This behemoth called Bagger 288 moves using a total of 12 caterpillar track sets, each 12 feet wide, at a majestic pace of six to 30 feet per minute. The main chassis is 151 feet wide. The whole excavator is 721 feet long and 315 feet high and weighs 13,500 tons. This is largest vehicle moving on its own power on God’s green earth, even larger than the NASA crawler-transporter used for the transport of the Space Shuttle and Apollo Saturn V launch vehicle.
Constructed by the German Engineering Company Krupp, it was supplied to Rheinbraun, the mining company, for its opening and operating the Hambach coal mine at Niederzier and Elsdorf in the North-Rhine Westphalia.
Bagger 288 is a bucket excavator- elevator that clears the surface earth – the technical term is ‘overburden’ – to reach the mineral bearing layer, mostly coal for ‘opencast mining’ operations. It combines earthmoving and debris clearing operations. The excavating head is 72 feet in diameter and has 18 buckets each of a volume of 33 cubic feet. The external energy source provides 16.56 mega watts of electricity for the operation of the excavator.
Built in 1978 for the operations in the lignite bearing Hambach mines, the entire strip was cleared of overburden by 2001 reaching 98 feet deep. Bagger 288 was then moved to begin operations at the Gazweiller mines. It was deemed more economical to move it on its own power than disassemble and reassemble it. The total expenses on the operation was an estimated 15 million German Marks (Euro was still in the distant future!)