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. During the entire Denmark Strait battle, Prinz Eugen fired a total of 183 shells, hitting HMS Hood at least once and HMS Prince of Wales three times.

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 two turrets 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, 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. One gun was scrapped in the 1950s and other remained there on display until sometime in the 1970s when it was also scrapped.

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
  • ^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 1a 2a APC L/4,4: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
HE L/4,7 base fuse: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
HE L/4,7 nose fuse 3a: 269 lbs. (122 kg)
HE L/4,7 nose fuse AA 4a: about 265 lbs. (120 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 5a 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 6a 7a
  • ^Both the HE L/4,5 Base Fuze and the HE L/4,6 Nose Fuze used a ballistic cap (windshield).
  • ^
    Actual German designations
    APC L/4,4 20.3 cm Psgr. L/4,4 (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,7 base fuze 20.3 cm Spgr. L/4,7 Bdz (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,7 nose fuze 20.3 cm Spgr. L/4,7 Kz (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,7 nose fuze AA 20.3 cm Spgr. L/4,7 Kz (m.Hb) – Haube abgeschraubt
    Illumination L/4,5 20.3 cm Lg. L/4,5
  • ^German HE Nose Fuzed 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 12.7 cm SK C/34 datapage.
  • ^As of the 1940 publication date of M.Dv. Nr. 170,40, no AA version of the 20.3 cm HE L/4,7 nose fuze was in service for these weapons. However, the post-war USN NAVTECMISEU Technical Report #191-45 "Standard German Projectile Fuzes" lists the time fuze Z.Z. S/60 nA as being used on the 20.3 cm Spgr. L/4,7 Kz (m.Hb) which implicitly means that sometime during the war an AA version of this projectile was issued. These AA shells were reportedly used at least by Prinz Eugen during the Channel Dash (Operation Cerberus) and on 17 May 1942 while transiting from Norway to Germany when she fired AA barrages from 'B' and 'C' turrets at attacking British torpedo bombers. The AA projectile was the same as the standard HE Nose Fuze projectile, but had a time fuze in place of the instantaneous impact fuze and did not use the ballistic cap (windshield). See Anti-Aircraft Projectiles for a sketch of a similarly modified 15 cm projectile.
  • ^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.
  • ^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.
  • ^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 Spgr. 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 Psgr. 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 homogeneous (deck) armor penetration curves.

Mount / Turret Data

Designation Two-gun turrets
    Admiral Hipper (4) and Prinz Eugen (4): LC/34
Weight 1b 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 2b
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
  • ^Difference in weights was from the thickness of the rear armor and the rangefinders, which were installed only on "B" and "D" turrets.
  • ^Negative elevation for "A" turret was limited by the shear of the bow.
  • 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 similar but electric reserve power for the main loading gear was replaced by hand operation.
  • Distance between gun axes was 85.0 in (216 cm).

Additional Pictures

Inside one of Admiral Hipper's Turrets

Bundesarchiv photographs from "German Cruisers of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley

Special Pictures of Admiral Hipper

Contributed by Peter Lienau


"Anatomy of the Ship: The Battleship Bismarck" by Jack Brower
"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
"Raising the Red Banner: The Pictorial History of Stalin's Fleet 1920-1945" by Vladimir Yakubov and Richard Worth
"Merkbuch über die Munition der 20,3 cm SK C/34 der Schiffsartillerie" M.Dv. Nr. 170,40 by Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine
"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 Peter Lienau, Thorsten Wahl and Zhu Shipeng
Special thanks to Curt Warner, who tracked down the post-war whereabouts of the guns from Prinz Eugen's Turret Anton

and to Evan Dwyer, who documented their later scrapping

Other Resources

Additional Images at Axis History Factbook

Additional information about these weapons may be found in the INRO article, The Loss of HMS Hood

Page History

17 January 2007 - Benchmark
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
22 February 2018 - Converted to HTML 5 format
27 March 2019 - Added notes to Ammunition section and sketches from M.Dv. Nr. 170,40, M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A1 and M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A6
03 September 2019 - Added link to AA Projectile section and comment about AA fire on 17 May 1942
03 June 2021 - Corrected typographical error
21 March 2023 - Added shell expenditure and number of hits for Denmark Strait battle
14 October 2023 - Added comments about USSR Petropavlovsk / Tallin
24 November 2023 - Changed description
08 January 2024 - Added projectile comparison sketch and the fate of the two guns at Dahlgren