These guns were intended for the "H" class battleships which were laid down in 1939 but never completed. This weapon was a good design, but it could be said that it had an excessively high muzzle velocity, hence giving it minimal deck penetration even at long ranges.

Accounts differ as to the actual number of guns completed, but there appears to have been twelve. There were three versions of this weapon; the original prototype for proof and experimental testing; three guns built to the naval pattern and intended for the "H" battleships; and eight finished to a modified design for coastal artillery use and also known as Adolph. The coast artillery version had a similar construction to the naval version but with a larger chamber. The naval guns were completed as one left hand and two right hand. Only one of these had power ramming.

These naval guns were placed on BSG (Bettungschiess-Gerüst - "Platform firing framework") mountings and sent to the Hel Peninsula in Poland to become Battery Schleswig-Holstein. All three guns were emplaced and test fired, but shortly afterwards they were dismantled and were sent to France where they were made part of Battery Lindemann, named after the Captain of the battleship Bismarck. This battery was located near Sangatte in France where they often fired across the Channel at Dover.

The eight coastal artillery guns were sent to Norway to be employed to protect Narvik and Tromsø, with one gun being lost in transit. Of the remaining seven guns, three were emplaced as Battery Dietl on the island of Engeløya and the other four were mounted as Battery Trondenes near Harstad. At the end of the war, the guns were taken over by the Norwegian Army along with 1,227 shells. A German gun crew trained the Norwegians in their use and the guns were actively used for about a decade. The three guns at Battery Dietl were decommissioned in the early 1950s and then scrapped in 1956. The battery at Trondenes was last fired in 1957 and formally taken out of commission in 1961. The guns then sat idle and were placed on sale for scrapping in 1968, but they still remain in place and one of them is currently open as a museum at Trondenes Fort.

As these guns had a rather thick barrel for their size, during the redesigns of the "H" class battleships in 1941 and 1942 (H-41 and H-42) it was proposed to bore them out and convert them into 42 cm/48 (16.54") weapons. One of the reasons behind this conversion was that this change would give these ships a larger caliber weapon than those planned for any known Allied battleship. None of the guns already built were ever converted and no new guns were started. The SK C/40 model year for this version is my estimate.

Constructed of a loose barrel, which was universally interchangeable between production guns, a loose liner which only fitted a particular gun, B tube, a jacket over the rear end of B tube, a breech end-piece thrust over the jacket and kept in place by a threaded ring, a breech block supporting piece inserted in the breech end-piece and secured by a threaded ring. A retaining ring with two fittings for transmitting rotation forces was screwed onto the rear of the barrel. Used a horizontal sliding breech block, similar to other large-caliber German naval guns.

The data that follows is specifically for the 40.6 cm (16") Naval version except where noted. Actual bore diameter of all versions was 40.64 cm (16.0").

Gun Characteristics

Designation 40.6 cm/52 (16") SK C/34
42 cm/48 (16.54") SK C/40
Ship Class Used On "H" Class
Date Of Design 1934
Date In Service 1942 as coastal defense guns
Gun Weight 1 352,516 lbs. (159,900 kg) including hornrings
Gun Length oa 831.9 in. (21.130 m)
Bore Length 777.6 in. (19.750 m)
Rifling Length Naval Guns: 671.9 in. (17.066 m)
Coastal Guns: 664.2 in (16.871 m)
Grooves Naval Guns: (110) 0.236 in deep x 0.323 in (5 mm x 8.2 mm)
Coastal Guns: (90) 0.189 in deep x 0.314 in (4.8 mm x 7.98 mm)
Lands 0.277 in (7.03 mm )
Twist Increasing RH 1 in 35.9 to 1 in 29.9
Chamber Volume Naval Guns: 25,630 in3 (420 dm3)
Coastal Guns: 28,071 in3 (460 dm3)
Rate Of Fire about 2 rounds per minute
  • ^The sliding breech block weighed 7,940 lbs. (3,600 kg), the barrel 91,710 lbs. (41,600 kg) and the liner 45,860 lbs. (20,800 kg). The prototype gun differed in that the barrel weighed 83,110 lbs. (37,700 kg) and the liner 38,360 lbs. (17,400 kg).


Type Cartridge - Bag
Projectile Types and Weights 1a Naval Projectiles
   APC L/4,4: 2,271 lbs. (1,030 kg)
    HE L/4,6 base fuze: 2,271 lbs. (1,030 kg)
    HE L/4,4 nose fuze 2a: 2,271 lbs. (1,030 kg)

Special Coastal Artillery Projectiles
    Adolph HE L/4,2 2a: 1,323 lbs. (600 kg)
    HE L/4,1 base and nose fuze 2a: 1,345 lbs. (610 kg)

Bursting Charge APC L/4,4: about 53.4 lbs. (24.2 kg)
HE L/4,6 base fuze: about 93.1 lbs. (42.2 kg)
HE L/4,4 nose fuze: about 181.7 lbs. (82.4 kg)
Adolph HE L/4,2: 172.0 lbs. (78.0 kg)
Projectile Length APC L/4,4: 70.3 in (178.6 cm)
HE L/4,6 base fuze: 73.5 in (186.7 cm)
HE L/4,4 nose fuze: 76.7 in (194.9 cm)

Adolph HE L/4,2: 67.1 in (170.5 cm)
HE L/4,1 base and nose fuze: 64.7 in (164.4 cm)

Propellant Charge 3a Fore: 295.4 lbs. (134 kg) RPC/38 (22/11)
Main: 282.2 lbs. (128 kg) RPC/38 (22/11)
Brass case for main charge 4a: 201 lbs. (91 kg)

During the war, the coastal guns switched to the following:

Fore: 361.6 lbs. (164 kg) RPC/40 (12.5/4.2)
Main (heavy shells): 286.6 lbs. (130 kg) RPC/40 (12.5/4.2)
Main (light shells): 452 lbs. (205 kg) RPC/40 (12.5/4.2)

Muzzle Velocity For naval shells: 2,657 fps (810 mps)
For light coastal artillery shells (new gun): 3,445 fps (1,050 mps)
For light coastal artillery shells (average gun): 3,084 fps (940 mps)
Working Pressure 20.3 tons/in2 (3,200 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 180 - 210 rounds
Ammunition stowage per gun 120 rounds
  • ^
    Actual designations for Projectiles
    APC L/4,4 40,6 cm Psgr. L/4,4 (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,6 base fuze 40,6 cm Spgr. L/4,6 Bdz
    HE L/4,4 nose fuze 40,6 cm Spgr. L/4,4 Kz (m.Hb)
    Adolph HE L/4,2 40,6 cm L/4,2 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,1 base and nose fuze 40,6 cm Spgr. L/4,1 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb)
  • ^ HE Nose Fuze and HE Base and Nose Fuze projectiles with ballistic caps had a rod between the nose of the shell and the fuze to improve performance when striking obliquely. See details on the 12.7 cm SK C/34 datapage.
  • ^These guns, like most large caliber German guns of this era, used a "fore charge" which was propellant in a double bag silk case and a "main charge" which was propellant in a brass case. The brass case helped to seal the breech of the gun.
  • ^The case for the main charge was changed to mild steel late in the war.


Ranges of AP projectiles
Elevation Range
Range @ 30 degrees 39,800 yards (36,400 m)
Range @ 33 degrees
(max elevation of naval turret)
40,245 yards (36,800 m)
Range @ 52 degrees
(coastal artillery)
47,025 yards (43,000 m)

All of the 2,271 lbs. (1,030 kg) projectiles had similar maximum ranges.

Ranges of Adolph HE projectiles
Elevation Range
Range @ 52 degrees
Muzzle Velocity of 3,445 fps (1,050 mps)
(coastal artillery)
61,240 yards (56,000 m)
Range @ 50 degrees
Muzzle Velocity of 3,084 fps (940 mps)
(coastal artillery)
47,620 yards (43,550 m)

Armor Penetration with AP Shell

Range Side Armor Deck Armor
0 yards (0 m) 31.7" (805 mm) ---
10,000 yards (9,144 m) 25.1" (638 mm) 1.4" (36 mm)
20,000 yards (18,288 m) 18.8" (457 mm) 3.2" (81 mm)
30,000 yards (27,432 m) 13.6" (345 mm) 5.0" (127 mm)
40,000 yards (36,576 m) 10.2" (259 mm) 8.5" (216 mm)

This data is from "Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II" for a muzzle velocity of 2,657 fps (810 mps) and is based upon the USN Empirical Armor Penetration Formula.

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Two-gun Turrets
   "H" (4): Drh LC/34

Single BSG Coastal Artillery
   Schiessgerät C/39

Weight 1,452 tons (1,475 mt)
Elevation 1b Drh LC/34: -5.5 / +30 degrees
Schiessgerät C/39: -5 (?) / +55 degrees
Elevation Rate N/A
Train +145 / -145 degrees
Train Rate N/A
Gun recoil N/A
Loading Angle N/A
  • ^The sources listed below differ as to the actual elevation span of the ship turrets. I have chosen to use those figures given in "German Capital Ships of World War Two."

Additional Pictures


"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare" by Bernard Fitzsimmons
"Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II" by W.H. Garzke, Jr. and R.O. Dulin, Jr.
"German Warships 1815-1945" by Erich Gröner
"German Artillery of World War Two" by Ian Hogg
"Naval Guns: 500 years of Ship and Coastal Artillery" by Hans Mehl
German Naval Guns: 1939 - 1945" by Miroslaw Skwiot
"German Capital Ships of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley
"Schlachschiff H" document by Dipl Ing Otto Riedel
"Munitionsvorschriften für die Kriegsmarine - Hülsenkartusche" M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A1 by Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine
"Munitionsvorschriften für die Kriegsmarine - Vorkartusche" M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A6 by Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine
Special help from Cliff McMullen, Peter Lienau, Charles Schedel and Thorsten Wahl

Off-site Resources

The Adolf Guns. Existing 40.6 cm guns in Norway.
Polish Coastal Defense Museum. Includes Battery Schleswig-Holstein fortifications where the German 40.6 cm guns were emplaced. Tourist Guidebooks in English are available from the Museum.

Page History

10 September 2007 - Benchmark
02 April 2011 - Additional details about coast artillery guns, added link to Adolph Guns
19 May 2012 - Updated to latest template
18 September 2016 - Converted to HTML 5 format
26 February 2019 - Reorganized notes and added data and sketches from M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A1 and M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A6
30 July 2019 - Added link to the Polish Coastal Defense Museum - Battery Schleswig-Holstein, added comments about use in Poland
14 February 2021 - Added photograph of 40,6 cm projectile on display in Norway