A new design used on France's Treaty Cruisers in twin turrets and in a special lightweight twin mounting on the submarine Surcouf.

This weapon was of simple construction with a thick autofretted A tube, shrunk jacket and breech ring. The Welin breech-block opened upwards.

Actual bore diameter was 20.30 cm (7.992").

A Note on Sources: Many references state that Algérie used a longer 55 caliber gun, but recent research by John Jordan and Jean Moulin in their "French Cruisers: 1922 - 1956" has determined that she carried the same 50 caliber guns as did the older cruisers.

Gun Characteristics

Designation 203 mm/50 (8") Model 1924
Ship Class Used On Duquesne, Suffren, Surcouf and Algérie classes
Date Of Design 1924
Date In Service 1928
Gun Weight 20.389 tons (20.716 mt) including BM
Gun Length oa 413.4 in (10.5 m)
Bore Length 399.6 in (10.150 m)
Rifling Length 319.8 in (8.122 m)
Grooves (60) 0.75 in deep x 0.295 in (1.9 mm x 7.5 mm)
Lands 0.118 in (3.0 mm)
Twist Uniform RH 1 in 25.59
Chamber Volume 5,595 in3 (91.682 dm3)
Rate Of Fire Cruisers: 4 - 5 rounds per minute 1
Surcouf: 3 rounds per minute
  • ^Planned rate of fire for cruisers was 5 - 6 rounds per minute, but in practice it was closer to the above values.


Type Bag
Projectile Types and Weights 1a 2a SAPBC M1927 - 271.4 lbs. (123.1 kg) 3a
APC M1936 4a 5a - 295 lbs. (134.0 kg)
HE M1927 - 273.0 lbs. (123.82 kg)
Bursting Charge SAPBC M1927 - 17.8 lbs. (8.07 kg) Mélinite
HE M1927 - about 18.2 lbs. (8.3 kg) Mélinite
APC M1936 - N/A
Projectile Length SAPBC M1927 - 39.8 in (101.0 cm)
APC M1936 - 38.2 in (97 cm)
HE M1927 - 39.6 in (100.5 cm)
Propellant Charge 6a Original charge - 116.8 lbs. (53 kg) BM 13
Later charge - 103.6 lbs. (47 kg) BM 13 7a
Muzzle Velocity SAPBC M1927 and HE 1927 with Original charge - 2,936 fps (895 mps)
SAPBC M1927 and HE 1927 with Later charge - 2,790 fps (850 mps)
APC 1936 with Later charge - 2,690 fps (820 mps)
Working Pressure SAPBC M1927 and HE M1927 with Original charge - 20.3 tons/in2 (3,200 kg/cm2
SAPBC M1927 and HE M1927 with Later charge - about 18.0 tons/in2 (2,8000 kg/cm2)
APC M1936 with Later charge - about 19.0 tons/in2 (3,000 kg/cm2)
Approximate Barrel Life about 600 rounds
Ammunition stowage per gun Cruisers - 150 rounds 8a
Surcouf - 300 rounds
  • ^
    Actual French designations
    SAPBC M1927 Opf Mle 1927
    APC M1936 Opf Mle 1936
    HE M1927 OEA Mle 1927
  • ^Besides the projectiles listed above, there appears to have been two others for which little is known:
       OPf Mle 19?? - 262.50 lbs. (119.07 kg)
       OEA Mle 19?? - 262.94 lbs. (119.72 kg)
  • ^SAPBC M1927 had a hardened shell cap and a ballistic cap which might be described as an APC shell type. However, the burster weight for this projectile was about 6.5% of the total weight, which is much more than that for an APC. For that reason, I believe that this projectile is better described as a SAPBC type.
  • ^The APC M1936 projectile may have been a SAPBC projectile, design details are lacking.
  • ^APC M1936 added a dye bag in March 1939. Colors were assigned as follows:

    Ship Color
    Duquesne red
    Tourville yellow
    Suffren green
    Others N/A
  • ^The propellant charge was in halves.
  • ^It is not known when the Later charge was introduced, but it may have been when the APC M1936 entered service. This heavier projectile may have created too high of a barrel pressure with the Original charge.
  • ^At least the Suffren class and probably the others had a peacetime outfit of 120 rounds per gun but had enough magazine space for 150 rounds per gun.


Elevation SAPBC M1927 @ MV = 2,790 fps (850 mps) APC M1936 @ MV = 2,690 fps (820 mps) HE M1927 @ MV = 2,790 fps (850 mps)
30 degrees 30,620 yards (28,000 m) --- about 30,620 yards (28,000 m)
45 degrees 34,340 yards (31,400 m) about 32,800 yards (30,000 m) about 34,340 yards (31,400 m)

The range for the SAPBC M1927 and HE M1927 when using the Original charge (MV of 3,936 fps (895 mps)) is not known.

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Cruiser Two-gun Turret 1b
   Duquesne (4) and Suffren (4): Model 1924 2b
   Algérie (4): Model 1931

Cruiser Three-gun Turret 3b
   C5 and St. Louis (3): N/A

Submarine Twin Mounting
   Surcouf (1): Model 1929 4b

Weight 5b Model 1924: 177 tons (180 mt)
Model 1931: about 220 tons (240 mt)
Model 1929: N/A
Elevation Model 1924 and Model 1931: -5 / +45 degrees
Model 1929: -5 / +30 degrees
Elevation Rate Model 1924: about 10 degrees per second
Model 1929: N/A
Train Model 1924 and Model 1929: about +90 / -90 degrees
Train Rate Model 1924 and Model 1931: 6 degrees per second
Model 1929: N/A
Gun recoil 27.5 in (70 cm)
Loading Angle -5 / +10 degrees
  • ^The cruiser mountings used catapult rammers cocked by the recoil forces to load projectiles while propellant charges were loaded by hand. Guns were individually sleeved. Each gun used a 30 hp elevating electric motor and the guns could be coupled together. Turrets used a 22.5 hp electric training motor with hydraulic drive and were equipped for RPC for training during the mid-1930s refits. However, RPC for elevation was not added. Shell rooms were generally below the magazines, except for some bow mountings which were on the same level. Dredger hoists from the magazines ran up to a working chamber where ammunition was transferred to the upper cage hoists which each carried a projectile and two half charges. Upper hoists ended on the outside of the guns and the projectiles were transferred by swinging arms which were locked to the guns for loading. RPC for training was added during the 1930s. The Model 1924 was considered successful and was used on all cruisers except Algérie. Her M1931 turrets were similar to the previous M1924 but had more powerful training motors to handle the increased armor weight.
  • ^Model 1924 and Model 1931 gun axes were 74 in (188 cm) apart while those in Model 1929 were about 104 in (264 cm) apart.
  • ^In 1939 the French started designing new cruisers that were intended to replace the Duguay-Trouin class. The preliminary design was known as "C5" and was for a 10,000 ton Treaty Cruiser similar to Algérie but having nine 203 mm (8") guns in three turrets. The start of the war ended all treaty restrictions and in early 1940 a more ambitious nine-gun design known as "St. Louis" was under consideration. Little more than some preliminary sketches for a ship of around 15,000 tons were completed before the June 1940 Armistice halted all work.
  • ^The Model 1929 used on the submarine Surcouf could open fire within 2.5 minutes after she surfaced. Guns were not individually sleeved and the turret was water-tight.
  • ^

    The weight differences for the cruiser turrets were mainly due to armor thickness, which "French Cruisers: 1922 - 1956" lists as follows:

    Model 1924 - Duquesne and Suffren classes
    Front 1.2 in (3 cm)
    Sides 1.2 in (3 cm)
    Roof 1.2 in (3 cm)
    Rear 1.2 in (3 cm)

    This protection was provided by riveting two 0.6 in (1.5 cm) HT plates together.

    Model 1931 - Algérie
    Front 3.9 in (10 cm)
    Sides 2.8 in (7 cm)
    Roof 2.8 in (7 cm)
    Rear 1.96 - 3.3 in (5 - 8.5 cm)
    Floor 1.6 in (4 cm)

Additional Pictures


"Warship Volume VII" article by Francis J. Allen
"Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
"French Cruisers: 1922 - 1956" by John Jordan and Jean Moulin
"Navies of the Second World War - The French Navy" by Henri le Masson
"Cruisers of World War Two" by M.J. Whitley
Ministère de la défense
Special help from John Jordan - Email conversation of 14 February 2022

Page History

22 July 2007 - Benchmark
03 March 2012 - Updated to latest template
28 March 2013 - Added photographs of Foch and Algérie
06 April 2013 - Added projectile and mounting information, notes on Algérie and note on 1939-1940 designs
08 January 2016 - Corrected training angles for Surcouf. Redid side view photograph of Surcouf and added new photograph of Surcouf showing the turret training.
11 November 2020 - Updated to HTML 5 format
12 March 2022 - Added sketch of 203 mm SAPBC projectile, added details to ammunition table
17 August 2022 - Added ammunition RPG for cruisers, added details to turret design
13 May 2023 - Added additional details in note for SAPBC M1927