220 mm TR mle 1915/1916

The 220 mm TR mle 1915/1916 was a heavy, French howitzer, which was developed with the beginning of the position war to destroy the German fortifications.

Before the First World War, the strategy of the French army was to take rapid offensives against the enemy forces. In order to carry out this strategy, the artillery regiments were almost exclusively equipped with light 75 mm field guns.

However, after the West Front moved from the Movement War to the Position War at the beginning of the First World War, it became clear that the light guns could hardly do any damage to the increasingly fortified positions of the German army. The French High Command therefore demanded medium and heavy artillery.

The French army already possessed heavy guns such as the 155 mm CTR Mle 1904 howitzer or the de Bange 220 mm mle 1880/1891 mortar. Both guns, however, did not have the necessary penetrating power or their range was too small, so that the guns had to be mounted too close to the front line and were thus within the range of German artillery.

The Schneider company took the plans of the 228 mm howitzer built in 1909 for the Russian Empire and adapted them to the 220 mm calibre of the French grenades. In order to be able to push the 100 kg heavy grenades more easily into the breech, folding rails were attached which reached from the breech to the end of the gun. This allowed the crew to simply place the grenades on the rails and push them into the breech, which made handling much easier and slightly increased the fire rate.

To be able to transport the gun it was necessary to split it into 2 parts so that the weight was distributed and the two hangers could still be pulled by horses. Due to the unstable axles, the wagons could only be pulled at a low speed, which severely restricted mobility. Although the axles were replaced with the second production series and the horses were exchanged for tractors during the war, the low speed remained one of the greatest shortcomings of the gun.

In October 1915 the first order of 40 howitzers was placed with Schneider. By the end of the war a total of 272 howitzers had been produced, after the war production continued up to 462.



220 mm TR mle 1915/1916


220 mm TR mle 1915/1916


220 mm TR mle 1915/1916 in use at Verdun



When at the end of the First World War the German lines could be broken in places and the war of movement could partly begin again, it became apparent that the 220 mm TR mle 1915/1916 howitzers were too slow to keep up with the infantry and the front line. The howitzers were therefore gradually withdrawn from the front at the end of the war.

After the First World War, almost all howitzers were stored in depots as reserves. With the beginning of World War II, the French army reactivated 376 of the existing 462 howitzers and used them against the German Wehrmacht in 1940.

After France capitulated, Germany captured several hundred of the howitzers and put them into service as 22 cm mortars 530 (b) and 22 cm mortars 531 (f).




Data sheet:

Designation: 220 mm TR mle 1915/1916
Manufacturing country: France
Introductory year: 1915
Number of pieces: 462 pieces
Calibers: 220 mm
Tube length: 2,33 meters
Range: Max. 10.800 meters
Weight: 7,79 tons






You can find the right literature here:


Flesh and Steel During the Great War: The Transformation of the French Army and the Invention of Modern Warfare

Flesh and Steel During the Great War: The Transformation of the French Army and the Invention of Modern Warfare Hardcover – October 30, 2018

Michel Goya’s Flesh and Steel during the Great War is one of the most thoughtful, stimulating and original studies of the conflict to have appeared in recent years. It is a major contribution towards a deeper understanding of the impact of the struggle on the Western Front on the theory and practice of warfare in the French army. In a series of incisive, closely argued chapters he explores the way in which the senior commanders and ordinary soldiers responded to the extraordinary challenges posed by the mass industrial warfare of the early twentieth century.

In 1914 the French army went to war with a flawed doctrine, brightly-colored uniforms and a dire shortage of modern, heavy artillery How then, over four years of relentless, attritional warfare, did it become the great, industrialized army that emerged victorious in 1918?

To show how this change occurred, the author examines the pre-war ethos and organization of the army and describes in telling detail how, through a process of analysis and innovation, the French army underwent the deepest and fastest transformation in its history.

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Breaking Point of the French Army: The Nivelle Offensive of 1917

Breaking Point of the French Army: The Nivelle Offensive of 1917 Hardcover – November 2, 2015

In December 1916 General Robert Nivelle was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the French armies fighting the Germans on the Western Front. He had enjoyed a meteoric rise to high command and public acclaim since the beginning of the war - he was a national hero. In return, he proclaimed he ‘had the formula’ that would ensure victory and end the conflict in 1917. But his offensive was a bloody and humiliating failure for France, one that could have opened the way for French defeat.

This is the subject of David Murphy’s penetrating, in-depth study of one of the key events in the history of the Great War. He describes how Nivelle, a highly intelligent and articulate officer, used his charm to win the support of French and British politicians, but also how he was vain and boastful and displayed no sense of operational security. By the opening of the campaign, his plan was an open secret and he had lost the ability to critically assess the operation as it developed. The result was disaster.

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They Shall Not Pass: The French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918

They Shall Not Pass: The French Army on the Western Front 1914-1918 Hardcover – May 19, 2012

This graphic collection of first-hand accounts sheds new light on the experiences of the French army during the Great War. It reveals in authentic detail the perceptions and emotions of soldiers and civilians who were caught up in the most destructive conflict the world had ever seen.
Their testimony gives a striking insight into the mentality of the troops and their experience of combat, their emotional ties to their relatives at home, their opinions about their commanders and their fellow soldiers, the appalling conditions and dangers they endured, and their attitude to their German enemy. In their own words, in diaries, letters, reports and memoirs - most of which have never been published in English before - they offer a fascinating inside view of the massive life-and-death struggle that took place on the Western Front.
Ian Sumner provides a concise narrative of the war in order to give a clear context to the eyewitness material. In effect the reader is carried through the experience of each phase of the war on the Western Front and sees events as soldiers and civilians saw them at the time. This emphasis on eyewitness accounts provides an approach to the subject that is completely new for an English-language publication.
The author’s pioneering work will appeal to readers who may know something about the British and German armies on the Western Front, but little about the French army which bore the brunt of the fighting on the allied side. His book represents a milestone in publishing on the Great War.

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Artillery in the Great War

Artillery in the Great War Hardcover – May 18, 2011

Artillery was the decisive weapon of the Great War - it dominated the battlefields. Yet the history of artillery during the conflict has been neglected, and its impact on the fighting is inadequately understood. Paul Strong and Sanders Marble, in this important and highly readable study, seek to balance the account.Their work shows that artillery was central to the tactics of the belligerent nations throughout the long course of the conflict, in attack and in defense. They describe, in vivid detail, how in theory and practice the use of artillery developed in different ways among the opposing armies, and they reveal how artillery men on all sides coped with the extraordinary challenges that confronted them on the battlefield. They also give graphic accounts of the role played by artillery in specific operations, including the battles of Le Cateau, the Somme and Valenciennes.Their work will be fascinating reading for anyone who is keen to understand the impact of artillery

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