15cm Kanone 16 (Krupp)

The 15cm Kanone 16 (Krupp) was an important German heavy gun during the second half of the First World War, and had longer range than its direct Allied equivalents, making it a more flexible weapon.

For the first two years of the war most long range German artillery was based on either coastal defence guns or naval guns, fitted to improvised gun carriages. The resulting guns were acceptable at best, and the German artillery staff asked Rheinmetall and Krupp to produce designs for a long range 15cm gun designed for use as corps artillery, to perform the counter battery and interdiction roles. Both firms produced fairly orthodox designs for the period, apart from their very long barrels and their large gun carriages.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
15cm Kanone 16 Firing

The Rhienmetall version was produced in smaller numbers (as the 15cm K 16 Rh). It had a very slightly longer barrel than the Krupp version (L/42.9 compared to L/42.7), but was otherwise similar.

The Krupp design (15cm K 16 Kp) was produced in much larger numbers. It had a simple carriage with a box trail and a large gun shield. The wheels were steel with all-rubber tyres. It could be split into two loads for transport (barrel and carriage), as it needed to be moved by horses. The return spring and recoil suppression systems were both below the barrel.

The main strength of the 15cm Kanone 16 was its impressively long range of 22,000m/ 24,060 yards. Allied weapons of the same calibre had much shorter range - the British 6in (15.2cm) BL Howitzer could only reach 10,425m, the 8in BL Howitzer 11,245m, the 9.2in BL Seige Howitzer 12,470m. Only the British railway guns had the same range, and they required far more effort to bring into action.

The 15cm K 16 began to reach the front in large numbers in 1917, and it was able to reach into the Allied rear areas and inflict damage on previously safe targets. It could also carry out counter battery fire on Allied gun positions without being in range of enemy fire itself.

15cm Kanone 16 (Krupp) being towed
15cm Kanone 16 (Krupp) being towed

After the end of the war the German army was allowed to keep some of the guns, although most were given out as reparations. It was used as one of the main training weapons for the inter-war German army, and some were still in use at the start of the Second World War (although by then their lack of mobility meant that they didn't really fit into the new German army). Some were installed into the newer carriage from the 21cm Mrs 18, becoming the 15cm K16 in Mrs Laf. Others had gone to Belgium after the First World War, and were taken back into German service as the 15cm K 429(b).


15 cm K 16


149.3mm (5.88in)

Barrel Length

6.41m (21ft 0.4in) or L/42.7

Weight for transport


Weight in action

10,870kg/ 23,964lb


-3 to +42 degrees


8 degrees

Shell Weight

51.4kg/ 113.3lb

Muzzle Velocity

757m/ 2,484ft per second

Maximum Range

22,000m/ 24,060 yards

Rate of Fire

3 rounds/ minute

German Heavy Artillery Guns 1933-1945, Alexander Lüdeke. Despite the title actually covers light, medium and heavy artillery as well as mortars and anti-tank guns (excludes railway guns, flak and rocket launchers). Each gets a useful write-up, supported by stats and at least one photo. Covers German-built guns and the many types captured and used by the Wehrmacht. [read full review]
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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 (15 March 2018), 15cm Kanone 16 (Krupp) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_15cm_kanone_16_krupp.html

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