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Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893
French battleship Suffren conning tower detail.jpg
The single gun Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 turret is below and to the left of the main armament on the Suffren
Type Naval gun
Coastal gun
Railroad gun
Place of origin  France
Service history
In service 1893—1945
Used by  France
 Nazi Germany
Wars First World War
Weight 7.04 metric tons (6.93 long tons; 7.76 short tons)
Barrel length about 7.412 meters (24.32 ft)

Shell separate-loading, bag charge
Shell weight 50.5–52 kilograms (111–115 lb)
Caliber 164.7 millimeters (6.48 in)
Breech Welin interrrupted-screw breech
Recoil hydro-pneumatic
Elevation about -10° to +25°
Traverse depended on mount
Rate of fire 2-3 rpm
Muzzle velocity 770–775 meters per second (2,530–2,540 ft/s)
Effective range 9,000 meters (9,800 yd) at 25°
Maximum range 18,000 meters (20,000 yd) at 36°

The Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 was a medium-caliber naval gun used as the secondary armament of a number of French pre-dreadnoughts and armoured cruisers during World War I. It was used as railway artillery in both World Wars and as coastal artillery in World War II.


The 45 caliber Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 gun was a typical built-up French heavy gun of its period. It used a Welin interrrupted-screw breech and bagged propellant with a de Bange obdurator to get a good gas seal during firing. It was replaced by the Mle 1893/96 gun which used a plastic seal for the obdurator, differed in the construction of the gun, had a slightly longer barrel of 46.6 calibers and the newer gun was able to fire a new HE shell further than that used by the older gun.[1][2]

Naval mounts

The Mle 1893 and 1893/96 guns were mounted in casemated pivot mounts with the ability to depress to -10° and elevate to +25°. The guns fired 52-kilogram (115 lb) shells at a muzzle velocity of 865 meters per second (2,840 ft/s) to a maximum range of 9,000 meters (9,800 yd).[3] The guns were also installed in single and twin-gun turrets, although data for the turrets is unavailable.[4]

The guns were mounted on the armoured cruisers Ernest Renan, Jules Michelet, Gloire, Suffren and the cruiser Brennus. The casemate version was mounted on the Ernest Renan, Jules Michelet, République, Léon Gambetta, Gloire, Suffren, Gueydon, Iéna, Brennus and Dupuy de Lôme. The twin turret version was used on République, Léon Gambetta and Dupleix.[5]

Railroad gun

The French placed a number of spare Mle 1893 guns on four-axle railroad carriages in 1915 to use as mobile heavy artillery. The mount with its gun weighed 60 metric tons (59 long tons; 66 short tons) and was 14.7 meters (48 ft) long. It could traverse a full 360° if its outriggers, two per side, were deployed. Photographic evidence shows that some mounts had built-up cargo compartments at both ends of the mount, which limited the gun's firing arc to approximately 90° on each side. It had a circular platform for the crew that had to be folded up for travel. Some guns were fitted with gun shields. It shared its railroad carriage with the 164 mm Mle 1893/96 M and the Canon de 194 mm 1870/93.[2]

The gun could elevate to a maximum of 36°, but the minimum firing angle was 10°. It could fire a 50.5 kilograms (111 lb) high-explosive shell at a velocity of 775 meters per second (2,540 ft/s) to a range of 18,000 meters (20,000 yd) or a 52.6 kilograms (116 lb) armour-piercing shell at a velocity of 770 meters per second (2,500 ft/s) to a range of 15,400 meters (16,800 yd).[2]

A number of Mle 1893/96 M guns were fitted to the same railroad carriage as the older model in 1917, although it only weighed 60 tonnes (59 long tons; 66 short tons). The gun could elevate between +3° and 40°, but retained the same minimum firing elevation of 10°. It could use the same ammunition as the older guns, but could also fire a new 49.8 kilograms (110 lb) high-explosive shell fitted with a ballistic cap at a velocity of 830 meters per second (2,700 ft/s) to a range of 19,200 meters (21,000 yd).[2]

Eight of these railroad guns remained in French service after the end of World War I and at least four were captured by the Germans and given the designation 16 cm Kanone (E.) 453(f) although what use was made of them, if any, is unknown.[6]

Coastal gun

The Germans used 32 of the Mle 1893/96 in coast defence batteries in France as the KM 93/96(f), as well as 18 of the Mle 1893 with the designation of SKL/45(f), although it is unknown how many, if any, were simply taken over from existing French coast defence positions or were newly emplaced by them.[7]


  1. "French 164.7 mm/45 (6.5") Models 1893 and 1896". 16 May 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kosar, p. 213
  3. Carrere, p. 121
  4. Conway's, pp. 296-7
  5. PIECES MOYENNES : 120 à 239
  6. François, Guy; Chazette, Alain (2006). Eisenbahnartillerie: Histoire de l'artillerie lourde sur voie ferrée allemande des origines à 1945. Paris: Editions Histoire et Fortifications. p. 92. ISBN 2-915767-08-4. 
  7. Rolf, Rudi (1998). Der Atlantikwall: Bauten der deutschen Küstenbefestigungen 1940-1945. Osnabrück: Biblio. p. 387. ISBN 3-7648-2469-7. 


  • Caresse, Philippe (2007). The Iéna Disaster, 1907. Warship 2007. London: Conway. pp. 121–138. ISBN 1-84486-041-8. 
  • Hogg, Ian V. Allied Artillery of World War One. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire: Crowood Press, 1998 ISBN 1-86126-104-7
  • Kosar, Franz. Eisenbahngeschütz der Welt. Stuttgart: Motorbook, 1999 ISBN 3-613-01976-0

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