There’s a lot of talk of fascists in the news at the moment. Y’know, because the President-elect of the United States is one, as are half of his cabinet. And the hordes of racists in Trump’s America and Brexit Britain who have collectively decided that 2016 is the year in which they can all stop pretending to be human and instead plunge into full-blown racist fuckheadery. There are countless bastards out there. And a whole lot of fascists.
So let’s take a more light-hearted look at the world of fascism (!) and consider one of Hitler’s greatest failed ideas: the V-3 supergun. Now, it goes without saying that Hitler was and still is the poster boy for fascist fuckheads everywhere, and like all true fascists his principle aim in life was to make as many people as possible suffer because he was projecting his own inadequacies on an unspeakable canvas of violence. Perhaps, like Donald Trump, he had laughably small genitalia and a spectacular insecurity complex that forced him to lash out? Seems likely. And the V-3 programme, had it worked, would have been the ultimate manifestation of what we’ll now refer to as Fascist Tiny Dick Syndrome (FTDS): the world’s biggest gun, protruding phallically out of the ground in northern France, aiming its incendiary ejaculate squarely at London.
To provide some context, by 1943 Hitler found himself increasingly outmanoeuvred; the Allies were bombing the crap out of German cities, and he was pretty annoyed about it. His FTDS was itching. But he had an ace up his sleeve (or so he thought) – a massive secret bunker that had been hollowed out of a French chalk hill, which slave labourers had hauled millions of tonnes of rock out of with their bare hands.
The plan was at once hideously complicated and extremely simple: twenty-five gun barrels pointed at London, a hundred miles away, able to fire ten bombs every minute, over and over, until there was nothing left but a smoking crater. A pretty focused idea – just pummel the shit out of Britain with lots of bombs – but the actual mechanics of it were, as you might imagine, rather tricky.
The physical workings of the supergun are still cloaked in mystery, as quite a lot of it was destroyed in a bombing raid – more on that later – and the development of the project was so secretive that few records exist. The crux of it was that each gun barrel needed to be 130 metres long and angled at 50 degrees in order to blast the payload across the Channel at 1500m/s. The bombs were to be fired in a manner similar to a railgun (which launches projectiles with electromagnetic charges rather than explosives like gunpowder or what-have-you), although the evidence suggests that Hitler’s engineers had some difficulty making the thing work. And in addition to actually firing the supergun, it was a bit of a headscratcher to devise an appropriate bomb that would remain stable in a straight line at supersonic speeds and, since the barrels weren’t rifled to impart spin, that wouldn’t just tumble uncontrollably out of the sky.
Despite the colossal scale of this project, the Allies knew nothing about it at all until the site was discovered by Canadian troops after D-Day. They were, as you can imagine, pretty surprised by the magnitude of it, and it became something of a priority to figure out how to destroy it. The Americans devised an idea to blow it up with an explosives-laden drone, but it, er… well, it didn’t go all that well.
The notion was this: they’d load twelve tonnes of explosives into a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, fly it over Calais, aim it at the supergun, then the pilot and co-pilot would bail out and the unmanned plane would dive into the V-3 (with a second, nearby plane taking the controls remotely), thus smashing it comprehensively to bits. Unfortunately, however, when Joe Kennedy Jr and Wilford Willy took off on the perilous mission, the B-24 unexpectedly blew up over Suffolk after just twenty minutes in the air, vaporising them both.
However, the supergun site at Mimoyecques was abandoned by the Nazis after Tallboy bombs were dropped in and rendered the whole setup redundant. Engineered by bouncing bomb mastermind Barnes Wallis, the 21-foot-long Tallboy was an ingenious bomb that was tapered to remain aerodynamic near the speed of sound, and also designed to bury itself fifty feet under the ground and trigger a small earthquake; eight Tallboys were dropped into the supergun site at once and, rather effectively, really fucked their shit up. The tunnel networks, the foundations, the munition stores, the bunkers, all knocked into a cocked hat in one fell swoop. The RAF’s 617 Squadron – the famous Dambusters themselves – delivered the unprecedented payload. The devastating Tallboy was the ultimate riposte to Hitler’s supergun posturing.
So when Trump’s own FTDS manifests itself as a colossal supergun pointed at… well, whoever’s riled him on Twitter that day, try not to panic. If the worst comes to the worst, the RAF still have the Tallboy blueprints.