France, May 18 2015, The Warphémont Woods (vicinity of Duzey – /- 20 km away from the town of Verdun), we visited the remains of the German Duzey Emplacement Naval Gun adapted to be used as a Railroad Gun for regular large caliber Field Artillery Gun during World War One.
This huge Gun : 38 cm (380-MM) SK L/45 Max, also called Langer Max (literally Long Max) was a German naval gun which was adapted for land service when it became clear that the ships for which it was intended would be delayed and that it would be very useful as long-range, heavy siege and coast-defense gun on the Western Front.
As you can see on the photos, this Gun is a Model M-1906 (Naval) and became the Railroad M-1908 Field Artillery Model.
They were originally designed as the main armament of the Bayern Class Battleships, but were deployed in fixed and semi-fixed concrete emplacements that took weeks to months to build. One obvious change made for land service was the placement of a large folding counterweight around the breech to counteract the preponderance of weight towards the breech. To meet the demands for more mobility and a faster emplacement time, Krupp designed a combination railroad and firing platform mounting at the end of 1917 using guns released by the suspension of SMS Sachsen and SMS Württemberg. This mount allowed the gun to fire both from any suitable section of track and from a fixed emplacement. This Railroads 38 cm Gun’s mount used a combination of cradle and rolling recoil systems to absorb the recoil forces when firing from rails. It could traverse a total of 2° for fine aiming adjustments, coarser adjustments had to be made by moving the entire carriage. The gun had to be loaded at zero elevation and so had to be re-aimed for every shot. One major problem when firing from rails was that the lengthy recoil movement of the gun prevented elevation past 18° 30′ lest the breech hit the ground when firing, which limited range to 22.2 km (24,300 yd).
Nicknamed Max, the gun’s (supporting) barrel and railway-transportable carriage was used in the famed Paris Gun. Some guns were also emplaced in the Pommern and Deutschland coastal defense batteries on the Flanders coast protecting occupied Ostend. The first fixed emplacements used concrete and required a month or more to build. The Germans began construction of some during the winter of 1917—18 in preparation for their planned Spring Offensive. From May 1918 they used a removable steel box in lieu of the concrete that shortened the construction time, although the exact amount is unknown. Miller quotes three weeks as the time necessary to build the steel version from captured German manuals. The emplacement consisted of a central rotating platform, the main approach track and two auxiliary tracks on each side for the gantry crane necessary to assemble the emplacement, and an outer circular track to handle the ammunition. The central platform had railroad track on one axis and the actual firing mount on the other. All that was necessary to emplace the E. u. B. mount was to center it on the platform, jack it up, remove the trucks, and rotate the platform 90° and lower the mount to be bolted to the platform. (Source : Wikipedia)
The platform (today partly under water) was created as the deck of a ship, there are underground chambers, tunnels, shelters and a (concrete) deck. Small cars carried the ammunition in this tunnel. A cannon weighed more than 220 tons, the length of the tube was 17,1 M long and ammunition weighed 750 kg each. For this reason, a special unit set up, the ‘Marinesonderkommando N°1’ which stood under the command of Captain Schulte, along with three officers and 70 naval shooters. The headquarters was in Rouvrois, about 2.5 kilometers away. Due to the large amount of made it very likely to be struck by lightning. The detachment placed for this reason lighting conductors in the trees around.