one of the six powerful mortars built for the Wehrmacht
For his successful besiegement of Sevastopol in the Crimea, which fell in July of 1942, the German commander, then Colonel-General Erich von Manstein (promoted Field Marshal after taking the city) assembled an astonishing number of artillery pieces. These included 1,300 guns, 720 mortars plus, two 61.5cm howitzers known as “Odin” and “Thor.” (The Germans really were drama queens sometimes.) These howitzers fired a shell weighing 2,200 kilograms (4,850 lbs). These weapons were designed to use against concrete defenses.
(Source: Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler’s Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 by Joel S. A. Hayward)
“In preparation for the attack on Sevastopol scheduled for the early summer Heavy Artillery Battalion 833 was ordered to form a Karl-Batterie with three weapons on 18 February 1942, two of which were “Thor” and “Odin”. Camouflaged firing positions 15 metres (49 ft) long, 10 metres (33 ft) wide and 3 metres (9.8 ft) deep had to be dug for each howitzer to minimize Soviet counter-fire before they could move into position. On 20 May 1942 the 11th Army reported all three Karl-Geräte were at the front with a total of 72 heavy and 50 light concrete-piercing shells. LIV Army Corps reported that 19 heavy shells were fired between 2 and 6 June, 54 on 7 June and all 50 light shells between 8 and 13 June. More shells (29 heavy and 50 light) shipped to the battery before the end of the month. All 50 light shells were fired on 30 June and 25 heavy shells the following day. Many of these shells were fired at the two 305 millimetres (12.0 in) twin-gun armored turrets of the Maxim Gorkii coastal defense battery, although shells fired at the turrets had little effect other than to jam one of the turrets and possibly knock out electrical power to the turrets, both of which were repaired without too much trouble.
They did rather more damage to the concrete structure supporting the turrets as well as the command center located some 600 meters away (called the Bastion by the Germans). On 19 July 1942 the battery was ordered to ship their weapons to Hillersleben for refurbishment. One dud was recovered by the Soviets and flown to Moscow for evaluation.”
A section of three Mörser Karl Gerät 041 in action in Poland in 1944. The ‘Munitionsträger’ is shown on the extreme right. These mortars have the 540 mm tube fitted