List of the largest cannon by caliber

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Early 15th-century Flemish giant cannon Dulle Griet at Ghent (caliber of 660 mm)

This list contains all types of cannon through the ages listed in decreasing caliber size. For the purpose of this list, the development of large-calibre artillery can be divided into three periods, based on the kind of projectiles used, due to their dissimilar characteristics, and being practically incommensurable in terms of their bore size:

  • Stone balls: Cannon of extraordinary bore, which fired stone balls, were first introduced at the turn of the 14th to 15th century in Western Europe. Following a logic of increasing performance through size, they had evolved from small handguns to giant wrought-iron or cast-bronze bombards within a span of just several decades.[1]
  • Iron balls and shot: By the 16th century, however, a general switch from stone balls to smaller, but much more effective iron projectiles was in full swing. This and the parallel tendency towards standardized, rapid-firing cannon made the enormously costly and logistically demanding giant guns soon obsolete in the European theatre (with the exception of the odd showpiece).[2]
  • Explosive shells: In the Industrial Age, artillery was again revolutionized by the introduction of explosive shells, beginning with the Paixhans guns. Breakthroughs in metallurgy and modes of production were followed up by new experimentation with super-sized caliber weapons, culminating in the steel colossi of the two World Wars. In the post-war era, the development of extremely overpowered artillery was gradually abandoned in favour of missile technology, while heavy guns are still demanded by various arms of the service.

Cannon by caliber[edit]

Stone balls[edit]

Heyday: 15th to 17th centuries

Caliber (mm) Name Type Produced Place of origin Made by
A view of the Tsar Pushka, showing its massive bore and cannonballs. 890[CB 1] Tsar Cannon Bombard 1586 Tsardom of Russia Andrey Chokhov
Backside of the Pumhart von Steyr 820[CB 2][3] Pumhart von Steyr Bombard Early 15th century House of Habsburg,  Holy Roman Empire
745[CB 3] Basilic Bombard 1453 Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire Orban
Engraving by Johann Georg Beck from 1717 735[CB 4][6] Faule Mette Bombard 1411 City of Brunswick,  Holy Roman Empire Henning Bussenschutte
The Malik-i-Maidan at the western ramparts of Bijapur fort 700 Malik-i-Maidan Bombard 1549 City of Bijapur, Adil Shahi dynasty Muhammad Bin Husain Rumi
The Dulle Griet at Ghent, close to the Friday Market square in the old town 660[7] Dulle Griet Bombard First half of 15th century City of Ghent, County of  Flanders, Duchy of  Burgundy
635 Thanjavur cannon (Rajagopala Beerangi) Bombard 1620 Thanjavur Nayaks Vikas Naikwade
Dismantled Dardanelles Gun in 2007 at Fort Nelson 635[8] Dardanelles Gun or Great Turkish Bombard Bombard 1464 Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire Munir Ali
530[9] Galeazzesca Vittoriosa Bombard 1471 Duchy of Milan

Caliber: 530 mm (ball diameter); Mass: ~ 8.6-8.8 t; Shell weight: 209 kg[10]

Giovanni Garbagnate
520[11] Faule Grete Bombard 1409 Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights Heynrich Dumechen
Mons Meg with its 50 cm caliber cannonballs 520[12] Mons Meg Bombard 1449 Mons, County of Hainaut, Duchy of Burgundy Jehan Cambier
Bronze bombard of the Knights Hospitaller cast in 1480. 510[CB 5][13] Bombard 1480 Knights Hospitaller

Iron balls and shot[edit]

Heyday: 16th to 19th centuries

Caliber (mm) Name Type Produced Place of origin Made by
Kanone Greif 280[14] Kanone Greif Scharfmetze ("medium size") 1524 Electorate of Trier Master Simon
The Jaivana cannon 280 Jaivana 1720 Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur Riyasat,
Dalmadal 286 Dal Madal Kaman/Dala Mardana 1565[15][16] Mallabhum, Malla dynasty Jagannath Karmakar
Jahan Kosha 152 Jahan Kosha Cannon 1637[17][18] Bengal Subah, Mughal Empire Janardan Karmakar
240 Zamzama 1757 Durrani Empire Shah Nazir
508 Dahlgren smoothbore cannons 1864 American Civil War John A. Dahlgren
508 Rodman gun 1864 American Civil War Thomas Jackson Rodman

Twenty-inch (508 mm) Rodman and Dahlgren smoothbore cannons were cast in 1864 during the American Civil War[citation needed][clarification needed]. The Rodmans were used as seacoast defense. Although not used as intended, two 20-inch Dahlgrens were intended to be mounted in the turrets of USS Dictator and USS Puritan.

Explosive shells[edit]

Heyday: 19th to 20th centuries

Caliber (mm) Name Type Produced Place of origin Made by
Mallet's Mortar with 36 inch shells which would have contained 480lb (217kg) of gunpowder 914 Mallet's mortar Mortar 1857 United Kingdom United Kingdom Robert Mallet
Little David at the Aberdeen Proving Ground 914 Little David Mortar 1945  United States
The Schwerer Gustav Railway gun 800 Schwerer Gustav Railway gun 1941  Nazi Germany Krupp
US Soldier with 800mm gun dora 800 Dora Railway gun 1942  Nazi Germany Krupp
The Mortier monstre 610[19][20] Mortier monstre Mortar 1832 Belgium Belgium Henri-Joseph Paixhans
60 cm Karl-Gerät "Ziu" firing in Warsaw, August 1944 600
(later, 540)
Karl-Gerät Mortar 1940  Nazi Germany Rheinmetall
520 Obusier de 520 modèle 1916 Railway howitzer 1918 France France Schneider et Cie
508 M. 1864 20-inch Rodman gun Naval gun 1864  United States
The 36 cm 45 caliber 5th Year Type at Kamegakubi Proving Grounds in December, 1945. The actual size is 48 cm. 480 45 caliber 5 Year Type 36 cm gun Naval gun 1918–1922  Empire of Japan Kure Naval Arsenal
The Japanese battleship Yamato under construction 460 46 cm/45 Type 94 Naval gun 1940  Empire of Japan Kure Naval Arsenal
Boche Buster at Catterick, 12 December 1940 457.2 BL 18 inch railway howitzer Railway howitzer 1920 United Kingdom United Kingdom Elswick Ordnance Company
On monitor HMS General Wolfe 457.2 BL 18 inch Mk I naval gun Naval gun 1916  United Kingdom Elswick Ordnance Company
A display at the U.S. Navy Dahlgren Naval Weapons Facility 457 18"/48 caliber Mark 1 gun Naval gun 1942  United States
Elswick 100-ton gun at Gibraltar 450 100-ton gun(RML 17.72 inch gun) Naval gun 1877 United Kingdom United Kingdom Elswick Ordnance Company
One of the first Big Berthas being readied for firing 420 Big Bertha Howitzer 1910s  German Empire Krupp
Side view of a Gamma-Gerät 420 42 cm Gamma Mörser Mortar 1910s  German Empire /  Nazi Germany Krupp
2B1 Oka 420 2B1 Oka Self-propelled artillery 1957  Soviet Union KBM

Kirov Plant

Austro-Hungarian 42 cm Haubitze M. 14/16 420 42 cm Haubitze M. 14/16 Howitzer 1914-1918  Austria-Hungary Škoda
BL 16.25 inch naval gun 412.8 BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval gun Naval gun 1888  United Kingdom Elswick Ordnance Company
406 mm gun from Japanese battleship Mutsu 410 41 cm/45 3rd Year Type Naval gun  Empire of Japan
410 Experimental 41-cm-Howitzer Howitzer 1926 Empire of Japan Japan Steel Works
16 inch Coastal Defense Gun at Aberdeen Proving Ground 406 16"/50 caliber M1919 gun Coastal Artillery 1920  United States Watervliet Arsenal
16 inch Mark 2 Gun at the Washington Navy Yard 406 16"/50 caliber Mark 2 gun Naval gun 1920  United States Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., Bethlehem Steel
Guns of HMS Rodney at maximum elevation, 1940 406 BL 16 inch Mk I naval gun Naval gun 1927  United Kingdom
Batterie Lindemann gun, 1942 406 40.6 cm SK C/34 gun Naval gun 1934  Nazi Germany Krupp
2A3 Kondensator 406 2A3 Kondensator 2P Self-propelled artillery 1956  Soviet Union KB SM

Kirov Plant

A 406 mm/50 B-37 naval gun in MP-10 test mount 406 406 mm/50 B-37 naval gun for Sovetsky Soyuz-class battleships Naval gun 1937  Soviet Union Barrikady Plant, Stalingrad
A cutaway of a turret mounting 16-inch guns 406 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun for the Iowa-class battleships Naval gun 1943  United States Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The bombard has a conical bore of 82.5–90 cm.
  2. ^ The bombard has a conical bore of 76–88 cm.
  3. ^ Bown[4] indicates a larger bore of 36 in (914 mm), but Hollenback[5] says that Kritoboulos, a contemporary source, indicates a circumference of 12 spans and concludes that in this case the smallest of three possible sizes of span is the correct unit, giving 0.745 m for the bore. Hollenback also notes that granite cannonballs dating from the siege of Constantinople had a diameter of 0.711  and could have been shot from this weapon using a wooden sabot.
  4. ^ The bombard has a conical bore of 67–80 cm.
  5. ^ The bombard has a conical bore of 45–58 cm.


  1. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, pp. 228–230
  2. ^ Schmidtchen 1977a, pp. 153–161
  3. ^ Schmidtchen 1977a, p. 162; ball diameter is 20 mm less (p. 171, Fn. 41).
  4. ^ Stephen R. Bown (2005). A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the Modern World. Penguin Group. ISBN 0-670-04524-1.
  5. ^ George M. Hollenback (2002), "Notes on the Design and Construction of Urban's Giant Bombard", Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 26 (1): 284–291, doi:10.1179/030701302806932231, S2CID 161056159
  6. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, p. 222; ball diameter is 20 mm less (p. 171, Fn. 41).
  7. ^ Schmidtchen 1977a, p. 164; ball diameter is 20 mm less (p. 171, Fn. 41).
  8. ^ Royal Armouries Archived 2011-08-05 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ E. Rocchi, Le artiglierie italiane nel Rinascimento, Rome, 1899
  10. ^ L. Beltrami, La Galeazesca Vittoriosa, Milan, 1916
  11. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, p. 218; ball diameter is 20 mm less (p. 171, Fn. 41).
  12. ^ Schmidtchen 1977a, p. 166; ball diameter is 20 mm less (p. 171, Fn. 41).
  13. ^ Schmidtchen 1977b, p. 236, Fn. 103
  14. ^ Archiv für die Officiere der Königlich Preußischen Artillerie- und Ingenieur-Korps, Vol. 19, Berlin, Posen, Bromberg 1846, p. 101
  15. ^ Dasgupta, Biswas & Mallik 2009, p. 55.
  16. ^ "ASI, Kolkata Circle".
  17. ^ Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh: Humanities, Volumes 36-38 Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 1991
  18. ^ The Land of the rupee Bennett, Coleman, 1912, the University of Michigan
  19. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Vol. 14, Leipzig 1908, p. 160: "Mörser": caliber of 61 cm
  20. ^ Journal des Sciences Militaires, 2nd series, Vol. 22, Paris 1838: caliber of 22 pouces = 59,6 cm (p. 49); outer diameter of the barrel: 1 m (p. 54)


  • Schmidtchen, Volker (1977a), "Riesengeschütze des 15. Jahrhunderts. Technische Höchstleistungen ihrer Zeit", Technikgeschichte, 44 (2): 153–173
  • Schmidtchen, Volker (1977b), "Riesengeschütze des 15. Jahrhunderts. Technische Höchstleistungen ihrer Zeit", Technikgeschichte, 44 (3): 213–237
  • Dasgupta, Gautam Kumar; Biswas, Samira; Mallik, Rabiranjan (2009), Heritage Tourism: An Anthropological Journey to Bishnupur, A Mittal Publication, p. 55, ISBN 978-8183242943