Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Fat Lady











Meet the lovely and talented Bertha Krupp.
She inherited the ownership of her father's industrial empire in 1902 - at the age of sixteen. She remained the sole owner, although her husband ran things until 1943.
In 1913 the German Army adopted a new weapons system, the M-Gerät 42cm L/12 Howitzer. It was a lighter, more mobile version of a previous howitzer which had required either a concrete foundation or a railway car.
Its designers were so pleased with themselves that they'd nicknamed it Dicke Bertha.
The name stuck. It became alliterative in English which cemented it even further to the point that any big, long distance cannon was called "Big Berta" by the Allies. That includes the 30.5cmAustro-Hungarian siege gun below.
I wonder how she felt about it.
She doesn't look particularly chunky, and she was only twenty-seven when the thing was introduced. I don't get it.
I can imagine; Hubby gets home from the plant.
"Honey, guess what the guys in the shop call one of our cannons - Fat Bertha!"
Back to the matter at hand; this monster was completely road-able at a mere 42.6 tons. Once it had been broken into five different loads, each with its own wagon and hitched to a tractor, the littlechoo-choo train could go anywhere.
Once arrived however, it looks like things become a project. Beware of any activity the first step of which is the erection of a crane.
The link above shows a serious of photos that make the process as clear as mud.

Her portability notwithstanding, she showed up late for the invasion of Belgium, the two that were available that is.
Therefore for the first few days, the job of punching giant holes in the roofs of the Belgian fortresses fell to borrowed, Austro-Hungarian 30.5cm M�rser M.11's.
They weighed about half as much - and broke down much more efficiently.

Only three loads here.
Bertha though could toss her 1700# projos about eight-miles out.
Once they were there they'd punch through a meter of reinforced concrete.
A total of ten were built and eighteen barrels.
One was taken to Aberdeen Proving Ground after the war where the army tested it and deemed it too big and immobile (!!!).
Cleaning the place up in 1954 they scrapped it, the sole remaining Big Bertha.
Although there certainly was the incentive. At the last scrap price I paid for steel the old girl would go for around thirty-grand.
And she'd take up a lot of room - especially as a giant pigeon-shit collector.
Sad.
As you can see below - she may be gone but her offspring live on.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Great post Dan! You've almost got me interested in the other end of arty.

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