The artillery pieces: the Canon de 194 mm Mle GPF

(To Francesco Sisto)

Il Canon de 194 mm Mle GPF (Modèle Grande Puissance Filloux) was the first French tracked self-propelled gun. This artillery piece began to be designed shortly before the end of the First World War, and entered active service starting in 1920. A total of 50 examples were built, and the self-propelled gun was used in the Second World War. The main users were the Armée de terre, the German land forces (Heer) and the Royal Army.

The vehicle was designed by Emile Rimailho, while the 194 mm GPF gun was “architected” by Louis Filloux at the Atelier de Construction de Puteaux (near Paris). The 194 mm piece was obtained from Canon de 155 Grande Puissance Filloux 1917 model.

It is worth remembering that the creation of the track managed to bring about a real change in the sphere of military tactics and strategy. Indeed, with the track the mechanical vehicle was able to leave normal roads, giving the ground forces a "looseness" in maneuvering that had not been known until then. Furthermore, “the track had the advantage of being able to increase the weight of the vehicle to very significant values, as the specific weight was lowered”1.

In this regard, the Canon de 194 mm Mle GPF it was a heavy artillery piece with a very interesting technical installation. In fact, the self-propelled vehicle was made up of two half-tracks: “the first, the one on which the piece was installed, was driven electrically, and the second was moved by a petrol engine which acted as an electric generator for the first”2.

This self-propelled artillery piece was mainly suitable for coastal defense or as heavy artillery to hit land targets at a distance.

Following the French capitulation in June 1940, some specimens were captured by the German ground forces and the Royal Army as war booty. In Italy they were used (with the name 194/32 gun) as coastal artillery near Rome, and the Germans also employed them as such during the war.

A copy of 194mm Canon It is located at the US Army Artillery Museum at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The self-propelled gun had a width of 2,54 m, a height of 7,775 m and a barrel of 6,57 m. It weighed 29,600 kg.

Engine: Panhard SUK4 M2, power 120 HP. The maximum speed was 8/10 km/h.

The maximum firing range was 20800 m from 1921.

The main armament consisted of a 194 mm cannon.

1 PF Cazzani, The 194/32 self-propelled gun (France), in Illustrated History n°206, 1975, p.142

2 Ibidem

Photo: web