15cm Kanone 18

The 15cm Kanone 18 was a long range but awkward artillery piece that was only produced in small numbers, and wasn’t popular with the German Army.

Left view of 15cm K18
Left view of 15cm K18

The 15cm K 18 was designed in response to a German army requirement for a new gun for the divisional artillery batteries, issued in 1933. Rheinmetell submitted a design that used the same carriage as their design for the 15cm schwere Feldhaubitz 18, with a new, much longer, barrel. In the howitzer contest they had to share the contract with Krupp, after the army chose the Rheinmetell barrel and the Krupp carriage. This time they chose the complete Rheinmetall design, but gave it a much lower priority than the howitzer. As a result the first guns weren’t delivered until 1938.

15cm K18 Seen From Rear
15cm K18 Seen From Rear

The choice of the Rheinmetell carriage turned out to be a mistake. In normal use the old fashioned box carriage only had 11 degrees of traverse, slightly worse than the First World War 15cm Kanone 16 (Kp),. It came with a special two-part turntable that gave it 360 degrees of traverse, but added greatly to the time required to get the gun in or out of action, and also meant that it had to be split into three loads for transport – barrel, carriage and turntable. The barrel needed its own special carriage for transport. The carriage was attacked to a small two-wheeled limber to produce a four wheeled version for towing. All of this added to the time required to get the gun ready to fire.

Right side of 15cm K18
Right side of 15cm K18

The barrel part of the weapon was more satisfactory, giving the gun an impressive maximum range of 24,500m, although with a slow rate of fire of around 2 rounds per minute. The gun had its recuperator above the barrel and barrel brake below, with two hydro-pneumatic equilibrators on the sides. It used a manually operated horizontal sliding breechblock. High Explosive, armour piercing and anti-concrete shells were produced as was a marker shell for use with the coastal artillery.

The K 18 didn’t do very well in with the mobile artillery, but it was more useful as a coastal defence weapon or with garrison divisions, where the 360 degree traverse on the turntable and long range were both valuable.

Breech end of 15cm K18
Breech end of 15cm K18

Only around 100 of the K 18 were built and production ended before the end of the war. The somewhat improved 15cm Kanone 39 was also produced in small numbers, but production then switched to larger guns such as the 17-cm Kanone 18 and 21-cm Mörser 18.


15cm Kanone 18


149.1mm (5.87in)

Barrel Length

8.2m (26ft 10.8in)

Weight for transport

18,700kg (41,226lb)

Weight in action

12,460kg (27.470lb)


-2 to +43 degrees


11 degrees on carriage
360 degrees on platform

Shell Weight

43kg (94.8lb)

Muzzle Velocity

865m (2,838ft)/ sec

Maximum Range

24,500m (25,800gt)

Rate of Fire

2/ min

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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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 March 2018), 15cm Kanone 18 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_15cm_kanone_18.html

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