MANUFACTURER(S): State Arsenals - France
OPERATORS: France; Finland; United Kingdom
ENGINE: None. This is a towed artillery piece.
Detailing the development and operational history of the Canon de 90 mle 1877 de Bange Towed, Breech-Loaded Field Gun.
Entry last updated on 1/30/2018.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The de Bange Model 1877 field gun, as its designation would suggest, arrived in 1877 and served the French Army during World War 1 (1914-1918) and saw action in other hands into World War 2 (1939-1945). The series was used to replace the aging stock of Reffye and Lahitolle cannons which were, themselves, adopted in the early-to-mid -1870s. Industry and projectile advancements during this time moved at such a pace that quick replacements of recently received weapons could prove commonplace - particularly as Europe could not seemingly stay out of its various wars.
The 90mm weapon from designer Charles Ragon de Bange was conventionally arranged for it time - it sat the tapered gun tube on a mounting system atop a two-wheeled, heavily-spoked carried featuring a fixed trailing arm. The gun tube was loaded from the breech which was a major advantage over the older muzzle-loading type weapons. As was common to many field guns of the period, the de Bange gun lacked any sort of recoil mechanism which meant that the gunnery crew would be required to "retrain" the weapon after each successive firing - the French ultimately addressed this issue with adoption of the excellent 75mm Canon de 75 Modele 1897 in 1897 - which featured a viable recoil system and made it the first modern artillery piece anywhere in the world.
The de Bange breech design allowed for a proper seal around the firing chamber prior to firing. A hinged "cap" was used to cover the breech when closed, aided by a rotating, screw-type design to apply the needed seal. Multiple crewmen were still required for proper function of the weapon - though they no longer had to address the muzzle-end as in previous field gun designs.
Despite its obsolescence by the time of World War 1 in July of 1914, any gun was required in the French war effort so available stocks of de Bange 90mm weapons were still pressed into service until better alternatives could be had (indeed there was an ammunition shortage which only worsened the French situation). Lacking anything better, the British Army also equipped with the French gun for a time in The Great War. Such was the reach of this weapon that it remained in circulation heading into the World War 2 years where some 100 were given to Finland by France to help stave off defeat at the hands of the invading Soviet Union. Barely of a quarter of these guns made it to Finnish hands though the Finns managed their use into mid-1944 before the story of this weapon was finally completed.
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