What was the largest tank ever built?

Hitler had the greatest weapon of all time built - and it ended in disaster

Adolf Hitler zealously planned the invasion of France. The Nazi leader needed a new type of weapon to break through the French concrete fortifications, the Maginot Line. It was the only physical barrier that lay between him and the rest of Western Europe.

In 1941, a year after France fell, the German steelworks and arms manufacturers of Friedrich Krupp A.G. started building Hitler's Gustav cannon, an 80-centimeter gun, as a "Top Secret Weapons" documentary shows.

The four-story, almost 50-meter-long device weighed 1,350 tons and fired almost five tons of ammunition from the 30-meter-long cannon barrel.

This is what the gun looks like when it is shot down:


The huge cannon was given to the Nazis free of charge so that Krupp could do his part in the war, according to historian C. Peter Chen.

In the spring of 1942 the Gustav cannon made its grand entrance and made its debut during the siege of Sevastopol. 300 rounds were fired at the city in Crimea through the 31-inch muzzle.


The ostentatious weapon had a few significant drawbacks, however, as the Nazis were soon to find out.

  • Its huge size made it an easy target for the Allied bombers that flew over it
  • Because of its weight, it could only be transported on an expensive special rail that the Nazis had to build beforehand
  • 2,000 men were needed to operate the weapon
  • The five-part weapon took four days to assemble and hours to adjust to fire a single shot
  • The gun could only fire 14 rounds a day

After a year, the Nazis decided to stop using the Gustav cannon. Chen writes that the Allied powers eventually scrapped the weapon.