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HomeAmerican HistoryHow The 'French 75' Started A Revolution in Field Artillery

How The ‘French 75’ Started A Revolution in Field Artillery

The Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897—aka the “French 75” or Soixante-Quinze—was a revolution in subject artillery. In 1890, Gen. Charles Mathieu, Director of Artillery on the French Ministry of War, commissioned Lt. Col. Joseph-Albert Deport, director of the Atelier de Construction de Puteaux (APX) state arsenal, to develop a brand new French artillery recoil system in response to intelligence about related German efforts. 

The end result was the 75mm Mle 1897, formally adopted for French Army service in 1898. It utilized a hydro-pneumatic recoil system that allowed the barrel to recoil absolutely then return to its authentic place whereas the carriage stayed completely nonetheless.

This mechanism, mixed with a fast-action screw breech and unitary shell, enabled a well-trained crew to fireside 15–30 shrapnel or high-explosive shells each minute—earlier weapons fired about two shells per minute. It required no repositioning and resighting after each shot, a key drawback with modern subject artillery. 

The defining French subject artillery piece of World War I, it fired greater than 16 million shells on the 1916 Battle of Verdun alone. The gun was such a compelling package deal that it was adopted and manufactured in giant numbers by the U.S. Army—the primary American shell fired in World War I got here on Oct. 23, 1917 from a 75 mm Gun M1897 (the U.S. designation) nicknamed “Bridget” in Battery C, sixth Field Artillery.

Many different international locations, together with Britain, Romania, Poland and Germany, adopted the gun in the interwar interval and in addition in early World War II, in varied mounts and diversifications (together with the US M3 Gun Motor Carriage, an early tank destroyer). By the time it began to point out its obsolescence in the early Forties, it had already remodeled the design of subject artillery.

French 75mm M1897 Field Gun
(Imperial War Museums)


The 8ft 10 in barrel might ship hearth to an efficient vary of 9,300 yards for high-explosive and seven,400 yards for shrapnel. The gun might additionally hearth gasoline shells.

Elevation and traverse

The barrel had a reasonably shallow elevation vary (−11° to +18°), reflecting the gun’s direct-fire trajectory. The gun may very well be traversed 3° to both facet on the threaded wheel axle.

Recoil mechanism

It squeezed oil from an higher to decrease cylinder containing oil and compressed air separated by a piston. Air slowed the recoil and equalized stress returned the gun to firing place.


The breech was a Nordenfelt rotating eccentric-screw kind, which allowed quick opening and shutting by rotating the breech deal with by means of only a quarter flip.


The authentic M1897 had a field path carriage, changed in the interwar interval by a extra versatile split-trail carriage.


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