Top 5 Largest Weapons used in War - History Key

Top 5 Largest Weapons used in War

We all know that wars are about guns. Who has the most, who has the deadliest ones. There is a direct relation between size and effect when it comes to weapons. Most of the times, a bigger weapon will produce bigger damage, considering the caliber and the launched explosive (a bigger caliber cannon, for example, would launch bigger shells, and a bigger shell would carry more explosive and so on).

Which were the largest weapons involved in the wars? History Key will unlock for you a Top 5 related to them, so you will be able to judge what was the most terrifying of them.

5. Schwerer Gustav and Dora

Gustav and Dora were brothers and they were a special couple of one. The two names, were attributed to the two largest artillery pieces ever built, considering the overall weight of 1350 tons, and the weight of the projectiles loaded into them, which were of 800 mm caliber each shell having the weight of 15,700 pounds and a range of 24 miles.

The Schwerer Gustav was deployed on the Eastern front, against Soviet troops, especially during the German siege of Sevastopol, from June 1942. The gun was operated by a crew of 1400 men, including a team of 250 men having the task of assembling the gun and two dedicated anti-aircraft battalions to protect it.

The Heavy Gustav, Hitler and generals inspecting the largest-caliber rifled weapon ever used in combat, 1941 © Image Source:

4. Karl-Gerat

Another German invention this time in the form of a giant self-propelled mortar. The Karl-Gerat was initially designed to cause destruction within the Maginot Line, but its massive size turned out to be a problem considering that it had to be disassembled and reassembled on site, where the firing position was established.

It was loaded with 600 mm shells and operated by a 21-man crew. Its range was around 3 miles, for a rate of about 6 shells per hour. Only seven such weapons were produced, one for testing purposes, while the other six were heavily involved in combat. The Karl-Gerat saw action during the attack of the Brest-Litovsk fortress (Operation Barbarossa, 1941), and later on during the Siege of Sevastopol (July 1942). The Karl-Gerat fired its last shots during the Battle of Remagen, while in an attempt to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge.

A Karl-Gerat siege gun with it's Pamzer 4 munition schlepper next to left rear
A Karl-Gerat siege gun with it’s Pamzer 4 munition schlepper next to left rear © Image Source:

3. Obusier de 520 Modele 1916

The 520 mm Obusier was a French invention developed during WW1, which provided a very large cannon mounted on a railroad structure. The first gun of this type, suffered an incident during its test, when a shell exploded prematurely causing its destruction. The 520 mm Obusier, was scheduled for combat during 1918, when the second gun was finalized, but then again did not finish the test trials, so it was put at rest, in storage and without having a single shell launched to any battlefield.

The gun was loaded with a 520 mm round, weighing 3600 pounds and able to “navigate” for over 8 miles. During 1940, when France was invaded by Germany, the 520 mm Obusier was in a refurbishment phase, but was captured by German troops while still in the workshop area. Subsequently, the obusier was used by the Germans during the Siege of Leningrad from 1942, but during 1943 was destroyed by another round exploded prematurely in the barrel.

Obusier de 520 Modele 1916
Obusier de 520 Modele 1916 © Image Source:

2. Type 94 Naval Gun

This 18.1 inch gun was the biggest gun ever deployed in combat at sea. It was mounted on the Japanese Yamato-class battleship and was firing a 1.5 ton shell, over 26 miles range. The entire weight of the weapons was comparable to the one of a conventional destroyer of the time. There are only two combat involvements of the Type 94. The first one is related to its use by the Musashi Japanese battleship. When an incoming American aircraft attack was spotted, the Type 94 was loaded with the special designed “Sanshikidan” anti-aircraft rounds, but the defense was unsuccessful.

The Musashi took 17 bomb hits and 19 torpedo, sinking in October 1944. The Type 94, was used for the second time by the Yamato battleship, when during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, she sank the American USS Gambier Bay.

Type 94 Naval Gun
Type 94 Naval Gun © Image Source:

1. Gamma Morser and Big Bertha

Both names are related to two 420 mm artillery pieces, designed by Krupp for Germany, with the intent to involve them in the WW1 battles. Big Bertha was a mobile artillery piece, while the Gamma had to be transported and emplaced on the designated firing position. Both were loaded with a 1 ton shell, having a range of around 9 miles (the Gamma had a better range than Bertha).

A 420-mm “Gamma” mortar (Gamma Mörser kurze marinekanone L/16), manufactured by Krupp, aims at Sevastopol.
A 420-mm “Gamma” mortar (Gamma Mörser kurze marinekanone L/16), manufactured by Krupp, aims at Sevastopol © Image Source:

Big Bertha was very effective against Belgium and France, destroying several bunkers or forts. The Gamma Morser caused the destruction of the Liege’s fort and was later involved in the attack on Verdun, during 1916. Most of these two weapons, were destroyed during WW1, but Krupp managed to save one Gamma in a workshop, so the gun was later deployed in the Siege of Sevastopol, 1942.

The 42cm M-Gerät L/12 Dicke Bertha (Big Bertha)
The 42cm M-Gerät L/12 Dicke Bertha (Big Bertha) © Image Source:

(Article written using references from:,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *