This was the only 20.3 cm (8") weapon ever designed by Germany and was quite powerful with a long range. Two of the turrets intended for the uncompleted Seydlitz were mounted as coastal artillery on Ile De Croix. It had been intended to mount the other two at Ile de Ré, but this apparently never took place.

These guns are probably best known for when Prinz Eugen started the Boat Deck fire on HMS Hood shortly before her loss.

Four of these guns came into Soviet service when the Germans sold the uncompleted heavy cruiser Lützow to the USSR in 1940. Renamed Petropavlovsk, only turrets A and D were operational during her early career and she fired 676 rounds in defense of Leningrad. Badly damaged and sunk in shallow water on 17 September 1941, she was later repaired during 1942 with three working 20.3 cm guns. She fired over 1,000 rounds during the Leningrad breakout in January 1944. Renamed Tallin on 1 September 1944. The Soviets were also interested in purchasing the uncompleted heavy cruiser Seydlitz but this was vetoed by Hitler in 1939.

At the end of World War II, the Prinz Eugen was allocated to the USA. Before being sent to the nuclear tests in the Pacific, her "A" turret guns were removed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in Pennsylvania and these were then sent to the Naval Weapons Facility at Dahlgren, Virginia, for testing. They remain there on permanent display.

Constructed of loose barrel, an inner and outer jacket, a breech end-piece screwed hot on to the outer jacket and a breech block supporting piece pushed into the breech end-piece and held by a threaded ring. The loose barrel was removable from the rear and would fit any gun. The breech block was a horizontal sliding type and was hydraulically operated.

Actual bore diameter was 20.30 cm (7.992").

Gun Characteristics

Designation 20.3 cm/60 (8") SK C/34
Ship Class Used On Germany: Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen Classes
USSR: Petropavlovsk (later Tallin) (ex-German Lützow)
Date Of Design 1934
Date In Service 1939
Gun Weight 45,636 lb. (20,700 kg) 1
Gun Length oa 478.4 in (12.150 m)
Bore Length 453.5 in (11.518 m)
Rifling Length 375.1 in (9.527 m)
Grooves (64) 0.094 in deep x 0.227 in (2.4 mm x 5.76 mm)
Lands 0.165 in (4.2 mm)
Twist Increasing RH 1 in 40 to 1 in 35
Chamber Volume 4,272 in3 (70.0 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 4 - 5 rounds per minute
  1. ^Loose liner weighed 12,300 lbs. (5,580 kg) and the breech mechanism weighed 992 lbs. (450 kg).


Type Cartridge - Bag
Projectile Types and Weights 1 2 APC L/4,4: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
HE L/4,7 base fuse: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
HE L/4,7 nose fuse: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
Illum L/4,5: 227 lbs. (103 kg)
Bursting Charge APC L/4,4: 5.1 lbs. (2.30 kg)
HE L/4,7 base fuze: 14.4 lbs. (6.54 kg)
HE L/4,7 nose fuze: 19.7 lbs. (8.93 kg)
Projectile Length APC L/4,4: 35.2 in (89.5 cm)
HE L/4,7 base fuze: 37.6 in (95.6 cm)
HE L/4,7 nose fuze: 37.5 in (95.3 cm)
Illum L/4,5: 36 in (91.4 cm)
Propellant Charge 3 Fore Charge: 46.5 lbs. (21.1 kg) RPC/38 (11/4.3)
Main Charge: 65.5 lbs. (29.7 kg) RPC/38 (11/4.3)
Brass case for main charge: 40.1 lbs. (18.2 kg)
Muzzle Velocity All except illum: 3,035 fps (925 mps)
Illum: 2,297 fps (700 mps)
Working Pressure 20.3 tons/in2 (3,200 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 300 rounds (one source says 500 rounds)
Ammunition stowage per gun 140 rounds 4 5
  1. ^
    Actual designations for Projectiles
    APC L/4,4 Psgr. L/4,4 (mhb)
    HE L/4,7 base fuze L/4,7 Bdz (mhb)
    HE L/4,7 nose fuze L/4,7 Kz
    Illumination L/4,5 Lg. L/4,5

    There was also a L4,7 Bdz (mhb) which had a nose fuze and a windshield, but this may not have entered service.

  2. ^Ballistic caps for APC and HE had a radius of 10 calibers.
  3. ^These guns, like most large caliber German guns, used a "fore charge" which was propellant in a silk bag, and a "main charge" which was propellant in a brass case. The brass case helped to seal the breech of the gun.
  4. ^This is the design figure. "German Warships 1815-1945" says that the actual outfit per gun ranged from 120 to 160 rounds. "Warship Pictorial #21" says that in 1940 the total outfit was 320 APC, 640 HE and 80 starshell and that in 1944 the total outfit was 1,470 shells of mostly HE plus 40 starshells.
  5. ^Outfits included APC, HE nose fuze, HE base fuze and 40 illumination rounds per ship.


Range with 269 lbs. (122 kg) APC
Elevation Distance Striking Velocity Angle of Fall Time of Flight
1.9 degrees 5,470 yards (5,000 m) 2,441 fps (744 mps) 2.1 6.0
4.4 degrees 10,940 yards (10,000 m) 1,926 fps (587 mps) 6.1 13.6
8.1 degrees 16,400 yards (15,000 m) 1,519 fps (463 mps) 12.8 23.4
13.3 degrees 21,870 yards (20,000 m) 1,253 fps (382 mps) 23.6 35.9
20.3 degrees 27,340 yards (25,000 m) 1,158 fps (353 mps) 36.8 51.1
29.1 degrees 32,810 yards (30,000 m) 1,191 fps (363 mps) 48.8 69.0
37.0 degrees 36,636 yards (33,500 m) --- --- ---

Armor Penetration

Armor Penetration with 269 lbs. (122 kg) HE Shell Spr. gr. L/4,7
Distance Thickness
10,389 yards (9,500 m) 2.0" (5 cm) of Homogenous Armor
Armor Penetration with 269 lbs. (122 kg) AP Shell Pz. Spr. Ggr. L/4,4
Distance Thickness
10,400 yards (9,500 m) 9.4" (24 cm) of Face-hardened Armor
18,300 yards (20,000 m) 3.9" (10 cm) of Face-hardened Armor

The above information is from "German Cruisers of World War Two" for a muzzle velocity of 3,035 fps (925 mps) and is based upon German face-hardened (vertical) and homogenous (deck) armor penetration curves.

Mount / Turret Data

  • Two-gun turrets
    • Admiral Hipper (4) and Prinz Eugen (4): LC/34
Weight 1 Turrets "A" and "D": 548,951 lbs. (249,000 kg)
Turrets "B" and "C": 577,611 lbs. (262,000 kg)
Elevation Turret "A": -9 / +37 degrees 2
Turrets "B", "C" and "D": -10 / +37 degrees
Elevation Rate 8 degrees per second
Train +145 / -145 degrees
Train Rate 6 - 8 degrees per second
Gun recoil 24.6 in (62.5 cm)
Loading Angle +3 degrees

Each turret and mounting had a crew of 72.

These mountings generally resembled those for the 38 cm SKC/34 guns used on the Bismarck class except that the fore and main charges were passed by hand to the hoists. Projectiles and the main charge were rammed hydraulically, but the fore charge was manually loaded. Other differences were "the use of electrically driven Pittler-Thoma hydraulic gear for auxiliary training, the absence of cartridge-ring cars, both main and fore charges were passed by hand and the presence of two trays in the charge hoist cage with the main charge above the fore." - "Naval Weapons of World War Two." Auxiliary hoists were simiilar but electric reserve power for the main loading gear was replaced by hand operation.

Distance between gun axes was 85.0 in (216 cm).

  1. ^Difference in weights was from the thickness of the rear armor and the rangefinders, which were installed only on "B" and "D" turrets.
  2. ^Negative elevation for "A" turret was limited by the shear of the bow.

Additional Pictures

Inside one of Admiral Hipper's Turrets

From "German Cruisers of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley

Special Pictures of Admiral Hipper

Contributed by Peter Lienau


Data from:

  • "Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
  • "German Warships 1815-1945" by Erich Gröner
  • "German Cruisers of World War Two" and "Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia" both by M.J. Whitley
  • "Warship Pictorial #21: Kriegsmarine Prinz Eugen" by Steve Wiper

Special help from Peter Lienau

Special thanks to Curt Warner, who tracked down the current day whereabouts of the guns from Prinz Eugen's Turret Anton

Other Resources

Additional information about these weapons may be found in

The Loss of H.M.S. Hood: A Re-Examination

Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

Page History

17 January 2007
19 May 2012
Updated to latest template
08 December 2014
Added additional photographs from Peter Lienau
25 May 2015
Added notes about USSR use and miscellaneous additions