At the start of WW1 the French Army had something over 1300 155mm Mle 1877 de Bange guns available. Although the gun proved to be reliable and accurate the obsolete rigid carriage was a major deficiency. An early adaptation of the de Bange barrel in a modern carriage was successful in the 155mm Mle 1877/1914 Schneider gun. Once the production order for the Mle 1877/1914 guns was completed in early 1918 there were requests for further guns using the de Bange barrel. In particular General Herr, Inspector General of Artillery, in April 1918, called for further production of the Mle 1877/1914 noting that the accuracy of the gun combined with the ease of transport made it an excellent gun. The more modern 155mm Mle 1917 Schneider gun was technically successful but proved to be difficult to deploy due its nearly 9 tonnes weight. Schneider proposed a new light gun using the de Bange barrel on the carriage of the 155mm C Mle 1917 howitzer. The prototype of this gun was presented in April 1918 and accepted in May. 120 Mle 1918 guns were ordered and the first four guns were delivered just before the Armistice in Nov 1918. The remainder of the order was delivered in 1919 and 1920.
The Mle 1918 was quite light at 5 tonnes and could be transported as a single load by a team of 10 horses or, more likely at the end of the war, by a Latil TAR or Renault EG towing vehicle. Towing was facilitated by a pair of wheels placed under the end of the trail and the barrel was withdrawn to the end of the loading tray. The Mle 1918 did not have a gun shield, presumably to save as much weight as possible. The de Bange barrel was inverted as it had been in the early examples of the Mle 1877/1914 gun so that the breech opened to the right. To fit the de Bange barrel into the Schneider howitzer carriage the trunnions had to be moved back 11cm and a counter weight installed on top of the breech to maintain the barrel/receiver balance around the trunnions. The Mle 1918 gun fired the standard 155mm projectiles and used bagged propellent.
|Weight of Gun (Emplaced)||5030 kg|
|Elevation||-1.3° to +43.6°|
|Muzzle Velocity||562 m/sec|
|Max. Range||13,600 m at 561 m/sec|
|Shell Weight||43 and 42.9kg|
|Rate of Fire||2 Rounds/min|
The Mle 1918 guns were delivered in 1919 and 1920. These were retained on strength between the wars and mobilised into the general reserve at the start of WW2. The German Army captured an unknown number of these guns after the Fall of France and used some of them as coastal defence guns as the 15,5cm K 425(f).
There are surprisingly few images of the Mle 1918 available. However, a video of a battery of Mle 1918 guns loading and firing is on YouTube. The film may have been taken in the 1930s during a training exercise.