Big Bertha

Big Bertha

Big Bertha was the nickname given to a large, heavy siege howitzer that was developed by the Krupp armaments manufacturer in Germany. A total of twelve were built. Originally, it was a German soldier's nickname for any heavy gun; German ordnance coming from the Essen Works then owned by Frau Bertha Krupp. Two other variants of the name were "Busy Bertha" and "Fat Bertha." The more common nickname was, however, used extensively by the Allied armies and in the Press back in Blighty. It was also specifically applied to the heavy guns that bombed Paris from huge distances in March and April 1918. It was considered that the immense range and, given the time, the abnormal velocity was due to the increased length and long hollow head of the projectiles. No duds were ever found and the guns themselves were destroyed by French airmen. The Parisians called her "La Grosse Berthe."[1]


  • Length: 5.88 m (19.3 ft)
  • Weight: 47tn (94,000 lbs)
  • Shell: HE; 820 kg (1,807 lbs)
  • Calibre: 420 mm (16.5in)
  • Elevation: +40° to +75°
  • Traverse: 4°
  • Muzzle velocity: 400 m/s (1,312 ft/s)
  • Effective firing range: 12.5 km (7.8 mi)

References / notes[edit]

  1. Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.22.
  2. Big Bertha (howitzer). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 19 March, 2017

Glossary of terms and customs[edit]

This page forms part of our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain during the Great War, which also includes: technicalities, trench slang, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, sobriquets, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. Please feel free to help expand and improve this content.
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