24 cm Kanone M. 16

The 24 cm Kanone M. 16 was a super-heavy siege gun used by Austria-Hungary during World War I and by Nazi Germany during World War II. Only two were finished during World War I, but the other six were completed in the early twenties and served with the Czechoslovak Army until they were bought by the Germans after their Munich Agreement in 1938. During World War I one gun served on the Western Front and the other on the Italian Front. During World War II they saw action in the Battle of France, Operation Barbarossa and the Siege of Leningrad.

24 cm Kanone M. 16
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Skoda
Production Period 1916 - 1921
Origin Austria-Hungary
Country Name Origin Year
Austria-Hungary 1916
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Czechoslovakia View
Germany View
Austria-Hungary 1916 1945 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Skoda 1916 1921 8 View

The Austro-Hungarian Army was very pleased with its large siege howitzers like the 42 cm Haubitze M. 14/16, but they were all short-ranged. The Army asked Škoda to design a gun able to destroy important targets deep in the enemy's rear in 1916. To save time and resources it was designed in concert with the 38 cm Belagerungshaubitze M 16 and used the same carriage and firing platform as the larger weapon. The gun used the forward trunnion mounts on the carriage while the howitzer used the rear ones. Some sources claim that the gun was adapted from Škoda's 1901 naval gun of the same calibre and length, but this is wrong because the M. 16 gun weighed almost 8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons) less than the older naval gun.

It appears that only two guns were delivered during the war, although a total of nine guns and two spare barrels had been ordered. In the Spring of 1918 they equipped the Third and Fourth Companies, each with one gun, of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment. Photographic evidence shows one gun near Dornbirn, Austria on the Italian Front and the other was near Reifenberg, Germany.

Only four more guns were under construction when the war ended. Škoda completed all of these by the end of 1921 as the new Czechoslovak Army decided to buy them. When the Czechs mobilized during the Munich Crisis, the guns formed the Fifth and Sixth Batteries of the Third Battalion of Artillery Regiment 301, each battery with 2 guns, the two remaining guns being held in reserve. Nazi Germany bought all six of these weapons, the spare barrel and all their electric trucks, after the Munich Agreement in January 1939 for a price of over 55 million crowns.

The M. 16 was known as the schwere 24 cm Kanone(t) in German service. They did not participate in the Invasion of Poland, but were assigned only to the Second Battalion of Artillery Regiment 84, where they formed three two-gun batteries. The battalion fought on the Somme during the Battle of France. A second reserve barrel was ordered on 31 July 1940 for delivery on 28 February 1942. For the rest of 1940 and until May 1941 the battalion was emplaced on Cap-Gris-Nez in the Pas de Calais to interdict British coastal convoys in the English Channel and to protect German ones. During Operation Barbarossa the battalion was assigned to Army Group North and fought in the Siege of Leningrad, between January and June 1942, part-way through the siege, all six guns had to returned to Škoda for repair and retubing. This was delayed when barrel Nr. 8 ruptured on 10 December 1942 and a number of roughly-machined barrel ingots in storage since 1918 proved to substandard. The first two guns to be refitted were shipped to the battalion on 18 July 1943, but the rest were further delayed. The next pair of guns were shipped to the front on 11 January 1945. The battalion remained with Army Group North for the rest of the war until its surrender in the Courland Pocket at the end of the war.

Type Super-Heavy Siege Gun
Place of origin Austria-Hungary
Service history
In service 1916–45
Used by Austria-Hungary
 Nazi Germany
Wars World War I, World War II
Production history
Designer Škoda
Designed 1915–16
Manufacturer Škoda
Produced 1916–21
Number built 8
Weight 86,000 kg (190,000 lb)
Barrel length 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in) L/40
Crew 42
Shell separate-loading, cased charge
Shell weight 198 kilograms (437 lb)
Caliber 240 millimetres (9.4 in)
Breech horizontal sliding block
Recoil hydro-pneumatic
Carriage firing platform
Elevation +10° to +41° 30'
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire 1 rpm
Muzzle velocity 794 m/s (2,600 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 26,300 m (28,800 yd)
Filling weight 19.5 kilograms (43 lb)

End notes