38 cm Siegfried K (E)

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38 cm Siegfried K (E)
A Siegfried K (E) destroyed by American aircraft in the Rhône Valley, 1944
Type Railway gun
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1941 - 1945
Used by Nazi Germany
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Krupp
Designed 1939 - 1941
Manufacturer Krupp
No. built 4
Weight 286 tonnes (281 long tons; 315 short tons)
Length 31.32 metres (102 ft 9 in)
Barrel length 18.405 metres (60 ft 5 in) L/48.4

Shell separate-loading, case charge
Calibre 380 millimetres (15 in)
Breech horizontal sliding block
Recoil hydro-pneumatic
Carriage 2 x 8-axle bogies
Elevation 0° to 52.3°
Traverse none (on mount)
360° (on turntable)
Muzzle velocity 820–1,050 m/s (2,700–3,400 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 55,700 metres (60,900 yd)

The 38 cm Siegfried K (E) (K - Kanone (cannon), E - in Eisenbahnlafette (on railroad mounting)) was a German World War II railway gun based on the 38 cm SK C/34 naval gun that served as the main armament of the Bismarck-class battleships. Only four were produced.


Like the 38 cm SK C/34 naval guns deployed as coastal defense, the 38 cm Siegfried K guns were modified with a larger chamber to handle the increased amount of propellant used for the special long-range Siegfried shells.[1][2]

The gun had no ability to traverse on its mount, relying instead on moving along a curving section of track or on a Vögele turntable to aim. The turntable (Drehscheibe) consisted of a circular track with a pivot mount in the center for a platform on which the railroad gun itself was secured. A ramp was used to raise the railway gun to the level of the platform. The platform had rollers at each end which rested on the circular rail for 360° traverse. It had a capacity of 300 tonnes (300 long tons; 330 short tons), enough for most of the railroad guns in the German inventory. The gun could only be loaded at 0° elevation and so had to be re-aimed for each shot.[3]


It used the standard German naval system of ammunition where the base charge was held in a metallic cartridge case and supplemented by another charge in a silk bag which was rammed first. Four types of shells were used by the 38 cm Siegfried K (E), including the special long-range Siegfried shell (Siegfried—Granate) developed by the army. Almost 40 per-cent lighter, it could be fired with a reduced charge at 920 metres per second (3,000 ft/s) to 40,000 metres (44,000 yd). With a full charge it reached 1,050 metres per second (3,400 ft/s) and could travel 55,700 metres (60,900 yd)–equivalent to over 34.5 miles.[4]

Shell name Weight Filling Weight Muzzle velocity Range
nose-fused HE shell with ballistic cap (Sprenggranate L/4.6 m KZ m Hb) 800 kg (1,800 lb) Unknown 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) 42,000 m (46,000 yd)
base-fused HE shell with ballistic cap (Sprenggranate L/4.4 m BdZ m Hb)) 800 kg (1,800 lb) Unknown 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) 42,000 m (46,000 yd)
base-fused AP shell with ballistic cap (Panzer- Sprenggranate L/4.4 m BdZ m Hb)) 800 kg (1,800 lb) Unknown 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) 42,000 m (46,000 yd)
nose- and base-fused HE shell with ballistic cap (Si-Gr L/4.5 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb)) (light load) 495 kg (1,091 lb) 69 kg (152 lb) TNT 920 m/s (3,000 ft/s) 40,000 m (44,000 yd)
nose- and base-fused HE shell with ballistic cap (Si-Gr L/4.5 Bdz u. Kz (m.Hb)) (full load) 495 kg (1,091 lb) 69 kg (152 lb) TNT 1,050 m/s (3,400 ft/s) 55,700 m (60,900 yd)


  1. ^ 38 cm/52 (14.96") SK C/34, NavWeaps [1] Chamber volume increased from 19,467 in3 (319 dm3) to 22,072 in3 (361.7 dm3), rifling length reduced correspondingly from 629.2 in. (15.982 m) to 620 in (15.748 m)
  2. ^ Campbell, p. 229
  3. ^ François, p. 75
  4. ^ Hogg, pp. 242-3


  • Campbell, John. Naval Weapons of World War Two. London: Conway Maritime Press, 2002 ISBN 0-87021-459-4
  • François, Guy. Eisenbahnartillerie: Histoire de l'artillerie lourd sur voie ferrée allemande des origines à 1945. Paris: Editions Histoire et Fortifications, 2006
  • Gander, Terry and Chamberlain, Peter. Weapons of the Third Reich: An Encyclopedic Survey of All Small Arms, Artillery and Special Weapons of the German Land Forces 1939-1945. New York: Doubleday, 1979 ISBN 0-385-15090-3
  • Hogg, Ian V. German Artillery of World War Two. 2nd corrected edition. Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997 ISBN 1-85367-480-X
  • Kosar, Franz. Eisenbahngeschütz der Welt. Stuttgart: Motorbook, 1999 ISBN 3-613-01976-0

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