Talk:Big Bertha (howitzer)

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Name[edit]

It is by no means certain that the gun was named for Krupp's wife. The sites quoted as verification are IMO not sufficient proof. See also the German Wikipedia article on this. Ondundozonananandana 13:47, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

According to Borse (2004) p. 168, in the January 1910 correspondence of Max Bauer to his wife, he called the Gamma-Gerät "my fat cannon" (probably dicke in original). So it appears to have been a common theme in the naming of these guns. Ley (1943), p. 17 has detailed foot note on the naming of the M gun, which I'll quote here in its entirety:

Only the "M" howitzer bore this nickname, the Gamma was always referred to as Eisenbahn 42 (railroad 42). Other nicknames for the "M" (and only for the "M") were Tante aus Essen (aunt from Essen, the seat of the Krupp Works), Dickes Luder (Fat Wench) and Dicker Brummer. It is difficult to translate the latter term properly, the verb brummen means a noisy whir or hum in the bass register, Brummer is a colloquial name for the Hummel (bumblebee). The term dicker Brummer was also applied to the shells of the "M" howitzers, which, however, were usually called Eiserne Portion (iron Portion) strictly distinguished from the Kohlenkasten (coal box) which always meant a heavy flat trajectory (naval) shell.

That the Dicke Bertha was named after Frau Bertha von Krupp is nonsense. It could be guessed that it meant about the same as "Fat Wench," Bertha being proverbially the name of a heavy-bone and fat maid or cook, the traditional girl friend of the German soldier. I have found German cartoons hinting at this, but I believe that the term actually originated by way of a historical reference, similar to that expressed in the nickname de:Kartaune. The Germans are convinced that the monk Berthold der Schwarze (black Berthold, meaning really Berthold the Alchemist) invented the guns. Consequently a gunner was a man "whose tuition with Master Berthold had been paid for by the king." Cannon were sometimes referred to as Master Berthold's daughters (used in a semi-humorous fashion), Big Bertha would then simply be Master Berthold's biggest daughter ... a derivation which is much more German than any other.

It's strange that Ley misses Fleissige Bertha from the list of names, which was very common at the time but apparently faded quickly from usage after the war, if a Google Books search is a good sample. A 1970 French paper from Revue internationale d'histoire militaire p. 849 has a different theory

Par corruption, le nom « Gross Bertha » allait devenir « Grosse Bertha » ou « Dikke Bertha » bien que les servants de la pièce l'aient baptisée : « Fleissige Bertha » ou « Bertha l'assidue », en raison de son empressement à satisfaire aux ordres donnés.

Have mörser, will travel (talk) 23:03, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

1925![edit]

"Designed in 1925 and produced by the Krupp factories in Essen, Germany, in 1914" surely some mistake?

also range. the body of the text says 40km, the info box 12.5km--Mongreilf (talk) 10:21, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

I thought it was obvious that the Nazis had traveled back in time. 72.92.226.25 (talk) 17:54, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Louis Gathmann's influence[edit]

It was stated in the article that newspapers claimed that Louis Gathmann's high explosive system influenced the Big Bertha design. I have re-worded this, because unless some evidence is cited to show otherwise, this makes it seem as if the newspapers were correct (which I do not believe them to have been). (McTodd (talk) 21:24, 13 April 2008 (UTC))


My history text says the Germans bombarded Paris with it from 75 miles away. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.25.44.196 (talk) 17:43, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Barrel length in introduction[edit]

"...barrel was 12 calibres in length.) I believe 'caliber' is an expression of measurement, not a UNIT of measurement. Do you mean "meters in length" ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.12.238.248 (talk) 21:12, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

The 'calibre' (singular) of a gun is the internal diameter of the barrel.

However, 'calibres' (plural) IS used as a measurement of the length of a gun barrel. In the case of the Dicke Bertha, the barrel was 12 x 42cm in length. --McTodd (talk) 16:30, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

B class?[edit]

This article lacks a couple of citations to bring it to B class standard. If anyone can add them, it should meet B1. Monstrelet (talk) 12:57, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

German Heavy Mortars[edit]

This is a poor source even by popmilhist standards. It manages to contradict itself in the space of two pages. On p. 23 it says 5 Gammas were built in total; on p. 24 it says 20 Gammas were active in 1916. That they've included the wooden model picture on the M (with the Nazi officer) without clarifying that it was a wooden model (but without commenting on the Nazi guy either) is not surprising. A very sloppy book in more than one way. Have mörser, will travel (talk) 03:34, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Howitzer or Mortar?[edit]

After having read entries on the Skoda 305 mm Model 1911 and Big Bertha, I was struck by the fact that they are both labelled Mörser in German. This means mortar, not howitzer (that would be Haubitze). Any particular reason to relabel them as howitzers in English? I have also raised this question in the general howitzer section.

Mojowiha (talk) 18:17, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

The 'Dicke Bertha' is a mortar no howitzer. A howitzer can fire a in high and low angle. A mortar is not designed to fire on low angle, like the described 42-mm Gamma-Gerät and M-Gerät. The 'M' stands for 'Minenwerfer' which is a strict synonym for 'Mörser' = mortar. The description mortar is used correctly in chapter 'Design history'. The munition in the picture is described correctly as 'German 42-cm mortar shell'. For the categorie of 'German artillery ind WW I' the categorie 'Mortars' is used. The title and article has to be edited. Antiextremist (talk) 12:08, 8 August 2014 (UTC)