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the French 75 is also a cocktail

October 21 2015 at 7:15 AM
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Nelson  (no login)
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Response to “French 75s”


> A little out of my league here and very confused. Was the "French 75" not in fact "Gun, 75mm, M1917", rather than the M1916? The M1917 was US-built copy of the British QF 18 pounder but rechambered for French 75 mm ammunition. During the early days of WW2 most, if not all of the US's remaining stock was sent to the UK where it was used for home defence and training. A number of these guns (18) reached Greece in January 1941. If any more were sent with the British Expeditionary Force, I do not know. >

To iterate what I wrote earlier in this thread, the term "French 75" is all too often a generic one, and in that sense naïve. One of the U.S. Army's major acquisitions during World War I was the French 75 (Canon de 75 modèle 1897 or Soixante-Quinze), so I think the perception by British Commonwealth nations (and others too) was that virtually every 75mm field gun in American service was a French 75. Let's not refight WWI, so just to remind, the U.S. ended the war with three different models bored and chambered for the French 75mm round: the Model 1897 (French 75), the Model 1916 (American 75, though it started life as a 3-inch fieldpiece), and the Model 1917 (British 75, based on the QF 18-pounder Mark I). Only the Model 1897 could legitimately be called the French 75.

To my knowledge, the British did not send American-supplied and animal-drawn French 75s from the home islands elsewhere, particularly to those areas where they might see action. Rather only high-speeded 75mm field guns were shipped to the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Far East. Let's take a second look, along with the following sentence, at the letter you quote from Brigadier Miles to General Freyberg: "Many more anti-tank guns were needed, particularly heavy ones, and [Miles] suggested that French 75s fitted with Martin Parry adaptors and Beach platforms might be used. If these or similar guns could be obtained, an infantry anti-tank company of nine 2-pounders might be formed in each brigade, backed up by anti-tank batteries with heavier guns." It's clear to me, at least, that Miles is speaking of getting some "French 75s" that "could be obtained" from some unspecified source, not necessarily guns readily at hand. Thus I believe that your conclusion, "This indicates to me, that the 'French 75s' used in Greece were indeed horse-drawn types," is not warranted from the rather limited facts at hand.

Here are three photos of the Model 1897 75mm gun in various stages of evolution:

[linked image]

This image shows the classic French 75 or Mle 1897, likely in a rear area on the Western Front in World War I.

[linked image]

This M1897 75mm gun, high-speeded with Martin Parry gear, allowed truck towing by American National Guard units. The carriage was now designated the M1897A4, but the gun was still a French 75 (note the muzzle rollers still in place). No additional modifications were made to permit greater gun elevation or traverse, and this variant was not issued to regular field artillery units. It is clearly now in the hands of British gunners.

[linked image]

The final variant of the Model 1897 75mm gun is seen on the M2A2 or M2A3 field carriage, having split trails and a considerably greater elevation and traverse than the French 75 configurations (the gun lacks its muzzle rollers and is no longer considered to be a French 75). It is the type of 75mm gun arming the four battalions of field artillery arriving on the Pensacola convoy and surrendered on Java by 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery. Before the U.S. entered the war, this final model was not available to would-be allies, and thus did not see action in Greece, Crete, or Malaya-Singapore.


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