15cm Kanone 39

The 15cm Kanone 39 was originally produced for Turkey but entered German service in small numbers in 1939 and was mainly used as a coastal defence gun.

Side view of 15cm K39
Side view of 15cm K39

The 15cm K 39 was designed by Krupp during the late 1930s in response to a Turkish order for a combined field and coastal defence gun. The gun barrel was similar in appearance to the Rheinmetall 15cm Kanone 18, with the recuperator above the barrel and barrel brake below, with two hydro-pneumatic equilibrators on the sides and a horizontal sliding breechblock. It fired the same calibre ammo, although was originally produced with specific Turkish shells which used a three charge system to control range and included a HE shell and a semi-armour piercing shell for use against warships.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
15cm K39 with travelling wheels

The carriage was more distinctive. It had a split trail carriage that gave it a traverse of 60 degrees and also came with a portable turntable that gave it a traverse of 360 degrees. This was made up of several parts – a central turntable that went under the carriage, an outer circle that was attached to the split trails and some outriggers to give it more stability. The entire gun could then be moved using a hand crank. This system was the basis of the ‘Kelly Mount’ used on the US 155m Gun M1. The carriage used a variety of cast wheels – some photos show it with triangular holes, others with circular holes.

Breech end of 15cm K39
Breech end of 15cm K39

The gun needed to be split into three loads to be moved – carriage, barrel and turntable, the same as the 15-cm Kanone 18.

Only two of the Turkish guns had been ordered when war broke out in 1939. The German army decided to keep the gun in production, and it became the 15-cm Kanone 39. Only 40-60 or so were actually produced, meaning that it was never available in large numbers. At first it was used with the mobile divisions, and fought in Russia, but the small numbers made it difficult to maintain. It became a training weapon, and was then moved to the Atlantic Wall, where any available artillery was urgently needed. Here its long range and 360 degrees of traverse came in very useful. There was still some of the Turkish ammo left when the gun joined the training units, but standard German ammo had to be used on the coastal defence positions.

Rear View of 15cm K39
Rear View of 15cm K39


15cm Kanone 39


149.1mm (5.87in)

Barrel Length

8.35m (27ft 0.8)

Weight for transport

18,282kg (40,305lb)

Weight in action

12,200kg (26,896lb)


-4 to +45 degrees


60 degrees on carriage
360 degrees on turntable

Shell Weight

43kg (94.8lb)

Muzzle Velocity

865m (2,838ft)/ sec

Maximum Range

24,700m (27,010 yards)

Rate of Fire


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]
cover cover cover


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 March 2018), 15cm Kanone 39 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_15cm_kanone_39.html

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