The Paris Gun of World War I (called by the Germans the Kaiser Wilhelm Gun and — as shown above — often incorrectly termed Lange Max or Big Bertha, two completely different guns) was 34 meters long and weighed 125 tons. Its 180kg powder charge could hurl a 120kg shell with 7kg of explosive to a range of 131km (81 miles). During the 170-second trajectory the shell reached a maximum altitude at the edge of space — 40 km. This was the highest altitude attained by a man-made object until the first successful V-2 flight test on 3 October 1942.
|Remains of Paris Gun Mount (Location Shown Below)|
Seven 21cm guns were made, using bored-out 38cm naval guns fitted with special 40m-long inserted barrels. After 65 shots the barrels were removed and re-bored to 24cm caliber. At the end of the war one spare mounting was captured by American troops near Chateau-Thierry, but no gun was ever found.
|Distribution of "Hits" on Paris|
From March through August of 1918, three of the guns shot 351 shells at Paris from the woods of Crepy, killing 256 and wounding 620. As a military weapon the gun was a failure — the payload was miniscule, the barrel needed replacement after 65 shots, and the accuracy was only good enough for city-sized targets. But as a psychological tool it was remembered when the V-weapons were being developed two decades later.
Text from Encyclopedia Astronautica