Used for anti-torpedo boat batteries for capital ships. The stern guns on the Courbet and Bretagne classes were mounted too low, only 12 feet (3.6 m) above the waterline and were liable to be washed out in even light seas. The Bretagne class had these guns removed and the ports plated over. Some of these guns were then used on sloops and in coastal defense batteries.

Guns were of built-up construction with a screw breech and used separate ammunition.

Nomenclature note: These guns were often referred to as being 14 cm during the years immediately following World War I.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 138.6 mm/55 (5.46") Model 1910
Ship Class Used On Courbet, Bretagne, Normandie, Lyon and Arras Classes
Date Of Design 1910
Date In Service 1913
Gun Weight 11,680 lbs. (5,300 kg)
Gun Length oa 309.2 in (7.854 m
Bore Length 300.2 in (7.626 m)
Rifling Length N/A
Grooves 42 grooves at 5 degrees
Lands N/A
Twist Uniform RH 1 in 36
Chamber Volume N/A
Rate Of Fire about 5 - 6 rounds per minute


Type Separate
Projectile Types and Weights SAP: 80.5 lbs. (36.5 kg)
HE: 69.4 lbs. (31.5 kg)
Bursting Charge SAP: 5.9 lbs. (2.66 kg) melinite
Projectile Length SAP: 27.8 in (70.7 cm)
HE: 23.11 in (58.72 cm)
Propellant Charge 23 lbs. (10.4 kg) BM9
Cartridge: 52.07 lbs. (23.62 kg)
Muzzle Velocity SAP: 2,923 fps (830 mps)
HE: 2,756 fps (840 mps)
Working Pressure SAP: 15.9 tons/in2 (2,500 kg/cm2)
HE: 12.7 tons/in2 (2,000 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life N/A
Ammunition stowage per gun Courbet, Bretagne and Normandie: 275 rounds
Others: N/A, but probably the same as for Normandie

The same size cartridge case was used in all 138.6 mm (5.46\") guns from the Model 1910 onwards, although the type and quantity of propellant was not always the same. Projectiles were different from those used in later 138.6 mm (5.46\") guns


Range with various shells
Elevation 87.1 lbs. (39.5 kg) SAP 69.4 lbs. (31.5 kg) HE
14.5 degrees 10,970 yards (12,000 m) N/A
25 degrees 17,600 yards (16,100 m) 16,500 yards (15,100 m)

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Single Casemate Mounts: Courbet (22), Bretagne (22), Normandie (24) and Lyon (24)
Weight N/A
Elevation Courbet: Originally -7 / +15 degrees, later increased to -7 / +25 degrees
Bretagne: -10 / +15
Rate of Elevation Manual operation, only 1
Train About: +80 / -80 degrees
Rate of Train Manual operation, only 1
Gun Recoil N/A
Loading Angle N/A
  • ^1.11.2"French Battleships of World War One" says that the Elevation rate was 3.1 degrees per second and the Train Rate was 5 degrees per second, but this would have depended on having fresh, experienced crewmen.
  • The Courbet, Bretagne and Normandie classes had projectile and propellant hoists for each section consisting of two or three guns. These hoists could deliver 15 complete rounds per minute with electrical power or 3 complete rounds per minute when manually operated. Each section also had a ready storage of 9 complete rounds per gun.
  • In service it was found that the forward four guns on the Bretagne class were washed out in anything but calm conditions and in 1918 they were removed and the casemates plated over. Refits during the 1930s removed the two after guns on each side, reducing the total to 14 guns.

Additional Pictures


"Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905 - 1970" by Siegfried Breyer
"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"French Battleships of World War One" by John Jordan and Philippe Caresse
"Battleships of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley

Page History

16 May 2006 - Benchmark
28 March 2012 - Updated to latest template
06 April 2013 - Added sketch
04 August 2018 - Converted to HTML 5 format, added details on guns, ammunition and mountings
05 January 2019 - Reorganized notes