 navy sailors. The German army also arranged a number of standard artillery batteries around to create noise when firing, avoiding the British and French troops to detect the battlefield.

“Each shot takes up to 3 minutes to reach the target. The gunner when shooting must take into account the rotation of the Earth if he wants to hit the target,” American historian Adam Hochschild said.

By August of the same year, only 367 shells had been fired and the sights were often undirected. Almost not half of the shells hit the target. However, the Paris Gun claimed the lives of 256 people, a third of which were the result of a shell that hit the Cathedral during Good Friday service.

What's scary about the world's most 'terrible' weapon?
The Paris Gun allowed the Germans to launch an attack deep inside Paris without having to send troops close to the city.

The effect of using the Paris Gun was quite terrible, as shelling from such a long-range cannon greatly reduced the morale of the French, and the presence of such a formidable weapon inspired Inspiration for the Germans helped make the Paris Gun one of the standout weapons of World War I.

However, according to experts, the Paris Gun was a military failure for Germany when each bullet contained only 7 kg of explosives, not enough to cause great damage. The shell is designed to be very thick to withstand a very strong shot when fired, but it only forms large shards when it explodes, significantly limiting the damage.

In addition, the large bullet velocity causes the barrel to wear out very quickly. Each bullet must be numbered and fired in order to match the diameter of the barrel, the dose must also be calculated carefully because even a small deviation has a big impact on the range.

After that, the German army withdrew the Paris Gun to the country at the end of August 1918, when the Allies approached the German position. The super cannon was destroyed by the Germans at the end of the war so as not to fall into enemy hands.

Peace (translation summary)

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