Nearly all the so-called “French terms” in English ordnance have their origin from Italian (Venetian Italian, to be exact, with overtones of Arabic.)
Calibre (French and English sp.) derives from the Latin-Italian “Qua Libra” (“What weight?” referring to the “poundage” of the ball fired by a Gun.
There is also a connection from the Arabic, which refers to “Ball size” (not better explained)
Cartridge-Cartouche: From the Italian “Cartuccia”, derived from “Carta da Fabbriano” one of the earliest Linen paper makers in Italy ( and of Europe) in the early 13th century…This heavy, Artist’s paper is still called “Cartridge paper” in the Anglo Paper trade and Art Supplies trade (it is excellent for Water-colours).
Artillery–Artillerie: from the Italian “Artiglieria” ( Artiglio means “Claw”…very early Cannon and Mortars had elaborate cast-on “Claw” handles and footings (like a Lion’s Paws) an early sign of the Arsenale of Venice…another Italian Term:
The “Arsenale” ( already a Military term by the 1500s, refering to store and manufacture of Guns, in an Order and Contract with P. Beretta (1528))
Comes from the earlier term “Darsena” (a Sandy beach where Ships were built, a corruption of the Latin Arena meaning Sand…The Venetian Arsenal
was the major builder of Galleys and Cannon in Italy from the 1300s to the 1600s (Ships from the 1000s).
Mitraille (Grape Shot): Italian “Mitraglia” ( From which Mitrailleur/Mitragliatrice/ Ametralladora===MG).
And the list could go on. The fact that the French were (a) Closer to England (b) had the “Napoleonic Effect” © Instigated the Metric System in 1791 for Unified Gun making under the “Comittee for Public Safety” and by the Empire(1802) had a unified and codified system of Gun-making which unified Gun design and Manufacture and Inspection in all the various “Manufactures Imperiales” spread across France, Italy and the Low Countries…all these features led to the English adoption of "French " Words in Military terminology, sometimes with Anglicized spelling.
Even the Word “Ordnance” comes from Italian “ordinanza”, meaning "under an ordinance or proclamation, a set of rules, a standard design, etc, refering to Artillery…so in English, Artillery was since Elizabethan times, called “The ordinance” or “ordnance” (Spelling was fluid in Shakespeare’s time)…with time “Ordnance” came to refer to Big guns, and “ordinance” came to refer to rules and regulations written on paper. The Chief Officer of the British (and other Commonwealth )Army’s Supplier of Guns and Ammunition is still called “the Master-general of Ordnance”
“Blank”…Fr.“Blanc”…Italian derivation is from “Bianco” meaning “White” as in a puff of gunsmoke, from a musket, used in “Salutes” (It. “Salve”, (from Latin meaning “greetings”).
"Tirare in Bianco " in Italian is to “shoot without effect” ( ie, using Blanks) both literally and figuratively.
The more one compares languages, the more one can see the flow of technical terminology through the Middle Ages from Italy both West and East; with a lot of the Italian terms coming from a crossing of both ancient Latin and Arabic terms. Another country which accepted French (and to a lesser extent, German) ordnance terminology was Russia, given the large influx of French engineers both in Peter the Great’s time, and even after Napoleon’s fatal campaigns in Russia.
The More things change, the more they remain the same (Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose).