Rheinmetall L55

Rheinmetall 120 mm gun

The Rheinmetall 120 mm gun is a smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by the German Rheinmetall-DeTec AG company. It comes in two main variants: L44 and the L55.


The barrel has a calibre of 120 mm, and an overall length of 44 calibres (5.28 m). The barrel weight is 1,190 kg, and a complete gun system weighs 3,780 kg.

It is also produced under license by General Dynamics Land Systems Division and used by the U.S. military under the designation M256.

The L44 has been superseded by the L55 which is more than a metre longer and hence delivers a higher muzzle velocity.


The L44 can fire a variety of shells, and while the majority are primarily designed for the anti-tank role, most of them can also successfully engage other types of targets as well. The L44 is presently rated to fire the following types of ammunition:


Primary producers

* Leopard 1: experimental use only.
* Leopard 2 up to and including the A5 variant.
*M1A1/M1A2 Abrams are equipped with the M256.

Licensed production

*Type 90 MBT: license built L44.
*M1A1 Abrams, and future M1A2 SEP.
*K1A1: equipped with KM256, a licensed production model of the U.S. M256, built by World Industries Ace Corporation.
*Merkava 3 and 4: originally imported, then licensed modification built by Israel Military Industries (IMI). It was called MG251 (Merkava Mk. 3) and MG253 (Merkava Mk. 4).


The Rheinmetall L55 is a 120 mm calibre smoothbore tank gun designed and produced by the Rheinmetall-DeTec AG company of Germany. Its barrel has a length of 55 calibres (hence L55) or 6.6 metres. The barrel weighs 1,374 kg (2,970 lb) and the complete gun system is 4,160 kg (9,170 lb).

The L55 is the successor of Rheinmetall's L44 gun. Being 25% longer, it is significantly heavier, but has higher muzzle velocity (over 1750 m/s) which gives better range and penetration for APFSDS kinetic energy rounds.

Theoretically every tank equipped with the L44 gun, including the older Leopard 2 variants and the M1A1/M1A2 Abrams, can be upgraded to an L55. The British Challenger 2, which carries a 120 mm rifled gun, is currently being evaluated with the L55 under the Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme (CLIP).


*Leopard 2 A6
*Leopard 2E
*Leopard 2 HEL
*K2 Black Panther

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