great historic video of the US Military mortar that is considered the
largest and most powerful mortar that has ever been built. Little David
was the nickname of an American 36 inches (910 mm) caliber mortar used
for test firing aerial bombs during World War II, that is one of the
largest calibre guns ever built, having a larger calibre than both of
Germany's Dora and Gustav which were 31.5 inches (800 mm) railway guns.
Great Britain's Mallet's Mortar had an identical calibre.
Type Heavy mortar
Place of origin United States
In service Testing only
Used by USA
Wars World War II
Weight 40 tons (without carriage)
Barrel length 22 feet (6.7 m)
Shell 3,650 pounds (1,656 kg)
Caliber 36 inches (914 mm)
Muzzle velocity 1250 ft/s (381 m/s)
Maximum firing range 6 miles (9.7 km)
Feed system Muzzle loading
mortar was originally used as the launching mechanism for test-firing
aerial bombs at Aberdeen Proving Ground (during the war, bombs became
larger and larger necessitating the construction of such a large calibre
gun). Little David was therefore not intended as a combat weapon. The
mortar's base was a large steel box. The base was placed below ground,
with its top flush with the surrounding surface, allowing the mortar's
muzzle to be lowered horizontal for loading at ground level.
1944, it was expected that the US forces would encounter extremely
strong fortifications during the expected invasion of Japan. Studies
began on using Little David as a siege mortar. The mortar was converted
into a two piece mobile unit, consisting of the 80,000 pounds (36,000
kg) barrel and the 93,000 pounds (42,000 kg) base transported by two
artillery tractors. In addition to the two main loads, the Little David
unit would also include a bulldozer and crane with bucket to dig the
emplacement for the mortar's base.
The huge mortar could be
ready to fire in 12 hours. The largest (800 mm) known German artillery
weapons were hauled on 25 railway cars and required three weeks to put
in firing position.
Little David was one of the largest
artillery pieces ever produced, by calibre, although Dora fired a
heavier shell. Little David's overall effectiveness would have been
questionable because of its limited range and accuracy. When Japan
surrendered the invasion became unnecessary, and Little David (still in
its trial phase) never saw combat.
Little David currently resides
in the outdoor collection of armor and artillery pieces at the Aberdeen
Proving Grounds in Maryland.