Military Review

The gun that crushed France

History knows many examples when armies of advanced, industrialized countries easily won over the forces of backward states and tribes due to technical superiority. However, much more rare is the situation when in a war between two countries with a roughly equal level of development, victory was achieved at the expense of a single type weaponsavailable only from one of the parties. This was the situation that took place during the Franco-Prussian 1870-71 war, when the Prussians utterly defeated the strong and numerous army of France thanks to their artillery, and specifically the new Krupp field guns.

By the beginning of the war, the Prussian army had 1334 field and siege guns, of which over a thousand light Krupp cannons were of three types: 6-pound Feldkanone C / 61 and C / 64, and 4-pound Feldkanone C / 67, also 8cm Shh C / 67. All of these guns had steel rifled barrels and government loading, providing them with a much higher rate of fire than the muzzle-loaded French field guns.

Krupp’s standard rate of fire was six shots per minute, but an experienced and well-trained calculation could produce up to 10 rounds every minute. At the same time, the maximum rate of firing of the French guns did not exceed two rounds per minute.

The lag in the rate of fire can be partly compensated by numerical superiority, but the French have not had it either. By the beginning of the war, their artillery park included 950 cannons and howitzers, not counting the stationary serf guns.

High firing speed of Krupp guns was supplemented with increased range. They threw high-explosive shells at a distance of up to 3500 meters, while in French field artillery systems the firing range did not exceed 2500-2800 meters. As a result, the Prussians could shoot French batteries from a safe distance, and then sweep infantry with hurricane fire. This was one of the decisive factors that ensured their success in most major battles, and ultimately - victory in the war.

Feldkanone C / 64 field gun on 1875 engraving of the year. It had 78,5 mm caliber, 290 kg barrel weight, 360 kg mast mass, 4,3 kg high explosive projectile mass (gunpower 170 grams of them), 3,5 kg mass of shotgun (including 48 lead bullets 50 g), initial velocity projectile - 357 m / s.

The first large-scale sample of the breech-loading field gun with a steel barrel is the Feldkanone C / 61 cannon, which was adopted by the Prussia army in the 1861 year. The shutter and carriage are not preserved and replaced by new models.

From this C / 61 also survived only the trunk. The shutter is absent, and the carriage is a modern copy.

C / 64 gun with an improved bolt on the iron carriage model 1873 year.

Feldkanone C / 64 drawing.

Drawings of V-bolts for C / 64 guns (left) and C / 67.

A battery of Krupp field guns in position.

The field implements with which France entered the war looked very archaic. In fact, they almost did not differ from the guns of the time of Napoleon Bonaparte.

A selection of types of bronze muzzle-loading guns used by the French in the war with Prussia.

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  1. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 29 September 2014 10: 15
    How could the French "spank" such superiority of the German artillery? There was no intelligence at all, or what?
    1. La-5
      La-5 29 September 2014 10: 33
      Most likely the French knew about German guns, another thing when their own industry is not able to produce such guns. For example, the technical superiority of the British and French in the Crimean War determined their success in the battle against the Russians.
    2. bazilio
      bazilio 29 September 2014 18: 12
      Quote: Mountain Shooter
      How could the French "spank" such superiority of the German artillery? There was no intelligence at all, or what?

      The French fought back after with their Canon de 75 Mle 1897/33, which is considered the first example of modern field artillery, as it had a hydropneumatic recoil brake. A well-trained crew under polygon conditions could for a short time reach a fire speed of up to 30 rounds per minute !!!!! And the difference between these guns is only 30 years old
      1. My doctor
        My doctor 29 September 2014 18: 29
        No, the French did not win back, but again they ran, but that time they were burned at a rate of fire and range, then they flew to the WWII with a caliber.
    3. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 30 September 2014 17: 12
      Germany then just formed (united).
      Fought, in fact, Prussia. Small but
      extremely militarized state.
      So the French slammed her.
  2. cosmos111
    cosmos111 29 September 2014 10: 20
    whoever has new technologies and tactics wins ...

  3. Grigorievich
    Grigorievich 29 September 2014 10: 24
    Quote: Mountain Shooter
    How could the French "spank" such superiority of the German artillery? There was no intelligence at all, or what?

    Inertia of thinking and cap-and-dropping mood. And victory is not only guns, but also more modern small arms.
  4. bionik
    bionik 29 September 2014 10: 31
    The French engineer, designer Gustav Kane, was at that time a lieutenant of artillery, was in captivity, but he did not take up the development of tools much later.
  5. Moore
    Moore 29 September 2014 10: 36
    It seems that the French:
    - resting on the laurels of victory in the Crimean Campaign;
    - successfully "fighting" with all sorts of "zusuls";
    - arranging revolution after revolution - they believed in their invincibility.
    It is enough to get into the Paris Military Museum to see: with antediluvian monsters of the Napoleonic times sample from all the leading countries of Europe (the Russian field gun is shown in the picture) - only the French remained.
    1. Bersaglieri
      Bersaglieri 29 September 2014 15: 34
      So Russia correctly podsuetsilsya, the first to buy from Krupp tools for testing and production licenses. And then they developed their original designs (Baranovsky, Maievsky, etc.)
      1. The comment was deleted.
      2. Andriuha077
        Andriuha077 30 September 2014 00: 15
        In the rapid-firing guns of his system, V. S. Baranovsky has a number of innovations, thanks to which his gun became the first quick-firing gun of the classical scheme in the world:
        Recoilless carriage with hydraulic (oil) recoil brake and spring knob
        Piston lock with self-releasing axial spring hammer
        Fuse to prevent shots when the shutter is not completely closed
        Swivel and hoist mechanisms
        Unitary loading with extraction of spent cartridges
        Optical sight Kaminsky arr. Xnumx of the year in xnumx diopter
      3. The comment was deleted.
  6. Mooh
    Mooh 29 September 2014 11: 06
    Very interesting. The only thing I did not have enough brains to deal with the design of the shutter. The drawing is all in German, but in the pictures it seems to me that the systems are generally different.
    1. Moore
      Moore 29 September 2014 11: 59
      As I understand it, Vorderkeil is wedged completely with a collar, the holes of Vorderkeil and Hinterkeil are combined, then the whole shnyag stretches down to the special Grenzschraube stop (pah, God forgive me), combining the hole of the shnyag and the barrel channel. The shutter is open.
      After loading, we feed the shnyaga up to the stop in the figure (on the gun - to the right) and tighten the Vorderkeil wedge fully with the collar.
      Fuu .. the gun is loaded. And this is for 6 seconds ...
  7. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 29 September 2014 12: 46
    That's when the breech block became widespread!
    Thank. Very interesting information.
    1. Nikolaevich I
      Nikolaevich I 29 September 2014 13: 28
      Quote: voyaka uh
      from when the breech block became widespread!

      Maybe you wanted to say "wedge breech"?
  8. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 29 September 2014 13: 35
    Thanks to the author for the information! Back in my school years, I was interested in the Prussian-French war of 1870. I knew what the Germans and the French fought; I knew the characteristics of the weapons. But I saw color "pictures" of the famous Krupp guns for the first time.
  9. Rashid
    Rashid 29 September 2014 18: 12
    By the way, in 1914, the French again flew with guns. They mainly had light field guns, and there were almost no heavy long-range guns with which the Germans suppressed their positions.
  10. Bosk
    Bosk 29 September 2014 18: 53
    Then I somehow remembered that Baranov’s rate of fire was also very personal ...
  11. alex86
    alex86 29 September 2014 19: 47
    Why am I - I don’t know, graphomania, apparently ...
    1. alex86
      alex86 29 September 2014 23: 10
      Something tormented with a picture - all the same ... Everything, I give up - nothing comes out ...
  12. Roman 11
    Roman 11 29 September 2014 20: 12
    Probably the headquarters relied on solid French grenadiers, one of the best infantry in Europe ....... again did not take into account the time factor - a barrage of gun and artillery fire replaced the arrays of bayonets. A machine gun will arrive in time for PMV, and the French will be late again - they will have cuirassiers who have lost their relevance in the middle of the 19th century. But the success of their use was so obsessed with the memory of the marshals that the cuirassier divisions survived to WWII, although the names already had armored vehicles, more than mediocre, but the first WWII tank battle remained with the French, something slightly carried me away)
  13. Robert Nevsky
    Robert Nevsky 3 October 2014 17: 16
    I liked the article very much!
  14. Prager
    Prager 3 November 2014 17: 24
    Glory, as usual, everything is just wonderful, great article!
  15. lonovila
    lonovila 3 November 2014 17: 52
    -But on the other hand, during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, French soldiers were armed with a Chasspot rifle, which surpassed in all respects (in terms of lethal range, accuracy and rate of fire) the Dreise rifle, which the Prussian soldiers were armed with ... -The Prussians won then only due to their perseverance, discipline and dedication .., although they suffered monstrous losses ... -The attacking Prussian soldiers were first forced to approach the "firing range" of their rifle Dreise to the French in order to hit them with the fire of their rifles ... -then how French soldiers, being in shelters and fortresses and practically without suffering losses, shot Prussian soldiers from afar with their excellent rapid-fire and long-range rifles ... -The Prussians suffered huge losses, but still attacked ...