24cm Kanone 3

The 24cm Kanone 3 was a very heavy cannon designed as a long range counterbattery weapon, but that was only produced in very small numbers and used by a single unit in Normandy and on the Eastern Front.

Work began on the 24cm Kanone 3 at Rheinmetall in 1936, when it was expected to serve as a long range counterbattery weapon, firing at strong artillery positions deep behind enemy lines. The resulting weapon was heavy and rather cumbersome, needing to be split into six loads to be transported. A great deal of thought went into this process, including the inclusion of a series of fail-safe systems that meant that the weapon couldn’t be operated if key elements had been assembled incorrectly. As a result of these measures, the gun could be assembled in 90 minutes by 25 men, rather faster than was the case for many larger weapons. The carriage also contained its own generator, allowing many parts of the gun to be electrically powered.

The weapon used a double recoil system. The first recoil system was mounted on the barrel. The barrel was then mounted on a small carriage mounted on rails on the main carriage. This small carriage had its own recoil system that absorbed most of the left-over forces. The entire carriage could be mounted on a turntable that allowed it to be rotated through 360 degrees. It also had a limited amount of traverse on the normal firing carriage.

Only a handful of K 3s were produced, probably between 8 and 10. Those that entered combat were used by the schwere Artillerie Abteilung (mot) 83, which used them in Normandy and on the Eastern Front. Although the K3 was a Rheinmetall design, it was actually built by Krupp, who also attempted to design a superior version, the 24cm Kanone 4.

The K 3 was used for a number of experiments, many of which required special barrels. One was produced that took shells with body splines that fitted into the rifling. Some smooth bore barrels were produced to fire the Peenemünder Pfeilgeschosse (long range arrow shells). The K3 was also used to test discarding sabot shells, and with other mechanisms to reduce the calibre of the shell used.

The K3 remained in service to the end of the war. One was captured by the Americans and taken back to the US for tests. It can still be seen at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.


24cm K3


238mm (9.37in)

Barrel Length


Weight for transport

84,636kg (186,590lb) in six loads

Weight in action

54,000kg (119,050lb)


-1 to +56 degrees


360 degrees on turntable
6 degrees on carriage

Shell Weight

152.2kg (335.78lb)

Muzzle Velocity

870m (2,854ft)/ sec

Maximum Range

37,400m (41,010 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]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 June 2018), 24cm Kanone 3 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_24cm_kanone_3.html

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