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Canon de 90mm Mle 1877 de Bange

Light artillery

Contributor :
Jean-Luc Jalabert     
Bernard Plumier      http://www.passioncompassion1418.com
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Location :
Fleury devant Douaumont (55)
Coordinates : Lat : 49.19570 / Long : 5.43530
General comments on this surviving gun :

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

Rear view with the typical de Bange screw breech system

This survivor is presented together with its front trailer

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     90 Mle 1877 Origin :       ( Arsenaux de l'Etat)          

Historic context :

The important inferiority of the French artillery compared to the German one was one of the causes of the defeat during the 1870 war. Early after its end, France, animated with a raging revenge spirit, decided to replace its old bronze guns Mle 1858 whose fire rate and range was much too weak, with modern material. As soon as August 5th 1871, a minister instruction invited the designers to create a brand new artillery system based on rifled steel barrels, metal carriage, and breech loading.

The answer came real quick, with the 1872 proposal of the Capitaine de Lahitolle and his 95 mm gun, the very first French gun equipped with an interrupted screw breech mechanism. But at the same moment, the Capitaine Charles Ragon de Bange, from the elite Polytechnique military engineering school, and Director of the Atelier de Précision du Dépôt Central de Paris, had just imagined an even more revolutionary system. The existence of the new but not so modern bronze gun of the de Reffye system, already equipped with an interrupted screw breech, allowed to give some time to test the new weapons. Therefore France waited until 1875 to chose temporarily the Lahitolle system and finally in 1877 the de Bange system that was by far superior.

Indeed, the Cqptain de Bange design not only answered perfectly to the governement specification with its rifled steel tubes and the interrupted screw breech , it also bring a brilliant solution to the complex problem of the breech sealing, causing accidents and propulsive power losses with all the competing models. The de Bange quick action interrupted screw breech had an almost perfect seal tightness thanks to an original typical mushroom shape piece that was pressing an asbestos based seal ring under the action of the propulsive gasses ('de Bange seal system).

The 'canon de campagne de 90mm Mle 1877' was adopted by the French Army in 1877 as the reglementary field gun. It was the first weapon of the System de Bange, that progressively extended to most needed calibres (80, 90, 120, 155, 220, 240 and 270 mm) of the field, siege, castal and mountain artillery. Until the adoption of the 75mm Mle 1897, it was the reglementary gun of the French field artillery divisions.

In 1914, this old and obsolete weapon (having no recoil recuperation system) was taken out the depots and fortresses in order to equip numerous Division Artillery batteries, since the quantities of 75 guns were too small to equip the units. It participated in large numbers to the fights until 1918, reaching up to 1783 such 90mm Mle 1877 guns in February 1916 compared to the 3819 canons de 75mm Mle 1897 available at the same period.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 90mm M 1877 de Bange field gun
  • Design year : 1877
  • Calibre : 90.00 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 1200 kg
  • Weight for transportation : 2020 kg with field trailer
  • Tube length in calibres : 22.90 (18.2 calibres for the rifled part only)
  • Grooves : 28 progressive angle from1.45 to 7 degrees
  • Projectile weight : 8 à 8.45 kg
  • Initial speed : 500 m/s with the FA high explosive shell Mle 1914 (8.2 kg)
  • Fire rate : 2 rounds / minute
  • Range : 7000 m, up to 9700 m with the FA Mle 1914 shell
  • Elevation range : -6 to +25 degrees
  • Direction range :

  • Les canons de la Victoire 1914-1918 - Tome I - L'Artillerie de campagne           Pierre Touzin       François Vauvillier             Histoire et Collection   2006  
  • Le site web la fortification Séré de Rivières http://www.fortiffsere.fr                           
  • Les Canons de la Victoire, 5ème édition du Manuel d'Artillerie Lourde, revue et considérablement augmentée       Colonel Alvin       Commandant André             Henri Charles-Lavauzelle et Cie   1923