Description

Used on pre-dreadnoughts and "First Rate Cruisers" of the 1890s. After the ships were decommissioned, eight guns in four turrets from the Kaiser Friedrich III class were emplaced on the mole at Libau. Four more guns were used in Battery Hamburg on Nordeney and four guns were in Battery SI on Sylt. A turret from Prinz Heinrich was used on the Western Front.

During World War II Battery Hamburg at Nordeney was still in action and later was moved to Cherbourg. During the action on 25 June 1944 this battery hit USS Texas BB-35 but the projectile did not explode. See photographs below for more information.

This was the first German heavy gun to use brass cartridge cases. This gun or a very similar one was built by Krupp for Austria-Hungary coast defense ships.

The first German twelve guns were constructed of A tube, two reinforcing layers and a jacket. Later guns had three reinforcing hoops added near the breech, apparently to compensate for the higher gas pressures generated by smokeless propellants.

Actual bore diameter of all guns was 23.8 cm (9.37").

Nomenclature note: Two Russian 10"/45 (25.4 cm) guns that were captured by the Germans in 1915 were relined to 23.8 cm (9.37") and converted to horizontal breech mechanisms. They were then designated by the Germans as 24 cm SK L/50. These guns were used as coast defense weapons in the Oldenburg Battery originally at Borkum and later along the English Channel. These weapons used the same projectiles as did the German 24 cm/40 guns during World War II. These guns used different propellant charges which resulted in a slightly higher Muzzle Velocity of 2,953 fps (700 mps) and a corresponding longer range of with the 24 cm HE L/4,2 of 29,200 yards (26,700 m) at a 30 degree elevation.

Unless otherwise noted, the data that follows is for the German 24 cm SK L/40 guns.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 24 cm/40 (9.4") SK L/40
Ship Class Used On Kaiser Friedrich III, Wittelsbach, Fürst Bismarck and Prinz Heinrich Classes
Date Of Design 1894
Date In Service 1898
Gun Weight Original 12 guns: 53,000 lbs. (24,040 kg)
Later guns: 56,526 lbs. (25,640 mt)
Gun Length oa 376 in (9.550 m)
Bore Length 349 in (8.866 m)
Rifling Length N/A
Grooves N/A
Lands N/A
Twist N/A
Chamber Volume 4,406 in3 (72.2 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 1 C/92 Turrets: about 1.5 rounds per minute
C/98 Turrets: about 3 - 4 rounds per minute
  • ^See Mounting Notes

Ammunition

Type Separate
Projectile Types and Weights 1a 2a World War I
    1895 AP 3a: N/A
    AP L/2.6 C/01: 308.6 lbs. (140 kg)
    Common L/2.8 C/01: 308.6 lbs. (140 kg)

World War II
    AP L/2.6 C/01: 308.6 lbs. (140 kg)
    HE L/4,1 base fuze: 327.4 lbs. (150.5 kg)
    HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze 4a: 327.4 lbs. (148.5 kg)
    HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze - New Art 4a: 325.2 lbs. (147.5 kg)

Bursting Charge AP L/2.6 C/01: 7.67 lbs. (3.48 kg)
Common L/2.8 C/01: 6.35 lbs. (2.88 kg)
HE L/4,1 base fuze: 36.0 lbs. (16.3 kg) TN
HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze: N/A
Projectile Length 1895 AP: N/A
1914 AP L/2,6: about 24.4 in (62 cm)
HE L/4,1 base fuze: about 38.6 in (98 cm)
HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze: about 39.8 in (101 cm)
Propellant Charge 5a 6a 1895: 91.2 lbs. (41.35 kg)
World War II
    Fore Charge: (7.8 kg) RPC/32 (346 x 12/6,6)
    Main Charge 7a: 76.3 lbs. (36.4 kg) RPC/32 (1040 x 12/6,6)
Muzzle Velocity 1895: 2,263 fps (690 mps)
World War II: 2,657 fps (810 mps)
Working Pressure N/A
Approximate Barrel Life N/A
Ammunition stowage per gun Kaiser Friedrich III and Prinz Heinrich: 75 rounds
Wittelsbach: 85 rounds
Fürst Bismarck: 78 rounds
Others: N/A
  • ^
    Actual designations for Projectiles
    1895 AP N/A
    1914 AP L/2,6 24 cm Psgr. L/2,6
    HE L/4,1 base fuze 24 cm Spgr. L/4,1 Bdz
    HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze 24 cm Spgr. L/4,2 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb)
    HE L/4,2 base and nose fuze - New Art 24 cm Spgr. L/4,2 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb) nA
  • ^"Austria-Hungary's Monarch Class Coast Defense Ships" says that the Austrian-Hungarian Monarch class carried armor piercing and explosive shells weighing 474 lbs. (215 kg) each. This weight is much heavier than the German projectiles for these weapons, but it is similar to the weight of shells for French 24 cm guns and Krupp-built 24 cm guns for the Netherlands Navy. Muzzle velocity for the Monarch class is not available.
  • ^The 1895 AP may not have been in service by 1914.
  • ^4.14.2German HE Base and 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 did many large-caliber guns, this weapon used a main charge in a brass casing and a fore charge in a silk bag. The main charge by itself was used for reduced charge firings while both charges were used for full charge firings.
  • ^Propellant weights differ in many references and even in official documents such as the M.Dv. Nr. 170 and M.Dv. Nr. 190 series. This seems to be the result of most charges being listed as "zu etwa" which means "to about," implying that the propellant weights were not closely controlled and that differences of a kilogram or so were acceptable. In addition, different loading weights were used depending upon the powder grain size utilized to make up the charge. The weights in this table are for the powder grain specified.
  • ^Main charge was in a brass cartridge case weighing 48.8 lbs. (25.15 kg) empty.

Range

Range with 308.6 lbs. (140 kg) Shell (1890 design)
Elevation Distance
30 degrees
(max. elevation of turrets)
18,500 yards (16,900 m)
45.8 degrees
(as coastal artillery)
20,870 yards (19,080 m)
Range with 327.4 lbs. (148.5 kg) HE 4,2
Elevation Distance
45.8 degrees
(as coastal artillery)
29,090 yards (26,600 m)

Mount / Turret Data

Designation Two-gun Turrets
    Kaiser Friedrich III (2), Wittelsbach (2), Fürst Bismarck (2) and Prinz Heinrich (1): Drh.L. C/98
Weight N/A
Elevation -5 / +30 degrees
Elevation Rate N/A
Train about +150 / -150 degrees
Train Rate N/A
Gun recoil N/A
Loading Angle +4 degrees
  • Rammers were pneumatically powered. Each gun had its own ammunition hoist. Each turret required a crew of 20 men.
  • A cutaway sketch of the turrets on the Austria-Hungary ship Monarch shows that the ammunition hoists for this mounting rotated with the gunhouse. From that, I would conclude that the German C/98 turret would have been similar. These assumptions are reflected in the Rate of Fire figures given above.

Additional Pictures

Sources

"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"Naval Weapons of World War One" by Norman Friedman
"German Warships 1815-1945" by Erich Gröner
"German Artillery of World War Two" by Ian Hogg
"Austria-Hungary's Monarch Class Coast Defense Ships" article by Erwin F. Sieche in Warship International No. 3, 1999
"Die Geschichte der deutschen Schiffsartillerie" by Paul Schmalenbach
"Battleships" by Paul Stillwell
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"Munitionsvorschriften für die Kriegsmarine - Panzersprenggranaten (Psgr)" M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2 by Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine
"Munitionsvorschriften für die Kriegsmarine - Sprenggranaten (Spgr)" M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A3 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
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Special help from Peter Lienau, Aleš Maryška and Thorsten Wahl

Page History

22 November 2008 - Benchmark
06 April 2009 - Removed mention of Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm class, added mention of Skoda guns, added pictures of Erzherzog Ferdinand Max and Wittelsbach
20 November 2012 - Added details on projectiles and made a separate page for Austria-Hungary 24 cm guns
24 February 2019 - Converted to HTML 5 format, reorganized notes, added note about ex-Russian guns and added data and sketches from M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A2, M.Dv. Nr. 190,1A3, M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A1 and M.Dv. Nr. 190,4A6