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Edselman

Strange History: The "Tsar" Weapons

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The Tsar Cannon

Image result for tsar cannon

The Tsar Cannon was an extremely high-caliber cannon made in The Tsardom of Russia in 1586. Though it is often referred to as a cannon, the shortness of the barrel relative to the caliber would actually class it as a mortar. The cannon was cast in 1586 by Andrey Chokhov, a Russian master bronze caster. To this day, it is still on display in Moscow and you will see it contains a lot of decorative engravings on both the cannon and the carriage. However, these engravings were not made on the cannon until the 1830's and the carriage itself was not built until the 1830's. The thing weighs 40 tons and the caliber of the cannon is 35 inches (890mm), making it the largest bombard cannon in the world. For comparison, the German Schwerer Gustav and Dora Railway guns of WWII both have a caliber of 31 inches (800mm). The only guns ever to surpass the Tsar Cannon in caliber were the American WWII mortar "Little David" and British Crimean War Mallet's Mortar both of which have a caliber of 36 inches (914mm). 

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Many aspects of the cannon are purely decorative, such as the carriage which was never meant to be a platform for the cannon to be fired from. The cannonballs that currently sit next to the cannon on display were also purely decorative as they were made in the early 19th century and the cannon was never designed to fire iron cannonballs but stone balls. There was (an still is I suppose) a rumor that the cannon itself was entirely built for decorative or propagandistic purposes. It was often shown to foreigners visiting Russia as a show of Russian military strength but was never used in war. However, the rumor was somewhat put down when specialists found gunpowder residue in the barrel in 1980 which indicated that the cannon had been fired at least once since its creation. It was sometimes referred to as the "Russian Shotgun" because it was meant to fire stone grapeshot that weighed roughly 1,750 lbs. (800 kg.) the iron cannonballs on display next to the cannon weigh about one ton each (2,000 lbs.) but they are slightly bigger than the diameter of the barrel so an iron cannonball for the cannon would be lighter. 

The Tsar Bell

The Tsar Bell isn't really a weapon but fits in hand-in-hand with the Tsar cannon, it is actually displayed not too far away from where the Tsar Cannon is displayed in Moscow.

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The bell was constructed between 1733 and 1735. It has never been in working order, suspended, or even rung. It is the largest bell in the would with a height of a little over 20 feet and a diameter of 22 feet. The Tsar Bells weighs over 220 tons (445,000 lbs. or 202,000 kg.), making it the largest bell in the world. For comparison, the Liberty Bell is 3 feet tall and weighs a little over 2,000 lbs. There is a broken piece that sits next to the rest of the bell, that piece alone is already three times bigger than the largest suspended bell at Liverpool Cathedral. 

The Tsar Tank

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The Tsar Tank was a very unique experimental tank developed by Imperial Russia during WWI. some of the engineers who worked on the project were Nikolai Lebedenko, Nikolai Zhukovsky, Boris Stechkin, and Alexander Mikulin. They had build a small-scale model of the tank to present to the Tsar, who was impressed by the model's ability to climb steep stacks of books so he greed to fund the project. Development started in 1914 and the vehicle was tested in 1915. It was scrapped in 1923. The Tsar Tank remains one of the largest combat vehicles by overall proportions that was actually built. 

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The design differed greatly from most other tank designs of WWI. Instead of using caterpillar tracks, the tank employed a sort of tricycle design using three massive wheels to move. The tricycle design was meant to help the tank cross obstacles easily. The two front wheels had a diameter of 27 feet and the rear wheel was smaller with a diameter of 5 feet. The tank's gun turret sits 26 feet above the ground. Additional guns were mounted in sponsons on both sides of the tank, which was nearly 60 feet long , 40 feet wide, and 30 feet tall. The tank weighed 60 tons, comparable to a German Tiger. Each wheel was powered by a 250 horsepower engine, giving it a speed of 11 mph (17 kph) which was by no means terrible by WWI-standards. Testing showed the rear wheel to be prone to getting stuck in soft ground and that the massive size of the vehicle made it heavily vulnerable to artillery fire. 

The Tsar Bomba

The Tsar Bomba was a nuclear bomb developed by the Soviet Union in the 1960's. It is the largest nuclear weapon to date with 50 megatons worth of TNT, that's 1,570 times the combined energy of both atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

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The bomb itself weighed 30 tons. The initial design wanted to produce a bomb that yielded 100 megatons, but it was deemed that such a bomb would produce too much nuclear fallout and that the plane dropping the bomb would not have enough time to escape so the yield was decreased to 50 megatons. Despite being Soviet, it was named the Tsar Bomba to class it with other enormous Russian-made variants of something, particularly the Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell. 

Ivan_bomb.png
 

The bomb was tested in 1961 when it was dropped by plane (it was too heavily to be placed on a missile) over Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Artic Sea. The crew of the plane were told they had a 50% chance of surviving the test. The bomb had been dropped by parachute and the plane had been hit by the shockwave, but was able to land safely. The explosion remains one of the most powerful man-made explosions. The mushroom cloud was 40 miles high, the fireball reached nearly as high as the drop plane, and the shockwaves stretched hundreds of miles. The village of Severny which was 34 miles away from the detonation was completely destroyed. Heat from the explosion could give people 62 miles away from ground zero third-degree burns. Windows hundreds of miles away were broken. 

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Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Cannon

https://www.rbth.com/defence/2014/09/15/ferocious_field_gun_or_outsized_ornament_the_mystery_of_the_tsar_cann_39801.html

https://www.kreml.ru/en-Us/visit-to-kremlin/what-to-see/chto-posmotret-v-kremle-tsar-pushka/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bell 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Tank

http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/tsar-tank/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba

https://www.atomicheritage.org/history/tsar-bomba

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Evidently, practicality wasn't considered when these things were developed.

We might as well consider these to be the Russian versions of the Maus/Ratte.

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I like to believe  that Russia has always been one of those types of nations who thinks "bigger is always better":fish_aqua:

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And russian are first to use armored division in WWI, in late 1915 the Belgian Expeditionnary Corps of Armoured Cars go to help russian army in Galicia with lot of succès.

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Absolutely fascinating items. The design of the Tsar tanks are weird but it would have been something, had they been successful on running the field test. I for one am glad that the Tsar Bomba was never used outside of its testing phase. :fish_nerv:

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1 hour ago, Jazzyblaster said:

Absolutely fascinating items. The design of the Tsar tanks are weird but it would have been something, had they been successful on running the field test. I for one am glad that the Tsar Bomba was never used outside of its testing phase. :fish_nerv:

Another nice thing to note is that they made a 50 megaton bomb over the initial 100 megaton plan purely because they feared nuclear fallout and the drop plane not being able to escape. The design of the bomb was more than capable of yielding 100 megatons if they so desired. 

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8 minutes ago, Edselman said:

Another nice thing to note is that they made a 50 megaton bomb over the initial 100 megaton plan purely because they feared nuclear fallout and the drop plane not being able to escape. The design of the bomb was more than capable of yielding 100 megatons if they so desired. 

That is completely terrifying! I don't think I could imagine the damage. 

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