28cm Küstenhaubitze

The 28cm Küstenhaubitz was a naval version of the German army's 28-cm howitzer and was originally produced for coastal defence, although it ended up being used on the Western Front during the First World War.

The majority of coastal defence guns were normal naval guns mounted in gun batteries, but the Germany navy also copied a wider fashion for using howitzers. These heavy weapons would be placed in fixed emplacements, and be pre-registered on key choke points in the approaches to German harbours and naval dockyards, allowing their high trajectory shells to hit very precise targets, and for their plunging fire to hit the less heavily armoured decks of their opponents. The army's 28cm howitzer was a rather clumsy, immobile weapon, designed to smash heavy fortifications, but that didn't matter to the Navy, which didn't really plan to move them at all.

Both versions of the weapon used the same emplacement. A massive foundation had to be built. The heavy turntable was then mounted on top of this foundation, and the gun platform on top of the turntable. The barrel was carried in a heavy cradle on top of the main gun platform. The weapon weighed over 63,000kg, and fired a 283mm/ 11.14in shell. It had a simple recoil mechanism - the barrel and cradle were mounted on short rails which absorbed some of the force, while the sheer bulk of the emplacement absorbed the rest. Unlike most other German artillery weapons of this period, the howitzers both used bagged propellants and a screw breech (normal German guns used cartridge cases and a sliding breech). They were also equipped with a crane to lift the heavy shells and charges up to the breech. Although they fired a useful heavy shell, the 28-cm howitzers suffered from a comparatively limited range - 11,400m/ 12,465 yards.

The 28-cm Küstenhaubitze was pressed into service on the Western Front, despite the huge amount of effort required to actually move them. They were normally moved to the main battle of the period, and thus saw service at Verdun and other major battles. Some remained in service during the Second World War, when they were used during the siege of Sevastopol of 1942 and during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.


28-cm Küstenhaubitze


283mm (11.14in)

Barrel Length

3.40m (11ft 1.9in)/ L/12

Weight for transport


Weight in action

63,600kg/ 140,214lb


0 to 65 degrees


360 degrees on turntable

Shell Weight

350kg/ 771.6kg

Muzzle Velocity

350-379m/ 1,148-1,243ft per second

Maximum Range

11,400m/ 12,465 yards

Rate of Fire


German Artillery 1914-1918, Wolfgang Fleischer. Covers over 100 guns used by the German Army and shore detachments of the Navy during the First World War, a conflict largely dominated by artillery. Each one gets a brief description, a set of technical stats and a good picture. Shows the wide range of gun types and sizes used by the Germans during the First World War, and the way in which they evolved to deal with the unexpected challenges of trench warfare. [read full review]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 June 2018), 28cm Küstenhaubitze , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_28cm_kustenhaubitze.html

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