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Paris Gun Deployed
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Family: Gun-launched. Country: Germany. Other Designations: Lange Max. Manufacturer's Designation: Kaiser Wilhelm Geschuetz.

The Paris Gun (also known as Lange Max, Big Bertha, Kaiser Wilhelm Geschuetz) of World War I was the direct ancestor of the V-3. The rail-mounted weapon was 34 meters long and weighed 125 tonnes. Its 180 kg powder charge could hurl a 120 kg shell with 7 kg of explosive to a range of 131 km. 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 October 3, 1942. 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 minuscule, 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-1, V-2 and V-3 weapons were being developed two decades later.

Seven 21-cm guns were made, using bored-out 38-cm naval guns fitted with special 40 m long inserted barrels. For most of the war there were only two mountings. After 65 shots the barrels were removed and re-bored to 24-cm calibre. At the end of the war one spare mounting was captured by American troops near Chateau-Thierry, but no gun was ever found.


Launches: 351. Payload: 120 kg. to a: 65 km altitude suborbital trajectory. Total Mass: 120 kg. Core Diameter: 0.2 m.

Paris Gun Chronology

- 1918 March -


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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