The De Bange 90mm was a Field Gun designed by Artillery Colonel Charles Ragon de Bange of France in the mid 1870's. The de Bange 90mm used de Bange's revolutionarily breech loading system which can still be found in modern field artillery pieces
The de Bange 90mm replaced its successors (the Reffye 75mm Cannon and Lahitolle 95mm Cannon) largely due to its new breech loading mechansim, designed by de Bange. This mechanism featured a complete seal, a feat that older designs were incapable of achieving, thanks to the mushroom shaped obturator (a ring shaped pad that sealed the rear of the breech, preventing gas leakage).
The barrel was made from steel as was the breech loading mechanism and the majority of the carriage. The obturator was made of asbestos as it was effective at blocking heat and resistant to pressure. The overall weight of the de Bange 90mm was in excess of 930lb (420kg) which was heavier than the equivalent British guns of the time and reduced the overall use of the de Bange 90mm, mainly as it required a larger team of horses (and later more powerful Artillery tractors) to pull the de Bange across the battlefield
The major issue with the de Bange 90mm was the fact that it lacked an anti-recoil system, meaning that the de Bange would have to be dragged back to its original position before it could be fired. The anti-recoil mechanism would take a few more years to come to the fore, emerging in most Field Gun designs in the 1890's.
The de Bange 90mm fired a 3.5in caliber (90mm), 10.8lb shell. This was the standard shell of the French Artillery until the Cannon de 75 (1897) which benefitted from the beginning of the use of cordite in shells, allowing for a greater achieveable muzzle velocity while firing a lighter shell.
The de Bange 90mm replaced the Reffye 75mm upon its release. The de Bange 90mm would form the major fire power of the French Artillery until 1897 and the release of the Cannon de 75. Nonetheless the de Bange 90mm would continue to play a military role in the two major conflicts of the 20th century: The First & Second World Wars.
First World War
By the opening engagements of the First World War, the de Bange 90mm had largely been replaced in French Artillery circles. However in the mid-phase of the war, as pressure increased on ammunition stocks, the de Bange 90mm saw greater use.
Likewise in Britain the de Bange 90mm would be obsolete compared to the major British guns of the time (such as the Ordnance BLC 15lber). The de Bange 90mm would be used to train 3rd line troops in the early stages of the conflict, as all modern Field Guns were needed to fight the war effort.
Second World War
The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union (1940) saw 100 examples of the de Bange 90mm donated to the Finnish Army from France. Only 24 examples would arrive before the end of the campaign, while the remaining 76 would arrive intime for the Continuation War (still between the Soviet Union and Finland although their allies would have changed) of 1944.
A total of 84 de Bange 90mm's would be deployed during the entire Second World War, mainly used to defend fortifactions. There was also limited usage on Naval units.