These guns were designed at the "Bolshevik" factory and were a result of the energetic Russian efforts to get foreign assistance for the design and construction of their naval guns and turrets. Much of this assistance came from Italy, whose influence can also be seen in the design of Soviet cruisers as well as in naval guns.

As originally planned, this weapon would have had long range and good penetration power, but also would have had a very short barrel life, all characteristics of Italian large-caliber naval guns. A total of twelve guns were started from 1939 to 1940 and by June 41 all were either completed or nearly completed. However, work was halted shortly after the start of World War II. Only one gun was proof fired and gunnery trials with it had uneven results. The gun itself was considered to be a success, but the rounds and propellant were of low quality, resulting in large dispersion patterns. This gun was used in the defense of Leningrad and one of its shells is now on display at the Central Naval Museum in Petersburg (see picture.) The gun and its mounting are currently stored (2010) at Rjevsky Artillery Range.

Actual bore diameter was 406.4 mm (16.0").

Gun Characteristics

Designation 406 mm/50 (16") B-37 Pattern 1937
Ship Class Used On Sovetskii Soyuz (Pr. 23 in all its incarnations)
Date Of Design 1937
Date In Service 1941 as land artillery
Gun Weight 301,350 lbs. (136,690 kg)
Gun Length oa 815.75 in (20.720 m)
Bore Length 781.77 in (19.857 m)
Rifling Length 661.18 in (16.794 m)
Grooves 40
Lands N/A
Twist N/A
Chamber Volume 26,920 in3 (441.2 dm3)
Rate Of Fire 1.75 to 2.6 rounds per minute
Depending upon gun elevation


Type Bag
Projectile Types and Weights SAP: 2,443 lbs. (1,108 kg)
Model 1915/28 AP: 2,443 lbs. (1,108 kg)
Bursting Charge SAP: 194 lbs. (88 kg)
AP: 56.7 lbs. (25.7 kg)
Projectile Length N/A
Propellant Charge 683 lbs. (310 kg)
Muzzle Velocity 1 As designed: 2,723 fps (830 mps)
As recommended: 2,854 fps (870 mps)
Working Pressure 20.3 tons/in2 (3,200 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 300 rounds 1 2
Ammunition stowage per gun 100 rounds
  • ^1.11.2According to Russian sources, during trials in 1940 it was recommended that the designed MV be increased to 2,854 fps (870 mps) since the barrel wear was less than expected. However, this is a significantly higher MV than contemporary large caliber guns and I have doubts that the resulting barrel life would have been much, if any, over 150 rounds. For example, the British 16"/45 (40.6 cm) Mark II/III fired a 2,375 lbs. (1,080 kg) AP round at an MV of 2,450 fps (747 mps) and the expected life for this weapon was 350 rounds.
  • ^Barrel life from "Encyclopedia of Russian Artillery." Russian trials with an initial muzzle velocity of 2,723 fps (830 mps) revealed that the velocity drop after 150 rounds was 4.5% and after 300 rounds 10%. During trials it was also noted that the gun had dispersion problems, which were due to the low quality of the propellant and shells.


Range with 2,443 lbs. (1,108 kg) AP
Elevation Distance
45 degrees 49,869 yards (45,600 m)

Armor Penetration

Armor Penetration with 2,443 lbs. (1,108 kg) AP
Range Side Armor Angle of Impact
14,870 yards (13,600 m) 16" (406 mm) 25 degrees

Data from "Encyclopedia of Russian Artillery." This is the official estimate.

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Three-gun Turrets
   Sovetskii Soyuz (3): MK-1 1a
Weight 2,327 tons (2,364 mt)
Elevation -2 / +45 degrees
Rate of Elevation 6.2 degrees
Train +150 / -150 degrees
Rate of Train 4.55 degrees
Gun Recoil 57.5 in (1.460 m)
Loading Angle +6 degrees
  • ^Mountings were designed at Leningrad Metal Plant and were to be built at the Novokramatorsk Heavy Machine Building Plant.

Additional Pictures

External Pictures


"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"Battleships: Allied Battleships in World War II" by W.H. Garzke, Jr. and R.O. Dulin, Jr.
"Sovetskie Boevye Korabli 1941-45: IV Vooruzhnie" (Soviet Warships 1941-45: Volume IV Armament) by A.V. Platonov
"Entsiklopedia Otechestvennoi Artillerii" (Encyclopedia of Fatherland (Russian) Artillery) by A.V. Shirokorad
Special help from Vladimir Yakubov and Buddy Stewart

Page History

09 October 2006 - Benchmark
26 June 2010 - Added link to "Rjevsky Artillery Range"
14 April 2021 - Updated to HTML 5 format, reorganized notes, added photograph of 40.6 cm gun in factory
22 May 2022 - Corrected typographical error