Osprey - New Vanguard 231 - Railway Guns of World War II

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New VaNguard • 231

The design, development, operation and history of the machinery of warfare through the ages New VaNguard • 231

railway guns of world war ii

as well as the advanced german types, this book surveys the railway guns that all combatants either developed, improvised or fielded – France, Belgium, Italy, Finland, the ussr, japan, Britain and the usa – and explains the diverse roles that they played throughout the conflict. with new color recreations of the most important railway guns of the war, this is the story of how these weapons reached their peak just before ballistic missiles made them obsolete.

railway guns of world war ii

world war II was the railway gun’s technological zenith. as well as the huge but impractical 80cm K(e) “gustav” and “dora,” germany also fielded modern and versatile new railway guns such as the 28cm K5(e), of which the famous “anzio annie” was an example. although increasingly vulnerable from the air, the wehrmacht’s railway guns saw combat across europe – from artillery duels across the Channel to the sieges of sevastopol and leningrad and the bombardment of allied invasion beachheads.

railway guns of world war ii

Full color artwork  Illustrations  unrivaled detail  Profile artwork

I S B N 978-1-4728-1068-7



781472 810687


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steVeN j. zaloga

us $18.00 / uK £10.99 / CaN $22.00

sTeVen J. Zaloga

Illustrated By Peter deNNIs

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Steven J. Zaloga received his BA in History from Union College and his MA from Columbia University. He has worked as an analyst in the aerospace industry for over two decades, covering missile systems and the international arms trade, and has served with the Institute for Defense Analyses, a federal think tank. He is the author of numerous books on military technology and military history, with an accent on the US Army in World War II as well as Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Peter Dennis was born in 1950. Inspired by contemporary magazines such as Look and Learn he studied illustration at Liverpool Art College. Peter has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects, including many Osprey titles. A keen wargamer and modelmaker, he is based in Nottinghamshire, UK.

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This electronic edition published in 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain in 2016 by Osprey Publishing, PO Box 883, Oxford, OX1 9PL, UK PO Box 3985, New York, NY 10185-3985, USA

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author would especially like to thank Lee Ness for his extensive help with reference material and photos. Title page image: The 400mm modèle 1916 à berceau used a St Chamond carriage. Eight of these were used by the Germans as the 40cm H(E) 752(f ) with batteries E.686 and E.693.

E-mail: [email protected] Osprey Publishing, part of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc © 2016 Osprey Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, chemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Inquiries should be addressed to the Publishers. A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library Print ISBN: 978 1 4728 1068 7 PDF ebook ISBN: 978 1 4728 1069 4 ePub ebook ISBN: 978 1 4728 1070 0 Index by Mark Swift Typeset in Sabon and Myriad Pro Originated by PDQ Media, Bungay, UK To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com. Here you will find extracts, author interviews, details of forthcoming events and the option to sign up for our newsletters. Osprey Publishing supports the Woodland Trust, the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. Between 2014 and 2018 our donations are being spent on their Centenary Woods project in the UK. www.ospreypublishing.com

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• French World War II Railway Guns Technical Characteristics

BELGIUM 8 GERMANY 8 • German World War I Railway Guns Retained after 1920 • German Railway Gun Modernization 1936–1939 • German Railway Gun Production 1939–1944 • German World War II Railway Guns Technical Characteristics • German Railway Artillery in Combat





• Soviet World War II Railway Guns Technical Characteristics • Soviet Navy Coastal Defense Railway Batteries in 1941












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RAILWAY GUNS OF WORLD WAR II INTRODUCTION Railway guns were the most powerful land artillery of World War II. Railway artillery was developed as a means to transport and employ large and powerful guns that were difficult to move by more traditional means. They trace their origins back to improvised weapons used in the American Civil War in the early 1860s. Their heyday came in World War I after the advent of trench warfare. They were especially well suited to use against fortified defenses in static conditions. Their effectiveness diminished by World War II due to other alternatives such as aircraft, as well as the more fluid battlefield conditions of 1939–45. Nevertheless, they remained in service in significant numbers in a few armies. They still proved valuable as siege weapons in theaters where the battlefield had become static. In addition, they were used for coastal defense by several countries as an alternative to expensive fixed gun batteries. Railway guns largely disappeared after World War II, replaced by mechanized artillery and ballistic missiles. Due to limited space, this book deals only with railway guns used in the field artillery role; antiaircraft railway artillery is not covered. Also, small-caliber railway guns used in the direct-fire role have already been covered in an earlier book in this series on armored trains.

FRENCH RAILWAY GUNS After a shaky start, the French army built the largest and most innovative arsenal of railway guns in the Great War. French firms such as SchneiderCanet had been proposing railway guns before World War I but these had been ignored by the French army and the few such weapons that were completed were exported elsewhere. The neglect of heavy artillery became especially apparent after the mobile phase of the conflict ended and the campaigns turned to static trench warfare in 1915. In desperation, the French army began to adapt fortress guns, obsolete warship guns, and coastal artillery guns to railway mounts. As a result, French World War I railway artillery covered an extremely broad range of configurations, many of them slapdash but effective. Medium-caliber naval guns or coastal defense guns, typically in the 150mm range on pedestal mountings, offered all-azimuth fire and were classified as TAZ (Tout-azimuth) by the French army. The larger 4

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calibers required heavier mounts, and various approaches were taken. Schneider favored the affût à glissement, or sliding mount. The gun frame had a series of friction pads on the bottom of the carriage, and the carriage could be lowered on to a recoil pad constructed of steel and wooden beams. When the gun fired, the recoil was absorbed by the friction between the skids and the ground pad. Batignolles developed an alternative in the form of a sliding topcarriage gun carriage mounted on wheels or skids that moved along a rail on the lower carriage with the recoil absorbed by friction and buffers. For some very heavy guns, the usual solution was to create a substantial ground anchorage under the carriage, with the recoil energy absorbed by the anchorage and not the gun carriage or rails. The French army classified these as affûts à berceau. As gun recuperator systems became more efficient, rolling recoil absorption was adopted as a simpler approach. The wheels on the rail trucks had their brakes set, and when the gun fired, the entire railway gun recoiled backward, eventually stopping from the friction between the braked wheels and the rail. In most cases, the rails were reinforced beforehand to better absorb the forces involved. Aiming these guns was a problem except for the all-azimuth types. The French army pioneered the “épi” track, a newly laid curved track section off th...

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