15 cm/45 (5.9") SK L/45
Updated 25 November 2012

A good, reliable weapon used as secondary armament on battleships and battlecruisers as well as on most cruisers built during World War I.  Some pre-war cruisers were rearmed with these weapons during the war.

In the 1920s, this weapon was used to arm the Light Cruiser Emden.  During the Second World War, it was notable for equipping some of the famous merchant raiders and was used in coastal artillery batteries.

Constructed of A tube and two layers of hoops.  Used the Krupp horizontal sliding wedge breech block.

  All German 15 cm guns had an actual bore diameter of 14.91 cm (5.87 in).


15 cm/45 Gun on SMS Ostfriesland
NARA Archives picture, courtesy of Peter Lienau


Sketch of one of the 15 cm casemate guns on the KM Baden
Sketch courtesy of Peter Lienau


Cruiser Königsberg (II)
Imperial War Museum Photograph


Light Cruiser Emden in the 1930s
WZB Photograph

Gun Characteristics
Designation 15 cm/45 (5.9") SK L/45
Ship Class Used On Most Capital Ships of World War I
Frankfurt, Elbing, Bremse, Königsberg (II), Dresden (II) cruiser classes
Many cruisers were rearmed with this gun 1915-1918

Emden (1925)
Merchant Raider Ships of World War II

Date Of Design 1906
Date In Service 1908
Gun Weight 12,632 lbs. (5,730 kg)
Gun Length oa 264.2 in. (6.710 m)
Bore Length 249.1 in (6.326 m)
Rifling Length 200.6 in (5.095 m)
Grooves 48
Lands N/A
Twist RH Increasing from 1 in 45 to 1 in 30 at the muzzle
Chamber Volume 1,324 in3 (21.7 dm3)
Rate Of Fire
(see Note)
5 - 7 rounds per minute
Note:  In "Jutland:  An Analysis of the Fighting" by John Campbell, it is stated that German capital ships were provided with an ammunition hoist for each 15 cm (5.9") gun and that these could provide 7 or more complete rounds per minute.  For light cruisers the rate of supply was about three to five rounds per minute per gun once the ready ammunition had been used up.
Type Separate
Projectile Types and Weights World War I
   AP L/3,7 C/09 - 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg)
   HE L/4,1 base fuze - 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg)
   Common L/4,1 - 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg)

World War II
   HE L/4,1 base fuze - 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg)
   HE L/4,1 nose fuze - 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg)

Bursting Charge World War I
   AP L/3,7 C/09 - 2.19 lbs. (0.99 kg)
   Others - N/A

World War II
   HE L/4,1 base fuze - 8.6 lbs. (3.90 kg)
   HE L/4,1 nose fuze - 9.0 lbs. (4.09 kg)

Projectile Length World War I

World War II
   HE L/4,1 base fuze - 24.1 in (61.2 cm)
   HE L/4,1 nose fuze - 24.0 in (60.9 cm)

Propellant Charge World War I
   29.2 lbs. (13.2 kg) RP C/06
   31.2 lbs. (13.7 kg) RP C/12

World War II
   31.6 lbs. (14.35 kg) RPC/38 (7.5/3)

Cartridge 150 x 865 mm

World War I Filled Cartridge - 49.8 lbs. (22.6 kg)
World War II Filled Cartridge - 50.2 lbs. (22.8 kg)

Muzzle Velocity 2,740 fps (835 mps)
Working Pressure 20.0 tons/in2 (3,150 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life 1,400 rounds
Ammunition stowage per gun Nassau, Helgoland, von der Tann, Moltke, Brummer:  150 rounds
Kaiser, König, Bayern, Seydlitz, Derfflinger, Mackensen:  160 rounds
Blücher (1914):  165 rounds
Wiesbaden:  128 rounds
Königsberg (1918), Cöln:  130 rounds
Emden (1925):  120 rounds
Range During World War I
Elevation With 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg) HE Shell
Range @ 19 degrees 14,760 yards (13,500 m)
Range @ 20 degrees 16,300 yards (14,900 m)
Range @ 22 degrees 17,280 yards (15,800 m)
Range @ 25 degrees  18,040 yards (16,500 m)
Range @ 27 degrees 18,373 yards (16,800 m)
Range @ 30 degrees 19,250 yards (17,600 m)
Range @ 45 degrees
(Proving Grounds)
20,120 yards (18,400 m)
Range During World War II
Elevation With 99.8 lbs. (45.3 kg) HE Shell
Range @ 30 degrees
(World War II Raiders)
21,220 yards (19,400 m)
Note:  During World War II, Merchant Raiders armed with these guns were apparently supplied with the more streamlined shells as used for the 15 cm/55 SK C/28.
Mount / Turret Data
Designation Single pedestal mounts in casements
   Nassau (12), Helgoland (14), Kaiser (14), von der Tann (10), Moltke (12) and Blücher (8):  MPL C/06
   König (14), Seydlitz (12) and Derfflinger (12):  MPL C/06.11
   Bayern (16), Hindenburg (14) and Mackensen (14):  MPL C/13

Single pedestal mounts in open half-shields
   Wiesbaden (8) and Königsberg (8):  MPL C/14
   Cöln (8) and Emden (8):  MPL C/16
   Kormoran (6):  MPL C/16 Modified

Weight  MPL C/06:  34,767 lbs. (15,770 kg)
MPL C/06.11:  36,449 lbs. (16,533 kg)
MPL C/13:  39,573 lbs. (17,950 kg)
MPL C/14:  35,681 lbs. (16,185 kg)
MPL C/16: 37,734 lbs. (17,116 kg)
(see Note 1)
MPL C/06:  -7 / +20 degrees
MPL C/06.11:  -10 / +19 degrees
MPL C/13:  -8.5 / +19 degrees
MPL C/14:  -10 / +22 degrees
MPL C/16:  -10 / +27 degrees

World War II Raiders:  -10 / +30 degrees

Elevation Rate Manual operation, only
Train about +150 / -150 degrees
Train Rate Manual operation, only
Gun recoil MPL C/06:  11.4 in (29.0 cm)
MPL C/06.11:  16.9 in (43.0 cm)
MPL C/13:  17.1 in (43.5 cm)
MPL C/14:  17.1 in (43.5 cm)
MPL C/16:  17.7 in (45.0 cm)

1) The elevations shown above are "as designed."  After the Battle of Jutland (Skagerrak), many mountings were modified to increase their maximum elevations to +22 or +25 degrees.  Some MPL C/13 were modified to allow +22 degrees and this increased the total weight to 40,454 lbs. (18,350 kg).  Late in the war, some light cruisers may have been modified to increase elevation to +30 degrees and these were probably the mountings that were used on the Merchant Raiders of World War II.

2) British postwar examination of Baden found that the German ammunition supply for secondary guns was superior to their own.  Baden had a dredger hoist for each gun running directly from the magazine to the casemate carrying both projectile and charge.  Projectile fuzes were protected by a leather cap during the hoist.  Dredger hoists were equipped with sliding anti-flash doors and an external waiting tray.  Hoists were powered by electric motors at the top of the hoist, presumably to eliminate a fire hazard in the magazines.  Baden was equipped with five combined magazines and shell rooms on each side.  The British also commented favorably on the MPL mountings having +19 degree elevations, considerably more than those on British capital ships.  The British determined that the flash protection for the casemates on Baden to be much improved over those for earlier German ships.

3) Emden was rearmed with 15 cm/48 SK C/36 guns in 1942.

Data from
"Jutland:  An Analysis of the Fighting" and "Naval Weapons of World War Two" both by John Campbell
"Naval Weapons of World War One" by Norman Friedman
"German Warships 1815-1945" by Erich Gröner
"German Warships of World War I" by John C. Taylor
"German Cruisers of World War Two", "Cruisers of World War Two" and "German Capital Ships of World War Two" all by M.J. Whitley
Tony DiGiulian's personal data files
Special Help from Peter Lienau
Page History

06 July 2007 - Benchmark
20 May 2012 - Added picture of Königsberg
25 November 2012 - Added details on ammunition and mountings