Used on the armored cruisers built in the 1890s and early 1900s. Most ships had single or twin turrets mounted on the bow and stern with the Scharnhorst class having an additional four single guns mounted amidships in casemates.

There were three versions of this weapon. The C/97 was used on the Victoria Louise class and was constructed of two layers of hoops and a cylindro-prismatic breech wedge. The C/01 was designed for twin turrets that were used on the later armored cruisers and had an extra layer of hoops on the rear of the gun. The C/04 version was similar to the C/01 but was designed for casemate mountings and did not have the extra layer of hoops.

Eight guns removed from the Victoria Louise class were used on the Belgian coast in the Freya and Hertha batteries (four guns each). In May 1917, one gun removed from the Armored Cruiser Roon was emplaced at Cape Helles, Turkey, where it was used to harass the British ships seen at Kephalo and Aliki.

Actual bore diameter was 20.93 cm (8.24").

Apparently none of these weapons survived to World War II as they do not seem to be listed in German munitions documents.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 21 cm/40 (8.27") SK L/40 C/97
21 cm/40 (8.27") SK L/40 C/01
21 cm/40 (8.27") SK L/40 C/04
Ship Class Used On C/97: Victoria Louise class
C/01: Prinz Adalbert, Roon and Scharnhorst (1907) classes
C/04: Scharnhorst (1907) class
Date Of Design 1897 - 1904
Date In Service 1898 - 1905
Gun Weight C/97: 36,376 lbs. (16,500 kg)
C/01: 44,137 lbs. (20,020 kg)
C/04: 41,667 lbs. (18,900 kg)
Gun Length oa 331 in (8.400 m)
Bore Length 307 in (7.801 m to 7.811 m)
Rifling Length N/A
Grooves N/A
Lands N/A
Twist N/A
Chamber Volume 3,034 in3 (49.7 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 4 - 5 rounds per minute


Type Separate
Projectile Types and Weights 1 AP L/2,9 3 - 237.4 lbs. (107.7 kg)
HE L/3,1 base fuze - 237.4 lbs. (107.7 kg)
Bursting Charge AP L2,9 - 7.67 lbs. (3.5 kg)
HE L/3,1 - 15.18 lbs. (6.9 kg)
Projectile Length AP L/2,9 - 24.0 in (61 cm)
HE L/3,1 - 25.6 in (65 cm)
Propellant Charge 65.6 lbs. (29.8 kg) RP C/00 or RP C/06
Muzzle Velocity AP L/2,9 and HE L/3,1 - 2,559 fps (780 mps)
HE L/4,3 - N/A
Working Pressure N/A
Approximate Barrel Life N/A
Ammunition stowage per gun Victoria Louise: 58 rounds
Prinz Adalbert: 85 rounds
Roon: 95 rounds
Scharnhorst: 87.5 rounds
  • ^
    Actual designations for Projectiles
    AP L/2,9 21 cm Psgr. L/2,9
    HE L/3,1 21 cm Spgr. L/3,1
  • ^Guns used in Coastal Batteries used the same Coastal Artillery projectiles developed for the 24 cm/45 SK L/45 guns. see that datapage for information and sketches.
  • ^This AP projectile is usually noted as being L/3,1 and 108 kg but M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2 shows it as being L/2,9 and 107.7 kg. This projectile was also used for the 21 cm SK L/45 guns. See that datapage for a sketch from M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2.


Range with 238 lbs. (108 kg) AP L2,9
Elevation Distance
16 degrees
(max. elevation of casemates)
13,560 yards (12,400 m)
30 degrees 17,830 yards (16,300 m)

Mount / Turret Data

Designation Two-gun turrets
    Prinz Adalbert (2), Roon (2) and Scharnhorst (2): DrL C/01 1a 2a

Single Turrets
    Victoria Louise (2): TL C/97 3a 4a

    Scharnhorst (4): MPL C/04 5a 6a

Weight TL C/97: 88.6 tons (90 mt)
DrL C/01: 167.3 - 171.3 tons (170 - 174 mt)
MPL C/04: N/A
Elevation TL C/97: -5 / +30 degrees
DrL C/01: -5 / +30 degrees
MPL C/04: -5 / +16 degrees
Elevation Rate DrL C/01: 5.0 degrees per second
Others: N/A
Train about +150 / -150 degrees
Train Rate DrL C/01: 5.4 degrees per second
MPL C/04: 4.5 degrees per second
Others: N/A
Gun recoil N/A
Loading Angle N/A
  • ^The DrL C/01 was hydraulically powered and had pusher hoists.
  • ^DrL C/01 face and sides were 6.7 inches (17 cm) except Roon 5.9 inches (15 cm) and roof was 1.2 inches (3 cm).
  • ^The TL C/97 mounting was hydraulically powered with manual loading.
  • ^TL C/97 shield was 0.3 to 0.4 inches (8 to 10 mm).
  • ^MPL C/04 was electrically trained and manually elevated and loaded.
  • ^MPL C/04 shield was 1.6 to 5.9 inches (4 to 15 cm) thick.

Additional Pictures


"Big Gun Monitors: The History of the Design, Construction and Operation of the Royal Navy's Monitors" by Ian Buxton
"Naval Weapons of World War One" by Norman Friedman
"German Warships 1815-1945: Volume One: Major Surface Vessels" by Erich Gröner
"Die deutsche Flotte, Zweibrücken 1901" by Ernst Graf Reventlow
"Taschenbuch der Kriegsflotten 1905" by Bruno Weyer (Kapitänleutnant a.D.)
"The Great War: The Standard History of the All Europe Conflict (volume four)" edited by H. W. Wilson and J. A. Hammerton
"Diagrams of Great War - German Naval Guns; Shells & Explosives; Fuses & Exploders" by The Royal Laboratory Woolwich 1921-22
"Munitionsvorschriften für die Kriegsmarine - Panzersprenggranaten (Psgr)" M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2 by Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine
Special help from Rainer Troendle and Thorsten Wahl
Tony DiGiulian's personal files

Page History

14 October 2006 - Benchmark
25 February 2009 - Added comment about gun from Roon
13 September 2010 - Corrected photograph caption
10 January 2011 - Added gun details kindly provided by Rainer Troendle
05 December 2012 - Added gun, projectile and coastal artillery details
06 June 2015 - Minor additions
29 July 2018 - Converted to HTML 5 standard, minor correction
19 February 2019 - Added ammunition information from M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2
18 November 2022 - Added information and sketches on World War I coastal artillery projectiles