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Krupp railway guns in Italy

Discussion in 'Italy, Sicily & Greece' started by Cjkiwi, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Cjkiwi

    Cjkiwi New Member

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    The four images posted were taken by my father (NZ 6th Field Regiment) during the Italian campaign. The artillery unit looks to be a Krupp 5E railway gun. My research suggests that there were only two of these guns in Italy (Anzio Annie and Anzio Express) and that these were captured in Civitavecchia by the Allied forces in June 1944. However, the images are not consistent with one other I have seen taken in Civitavecchia, so I am wondering where these pictures were taken. Is the scenery consistent with that around Civitavecchia, or the Anzio - Civitavecchia rail corridor? Or perhaps there were more than two such units in Italy in 1943-45, and the pictures are from somewhere completely different, such as Northern Italy, where NZ troops also went.
    Thanks for any suggestions as to where this location might be.

    View attachment 24839 View attachment 24840 View attachment 24841 View attachment 24842
     

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  2. YugoslavPartisan

    YugoslavPartisan Drug

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    Such an incredible photos.
     
  3. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

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    When I was taking my arty training in Ft. Sill, OK, we had a lecture by a civilian defense worker who was a naturalized citizen of German origin. He had also been a crew member on one of the K5(E)s at Anzio. He stated that his gun had been neutralized by air strikes. He kept the manufacturing plate from it and showed it to us. My guess would be that there may have been more than two guns sent to Italy and that one was destroyed and the others trapped in Italy and abandoned. Obviously, the guns in these pictures were not all in the same place.
     
  5. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    With the barrel laying flat could the K5 pass through Alps tunnels to get to Italy or were they dissembled and carried in pieces, Conversely I presume they could come through France and pass along the Mediterranean but that is lots of exposure. Bridges would obviously need to support the concentrated work.

    Great pictures , good contribution.

    Gaines
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Information is a little fragmentary, but planning documents of the 14. Armee in Italy include the following transferred from Ob.West as arrived or en route as of 31 January 1944:

    One Zug of E.-Bttr. 712 with one K5 (E).
    One Zug of E.-Bttr. 2./725 with one 28cm (E).

    Meanwhile, E.-Bttr. 765 with two 28cm K5 (E) was apparently already in Italy with 10. Armee.

    It seems likely the one your Dad photographed is from E.-Bttr. 765?
     
  7. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Hi Gaines;

    Weren't these railroad guns always positioned near tunnels to hide them after their shots or generally at daylight? So they have to fit in tunnels even when ready to fire.
    Otherwise their life-span would be very short.

    They just could not be transported this way over long distances, curvy tracks and long barrels aren't a good combination.
     
  8. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks, I had forgotten the necessity of hiding one rather quickly especially if you do not have heavy air superiority. Sitting duck otherwise.

    The Alps tunnels are pretty big but could not find width and height data, only length. I guess the doubled tracted guns at Sebastopol were fighter protected at that stage in the war.

    Gaines
     
  9. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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  10. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The only info I've got on this weapon was from Ian Hogg. Apparently 28 of these cannon were completed. He never mentioned where they were used but it seems Italy, with all its railroad tunnels would be an obvious choice. Since these guns didn't have much of a traverse (1 degree) they had to have an area where they could put down a curved section of track so the gun could be moved until the proper deflection would be achieved. Apparently the Krupp people were looking into a version that would could be broken down and trucked around places where the track had been destroyed. The gun's range with a standard projectile was 38 miles and with the sub-caliber arrow shell was over 93 miles. What accuracy it could achieve at longer ranges would be questionable.
     
  11. OhneGewehr

    OhneGewehr New Member

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    Ah, never thought about it.
    Then you just have to choose the right place and the right elevation and you could fire again?

    Basicly a clever idea, these railway guns.
     
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  12. rprice

    rprice Member

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    The Germans and French both built special sidings for railroad guns as part of their fixed fortifications. This German aerial photo shows a Maginot line siding for a pair of 340mm guns. It was located on the edge of the Haguenau forest just south of the town of Rittershoffen (the photo is looking south). There is a gun and locomotive on each branch of the siding.

    View attachment 24853
     

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  13. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    I read somewhere that the the K-5 was pivoted under the breech end, that 1 degree but a set of transverse boogie wheels could be attached to the front and engineers would or could lay a slight arching, like a gentle bow set od tracts transverse to the main rail the the gun cold pivot considerably more. It would also mean it was more vulnerable to air attack but I have no idea how quickly forward or rearward movement on the main like took.
    Perhaps more useful earlier in the war.

    Gaines
     
  14. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    I thought I should move this discussion over here - I may have found your gun.

    Wondering about the connection of your father's unit to the Italian towns of Fogliano Redipuglia or Monfalcone. I found a post on a Polish forum here that fits with the story, location and photos. Also, without much more proof than logic, I am starting to think that the gun in the photos was the other half of E.712, the other gun that was originally moved to Italy with Robert...

    JB
     
  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Should have called it "John Holmes"...
     
  16. Cjkiwi

    Cjkiwi New Member

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    Hi JB. Fogliano Redipuglia and/or Monfalcone fit perfectly, if the date is April-July 1945. The 2nd NZ Division moved across the Lombardi Plains in April 1945, and then to Trieste in May 1945. I have other photos taken by my father in the area you indicate, particularly the huge WW1 Memorial at Redipuglia. The other photos of the gun uncovered show US jeeps at the rail location, as well as British troops. Both the 5th US army and 8th British army were in this vicinity at that time too, as well as Polish troops.
     
  17. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    Okay then, so here goes . . .

    The tunnel location (photos left to right, 1,2 and 4) appears to be here in the town of Sagrado, Italy.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately street view is below grade and there is not a good view of the tunnel, although the geography around the tunnel, the curve of the track and the story told that the gun was "blown out of the tunnel" and eventually pulled to Redipuglia all fits.

    [​IMG]

    The second location is here in the yards of Fogliano Redipuglia, Italy.

    [​IMG]

    Of the photos I grouped with this location, only one was taken from the angle showing the building in the background as well as the elevated platform next to the gun. All others seem to have been shot with the building behind the photographer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    As for the story of the gun, a mention was found on this French forum


    as well as a more detailed version on this Polish forum.

     
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  18. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    As for the gun itself, that is a little more difficult. The best image I have found that shows the Reichsbahn No. still lacks clarity when enlarged, although 919210 seems to be the number.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Firstly, there exists listings of K5 Reichsbahn #s here, although there are 24 total which goes against Winjstok (Leopold book) who states there were 22 guns produced. Regardless, the list matches the serials of many if not all guns photographed. 919210 just happens to be the second number, and this gun is one of the first 2 produced (according to available K5 design notes). As far as 919210's military service, information from here has assisted in theorizing that it was part of Eisenbahn-Batterie 712, possibly since it's production. E.712 was one of the first 3 K5 batteries planned in 1939, almost makes since that the second gun produced belonged to the second battery.

    O'Rourke (Anzio Annie - She Was No Lady) states that 3 K5 batteries of 6 guns, 712 (Robert and another K5), 2/725 (Leopold and Margaret) and 765 (2 K5) were moved to Italy in mid to late August of 1943. O'Rourke also states that in late Jan./early Feb., 1 gun from 2/725 (Leopold) and 1 gun from 712 (Robert) would be put together under E.712 operational command and moved to support Anzio. That leaves 1 gun of E.712 (919210) MIA until December of 1944:


     
  19. rpk4

    rpk4 New Member

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    Any chance you could post this document?
     
  20. minden1759

    minden1759 Member

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    One of the guns - not sure if it is Annie or Express, was taken back to the YS and is parked at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

    FdeP
     

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