There are many long-lived military vehicles. Build anything cheap enough and simple enough, and some air force will keep it in use for decades. It takes something special to be magnificently short lived.

Take, for instance, that gigantic cannon the Nazis built.

Actually, when I say gigantic, I mean biggest-caliber rifle ever used in combat ever.

The Nazis called the thing Schwerer Gustav, and here’s what I wrote about the thing, 24 feet wide, 38 feet tall, 155 feet long, and attached to another mile’s-worth of train for transportation, back in 2012.

The Nazis built two 80cm railway siege guns in 1939-1941, and they were then deployed in late 1942. They were designed to break through extremely strong fortifications, specifically the forts along the Maginot Line. And how was this accomplished? With 7,100 kilogram projectiles fired out of a 30-meter-long barrel.

The first of the two, Heavy Gustav, was deployed twice, but only used at the Siege of Sevastopol, having been carried on a 1.5-kilometer long train. Its sister Dora was deployed but not used at Stalingrad. Gustav still holds the record for the largest-caliber rifle ever used in combat.

Schwerer Gustav is visible in the video at 1:24.

That’s a big gun! So big that it wasn’t really good as a machine of war.

But surely you can think of an even more bonkers military vehicle than that, one that lasted even less time before its operators figured out it was madness.


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