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Karl-Gerät 040

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"Karl self propelled Mortar! That is 600mm caliber!"
―Pepperoni

"Karl-Gerät" (040/041) (German literally "Karl-device"), also known as Mörser Karl, was a World War II German self-propelled super-heavy siege mortar (Mörser) designed and built by Rheinmetall. Its heaviest munition was a 60 cm (24 in) diameter, 2,170 kg (4,780 lb) shell, and the range for its lightest shell of 1,250 kg (2,760 lb) was just over 10 km (6.2 mi). Each gun had to be accompanied by a crane, a heavy transport trailer, and several modified tanks to carry shells. It first appeared in the anime in Girls und Panzer der Film.

History

Based on the assumption that the heaviest available artillery weapons were insufficient to knock out strong fortifications ( such as the French Maginot Line ), at the end of 1935 Rheinmetall started the first steps towards creating a super-heavy mortar. In March 1936 they sent the Waffenamt a report on design possibilities for such a weapon, this conceptual design being a dug-in weapon.

Three methods were considered for bringing this weapon into position:

  • Mounted on caterpillar tracks
  • Mounted on rollers
  • Disassembled into smaller loads and carried on small tracked vehicles

After the initial discussions and proposed sketches, in October 1936, Rheinmetall was contracted to design a super-heavy mortar in accordance with the specifications issued by Waffenamt.

As a result of various meetings and following the specifications issued earlier, in January 1937, Rheinmetall presented a preliminary proposal to Wa Prw 4 which described the weapon as an emplaced gun, transported as individual loads of 9 tons each on seven or eight transport vehicles. It was also determined during the design development that it would take considerably longer than 6 hours to assemble the weapon in a firing position. In order to avoid assembly work at the firing position, Rheinmetall proposed that the gun be mounted on a self-propelled fully tracked chassis.

This self-propelled chassis was designed to include machinery to lower the chassis onto its belly in order to provide a stable platform at the firing position. With the use of these devices, the time required to get the weapon into action was reduced to half an hour, compared to the design requirement of 6 hours. Recoil energy from firing was significantly reduced by incorporating a carriage recoil mechanism, any remaining horizontal energy was absorbed by a spade.

Based on the faster time to bring the weapon into action, dropping the excavation work for a platform at the firing position, and eliminating the need for separate load-carrying vehicles, in February 1937 the Waffenamt allowed further design development as a self-propelled gun.

In a meeting on 9 March 1938, General Becker (head of Wa Prw 4) reviewed the detailed proposal showing the current status of development work. The Waffenamt agreed with the basic form so that work could begin on the detailed construction drawings. Due to tactical considerations General Becker held the view that several weapons were to be employed together for engaging enemy armored emplacements. Therefore it was ordered that six additional Gerate (weapons) were to be produced along with the Versuchsgeraet (trial vehicle).

The first complete Geraet 040 was demonstrated to Wa Pruef 4 at the assembly plant on 2 July 1940. On 25 February 1941, the status of the Geraet Karl production was reported as:
Karl6

Ziu Firing in Warsaw

  • Nr. I completed as of November 1940
  • Nr. II to be completed on 27 February
  • Nr. III to becompleted on 15 March
  • Nr. IV to be completed on 10 April
  • Nr. V to be completed on 15 May
  • Nr. VI to be completed on 1 July

In accordance with orders, Nr. VII was to receive a smaller caliber weapon. Exactly when Geraet Nr. VII (Versuchs-Geraet 041) was completed is not known, it was scheduled to be completed in May 1942 and was reported as being used by the Waffenamt to create firing tables in September 1944. No additional Geraet were produced.

In total, seven Karl-Gerät howitzers were manufactured. The first six had the nicknames "Adam" (later "Baldur"), "Eva" (later "Wotan"), "Thor", "Odin", "Loki", and "Ziu"

At Hitler’s request, in February 1941 the Waffenamt was given an order to increase the raneg of the Geraet 040 by decreasing the caliber from 60cm to 54cm. Rheinmetall-Borsig was again contracted to design the new mortar with a range up to 10.000 meters

Geraet Nr. VII was scheduled to be completed by May 1942 as the Versuchs-Geraet 041 to test the 54cm mortar. The status of development, reported on 1 July 1942, was that the design was finished and that the weapon was almost ready for testing. In addition to the gun tube for the Versuchs-Geraet, an order was also placed to produce six 54cm Rohre 41(54cm gun tubes) to be mounted on the already available six Geraete 040.

54cm Karl geraet 041

54cm Karl Geraet Nr. IV "Thor"

In February 1941, discussions commenced concerning increasing the range of the weapon, and in May 1942, 54 cm (21 in) Gerät 041 barrels were ordered for the six vehicles. At a conference with Adolf Hitler in March 1943 it was stated that the first Gerät 041 would be delivered by June 1943, and the third by mid-August. Only three of the Gerät 041 barrels were actually completed for mounting on Karl-Gerät Nr. I, IV and V, although any vehicle could be converted to use the smaller weapon.

In October 1939, theRheinmetall-Borsig project to design a Munitionsschlepper was authorized. The Munitionsschlepper with the electrically driven Wippkran was to deliver shells with the associated charges and cartridge casings to the firing position. The chassis, obtained from the Panzer IV production series, was equipped with a superstructure with electric Wippkran, ammunition box for four shells, and crew seats mounted at the rear.

Electrical power for the Wippkran was provided by the same 2-cylinder gasoline motor/generator set as used on the normal Panzer IV to drive the electrical motor for the turret traverse. The longest reach for the Wippkran arm was selected, so that a shell could be directly transferred from the Munitionsschlepper to the loading tray on the Geraet 040 while in a firing position. The shells were picked up by a special shell gripper which was stowed on the right front of the munitionsschlepper.

Warsaw Uprising

Real life power of 600mm Shell when it hit Prudential Building

Twenty-two Panzer IV Ausf. D, E and F chassis were modified with a superstructure capable of carrying four shells that replaced the turret and outfitted with a crane as Munitionsschlepper für Karl-Gerät ammunition transporters/loaders. Two or three of these Munitionsschlepper were assigned to each weapon.

In Girls und Panzer der Film

Regulations

The Japan Sensha-Dou Federation (JSF) director made an exception so heavy tanks and self-propelled guns such as the Karl Gerät could be introduced in official Sensha-Dou matches and more specific in the upcoming annihilation match that would determine the fate of Ooarai Girls High School, giving them less advantage than they already had.

Saunders Girls High School has made a request in the past to obtain a tank in the standards of Karl, although they don't directly mention the name of any weapon, calling it "that", the JSF is yet to give an answer to whether or not they approve the acquisition of the equipment. This shows how much purchasing power they have.

Karl-Gerat UAS

The Karl was heavily modified to comply with the strict safety rules of Sensha-Dō, as Karl's loading and firing mechanisms on the external area of the tank can be seen moving, but there isn't anyone actually operating them, another advantage of the heavy automazation is the considerable reduction in the number of crew needed to operate the Karl. Furthermore 2 compartments with direct vision slots for its 2 operators were added and can be seen on the fenders at the rear of the vehicle when it is turning to face its attackers.

Annihilation match Selection University vs Ooarai Compound Team

The Karl is used by Selection University during their fight against Ooarai. It was used during the early stages of the match before being defeated by the Acorn Platoon. Selection University sited it in the middle of a dense forest away from the main battle zone, guarded by a platoon of three M26 Pershings.

Karl-Gerät 040

Karl-Gerät 040 in the anime

It started attacking right after Ooarai tanks were sighted, through it's attacks, Ooarai suffered major losses and disruption of forces, primarily in Team Sunflower as they were on the high ground. The Karl destroyed both Panthers from Kuromorimine, and one Pravda T-34/85. The Karl then continued bombarding Team Dandelion, but despite many near-misses, it scored no other successful hits.

After identifying the threat the commanding officer, Miho, sent a special force, code-named Acorn Platoon, to neutralize the enemy artillery. It was composed of the Type 89B, the Hetzer, the CV-33 and the BT-42. When they found the enemy, they planned their attack, which consisted of a two-pronged surprise attack to distract the Karl's escorts, then use the opening to take out the Karl. Whilst the BT-42 lured the Pershings into a wild chase away from the Karl, the Type 89B, Hetzer and CV-33 attacked the super-heavy mortar. The Karl fired at them from close range, but missed, instead hitting a bridge segment behind them at the just as one of its allied Pershings, still pursuing the BT-42, passed underneath and was crushed by the falling debris.

The Type 89B, Hetzer and CV-33 were responsible for neutralising the Karl, using the method of catapulting the CV-33 off the rear of the Type 89B, allowing the tankette to aim into the Karl's gun barrel from above. Although they succeeded on throwing the CV-33, the CV-33 failed to destroy the Karl with its low-caliber machine gun. The CV-33 landed upside down, at the mercy of the Karl, but the Hetzer crew convinced them to spin their treads at full speed so they could use it as a catapult, it worked and they managed to fire into the Karl's barrel, evidently detonating the shell that was being loaded inside. Both the Karl and its escorts were destroyed in the engagement, along with the loss of the BT-42.

Trivia

  • This is the only Self-Propelled Artillery used in the Girls und Panzer.
  • Karl has the largest caliber gun in the series - At 600mm, this caliber even surpassing a battleship naval gun.
  • When Kurumorimine's Panthers get hit, it is possible to see Karl's falling shell.
  • Karl uses HE (High Explosive) shells during the annihilation match.
  • The only surviving Karl is now on display at Kubinka Tank Museum. This is Karl-Geraet Nr. VI "Ziu"
  • Seeing as Saunders Girls High School is an American themed school, and that their own application for acquiring 'that' is yet to be approved, they are probably seeking to acquire an American howitzer motor carriage.

Gallery

Tanks
Light Tanks and Tankettes Panzerkampfwagen IIPanzer 38(t)CrusaderM24 ChaffeeM22 LocustT-70Type 95 Ha-GoType 97 Te-KeBT-42AMR-35R35FT-17CV L3/337TPTK Tankette
Medium Tanks Panzerkampfwagen IIIPanzerkampfwagen IVPanzerkampfwagen V "Panther"Matilda II Centurion Mark IM3 LeeM4 ShermanT-34T-44Type 89 I-Go/Chi-RoType 3 Chi-NuType 97 Chi-HaSomua S35M13/40

Heavy Tanks Panzerkampfwagen VI "Tiger"Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. B "Tiger II"VK45.01 Porsche TigerPanzerkampfwagen VIII "Maus"Churchill Mark VIIBlack PrinceIS-2KV-2M26 PershingRenault B1 BisCarro Armato P40
Tank Destroyers Sturmgeschütz IIIJagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer"Jagdpanzer IVJagdpantherElefantJagdtigerT28 Super Heavy TankSemovente da 75/18
Self-Propelled Artillery Karl-Gerät Mortar
Main Battle Tank Type 10

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