Largest gun in World War II
It's difficult to imagine the shock waves that reverberated through Paris on the morning of March 21, 1918, when shells began raining down on the city. They had been fired from the railway-mounted Paris Gun tucked away in the forest of Coucy-Auffrique, 70 miles away. The 264-pound projectiles soared 25 miles into the stratosphere, reaching their target in 170 seconds.
Formally known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Geschutz Long-Range Guns, the weapons were produced by the dreaded Friedrich Krupp A.G. munitions firm. The guns used bored-out, 380mm naval cannons, each fitted with barrels that were 131 ft. long. Seven were produced, though never more than three operated at any time.
Firing a Paris Gun was a logistical nightmare. Each shell required a 400-pound powder charge. The shock was so intense, each succeeding shell needed to be slightly wider. The gun's lining had to be rebored every 20 shots.
Only 367 shells were fired by August of that year, and the gun's aim was often wild. Barely half the shells hit the city. Even so, the Paris Gun caused 256 deaths, a third of those when a shell struck the church of St. Sepulchre during Good Friday services.
Though the Paris Gun had little impact on the outcome of World War I, it was a high-priority target for Allied troops