Artillery / Germany
15-cm Kanone 39
15-cm Kanone 39

15-cm Kanone 39 

The gun that became known to the Germans as the 15-cm Kanone 39 (15 cm K 39) came to them via a roundabout route. The gun was originally designed and produced by Krupp of Essen for one of its traditional customers, Turkey, during the late 1930s. The gun was intended to be a dual field/coastal-defence gun and so used a combination of split-trail carriage allied with what was then an innovation, namely a portable turntable onto which the gun and carriage would be hoisted to provide 360∞ traverse, a feature very useful in a coastal-defence weapon. Two of the ordered batch had been delivered in 1939 when World War II broke out, and there was then no easy way of delivering any more to Turkey. With a war on its hands the German army decided it needed as many new field guns as possible and the design was taken into German service without modification as the 15 cm Kanone 39, and the type remained on the production lines at Essen for the German army alone.

Thus the German army found itself with a large and useful gun that had to be transported in three loads: barrel, carriage and turntable. For most purposes the turntable was not really necessary and was only used when the gun was emplaced for coastal defence; the unit consisted of a central turntable onto which the carriage was placed, a series of outrigger struts and an outer traversing circle. The whole turntable was made of steel, and in use was anchored in place. The spread trails were secured to the outer traverse circle, and the whole gun and carriage could then be moved by using a hand crank arrangement. This platform attracted a great deal of attention from many other design teams, including the Americans who used it as the basis for the 'Kelly Mount' used with 155-mm (6.1-in) Ml guns.

The K 39 could fire conventional German ammunition, but when first introduced into service it came with sizable stocks of ammunition produced for Turkish use and to Turkish specifications. This involved a threecharge system and included a high explosive shell and a semi-armourpiercing projectile originally intended by the Turks to be used against warships. All this non-standard ammunition was gradually used up before the Germans switched to their normal ammunition types.

By that time the K 39 was no longer in use as one of the standard weapons of the German army. The full production run for the army was only about 40, and this was understandably thought to be too awkward a number for logistical comfort. Thus the K 39s were diverted to the training role and then to the Atlantic Wall defences, where they reverted to their intended purpose, On the static Atlantic Wall sites the turntables could be carefully emplaced to best effect and the guns could use their long range to good purpose.

Specification 15-cmK39

 
Calibre: 149,1 mm (5.87 in)
 
Length of piece: 8.25 m (27 ft 0.8 in)
 
Weight: travelling 18282 kg (40,305 lb) and in action 12200 kg (26,896 lb) 
 
Elevation: -4∞ to +45∞
 
Traverse: on turntable 360∞ and on carriage 60∞
 
Muzzle velocity: 865 m (2,838 ft) per second
 
Maximum range: 24700 m (27,010 yards)
 
Shell weight: 43 kg (94.8 lb)
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