- "Karl self propelled Mortar! It has 600mm caliber!"
"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.
Based on the assumption that the heaviest available artillery weapons could hardly knock out strong fortressworks ( 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 was a dug-in weapon.
Three methods were considered for bringing this weapon into position:
- Mounted oncaterpillar tracks
- Mounted onrollers
- Dissambeld 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 total, seven Karl-Geräte howitzers were manufactured. The first six had the nicknames "Adam" (later "Baldur"), "Eva" (later "Wotan"), "Thor", "Odin", "Loki", and "Ziu"; the seventh, the research and test weapon (Versuchs-Gerät), had no name. Delivery of the six production vehicles took place from November 1940 to August 1941.
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.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
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 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.
The Karl was heavily modified to comply with the strict safety rules of Sensha-Dou, 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 out of the main battle zone, being protected and possibly scouted by a platoon of three M26 Pershings.
It started attacking right after Ooarai tanks were sighted, through it's attacks, Ooarai had some losses and disruption of forces, majorly in Team Sunflower as they were in high ground, by destroying both Panthers from Kuromorimine and all Pravda tanks, except for Katyusha's tank, as they all sacrificed themselves so Katyusha could have a safe retreat from the enemy tanks, including Karl.
After identifying the threat, the commanding officer, Miho sent a special force, code-named Acorn Platoon to neutralize the enemy artillery. They were composed by the Type 89B, the Hetzer, the CV-33 and the BT-42. When they found the enemy, they planned their attack, that consisted on a surprise attack to break the enemy's momentum; the Type 89, Hetzer and CV-33 were responsible to neutralize the Karl, they initially tried to catapult the CV-33 using the Type 89 rear, although they succeeded on throwing the CV-33, the CV-33 failed on destroying the Karl by firing the machine gun inside its barrel. After this the CV-33 ended upside down, The Hetzer crew convinced them to turn on the threads at full speed so they could use it as a catapult, it worked and they managed to fire inside the Karl's barrel, neutralizing it while dodging from it's shells. While most of the Acorn tanks were trying to destroy Karl, the BT-42 served as a distraction against the three M26 Pershings that was covering Karl, by showing several commanding, driving and firing skills they were able to destroy the Pershings, albeit they also ended destroyed.
After finishing off Karl, the surviving units from Acorn rendezvoused with the main force.
- Karl-Gerät has the largest caliber gun on Girls und Panzer series, with 600mm. 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 surviving Karl is now on display at Kubinka Tank Museum.