The Day of the Black Dragon

One of the largest artillery pieces ever used by the US Army was the 240 mm towed howitzer, nicknamed The Black Dragon. "The 240 mm howitzer M1 proved very valuable against difficult targets such as heavy concrete fortifications. It, along with its super heavy artillery 8 inch gun design-mate saw considerable action during World War II in Europe. These weapons were also used in the Pacific campaign, notably in the Battle of Manila, but few targets justified the need for them ... During the Battle of Monte Cassino, the weapon was used in the final destruction of the monastery at Monte Cassino already damaged by air attacks."

The Black Dragon smashed down reinforced concrete buildings and through forty foot walls across a swath of Manila in 1945. As they say, "it worked". (Click to enlarge photos).

Upon the surrender of all Imperial Forces in the Pacific, the Japanese High Command were actually instructed to fly to Manila and there receive their instructions. The photo below shows MacArthur receiving the representatives of the Japanese General Staff in his office inside the ruins of Manila's City Hall. MacArthur is visible in the window.

The Second World War was an incredibly destructive event. It traumatized Europe and even traumatized Japan. The scale of its death and destruction is little understood by today's generation -- one which has by and large lived in peace. Today the Black Dragon is as mythical as Smaug. Could such things really have rampaged through the cities of Europe and in Manila? Yes they could, though we cannot really bring ourselves to believe it -- or it's like -- could happen again.

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