These weapons were intended for the Francesco Caracciolo class battleships. Construction of these ships was suspended in 1916 and the guns were then used on monitors, floating batteries (pontoons), railway guns and coastal fortifications.

During World War II the monitor Faà di Bruno (redesignated as GM 194) still carried these weapons and there were a total of ten guns mounted in Italian coastal defenses as of June 1940. During modernization programs prior to World War II, the coastal fortifications at Genoa and Augusta had their turrets modified for increased elevation.

In 1913 three companies were each given an order for twn guns: Elswick Pattern "A" (Pozzuoli), Vickers Mark "A" (Terni) and Schneider-Ansaldo. The first two companies built wire-wound guns but the Schneider-Ansaldo guns were of monobloc construction and considerably lighter. Actual production was the proof gun and nine production guns from Schneider-Ansaldo, about twelve from Elswick and three from Vickers.

Unlike many other European 38 cm guns, the bore of this gun was actually 381 mm (15.0"). Actual bore length may have been 40.9 calibers.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 381 mm/40 (15") Model 1914
Ship Class Used On Battleship (never completed): Francesco Caracciolo Class
Monitors: Faà di Bruno and Alfredo Cappellini
Pontoons: Sabotino (ex Tina), Monte Santo (ex Jella), Monte Grappa, Montello and Monte Novegno
Date Of Design 1914
Date In Service 1916
Gun Weight Including Breech
   Armstrong: 187,170 lbs. (84,900 kg)
   Vickers: 184,800 lbs. (83,825 kg)
   Ansaldo: 138,000 lbs. (62,600 kg)

Breech Weight
   Armstrong: 2,866 lbs. (1,300 kg)
   Vickers: 5,500 lbs. (2,495 kg)
   Ansaldo: 4,190 lbs. (1,900 kg

Gun Length oa
(not including breech)
Armstrong and Vickers: 620.3 in (15.755 m)
Ansaldo: 620.1 in (15.750 m)
Bore Length about 600.0 in (15.240 m)
Rifling Length 511.7 in (12.9972 m)
Grooves 120
Lands N/A
Twist RH 1 in 44.927
Chamber Volume N/A
Rate Of Fire 1.5 - 2 rounds per minute


Type Bag
Projectile Types and Weights AP: 1,949 lbs. (884 kg)
HE: 1,949 lbs. (884 kg)
Common: 1,949 lbs. (884 kg)
Bursting Charge AP: N/A
HE: 110.23 lbs. (50 kg) trotyl
Common: 84.85 lbs. (38.45 kg)
Projectile Length N/A
Propellant Charge 326 or 331 lbs. (148 or 150 kg) C2
Muzzle Velocity 2,297 fps (700 mps)
Working Pressure 21.3 16.7 tons/in2 (2,996 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 400 rounds
Ammunition stowage per gun Faà di Bruno: 45 rounds
Others: N/A


Range with 1,949 lbs. (884 kg) AP
Elevation Distance
20 degrees 21,650 yards (19,800 m)
30 degrees
(World War II Coastal Artillery)
29,850 yards (27,300 m)

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Twin Turrets: Francesco Caracciolo (4), monitors (1)
Single Mountings: Pontoons (1)
Weight about 551 tons (550 mt)
Elevation about -5 / +20 degrees 1
Elevation Rate N/A
Train +162 / -162 degrees
Train Rate N/A
Gun recoil N/A
Loading Angle N/A
  • ^The turret on Faà di Bruno was modified to allow +30 degrees elevation. Pontoons had a single open mounting with +35 degrees maximum elevation and +/- 15 degrees of train. The coastal fortifications at Genoa and Augusta were modified to allow +30 degrees elevation.

Additional Pictures


"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"L'artiglieria Italiana nella Grande Guerra" (Italian Artillery of the Great War) by Andrea Curami and Alessandro Massignani
"Italian Warships of World War II" by Aldo Fraccaroli
"Naval Weapons of World War One" by Norman Friedman
Special help from Eugenio Vajna and Caspar Vermeulen


09 October 2006 - Benchmark
26 May 2012 - Updated to latest template
14 June 2014 - Added gun and shell detains along with photograph of 381 mm/40 gun
05 March 2016 - Additional pictures page
27 May 2022 - Converted to HTML 5 format