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Canon de 12 cm A Mod. 1889 (manchonné et fretté)

on metal siege carriage

Fortress artillery

Contributor :
Luc Escoubeyrou     
Roger Lothaire     
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Location :
Banize (23)

Coordinates : Lat : 45.93050 / Long : 1.99780
General comments on this surviving gun :
Donated by Joseph Despagnat, weapons enthusiast living in Banize and whose son was killed in action during WW1. It seems he received this gun from his friend the France President Gaston Doumergue in around 1922. 3 pairs of beefs were needed to bring this heavy gun from the Aubusson train station where it had been delivered, to Banize.

In 1944, during the last part of the WW2 when the allied airforce became very active in the region, the gun was moved and hidden in a wood in order to avoid planes believing this gun was a AA German gun and decide to bomb the village by mistake. It was forgotten there until 1973 when a French regiment from La Courtine manoeuvring nearby discovered it and decided to take it back to its barracks ! A farmere witnessing this ran to tell the Banize mayor (Roger Bord) who could explain to the army this gun was belonging to his village. The regiment colonel sent him a mail some time after to apologize. The gun was drove back to the village with the help of the farmer's tractor, to the place it is still seen nowadays

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

Nice side view on this jacketted gun

Rear view, the gun is seemingly in pretty nice condition

Breech markings : '12c - N°157 - Liège 1892'

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     12 c.A. Mod. 1889 Origin :       ( Cockerill)             ( FRC )             ( Krupp )

Historic context :

When Belgium decided in 1887 to built with the General Brialmont the fortified perimeters of Liège and Namur, the consecutive order of more than 600 artillery tubes with various calibres, as well as the steel cupolas was representing a very interesting market that attracted the best German and French armament companies, but also talented Belgian ones, with the good know-how, but whose use was also unavoidable for political reasons. Concerning the artillery dedicated to the equipment of the modern forts cupolas, bunkers and of the intervals, the Belgian authorities choose the Krupp technology for the delivery of the mortars, howitzers and guns of 15cm and 21cm. But as soon as 1887, the Belgian companies Cockerill and Fonderie Royale de Canons (FRC) associated to take a part of the market, soon proposing from 1889 an alternative to the German weapons of 15cm and 21cm, but also a little 87mm mortar, and a 12cm gun.

This last one was named 'Canon rayé de 12c.A. Mod. 1889 (manchonné et fretté)' and seems to be the most successful for the Belgian associates since 126 such tubes needed for the cupolas and the interval batteries were ordered. It was a weapon with a technology quasi-identical to the one of the Krupp 15cA Mod 1886, with a mantled tube and a thick re-inforcement ring circling the explosion chamber. Some sources say that it was indeed 162 tubes - and not only 126 - that was ordered by Belgium to both Krupp and Cockerill-FRC, meaning therefore that 34 have been manufactured by the German company, and most probably that this barrel design was mostly German with a fabrication of the Belgian guns under licence

The Forts of the Meuse could be equipped with this caliber guns the following way :

  • 12 'Chatillon Commentry - Ateliers de la Meuse' cupolas for two 12cA guns in Liège (Flémalle, Loncin, Pontisse, Barchon, Fléron, Boncelles)
  • 8 'Chatillon Commentry - Marcinelle et Couillet' cupolas for two 12cA guns in Namur (St Héribert, Suarlée, Cognelée, Andoy)
  • 12 'Chatillon Commentry - Ateliers de la Meuse' and 'Chatillon Commentry - Marcinelle et Couillet' cupolas for one 12cA gun in Liège (Hollogne, Lantin, Liers, Evegnée, Chaudfontaine, Embourg)
  • 10 'St Chamond - Cockerill' cupolas for one 12cA gun in Namur (Malonne, Emines, Marchovelette, Maizeret, Dave)
Other barrels of the same order were mounted on a siege carriage for the intervals defence , taking the name of 'Canon rayé de 12c.A. Mod. 1889 (manchonné et fretté) sur affût de siège métallique Mod 1880''.

Most of these old guns were captured by Germany at the fell of the Liège, Namur and Antwerp fortresses in 1914, and used by their armies to supplement their own heavy guns in the position war. This way, the German armies inventories counted 148 12cm Belgian guns of 3 different kinds (including a late Cockerill-FRC of 1911) in 1916, and were still having 48 of them in 1918.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 12 cm steel gun M 1889 (mantled)
  • Design year : 1889
  • Calibre : 120.10 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 2950 kg on siege carriage - 188 tons with cupola
  • Weight for transportation : 3626 kg on siege carriage
  • Tube length in calibres : 25.00
  • Grooves : 0
  • Projectile weight : 18 kg - 21kg
  • Initial speed :
  • Fire rate :
  • Range : 8000 m (in cupolas) - 8300 m (German high explosive shell) - 8600 m (German shrapnell)
  • Elevation range :
  • Direction range :

  • Vesting - Vestingartillerie           Robert Gils                   Simon Stevin Vlaams Vestingbouwkundig Centrum   2010  
  • Atlas Belgische Versterkingen te Antwerpen, Luik en Namen (1859-1914)       Robert Gils                   Uitgeverij De Krijger   2001  
  • Das Ehrenbuch der Schweren Artillerie (II. Band)       Major Franz Nikolaus Kaiser                   Vaterlandischer Verlag Berlin   1934  
  • Fort de Loncin. Une nécropole, un site de guerre       Louis Ruther                   ASBL Front de Sauveagrde du Fort de Loncin   0