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- "Karl self-propelled Mortar! That is 600mm caliber!"
The "Karl-Gerät" 040 (German: "Karl-device"), also known as Mörser Karl, was a World War II German self-propelled super-heavy siege mortar 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, notably Panzer IVs, as ammunition carriers. It first appeared in Girls und Panzer der Film.
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 March 9th, 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 Gerät Karl production was reported as:
- Nr. I completed as of November 1940
- Nr. II to be completed on February 27th
- Nr. III to becompleted on March 15th
- Nr. IV to be completed on April 10th
- Nr. V to be completed on May 15th
- Nr. VI to be completed on July 1st
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 range 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 July st, 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.
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, the Rheinmetall-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.
In Girls und Panzer der Film
The Japan Sensha-Dou Federation (JSF) was pressured into making a sudden exception to allow self-propelled guns such as the Karl Gerät to be introduced in official Sensha-Dou matches and more specificly in the upcoming annihilation match that would determine the fate of Ooarai Girls Academy, placing them at a more massive disadvantage than they already were.
Saunders University High School has made a request in the past to obtain a tank of similar performance to the Karl Gerät, although they do not directly mention the name of the weapon they were interested in, instead opting to simply refer to the weapon as "that". At the time of their request the JSF had yet to reach a verdict on whether or not they would approve the acquisition and usage of such equipment.
The Karl was heavily modified in order to comply with the strict safety rules of Sensha-Dō, as Karl's loading and firing mechanisms on the external areas 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, dropping from 21 to a mere 2. Furthermore, 2 additional crewcompartments 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 All-Stars University Team vs Ooarai Compound Team
The Karl is used by the All-Stars University Team during their fight against Ooarai. It was used during the early stages of the match before being defeated by the Acorn Platoon. The All-Stars University Team sited it in the middle of a dense forest away from the main battle zone, guarded by a platoon of three M26 Pershings.
It started attacking right after Ooarai tanks were sighted, through its 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.
- This is the only self-propelled gun and the only fighting vehicle that fired beyond anti-tank gun ranges that was used in the entire Girls und Panzer franchise.
- Karl has the largest caliber gun in the series - At 600mm, this caliber even surpasses the 460mm guns placed on the Yamato-class battleships, which were the largest and most powerful battleships in history.
- When Kurumorimine's Panthers get hit, it is possible to see Karl's falling shell for a split-second.
- 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-Gerät Nr. VI "Ziu" (The Russian repainted it "Adam").
- The Karl in the film is equipped with a fictionnal automatic loading system and an ammunition storage located where the engine compartiment should have been. Two fighting compartiments also have been added on the front of the Karl on both sides probably for the driver and the gunner.
- Seeing as Saunders University 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.
- The Karl also attempted to directly destroy tanks in the movie, just like the KV-2, but it too failed to hit the them.
- In Girls und Panzer der Film Variante, Alice Shimada actually opposed deploying Karl before the match against Ooarai, reasioning because they were given the Karl in such a short notice, the crew haven't got the time to familiar with it. An other reason being she doesn't like the idea of separate her force to protect Karl since Karl doesn't have any self-defense capability.
- The Karl Gerat is the world's second largest gun, only beaten by the German 800mm Schwer Gustav railway gun
- Main article: Karl-Gerät 040/Gallery
|Light Tanks and Tankettes||7TP • AMR-35 • BT-42 • Crusader • CV.33 • FT-17 • Harry Hopkins • M22 Locust • M24 Chaffee • Mark VI • Panzer II • Panzer 38(t) • R35 • T-60 • T-70 • Tetrarch • TK Tankette • Type 94 Tankette • Type 95 Ha-Go • Type 97 Te-Ke|
|Medium Tanks||Centurion • M3 Lee • M4 Sherman • M13/40 • Matilda II • P26/40 • Panzer III • Panzer IV • Panzer V "Panther" • Sentinel • SOMUA S35 • T-34 • T-44 • Type 89B • Type 3 Chi-Nu • Type 97 Chi-Ha|
|Heavy Tanks||ARL 44 • B1 Bis • Black Prince • Churchill • IS-2 • KV-1 • KV-2 • M26 Pershing • Mark IV • Neubaufahrzeug • Panzer VI "Tiger" • Panzer VI Ausf. B "Tiger II" • Panzer VIII "Maus" • VK45.01 Porsche Tiger|
|Tank Destroyers||Elefant • Hetzer • ISU-152 • Jagdpanzer IV • Jagdpanther • Jagdtiger • Mareșal • Semovente da 75/18 • StuG III • T28 Super-Heavy Tank|
|Self-Propelled Artillery||Karl-Gerät 040|
|Main Battle Tank||Type 10|