V-3 cannon

From Academic Kids

Like the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket, V-3 cannon was one of the three "vengeance weapons" (German: Vergeltungswaffe) built by Nazi Germany during World War II. Unlike the V-1 and the V-2, however, the V-3 was not a guided missile, but a huge underground complex located in Mimoyecques, France. Some sources erroneously report the Wasserfall Missile as being the V-3.

The complex contained five hidden batteries, each containing a single buried super-howitzer. The guns, with a barrel length of about 120 m, were the largest Axis' artillery pieces, surpassing the Dora or Schwerer Gustav railway propelled 800 mm super-cannon, the Mörser Karl (Gerät 040) 600 mm tracked siege mortar, and the Leopold and Robert 320 mm railway cannons.

The technological innovation employed by these huge guns was the use of multiple propelling charges, placed along the barrels' length and timed to explode as soon as the projectile passed them by, to provide an additional boost. Due to their higher suitability and ease of use, rocket boosters were used instead of explosive charges, arranged in symmetrical pairs, attached to the barrel with a low (below 30º) angle. This layout spawned the German codenames Hochdruckpumpe ("high-pressure-pump") and Tausendfüßler ("centipede").

These guns had a muzzle speed of 1100 m/s and the whole complex was designed to be capable of shooting 300 shells every hour, with a maximum range of over 90 km.

It was of course very hard to aim even a single gun, but that was not much of a problem since the complex had been built and oriented with the sole purpose of attacking London from a safe distance. This leads to its alternate name, the London Gun.

The complex was never used for its intended role, and only fired test shots before being destroyed by earth-penetrating bombs dropped from British aircraft of the No. 617 "Dambusters" Squadron.

Along with the V-1 and V-2 missiles, the complex was a desperate attempt to retaliate against the Allied heavy bombing raids over Germany. The resources available to the German V-rocket project were unable to compete with the devastating impact of the Avro Lancaster and B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers, and clearly show the serious problems faced by the Luftwaffe during the last years of the war.

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