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Saturday, June 11, 2011

German Siege Artillery

Today I got this interesting piece of equipment. It is called the Karl Mortar. It is a 54cm caliber tracked artillery piece used by Germany primarily as a siege weapon against well fortified positions such as Sevastopol or Brest-Litovsk. It is something in between a self-propelled gun and its bigger cousins the 80 cm Gustav and Dora rail-mounted guns. The Karl Mortars afforded greater mobility and minimum assembly time, while the latter provided longer range and greater caliber/destructive power. These guns followed in the tradition of WWI's Big Bertha, and were WWII's bunker busting technology, conceived in the shadow of the Maginot Line. Only 7 Karl Mortars were built during the war, and some people question whether they were worth the resources that they diverted, not only in research and materials, but also when it comes to setting up manufacturing facilities to only produce a handful of them, along with their ammunition. Then to operate them, in the case of the 80cm guns, dedicated rail lines had to be installed to bring them to their firing positions, cranes had to be used to load the ammunition, and two battallions of flak were assigned to guard them. But setting aside the cost-effectiveness, these must have been some fearsome weapons if you were on the receiving end of them.
Dragon Karl Mortar - Loki
This model, manufactured by Dragon (in 1:35) is called 'Loki'. Here I've used some 1:32 Forces of Valor figures to operate it. Despite the difference in scale I think they still look acceptable. Loki is firing from a prepared position to afford it some protection as you can imagine that the enemy is desperately trying to neutralize it with some aggressive artillery counter-fire.

Dragon Karl Mortar - Thor
This is Loki's brother 'Thor'. Note that the gun can be elevated from the horizontal position up to a 45 degree angle approximately. These mortars also come with one piece of ammo, which is as big as a man. No wonder they had to be loaded with a crane.

Click here to see some pictures of the Trench System where Loki is displayed.
Click here to see a post about normal mortars
Click here to see a post about German 88s

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