Canon de 75 mm modèle 1897

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Canon de 75 mm modèle 1897

Canon de 75 mm modèle 1897 , exhibited in the Invalides in Paris

General Information
Military designation: Canon de 75 mle 1897
Manufacturer country: FranceFrance France United States (License)
United StatesUnited States 
Developer / Manufacturer: Arsenal de Bourges
Ateliers de Puteaux
Development year: 1891/1892
Production time: 1897 to?
Number of pieces: approx.17,000 + approx.1,000 license
Weapon Category: Field gun
Team: 3 + 1 officer
Technical specifications
Pipe length: 2,745 mm
Caliber :

75 mm

Caliber length : L / 36.6
Number of trains : 24
Cadence : 15-20 rounds / min
Elevation range: −10 ° to +19 degrees
Side straightening area: 6 °
Closure Type : uninterrupted Nordenfelt thread lock
Ammunition supply: Manually

The Canon de 75 modèle 1897 was a light French field gun that was mainly used in World War I and revolutionized artillery by combining various new functions . Usually the modèle in the name was shortened to mle . There were also numerous other unofficial names such as simply the French 75s .

Gun technology during the 19th century

Until well into the 19th century, the rate of fire of guns was limited by various factors:

  • Because of the heavy smoke generated by the burning black powder , the view of the enemy was obstructed for a while after each shot. In addition, the positions were easy to identify from their smoke plumes.
  • Loading was cumbersome and time-consuming, as the cannonball and propellant charge did not form a unit and therefore had to be introduced separately into the barrel.
  • Because of the recoil , the gun had to be re-aimed at the target after each shot.
  • The muzzle-loading guns were slow to load and difficult to clean. In addition, the waitress had to leave their cover every time to perform these tasks.

Innovations at the end of the 19th century

Low-smoke powder and new types of ammunition

Main articles: Smokeless powder , grenade , ammunition

In the 1880s, black powder was gradually replaced by new, low-smoke , nitrocellulose- based powders , so the visual obstruction could be minimized and the positions were no longer so easy to identify from their clouds of smoke. In addition, these propellants, which are still used today, have a significantly higher energy content than black powder. Due to the greater energy density, significantly higher muzzle velocities could be achieved, which in turn brought considerable advantages. On the one hand, the firing paths could be kept much flatter with the same range or the ranges could be increased significantly with an ideal angle of attack. The higher bullet speed in combination with new, streamlined bullet shapes also increased the penetration performance enormously.

Due to the development of explosive shells and shrapnel projectiles , the combat value of the artillery could be increased significantly compared to that of the ammunition (e.g. cannonballs , grapefruit ). New ammunition with an integrated propellant charge and ignition device enabled a significantly faster loading process than with conventional muzzle-loaders or cartridge propellants . A pre-form of this cartridge ammunition was the ammunition initially used by the Germans for the 7.7 cm field cannon 96, in which the projectile, propellant charge and detonator were still separate.

Hydropneumatic and hydromechanical recoil damping

Main article: Pipe return

In order to make the constant readjustment of the gun superfluous, various braking and retraction devices were developed, which should absorb the recoil by a controlled barrel return and then bring the barrel back into its starting position. The gun barrel is no longer rigidly connected to the mount. When the shot is fired, the carriage stops and only the barrel runs back into the barrel cradle . Part of the recoil energy is stored and then pushes the pipe back into its starting position. There are basically two functional principles: hydropneumatic and hydromechanical.

Another advantage of the stationary mount is that the gun can be equipped with a protective shield and seats for the operating crew.

Rapid fire guns

Main article: Rapid fire gun

Due to the above-mentioned developments in connection with the emergence of breech-loading guns and the associated development of suitable locking mechanisms, the first rapid-fire guns could be developed at the end of the 19th century .

The development of the Canon de 75 mle 1897

1891 was the arsenal of Bourges tested an experimental 57 mm gun, which combined the latest technical features in it. However, the braking and recovery device used did not yet meet all expectations.

From this prototype, the Ateliers de Puteaux ( weapons manufacturer in Puteaux ), under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Deport, developed a 75 mm cannon from 1892, the focus of the work being on improving the barrel return. Solutions from previous French developments and the Haussner system were combined. In addition to the new braking and recovery device, the Canon de 75 mle 1897 had several other features, some of which already existed before, but were combined for the first time in a gun ready for series production:

  • Use of one-piece cartridge ammunition : The grenade was like a rifle cartridge fixed to the cartridge case from brass connected; thus both could be pushed into the barrel together;
  • Sighting device improvements ;
  • Use of a rapid fire lock : In contrast to the locks of the System de Bange used until then , the lock could be opened and closed again with a single movement;
  • Use of a re-cocking trigger that is relaxed in the rest position and is only cocked automatically when the trigger is pulled (prevents unintentional firing);
  • A mount with a ground spur that prevents the gun from returning. With the first shot, this dug into the ground and additionally stabilized the gun with all subsequent shots. The spur could also be buried in order to increase the barrel elevation and thus the range of the gun.

The Canon de 75 mle 1897 was the first real rapid-fire gun among the field guns existing at the time. The Canon de 75 mle 1897 could fire around 15 to 20 rounds per minute, while the German 7.7 cm field cannon 96 only achieved half that number. With the appearance of the French 75s , the field guns of other countries became obsolete practically overnight. For example, the recently introduced German 7.7 cm field cannon 96 had to be modernized. It also received a braking and recovery device as well as a rapid fire breech with re-cocking trigger and was henceforth known as the 7.7 cm field cannon 96 n / A ("new type"). The outstanding features of the 75s were subsequently adopted by other states for their guns. There were, however, some considerable differences in the structural design. German and English constructions used, for example, drop and push block locks or other braking and forward haul mechanisms.

Features of the Canon de 75

The aforementioned features result in various structural details that are typical of this gun and have also been used in newer French designs.

The closure

Shutter of the Canon de 75 mle 1897 (opened)

In particular, the special design of the breech of the French 75 mm cannon remained very characteristic of this weapon. It was developed by the French-based company of the Swedish designer Thorsten Nordenfelt . The bottom piece was cylindrical with a recess on one side. Since the axis of rotation was below the axis of the gun barrel, the recess exposed the rear end of the barrel in the loading position. In this position the gun was loaded. The gun was made ready to fire by turning the bolt clockwise by 120 °. After removing the stop on the left, the lock could be removed by simply unscrewing it.

The closure had clear advantages over the De Bange closures that had been used very frequently in France up to that point . It no longer had to be cranked and swiveled, just the 120 ° turn. The sleeve was ejected from the tube through an ejector located behind the closure. The easy-to-remove breech made the gun easy to maintain and clean. Due to the very simple construction, the closure was less prone to malfunctions and dirt.

The braking and forward haul mechanism

Tube with guide rollers

The brake and forward haul mechanism on the 75 is a hydropneumatic system. The pipe is firmly connected to a hydraulic cylinder . The recoil presses the incompressible fluid against a gas bubble in a tube. This area, filled with a compressible fluid and isolated from the hydraulic cylinder with a membrane, absorbs the recoil energy and guides the pipe back. The desired damping and restoring effect can be achieved through a suitable design of the cylinders and lines. Another characteristic of the pipe brake are the two guide rollers on the pipe mouth. They are used to guide the pipe on the cradle when it returns. The additional guide is necessary because the pipe has a very long return path of 1093 mm. It corresponds to 39.82% of the pipe length.

Ammunition used

Originally there were two types of projectile for the Canon de 75 mle 1897 :

In the course of the war, further projectile variants were added:

  • Due to a lack of material, HE shells made of cast iron , which required a greater wall thickness and had a mass of up to 7.2 kg;
  • The Trolleybus D explosive grenade made of steel for greater ranges. It also had a mass of 7.2 kg, of which 285 g was due to the explosives.
Parameters of the various floors Data
Muzzle velocity 529 m / s (shrapnel)
584 m / s (HE shell)
525 m / s (trolleybus D)
Firing range 9,800 m (heavy grenade, carriage tail buried)
11,000 m (trolleybus D, carriage tail dug in)
6,800 m (standard grenade, carriage tail not buried)

As early as the end of 1914, the shortage of ammunition forced the French army to use auxiliary bullets. These were mostly drilled and turned from solid cast iron by civil companies and some had a screwed-on head piece. This led to massive quality problems in 1914/15 and a statistical rate of one gunfire to 3,000 rounds. Only in the course of time did these problems come under control again. The French army did not have unitary projectiles like the German or Austrian field artillery.

Transport and service

Each gun had its own limber . In addition to 72 rounds of ammunition, she also carried a fuse setting machine. With their help, the burning time of the shrapnel detonators could be set quickly and easily. The boomed gun was pulled by four or six horses. The gun was operated by three soldiers.

Pièce de 75 Mle 1897, shooting training

Use in the First World War

In mid-1914 the French army ( artillery ) owned almost 4,000 copies of the Canon de 75 mle 1897 . Numerous other states used the cannons during and after World War I, including Poland , Greece , Portugal , Ireland and several Baltic states . A total of over 17,000 units were built in France; 200 million rounds of ammunition were also produced. The US Army also used this type of gun from 1917; about 1,000 copies were made under license in the USA . One of the American gun batteries was commanded by Captain Harry S. Truman , who later became President of the United States . A few examples were built into later models of the heavy French St. Chamond tank as the main weapon .

Use until 1945

German PaK 97/38

About 4500 pieces of the Canon de 75 mle 1897 were still in use by the French army at the beginning of the Second World War , even though they now mostly had rubber tires instead of spoked wheels , and in some cases also a spreading carriage. The German Wehrmacht captured several thousand specimens during the conquest of Poland and France and used them under the names 7.5 cm-FK 231 (f) and 7.5-cm-FK 97 (p) (the f stood for French , p for Polish ) as a field cannon and as a 7.5 cm Flak 97 (f) as an anti-aircraft gun on a base mount. She had over 3700 copies converted into anti-tank guns with expanding mounts (from the PaK 38 ) and muzzle brake , which were then used under the designation 7.5 cm PaK 97/38 , especially on the Eastern Front against the Soviet tanks.

The US Army also occasionally used this type of gun in World War II (partly mounted on half-track vehicles), both in the Pacific and in North Africa .

Shortened version

In the Galopin twin turret 75R05 of the French fortresses, the gun was used with a shortened barrel. The name was Canon de 75 mm modèle 1897 R (R stands for "raccourci à tir rapide" and means "shortened - rapid fire").

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b c United States Army: Ordnance Dept: Handbook of Artillery; United States Government Printing Office , Washington 1920. pp. 81-92 Handbook of Artillery at
  2. a b c
  3. Hans Linnenkohl: From single shot to fire roller , Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-7637-5966-2 , p. 66


  • Hans Linnenkohl: From a single shot to a fire roller . Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-7637-5966-2 .
  • Chris Bishop: Weapons of World War II. An encyclopedia. Over 1500 weapon systems: small arms, planes, artillery, warships, submarines. Bechtermünz Verlag, Augsburg 2000, ISBN 3-8289-5385-9 .
  • Terry Gander / Peter Chamberlain: Encyclopedia of German weapons. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-613-01975-2

Web links

Commons : Canon de 75 modèle 1897  - album with pictures, videos and audio files