Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 TAZ

The Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 TAZ was originally a French coastal defence gun, but was used as siege artillery and railway gun during the First World War.

The Canon de 240 mm L mle 1884 was originally created by the request of the French Committee of 1874, which after the lost Franco-Prussian War dealt with the reconstruction and restructuring of the French army. This committee demanded several heavy guns of calibres 120 mm, 155 mm and 220 mm as well as 2 mortars of 220 mm and 270 mm. The defence of the coasts was also to be strengthened.

Under the direction of Colonel de Bange, various guns were designed and built over the next few years. For coastal defence the Canon de 240 mm L mle 1884 followed in 1884.

At that time, the guns could already be made entirely of steel and not only partially, which increased stability and minimized wear at the same time. The gun was equipped with a de Bange breech and a simple hydraulic recoil system to maintain alignment after a shot.

After the presentation of the prototype, 60 guns were ordered by the French Army and delivered from 1884. These were then placed at fixed locations along the French coast. A concrete foundation with a balustrade was cast on which a steel ring was mounted, the wheels of which brought the gun into the required position.


With the beginning of the First World War and from 1915 onwards the beginning of the Positional War on the Western Front, it became clear that the French light field guns were no longer sufficient to damage or destroy the increasingly fortified German positions. The High Command therefore decided to withdraw the heavy guns from the fortresses and the coast and bring them to the front. This also affected the Canon de 240 L Mle 1884, which on the one hand served as siege artillery and on the other hand were to serve as railway guns on wagons.

The Schneider company had already begun to mount guns on railway wagons in 1914. One of these attempts was called Canon de 240 mm Gle 1870-87 and was one of the first railway guns to have a rotating platform for the gun, so that the orientation was no longer tied to the position of the rails. However, it turned out that the gun used was too old for the front.

At the beginning of 1917 the project was taken up again. This time a Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 was to be mounted on the reinforced wagon. After the first tests it turned out that this combination was extremely successful and it was ordered to build 38 such railway guns and to call them Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 TAZ.



Initial concept of a railway gun with a Canon de 240 L Mle 1884


Initial concept of a railway gun with a Canon de 240 L Mle 1884


A Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 on its way to the front


Several Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 TAZ guns near Verdun



The railway guns remained in the service of the French army until the end of the war. Subsequently they were partly used further or placed in depots as a reserve.

After the capitulation of France in 1940, the German Wehrmacht was able to capture several of the railway guns and put them into service for coastal protection under the designation 24 cm K (E) 537 (f).




Data sheet:

Designation: Canon de 240 L Mle 1884 TAZ
Manufacturing country: France
Introductory year: 1884
1917 Conversion to a railway gun
Number of pieces: 38 pieces
Calibers: 240 mm
Tube length: 6,7 meters
Range: Max. 17.300 meters
Weight: 31 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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