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2/MAA 118

2/MAA 118

Where 1/MAA 118 was supposed to take care of guarding the gap in the minefield under the coast, 2/MAA 118 task was to cover the half of the Skagerrak from the danish side.

For that purpose four huge ship guns with a caliber of 38 cm was placed on the cape of Hanstholm – The so-called Bismarck guns.

The guns should be emplaced in four big bunkers with a ground area of appx. 1.900 m2, and made of appx. 6.600 m3 steel concrete.

Every gun emplacement was equipped with its own power supply, living quarters, munitions depots, water supply etc. So every gun could be sealed off completely and operate independent of the other guns in the battery.

A common two-storey fire control bunker for the four guns were also build in the area, but every gun could in an emergency situation commence its own fire control.

Building the four emplacements began in November 1940 and was fully equipped and ready to fire in September 1941.

Picture of a 38 cm gun turret. Taken at the sister battery (VARA) in Kristiansand 2006.

2/MAA 118 – Battery Area

The bunkers for the 38 cm guns was placed on the outher cape with appx. 250 m distance between them.

The battery name was “Hanstholm II”.

K1 = Gun #1 | K2 = Gun #2 | K3 = Gun #3 | K4 = Gun #4 | HI = Main Fire Control
RI = Reserve Fire Control | A = Munitions Bunker | AB = Munitions Railway
E = Power Station | AG = Loading Area for Munition.

The 38 cm Guns

Technical data:

Designation38 cm. 52 S.K.C/34
Year of Design1934
Year of Manufacturing1940
Gun Weight (Incl. Breech Mechanism)appx. 111.000 kg
Gun Weight (Incl. Turret)appx. 650.000 kg
Gun Length19,630 cm
Bore Length18,405 cm
Rifling Length15,982 cm
Chamber Volume319 dm3
Barrel Lifeappx. 290 rounds
Rate of Fire2,3 to 3 rounds/minute
Velocity800 kg AP Shell: 820 mps
495 kg HE Shell: 1.050 mps
Elevation (min/max)-30o / +55o
Range800 kg AP Shell: appx. 42.000 m
495 kg HE Shell: appx. 55.000 m
Armor Penetration (800 kg AP Shell)4.572 m : 616 mm
10.000 m : 510 mm
18.000 m : 419 mm
22.000 m : 393 mm
27.000 m : 304 mm

Source: Naval Weapons of the World

Cross Section of the Gun Turret

Inside the Gun Turret

The Gun Emplacements

The gun emplacements for the 38 cm guns were the biggest contructions in the Hanstholm area. The bunkers were more than 30 m wide, more than 63 m long and had a height of more than 10 m.

The bunker had an area of appx. 1.900 m2 where appx. 1.400 m2 were accessible. The construction consists of appx. 6.600 tons of steel concrete. The walls had a thickness of 1 to 2 m and the fundation of the gun had a thickness of more than 5 m.

The bunker was arranged with machinery and personnel in one end, the gun in the middle and munitions compartments in the other end. The munitions area was intersected with the railway to the munitions bunkers in the area.

Fire Control

Firing the four guns was controlled from a two storey bunker placed in front of the battery.

Cross Section of the Fire Control Bunker

Power Supply

Under “normal” circumstances were all guns in the battery supplied with power from the common power grid. Besides that, a power plant was build in the center of the battery area, to provide the necessary power in case of the common power disappears.

Entrance to the power plant in the battery area.

Internal Power Station placed inside the emplacement of the gun. Pictures is from MAA 118’s sister battery in Kristiansand (VARA), but was equipped with the same machinery.

Munitions Bunkers

Munitions for the guns were offloaded by beams and cranes and stowed away in the munitions bunkers.

When the gun battery was build, two munitions bunkers were also build in the area. And in 1943 additional four very heavy bunkers in two storeys were placed in the battery area.

The thickness of the walls and roof were 3,5 m and this bunker type was the heaviest in this area.

Munitions Railway

For transport of munition in the battery area, a 3,6 km railway was layed down with small dollies and waggons.

All the gun emplacements and the munitions bunkers was constructed so they had rails through them and all the rails were connected with each other.

Munitions in the Gun Emplacement

When the munitions had been moved from the munitions bunkers in the area to the gun emplacement, it was stowed away in special munitions compartments. Each gun could hold appx. 160 shells and charges.

For handling the heavy shells there was a system of rails and hoists in the ceiling.

From Emplacement to Gun Turret

When the shells and charges should be transported into the gun turret, it was first put into some special locks, which protected the munitions from shooting flames.

When shells and charges were delivered throught the flame lock, they were transported to the elevator in the turret on a small waggon which went all the way around the gun turret.

From the waggons the shells and charges were loaded into the elevator and hoisted up into the turret.