17cm Kanone 18

The 17cm Kanone 18 was one of two parallel Krupp designs to use the same double recoil system, and soon replaced the 21cm mortar variant as the main production version.

Detail from Battle of Scheveningen by Willem van de Velde the Elder
US Troops in Itri,
Fourth battle of Cassino

The 21cm Mörser 18 and 17cm Kanone 18 both used the same Krupp double recoil system. The barrel was mounted on top of a small carriage that was carried by rails on top of the main travelling carriage. When the gun was fired a recoil system attached to the barrel absorbed some of the forces and a second recoil system attached to the small carriage absorbed most of the rest. As a result the travelling carriage hardly moved, increasing the accuracy of the weapon. The overall carriage was designed by Krupp, and was called a Morserlafette. The K 18 could be towed as a single load for short distances, but needed to be split into two loads - barrel and carriage - for longer moves. A series of winches and ramps were provided to make this an easier job.

The 21cm Mrs 18 entered service in 1939, and soon proved to be a powerful, effective weapon. However when the 17cm K 18 entered service in 1941 its shells proved to be almost effective as those of the mortar, and its range of 29,600m was a vast improvement over the 16,700m of the mortar. In 1942 production of the 21cm Mrs 18 ended, and efforts were concentrated on the longer range 17cm K 18.

Four Dud German Shells, Anzio, 1944
Four Dud German Shells, Anzio, 1944

17cm Kanone 18 on the Eastern Front
17cm Kanone 18 on the Eastern Front

The K 18 was a very effective, accurate and destruction weapon. It was used in large numbers by the Germans, and even on occasion by the Allies. This included at least one occasion during the Tunisian campaign, and a number of occasions during the rapid advance across France in 1944, when captured guns had more ammo available than the Allies own weapons.


17cm K 18


172.5mm (6.79in)

Barrel Length


Weight for transport

23,375kg (51,533lb)

Weight in action

17,520kg (38,625lb)


0 to 50 degrees


360 degrees on platform
16 degrees on carriage

Shell Weight

68kg (149.9lb) HE

Muzzle Velocity

925m (3,035ft)/ sec

Maximum Range

29,600m (32,370 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 (10 May 2018), 17cm Kanone 18 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_17cm_kanone_18.html

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