Historic context :
Approached as early as 1911 by the French Army, where some officers were aware of the probable insufficience of the 75 mm Mle 1897 fiedlgun against entranchments despite its announced polyvalence, and of the obsolescence of the existing 155 mm materials (de Bange, Canet and Rimailho), the French powerful private industrials Schneider and Saint Chamond presented in August 1914 the weapons that they had designed for foreign armies, or derived ones.
The French General Command, probably still convinced this war would be a rapid one in open fields just as it was planned in the doctrine in place before the war, did not decide to order any of them before much later, when the 1915 first two quarters offensives proved the importance of this kind of weapons for the attacks preparation.
The Etablissements Saint Chamond saw their 155 C Mle 1915 gun adopted by the French Army in June 1915, as it was ready and able to shoot the 155 mm reglementary shells. The Etablissements Schneider from Le Creusot, taken by surprise, accelerated the transformation of a 6 inches mortar 'bas' (low) developped for the Russian Army with an original 152.4 mm caliber, and produced since several years under licence by Putilov. That new gun, named Canon de 155 Court modele 1915 Schneider(155 mm short gun, modele 1917 Schneider), is adopted by the French Army after its presentation in September 1915, and the first orders are signed directly.
From the very first tests in battery in April 1916 (46 such guns were delivered in August 1916), this gun showed escellent performances both in the high angle and direct fire. Its range over 11 km allowed it to perform counter-artillery missions, in addition to its planned role of entranchment destruction weapon.
The gun was equipped with a quick manoeuvring Schneider breech of the same model as the one used on the 105 Mle 1913 from the same company. The recoil brake / recuperation system was also similar to the 105 mm gun, with both organs placed side to side below the tube, and the long overhanging craddle. A counter-weight placed above the breech was compensating the lack of balance due to the position of the trunnions at the back of the barrel close to the breech.
The early Mle 1915 model was very soon transformed into a Mle 1917 (Canon de 155 C Mle 1917 Schneider), to shoot rounds with powder bags (with a modified plastic obturation breech block) instead of cartidges (for economical and logistic reasons).
The Schneider guns arrived to the front sooner than its St Chamond competitors, despite the fact they were presented after them. This good industrial performance, in addition to their evident technological superiority illustrated by their higher maximum range (2000 m more than St Chamond material), induced the French Army to prefer the Schneider material. During the war, it was even required from Saint Chamond to produce the 155 C Schneider material instead of their own model !
This very modern gun, powerful and mobile (transportable in a single load), will equip the French troops (more than 1500 such guns inventoried in November 1918) as well as the US forces (USA built numerous such guns under license). It will stay in service in numerous armies until the 1950's ...
Technical data :
- Complete description : 155mm M 1917 short gun Schneider
- Design year : 1917
- Calibre : 155.00 mm
- Weight in firing position : 3220 kg (Mle 1915) or 3300 kg (Mle 1917)
- Weight for transportation : 3600 kg (Mle 1915) or 3715 kg (Mle 1917), one single load
- Tube length in calibres : 15.00 (total tube length) - 11,4 (Mle 1915) and 11,2 (Mle 1917) for the grooved part only
- Grooves : 43 (Mle 1915) or 48 (Mle 1917), right, constant angle
- Projectile weight : 41 kg à 43.55 kg
- Initial speed : 200 to 450 m/s
- Fire rate : 4 shots / minute
- Range : 9500 m (elongated shell)11900 m (FA shell)
- Elevation range : 0 to +42 degrees
- Direction range : 6 degrees total range