Tsar Cannon
The Tsar Cannon is a huge cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 on display on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin , sometimes referred to as simply The Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River , Saint Basil's Cathedral and Red Square and the Alexander Garden...

. It was cast in 1586 in Moscow, by the Russian master bronze caster Andrey Chokhov
Andrey Chokhov
Andrey Chokhov, also spelled Chekhov was one of the most prominent Russian casters...

. Mostly of symbolic impact, it was never fired in war. Per the Guinness Book of Records it is the largest bombard by caliber in the world, and it is a major tourist attraction in the ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin.


The Tsar Cannon is located just past the Kremlin Armory, facing towards the Kremlin Senate
Kremlin Senate
The Kremlin Senate is a building within the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia. Initially constructed from 1776-1787, it originally housed the Moscow branch of the Governing Senate, the highest judiciary and legislative office of Imperial Russia. Currently, it houses the Russian presidential...

. The very low ratio between its calibre and the length of its barrel makes it technically not a cannon, but a stylized mortar
Mortar has several meanings:* Mortar , material used in masonry to fill the gaps between blocks and bind them together.* Mortar fires shells at a much lower velocity and higher ballistic arc than other ordnance....

. The Tsar Cannon is made of bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 and weighs 39.312 tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s and has a length of 5.34 m (17.5 ft). Its bronze-cast barrel has a diameter of 890 mm (35 in), and an external diameter of 1200 mm (47.2 in). The barrel has four cast rectangular brackets for use in transporting the gun, which is mounted on a stylized cast iron
Cast iron
Cast iron is derived from pig iron, and while it usually refers to gray iron, it also identifies a large group of ferrous alloys which solidify with a eutectic. The color of a fractured surface can be used to identify an alloy. White cast iron is named after its white surface when fractured, due...

 gun carriage with two wheels. The barrel is decorated with relief images, including an equestrian image of Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich.

The spherical cast-iron projectiles located in front of the cannon - each of which weighs 1.97 tons, were produced in 1834 as a decoration. They are too large to have been used in the Tsar Cannon, which would have fired 800 kg stone grapeshot
In artillery, a grapeshot is a type of shot that is not a one solid element, but a mass of small metal balls or slugs packed tightly into a canvas bag. It was used both in land and naval warfare. When assembled, the balls resembled a cluster of grapes, hence the name...

 rather than cannonball
A cannonball is round shot ammunition for a cannon.By analogy, cannonball is also the name or nickname of:* A diving technique in swimming; unlike competitive diving techniques, however, its purpose is to maximize, rather than minimize, splash upon water entry.People* Cannonball Adderley, jazz alto...

s. According to legend, the cannonballs were manufactured in St. Petersburg, and were intended to be a humorous addition and a symbol of the friendly rivalry between Moscow and St. Petersburg.


By the 16th century, bronze casting technology in the Tsardom of Russia
Tsardom of Russia
The Tsardom of Russia was the name of the centralized Russian state from Ivan IV's assumption of the title of Tsar in 1547 till Peter the Great's foundation of the Russian Empire in 1721.From 1550 to 1700, Russia grew 35,000 km2 a year...

 was advanced enough to create many artillery pieces noted for their large caliber and rich ornamentation. Artillery was extensively used in the Conquest of Kazan
Siege of Kazan (1552)
The siege of Kazan in 1552 was the final battle of Russo-Kazan Wars. It led to the fall of Kazan Khanate. However, it was not the last battle on the khanate's territory. After the fall of Kazan, rebel governments formed in Çalım and Mişätamaq, and a new khan was invited from the Nogais...

 and in numerous other battles. The exact reason why the Tsar Cannon was cast is unknown. The master bronze-caster Andrey Chokhov is known to have resided near today's Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square
Lubyanka Square in Moscow is about north east of Red Square. The name is first mentioned in 1480, when Ivan III settled many Novgorodians in the area. They built the church of St Sophia, modelled after St Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, and called the area Lubyanka after the Lubyanitsy district of...

 from 1568-1629.

The Tsar Cannon was placed at several points around Moscow in its history. It is known to have been mounted on a special frame with a fixed inclination angle in Red Square
Red Square
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. The square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod...

 near the Place of Skulls
Lobnoye Mesto
Lobnoye mesto , also known as the Place of Skulls, is a 13-meter-long stone platform situated on Red Square in Moscow in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral....

 in order to protect the eastern approaches to the Kremlin, indicating that it originally did have a practical application. However, by 1706, it was moved to the Kremlin Arsenal and mounted on a wooden gun carriage. It was not used during the French invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

, although Napoleon Bonaparte considered removing it to France as a war trophy. The wooden gun carriage burnt in the fire that consumed Moscow in 1812, and was replaced in 1835 by the present metal carriage.

In 1860, the Tsar Cannon was moved to its current location on Ivanovskaya Square
Ivanovskaya Square
Ivanovskaya Square is the largest Kremlin square. Its name comes from the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.In the 16th and 17th centuries, many government bodies were situated in the Ivanovskaya Square. It was the site of the Prikazy, the equivalent of today's Ministries. Yamskoi Prikaz, one of the...

 near the Tsar Bell, which is similarly massive and is the largest bell in the world (but which has never been rung).

The cannon was last restored in 1980. It was thoroughly studied at that time and gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 residue was found, indicating that the cannon had been fired at least once.

A replica of the cannon was made in 2002 at the Izhevsk machine-building factory. It was given to the Ukrainian
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 city of Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

 and now is installed near the Donetsk city administration building.

See also

  • List of the largest cannon by caliber
  • Massive Ordnance Penetrator
    Massive Ordnance Penetrator
    The Massive Ordnance Penetrator GBU-57A/B is a project by the U.S. Air Force to develop a massive, precision-guided, "bunker buster" bomb...

  • Grand Slam bomb
    Grand Slam bomb
    The Grand Slam was a 22,000 lb earthquake bomb used by RAF Bomber Command against strategic targets during the Second World War.Known officially as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb, it was a scaled up version of the Tallboy bomb and closer to the original size that the bombs' inventor,...

  • Soviet atomic bomb project
    Soviet atomic bomb project
    The Soviet project to develop an atomic bomb , was a clandestine research and development program began during and post-World War II, in the wake of the Soviet Union's discovery of the United States' nuclear project...

  • Father of all bombs
  • Mother of all bombs
    GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb
    The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb is a large-yield conventional bomb developed for the United States military by Albert L. Weimorts, Jr. At the time of development, it was touted as the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed...

  • Tsar Bomba
    Tsar Bomba
    Tsar Bomba is the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. It was also referred to as Kuz'kina Mat , in this usage meaning "something that has not been seen before"....

  • Tsar Bell
  • Tsar Tank
    Tsar Tank
    The Tsar Tank , also known as the Netopyr which stands for pipistrellus or Lebedenko Tank , was an unusual Russian armoured vehicle developed by Nikolai Lebedenko , Nikolai Zhukovsky , Boris Stechkin , and Alexander Mikulin...

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