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Rail guns, Leopold etc

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by chromeboomerang, Sep 20, 2006.

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  1. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Waste of steel? or worthwhile here & there?
     
  2. Generalfeldmarschall Matthew Bluhm

    Generalfeldmarschall Matthew Bluhm Member

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    Mostly waste of steel [​IMG] They were very good morale killers but due to size and moving methods it really wasn't worth it. Even the creator of "dora" (I think) said as a practical war machine it was worthless.

    Still that won't stop me from loving these guns and marveling at the sheer awesomeness of them :D
     
  3. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Leopold did ok in Italy

    http://commandos.strategyplanet.gamespy.com/leopold.html

    The German Leopold Gun was the largest weapon which lobbed shells at American troops at "Anzio Beach". An aura of mystery surrounded the employment of the gun. To the bewilderment of allied officials who knew the approximate location of the Leopold, the gun could not be silenced. Repeated bomber and naval attacks failed. It wasn't until the Allies broke out of the "Anzio Beachhead" and sent the Germans scurrying that the secret was revealed. The Leopold supported by 24 railcar wheels, was mounted on railroad tracks which led in and out of mountain tunnels. When not firing, the gun was rolled back into the tunnels out of the sight of Allied reconnaissance. Because bombs had destroyed Italian rail systems, the Germans were forced to leave the Leopold and its twin gun "Robert" behind.
     
  4. MARNE

    MARNE Member

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    "Anzio Annie" was what the 3rd Infantry Division boys called the rail gun at Anzio. "Anzio Annie" was highly respected by the U.S. troops on the Anzio beachhead, they called it a great morale breaker" especially for the green replacements coming onto the beachhead. Heres some pics....enjoy...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These photos were taken by a good friend of mines dad...Bill Toomey and Bill Heller...great website these photos came from heavily documenting the march from Anzio to Austria...you guys would love it...

    http://www.dogfacesoldiers.org

    Regards,
    MARNE
     
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Wasn't 'Anzio Annie' actually 2 such guns?
    'Robert' & 'Leopold'.

    Pretty sure one of them is now on display at Aberdeen Proving grounds.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

    Edit: Checking it out that website is very good indeed Marne, nice one.
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Fires a number of shots and then gets stuck in place because the other side steps onto the rail line? Sounds wasteful considering the expense in making such a big and avanced gun.

    Besides, it shot an HE shell weighing 550lbs. Any medium bomber could carry half a dozen or more of bombs this size for ten times the range, so as a way to bring death to your enemy these one-offs don't seem too efficient.

    Great concept in WW1 when countermeasures were few and it's range allowed it to stay outside counter-battery fire (land or air) but made obsolete by air power. Spectacular, and a remarkable engineering feat, but that's about it.
     
  7. Fortune

    Fortune Member

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    that was one hell of a gun...
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    We had a great discussion going here about these gigantic weapons a few years back - I've *bumped* it up the thread list ( 'Dora' - A Gun With Real Style ).

    I really think that these guns, as with many German projects - were a waste of effort, but they remain truly fascinating.....
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I can agree with most of this but there's something to be said for the accuracy that could be achieved by artillery over airpower in the period. The BFG could theoretically keep dropping it's huge shell repeatedly onto the same position, something air-power would have trouble achieving. The morale effect could be devastating if every strongpoint set up were pummelled into dust by an 'invisible' weapon. All achieved without risking pilots and planes.
    It seems that neither gun at Anzio fell to air-raids? I imagine a ferocious screen of AA could be carried if you're dragging a train about with you anyway.
    Maybe a white elephant in defence and limited in more mobile operations but against fixed positions quite a useful tool?
    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  10. Fortune

    Fortune Member

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    these guns are intruguing, also seeing the crews that would have to man such guns...i would liked to have seen a demonstration of the gun, and everything....
    does anyone know exactly how big the crews were, and what type of units, and men were required to guard, etc?
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The railway gun was rendered obsolesent by the development of airpower as early as the end of the First World War. Bomber aircraft could deliver in a single near immediate impulse far more firepower than a railway gun or guns could.
    While through much of WW 2 tube artillery retained better accuracy and often a shorter response time, large relatively immobile pieces like railway guns could not achieve the volume of fire that would make their accuracy and response time relevant to a battle.
    Additionally, railway guns are only useful in static operations. In a campaign of movement they take too long to deploy to be of any use.
    Even against fortified positions they were quickly demonstated as largely irrelevant. Aircraft using super heavy bombs like the Tallboy could achieve equal or better results at far lower cost and over a larger operational area. Direct fire high velocity weapons, tanks and improvements in demolition engineering (like shaped charges) make railway guns irrelevant in seige operations against fortifications.
    An 11" gun (like the two railway guns at Anzio) fire a shell weighing less than 1000 pounds with far less explosive filler than a similar sized heavy walled bomb.
    The size of the crew and support services alone were a massive waste compared to the achieved results too. Look at the Dora railway gun. It took an engineering regiment of 1500 men months to prepare a firing position for this behemoth. Once prepared it took even longer to bring in and assemble the gun. Then, the entire process had to be repeated to move the gun to a new position at the conclusion of the operation. It was a massive waste of resources.
     
  12. MARNE

    MARNE Member

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    Yes, comprised the "Robert" and "Leopold" make "Anzio Annie." The above photos are of "Anzio Annie" shortly after it was catpured by the US 34th Division after they overran its position. "Anzio Annie" was disassembled and sent to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and is still there today.

    This is what "Anzio Annie" looks like today...

    [​IMG]

    The average crew of one of these railway guns was(I believe) around an 800 man crew.

    Regards,
    MARNE
     
  13. Fortune

    Fortune Member

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    thanks Marne
     
  14. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    "Aircraft using super heavy bombs like the Tallboy could achieve equal or better results at far lower cost"

    Lower cost? Airplanes need gas & maintenance crews & trained pilots to fly em.Lower cost not.

    The troops at Anziop sure didn't think these were obsolescent. Accuracy as pointed out above, far greater than aircraft. & many battles are stationary long enough for these to be useful in certain situations. Anzio being a good example.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    But the infrastucture for the aircraft was already in place ; they operated from normal airfields and the aircraft already in production needed relatively little modification.

    Does anyone know exactly how much damage was caused by the Anzio guns ? I'm not doubting that to be on the receiving end cannot have been fun, but how accurate were they at eliminating precise targets ?
     
  16. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Only two Doras were built. The first one shot 48 rounds into Sevastopol in June 1942, then the barrel become worn out, and only later in Aug 1944 fired 30 rounds into the Warsaw uprising. Brilliant. The second gun took briefly part in the siege of Stalingrad and then withdrew and disappeared from view to be scrapped and its remains to be found by the Americans later. Brilliant as well.

    On the other hand Dozens of Lancasters were able to be modified to take on Tallboy bombs, enough to fit two squadrons worth, 9 and 617.

    Tallboys could be dropped today at a U-boat pen in Brest, tomorrow on the Tirpitz, two days later on Dortmund, later on on a viaduct on Bielefeld, and do on, and so on. Could Dora match this? I guess not but you never know :rolleyes:

    Oh, and don't forget the Grand Slam bomb, which was even bigger, 10Ton.
     
  17. chromeboomerang

    chromeboomerang New Member

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    Dora was not near as efficient as Leopold. Leopold could be setup one regular railways, & Dora needed double. Leopold needed no gas. Yes infrastructure for planes already in place, still more costly & less accurate.

    Leopold could fire with accuracy all day, could tallboy missions match that?

    & no Dora could not match this, but many of those tallboys missed on U-boat pens & several missions were required to really put the hurt on Tirpitz. Leopold could fire all day & score hits, but Tallboy missions couldn't. Missions to Norway could only be launched after much planning & preparation & weather had to be just right & cooperation with Soviets also had to be procured to use their bases. Sounds costly.
     
  18. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Tallboy? What are you talking about? Each Leopold shell weighed 550lb, any fighter-bomber would carry a couple of bombs that size or more, no reason to compare to a Tallboy. The TB comparison would be valid in what concerns a Dora.

    By the way I'm leaving this discussion, if you want to have the Germans win the war in another dimension go ahead, be my guest but I'm not coming back here to be bored. Please don't waste your time responding to this because you are already in posession of the whole truth and I'm not going to read this thread again because I am unworthy.
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Actually I do think you cannot compare the Tallboy to any of these Doras etc. It´s like comparing strategic bombing to a A-bomb in my opinion where the Doras are the strategic bombing part.

    Tallboy did not need to hit the target "really". The bomb´s action was such that once exploded the huge vibration it caused destroyed everything around if there was something left after the "main explosion". the German Schnellboots during Overlord safe in the U-boat pens all were blasted to pieces through the vibration getting them through the sea contact. Also the bombs went through U-boat pen walls even if Hitler did put another 2 meter of concrete on top. Wallis just laughed.

    So actually the Tallboy just needed a close hit and the massive vibration would do the rest.Incredible but it all is based on physics!

    :eek: :eek:

    Truly a devastating weapon!
     
  20. Otto

    Otto Rested & Resupplied with MREs. Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Please let's not have yet another discussion degenerate into Axis vs Allies affair. Let's keep this discussion on topic and civil.

    [​IMG]
     
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