Canon de 164 modèle 1893/96 TAZ

The Canon de 164 modèle 1893/96 TAZ was originally a French gun for warships, which during the First World War was converted into a railway gun to destroy the strong fortifications of the Germans.

In 1893, the Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 guns were introduced for the French navy, which were used in the armoured cruisers and in the pre-dreadnought battleships. These were used in single or twin turrets as central artillery and formed the standard gun of the new warships.



A Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 in the french battleship Suffren



When the First World War broke out and the positional war began on the western front in 1915, it soon became apparent that the light French field guns were no longer sufficient to destroy the increasingly fortified German positions. The French High Command was therefore forced to remove the medium and heavy artillery from the French fortresses and bring it to the front.

However, since the number of guns could not cover the demand, the High Command decided to have the heavy guns of the warships rebuilt and to use them as field guns at the front as well.

Thus, the Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 was also included in these conversion measures. Since it turned out, however, that the transport and assembly of heavy guns was very time-consuming, the naval gun decided to mount them on railway wagons, so that they could run on the tracks along the front line. This had the advantage that a change of position could be carried out quickly and that the supply of ammunition over the tracks could be carried out quickly and easily.



Concept drawing of the Canon de 164 mm Modèle 1893 96 TAZ



In 1916 the reconstruction of the first 2 guns was started. The gun was mounted on a four-axle railcar on a crossbar. Around the gun there was a platform on which the crew could stand and which could be folded up during transport. For protection, a protective shield was attached to the barrel and the ammunition stores at both ends of the wagon were equipped with sufficient armour against grenades.

At the end of 1916 these two guns with the additional designation Tous Azimuts or short TAZ were brought to the western front. These were mainly used to respond quickly to German artillery fire and to initiate a counterfire.

In 1917 the next two guns also followed the conversion to the Western Front and were used there until the end of the war.



One Canon de 164 modèle 1893/96 TAZ ready for transport


A Canon de 164 modèle 1893 96 TAZ ready for shooting




At the end of 1918 and beginning of 1919, four more guns were delivered to the French military, although they were no longer needed. After the First World War, the army kept them in stock.


During the Second World War the German Wehrmacht captured 4 of these railway guns in 1940 after capitulation and put them into service under the designation 16 cm cannon (E.) 453 (f). Whether these were used afterwards is not known.




Data sheet:

Designation: Canon de 164 modèle 1893/96 TAZ
Manufacturing country: France
Introductory year: 1893
1916 Conversion to a railway gun
Number of pieces: 8 pieces
Calibers: 164 mm
Tube length: 7,4 meters
Range: Max. 18.000 meters
Weight: 60 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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