This weapon was used on the German Panzerschiffes and Battleships in both twin and single mounts and was considered to be quite successful. However, the German practice of using separate single purpose anti-ship and anti-aircraft batteries was wasteful of both space and weight.

A number of guns were used as coastal artillery. Two twin mountings originally planned for the cancelled carrier Graf Zeppelin were emplaced by September 1942 in northern Finland in the Petsamo area. A further two twin mountings were used in Northern Norway near Finmark. This latter battery was moved in 1945 north of Tromsø. Following the German surrender, this battery was taken over by the Norwegians and then used as part of their coastal defenses at Harstad.

Some of these guns survived in active service until long after the end of the war. The small battleship Gneisenau was decommissioned and dearmed in 1943, with her guns then used in coastal fortifications in Denmark. In 1952, Denmark emplaced two of the twin mountings as coastal defense guns at Stevnsfort (Fort Stevns). These mountings were reduced to reserve status in 1984, but continued to be fired every year during training exercises. They "were fired for the last time in the summer of 2000, ending their operative career with an HE war-shot from turret no 1, driven 17 kms into the Baltic Sea and raising a column of spray to a height of 150 m, the shell detonating at an approximate depth of 17-18 m, according to the commander of the fort at the time." The fort was officially deactivated in 2001 and now exists solely as a museum.

The main components of this gun were the loose barrel, a jacket and a breech end-piece with a vertical sliding wedge breech. The breech mechanism was hand worked.

All German 15 cm guns had an actual bore diameter of 14.91 cm (5.87 in).

Gun Characteristics

Designation 15 cm/55 (5.9") SK C/28
Ship Class Used On Deutschland, Scharnhorst and Bismarck classes
Planned for "H" battleships, Kreuzer "M" and Graf Zeppelin classes
Date Of Design 1928
Date In Service 1934
Gun Weight
(see Note)
19,900 to 20,018 lbs. (9,026 to 9,080 kg)
Gun Length oa 323 in (8.200 m)
Bore Length 307.7 in (7.816 m)
Rifling Length 259 in (6.588 m)
Grooves (44) 0.069 in deep x 0.242 in (1.75 mm x 6.14 mm)
Lands 0.177 in (4.5 mm)
Twist Increasing RH 1 in 50 to 1 in 30
Chamber Volume 1,324 in3 (21.7 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 6 - 8 rounds per minute

Gun weight varied according to the grade of steel used.


Type Separate
Projectile Types and Weights 1 2 3 4 APC - 99.87 lbs. (45.3 kg)
HE, nose fuzed - 99.87 lbs. (45.3 kg)
HE, base fuzed - 99.87 lbs. (45.3 kg)
Illum - 90.4 lbs. (41 kg)
Bursting Charge APC - 1.95 lbs. (0.885 kg)
HE, nose fuze - 8.6 lbs (3.89 kg)
HE, base fuze - 6.7 lbs. (3.06 kg)
Projectile Length APC - 21.9 in (55.5 cm)
HE, nose fuze - 25.8 in (65.5 cm)
HE, base fuze L4.3 - 22.8 in (57.85 cm)
HE, base fuze L4.6 - 26.7 in (67.89 cm)
Illum - 22.8 in (57.85 cm)
Propellant Charge 31.2 lbs. (14.15 kg) RPC/32 or RPC/38 (7.5/3)
Cartrige Case Size and Weight5 150 x 865 mm, 18.83 lbs. (8.54 kg) Empty, 51.8 lbs. (23.5 kg) Loaded
Muzzle Velocity AP and HE - 2,871 fps (875 mps)
Illum - N/A
Working Pressure 19 tons/in2 (3,000 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 1,100 rounds
Ammunition stowage per gun Bismarck and "H": 105 to 150 rounds
Scharnhorst: 133 to 150 rounds
Panzerschiffes: 100 to 150 rounds
Graf Zeppelin: 115 rounds
"M" class: 120 rounds
  • ^Outfits included APC, base and nose fuzed HE with and without tracer and illumination. However, APC was rarely carried.
  • ^APC and HE ballistic caps had a radius of 8.5 calibers. The tangent of the ballistic cap to the shell body was inclined at 5 degrees, which resulted in a projectile with a short overall length.
  • ^Actual German designations:
       APC: 15 cm Pzgr. L/3,7 (m.Hb)
       HE, nose fuze: 15 cm Spgr. L/4,5 Kz (m.Hb)
       HE, base fuze: 15 cm Spgr. L/4,3 Bdz (m.Hb)
       HE, base fuze: 15 cm Spgr. L/4,6 Bdz (m.Hb)
  • ^AP shells had blue bodies, HE (both nose and base fuze types) had yellow bodies, practice shells had red bodies and Illumination shells had green bodies.
  • ^A Note on Sources: "German Naval Guns: 1939 - 1945" claims that fore charges were used for these guns, but I have found no other evidence to support that claim. Pictures of ammunition for these weapons show only cartridge cases.


Range with HE
Elevation Distance
35 degrees 24,060 yards (22,000 m)
40 degrees 25,153 yards (23,000 m)

Mount / Turret Data

Designation 1a Twin Turrets 2a
   Scharnhorst (4), Bismarck (6) and "H" (6): Dop. L. C/34 (Drh L. C/34)
   Kreuzer "M": N/A (Possibly Drh L. C/40)

Single Pedestal Mounts
   Deutschland (8): MPL/28
   Scharnhorst (4): MPL/35

Casemate Twin Mounts
    Graf Zeppelin (8): Dop. MLC/36 (MPL C/36)

Weight Twin Turrets
      With range finder: 256,290 lbs. (116,250 kg)
      W/O range finder: 242,500 lbs. (110,000 kg)
      W/O range finder and short barbette: 238,100 lbs. (108,000 kg)
  Scharnhorst: 264,555 lbs. (120,000 kg)
  Kreuzer "M": 242,508 lbs. (110,000 kg)

Single Pedestal Mounts
  Deutschland: 54,740.8 lbs. (24,830 kg)
  Scharnhorst: 58,885.5 lbs. (26,710 kg)

Casemate Twin Mounts
  Graf Zeppelin: 103,617 lbs. (47,600 kg)

Elevation Drh Mounts: -10 / +40 degrees

MPL/28 and MPL/35 Mounts: -10 / +35 degrees

MPL/36 Mounts: -10 / +37 degrees

Elevation Rate 8 degrees per second
Train 3a 360 degrees
Train Rate 9 degrees per second
Gun recoil 14.6 in (37 cm)
Loading Angle About +3 degrees
  • ^Single MPL/28 mounts on the Deutschland class were modified to add armor protection and some had double doors installed on the back of the open shield in order to provide weather protection to the gun and crew. The MPL/35 mounts on the Scharnhorst class were similar in design but roomier and had additional armor protection.
  • ^The twin turrets did not have the guns individually sleeved. Bismarck and Tirpitz had one turret on each side equipped with a 6.5 m (21 feet 4 inches) rangefinder.
  • ^Most of these mountings were designed to be able to make one complete revolution in either direction from the mid (fore and aft) position for a total of 720 degrees of train. Firing arcs were restricted to about -80 / +80 degrees for the battleships and about -150 / +150 degrees on the cruisers.
  • The gun axes were 68.9 inches (175 cm) apart in the twin turrets and 31.5 inches (80 cm) apart in the twin casemate mounts.

Additional Pictures


"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems 1994 Update" by Norman Friedman
"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 Naval Guns: 1939 - 1945" by Miroslaw Skwiot
"German Cruisers of World War Two," "German Capital Ships of World War Two" and "Graf Zeppelin" article in "Warship Volume VIII" all by M.J. Whitley
Letter by Arne Ingar Tandberg in "Warship Volume X"
Special help by Bjarne Carlsen, 1st Lt, RDAF

Page History

20 November 2008 - Benchmark
07 April 2011 - Added projectile and cartridge case information
20 May 2012 - Updated to latest template
07 November 2016 - Converted to HTML 5 format
23 February 2018 - Reorganized notes