Hitler loved the Gustav, but according to some accounts, many of the officers and soldiers who piloted the monster did not. In fact, it is possible that the hatred was so great that he mockingly called her “Dora.” This is where things get complicated: several sources claim that two heavy guns were produced and that a second gun – named “Dora” – was sent to Stalingrad to be used against the Soviets. As the story goes, the time it took to assemble the gun was so great that it gave the Soviets enough time to surround the Germans and drive them away before they could be used.
Conflicting stories exist about this second gun. Some say he returned with the gun, while others say it was abandoned, studied, and eventually dismantled or blown up – only to be found in ruins by American soldiers. A picture showing soldiers sitting on a long barrel has been confirmed as not being a Gustav gun.
The only other use of the Gustav (not the Dora) was in 1944, when the Germans used it to destroy about 30 shells in the city of Warsaw to quell a riot. After this, it disappears into history.
The Gustav cost 10 million German Marks to build, was used twice, and was fired less than 100 times. Although it was the largest gun used in combat, it was not the largest gun ever made. Claim to fame lies with “Little David,” a 36-inch (914 mm) gun built by the US Army for use against Japanese bunkers. Fortunately, the Japanese surrendered before they had to.