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The 15 cm Artillery

 
 

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The fort was equipped with four guns of 150 mm (± 5.91 inch) P.K.L. L/55 model M/1930. The original description was “15 cm S.K. C/28 L/55”.These guns were German naval artillery-pieces, of the same type as those that were used as secondary armament on the German battleships (battlecruisers) “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau”. The guns are mounted on carriages (“Küst MPL C/36”) for use on land as coastal artillery. Despite the fact that these guns were designed as long ago as 1928, at the time they were installed in Denmark, they were state of the art artillery-pieces and could bear comparison with similar ones of other nations.Toward the end of the second world-war, the Germans installed a coastal artillery-battery at Fynshoved (in the North-East of the Danish island Fyn). The museum’s four guns originate from this battery. The German Eagle with a swastika is engraved on the breech-blocks (see the illustration below). These guns were designed by Rheinmetall and built at the Skoda factories in the former Czechoslovakia. At that time there was a serious shortage of materials and therefore the guns were delivered without their armour-plating shields. These shields were installed only after delivery at Langeland.

 
     
 

The four artillery-pieces were set-up in a semi-circle, each gun in its own position, with its own munitions- and crew bunkers. In 1957 a 12.7 cm (5 inch) P.K. L/45 M/1934 gun was installed on the beach, in order to serve as illumination-gun (*) for the main battery. The noise of the practice firing was so disturbing for the people living in the neighbourhood, that a second battery was installed on the beach, consisting of two 150 mm guns of the same type as the main battery (P.K.L. L/55 model M/1930). These two guns came from another German battery at Hesbjerg, near Gilleleje and also arrived towards the end of the war. After 1973 the main battery was put into conservation, but the training of gun-crews continued.

 
     
 

Each artillery-piece was operated by a gun-crew of 15 men. Their range of fire was 22 km (13.6 miles), which was enough to cover the whole waterway between Langeland and Lolland. A well-trained crew could fire six shots per minute. Each projectile weighed 45 kilo’s (99.2 pounds).

 
     
 

 (*) An illumination-gun fires light-grenades, in order to illuminate the target for the main battery.

 
 

 

 
   
     
   
     
 

The last photo is from Fynshoved

 
 

The last-but-one photo shows a gun-crew firing a 12.7 cm. gun.

 
     
 

Click on each photo to enlarge it.

 
     
 

This illustration shows a consignment-note for one of the eight 15 cm guns, which was sent to Denmark late in the war. Four of them are now at the Langelandsfort museum. It must have been a logistical all-out effort to transport eight 25-ton artillery-pieces from Pilsen in Czechoslovakia to Denmark during those chaotic times. We do not know how long the voyage took, but the battery was never completed. Note the dates on the document!

 
     
     
 

 

The history of the 15 cm (6 “) artillery-pieces at Langelandsfort.

These guns were built by the Skoda-works in Plzen, in what was formerly called Czechoslovakia, but the design was by Rheinmetall-Borsig in Düsseldorf.  The steel-marking “bxb”, which is engraved on the breach-blocks, is the steel-marking of the Skoda factory.

The Skoda-Holding told the museum that on May 15, 1939 they received an order for forty 15cm “SK C/28 L/55” guns on “Küst MPL C/36” gun-carriages. In April 1941 they received another order for forty and in 1942 for a further one hundred pieces. The latter order came in the form of a military command, which meant that the Skoda-factory could not refuse it. All these artillery-pieces were delivered on gun-carriages for use as coastal artillery. The Skoda-factories have never delivered 15 cm guns on other carriages, i.e. for mounting on ships. They have, however, delivered a few guns for U-Boats and torpedo boats. (Source: Dr. Vladislav Kratky PhD.), Skoda Museum).
   
Around the turn of the year 1944-45 eight guns of 15 cm SK/C28, with Küst MPL C/36 gun-carriages, were shipped to Denmark. Due to the shortage of steel, which prohibited the production of armour-plating, none of them was equipped with an armour shield. It must have been a logistical all-out effort to transport these guns to Denmark at that chaotic time, when the second World-war was drawing to an end. The guns were transported by rail. We don’t know how long the voyage took, but the batteries were never completed.

The guns had serial-numbers from 1457 to 1464. The four with the lowest serial numbers were brought to Hesbjerg near Gilleleje, the four other ones were sent to Fyns Hoved. None of these batteries was completed before the end of the war. The guns from Hesbjerg were later installed as the main-battery at the Kongelunds fort, but that fort was later closed down and the guns were put into storage. From 1963 onwards, two of those guns were placed on the beach outside Langelandsfort, where they remained until the latter fortress was also closed down. The serial-numbers of these two guns were 1458 and 1459. Number 1457 is now outside the Hanstholm Museum Centre, number 1458 is at a scrapyard in Jutland; number 1459 is at the Naval Union at Ebeltoft. We don’t know what became of number 1460, but it has most probably been scrapped. The four guns (serial numbers 1461 to 1464) from Fyns Hoved were brought to Landgelandsfort, where they were provided with a Danish gun-tower. They are still part of the exhibition at Langelandsfort .

There is still another 150 mm gun at Langelandsfort, which is mounted at the car park of the fortress. This gun, serial-number 1094, is something rather extraordinary. In 1936 a contract for the delivery of eight coastal-defence guns was signed by the company HAPRO in Berlin. This company represented the German export relations with China. When the guns were ready for delivery, the relations between Germany and China had deteriorated to such an extent that only the first four were actually delivered to China. These guns had serial numbers 1088, 1089, 1090 and 1091.

The remaining four guns plus the four other ones were taken over by the Kriegsmarine. The first four, with serial-numbers 1092, 1093, 1094 and 1095 were sent to the Batterie Vineta at Swinemünde and the others to Batterie Holtzendorff on the island of Borkum.

Rheinmetall only produced a small number of coastal-defence guns. In May 1939 the production of these guns was transferred to the Skoda-works.

The gun in question came to Denmark from The Netherlands, in the framework of a large trade-deal with guns.

All other guns of this type were sold for scrap-metal. The gun which is presently at the Langelandsfortet (serial number 1094) is the only one still existing. What became of the other four guns in China remains unknown.

It was rumoured for many years in naval circles that the 4 single-barrelled 150 mm guns came from the battleship “Gneisenau”. All speculations about the former placement of these guns on warships should, in view of the abovementioned information, be seen with a certain amount of scepticism.

As far as we have been able to establish from research in Freiburg by Jan Egil Fjortoft, the single-barrelled guns from Gneisenau were sent to the Island of Wangerooge. It is said locally that at the end of the war some guns from the Gneisenau came to that island and were installed at the coastal-defence battery “Jade Ost”. When the British conquered that island, they immediately blew-up all the gun-foundations.

We have received photographs of the guns and a map of the gun-emplacements on the island Wangerooge. It is impossible to see whether these guns are indeed from the Gneisenau, but it is clear that they are naval guns. They were later bought by a scrap-metal dealer from Hamburg. (source: ”Inselchronist” Hans-Jürgen Jürgens, Wangerooge).

Both the Skoda Museum and Mr. Jürgens have been kind enough to send us some documents and photographic material. A few of these are shown below.”

 

 

 
   
     
  This document was kindly made available by the Skoda museum.  
     
     
   
     
     
     
     
     
 

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