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Old December 12, 2009, 09:52 PM   #1
TRX
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French 75mm cannon

Reading through some of the booklets in the packet the ATF sent me with my C&R packet, Publication 5300.11, page 43:

SECTION IIIA: Weapons Removed From The NFA As Collector's Items And Removed From the GCA As Antiques.

The following firearms were removed from the NFA as collector's items and classified as Curios and Relics under 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44. However, because they are antiques as defined in Chapter 44, they should not have been classified as Curious and Relics. Because they are no longer NFA weapons and are antiques under Chapter 44, they are not subject to GCA provisions.
[list entries]

French, model 1897 75mm breechloading cannon of French manufacture, mfd. in or before 1898.



Oh, REALLY? A French 75? Granted that's only one or two years of production, and probably unobtainium... is the ATF engaging in some kind of subtle Men In Black humor, or what?
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Old December 12, 2009, 10:43 PM   #2
Bill DeShivs
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No. Quite simply, the law says anything manufactured prior to 1898 is an antique.
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Old December 13, 2009, 05:44 PM   #3
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ATF normally adds specific items to the C&R list because of a collector request. Apparently they did so with the French 75, then realized that guns made before 1899 were antiques, and removed them from the C&R list as antiques. That entry is just a paperwork correction, of interest only to someone wanting to buy a "75" made in 1897 or 1898. Not me; no money, no place to keep it, no place to shoot it. Darn.

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Old December 14, 2009, 01:02 AM   #4
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Isn't that the gun that was later carried on the M-4 Sherman tank?
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Old December 14, 2009, 03:09 PM   #5
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Isn't that the gun that was later carried on the M-4 Sherman tank?
The Medium Tank, M4 tanks (called the Sherman by the British) carried a 75 mm M3 L/40 gun (3" bore, 40 calibers barrel length or 10') designed in 1927, not the same gun although the same caliber of gun. It was designed for high explosive shells capable of penetrating 3" of armor.

The 1897 75mm field gun of WWI fame is known as the "French 75", and our AEF troops called it "Saucy Cans" after the French "soixante-quinze" (pronounce swa-son canz), which means 75, the bore diameter in millimeters. The French 75 was revolutionary in its time due to fully loaded cased ammunition at a time when many artillery pieces were using separate projectiles and bagged propellant, the breech design which pivoted to eject empties rather than long interrupted thread type breeches, the hydraulic recoil absorption which allowed high rate of fire without re-aiming the gun, and the high muzzle velocity which made it suitable for direct fire, and its use of HE shells while many BP explosive shells were still in use.
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Old December 14, 2009, 03:18 PM   #6
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It sure sounds like a kick in the pants. Literally. Even standing behind the breech!
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Old December 15, 2009, 12:03 PM   #7
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Oddly enough, the 75 got the French in a LOT of trouble during the latter stages of World War I when things bogged down into trench warfare.

They had concentrated very heavily, almost exclusively, on the 75 for its Army's artillery needs that heavy artillery was pretty badly neglected.

The 75, while very effective against light targets and troops in the open, was virtually useless when it came to attacking hardened targets.
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Old December 15, 2009, 12:18 PM   #8
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The 75mm continued in use into WWII and in the hands of the US Army Tank Destroyer units, accounted for more than a few German tanks, though it was replaced with "tank destroyers" as soon as possible. So the gun had an active life of perhaps 45 years, and probably was held in reserve another 15 years in some places.
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Old December 15, 2009, 08:25 PM   #9
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No. Quite simply, the law says anything manufactured prior to 1898 is an antique.
If that were the case, then why is a Colt Model 1895 machine gun still considered an NFA weapon, even if made before Jan. 1 1899? (Not "prior to 1898.")
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Old December 16, 2009, 07:13 AM   #10
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There used to be a gun shop in Alexandria, Virginia, that had some cannon sitting around on their tiny parking lot. This was the old Hunter's Haven at Zero Prince Street (The building was originally built out over the state line in the river to circumvent liquor laws or something when it was a restaurant). This interesting old shop closed a couple of years ago unfortunately.

Those cannon, mostly small infantry and anti-tank guns, mostly inoperative and a little rusty from frequent flooding from the river, were always especially interesting to look at. There was a German 75mm infantry gun (which was a howitizer), one or two French 25mm A/T guns and an Italian 47mm A/T gun. I was examining one of the French guns and noticed that inscription date of March or April 1940 in that unique French script they used on some of their guns. So that one had been manufactured only a month or two before the German invasion in the spring of 1940. After I got home later I thought it would make an interesting rubbing with the date and everything and decided to do that the next time I was down there. Well, the next time I was there they were all gone. Someone had bought the lot, after sitting there probably 30 years or more.
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Old December 16, 2009, 06:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
There used to be a gun shop in Alexandria, Virginia, that had some cannon sitting around on their tiny parking lot. This was the old Hunter's Haven at Zero Prince Stre
You're probably thinking of Hunter's Lodge at #10 Prince St., which was a trade name for Interarms back in the day when Sam Cummings had it.

I still have a flyer from them advertising 37mm cannons, anti-aircraft guns, etc.

Those were the days...
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Old December 17, 2009, 06:30 AM   #12
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No, they were not related, although the shop at Zero Prince Street was originally in another location a few blocks away. Ten Prince Street was only a few doors away (Zero Prince Street was a free standing building entirely surrounded by a fence) but Interarms/Interarmco was an entirely different company, although Hunter's Haven was a retail customer. Many people naturally assumed they were connected but as far as I know from talking to the owner, they weren't. I remember the old owner of Hunter's Haven walking from one place to the other carrying a gun.

I also remember and still have magazines from the late 1950s with such advertisements.

For those of you who never visited the place, it was really different. It was the upstairs floor of an old, totally unimproved building that had at one time been a restaurant and technically in Maryland. They always had a lot of old guns for sale, sometimes a fair number of surplus rifles. They also usually had a lot of ammunition, including surplus, on hand. I believe I saw more interesting guns there, for sale, too, than anywhere outside of a gun show. The usually had an unusually large selection of used guns, plus plenty of new ones, too. They had a lot for such a shabby place.
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Old December 17, 2009, 09:39 AM   #13
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I, too, remember the heavy metal outside 0 Prince Street.

I THINK by the 1990s the name of the business was Potomac Arms. There was a surplus and crap shop on the first floor.
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Old December 17, 2009, 10:28 AM   #14
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You are correct about the name, which I failed to remember. The place was sold to the City of Alexandria. The surplus store is still in business under the name Full Metal Jacket in another part of town and is run by the former owner's (Steve) brother.
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Old December 18, 2009, 09:30 PM   #15
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For those of you who never visited the place, it was really different. It was the upstairs floor of an old, totally unimproved building that had at one time been a restaurant and technically in Maryland.
Yes! That's the building I remember. In '63 we were vacationing up north and I talked my old man into going there since we were in D.C. anyway.

While there I bought a clip for a Berthier carbine the old man had sent back from France during WWII. The idiot working there sold me a Carcano clip, and, as I didn't know any better, I went merrily on my way, thrilled that I had finally found a clip for the little Berthier.

When we got back to Florida, it immediately became apparent that the clip wasn't correct, so I sent it back to them and they sent me the proper clip, only it got smashed flat by the postal service in the mailer envelope they used. LOLLLL!!! (Actually, I managed to straighten it out, I still have it and it does work--)

Wasn't there a big warehouse across the street, too? I remember seeing some old guy with a 55 gallon drum full of P.38s in cosmoline, and he was dunking them in mineral spirits to clean them. (In my defense, the warehouse looked big to me at the time, which was 46 years ago, so memories tend to distort things a bit--)

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Old December 19, 2009, 05:52 AM   #16
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The '75' advantage was rapid fire !
Then there's the 'French 75' cocktail ! For after shooting relaxation !
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Old December 19, 2009, 07:03 AM   #17
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There were several warehouses in the area of Potomac Arms, which were part of Interarmco's business. Some were marked with large signs "small arms ammunition," which was certainly being up front with things. The signs are gone now and the neighborhood even more gentrified than it used to be.

I just did a little research to find that Hunter's Lodge (I was remembering it as Hunter's Haven) and Potomac Arms were both in business at the same time, both on Union Street, a block or two apart. I knew that at least one was in a different place but I've never bothered to actually run down the former addresses.

I took those notes from an issue of Guns magazine from July 1959. There were already letters from readers mentioning how they were buy up guns and ammunition just to be ready for possible invasions. One only had one centerfire handgun, a .45 single action but he had a K22 to practice with. He had a Winchester 94, all he could afford, he said. The other man had two high powered rifles, one being an 03 Springfield for which he had 40 rounds of ammuntion and he had 80 rounds for the other rifle.

So people are still worried about that but it sounds like their responses, those two men anyway, were rather modest, but serious.
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Old December 19, 2009, 07:06 AM   #18
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Not just rapid fire.

The 75 also had the world's first truly effective hydro-pneumatic recoil arrestor system. That contributed mightily towards the high rate of fire in that the gun didn't have to be relaid after every shot, but it also contributed to the gun's reputation for high accuracy.
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Old December 22, 2009, 05:02 PM   #19
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Ye Olde Hunter

BlueTrain, thanks for reminding me of many happy hours spent browsing thru Hunters Haven in Alexandria. Rows & rows of milsurp rifles, & of course the anti-tank guns & cannons outside.
We lived in Falls Church in 1962, & I'd scurry down there every chance I got.
Finances were tight, so browsing was about all I could do.
But I still have the Italian 1889 Bodeo revolver I bought there, with $10 I managed to put together --- there was a big wooden crate on the counter, full of them. $10 -- those were the days.

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Old December 26, 2009, 06:34 PM   #20
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But I still have the Italian 1889 Bodeo revolver I bought there, with $10 I managed to put together
Remember the lamps they made out of them?
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