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fighting ships of the world

FRENCH NAVY (FRANCE)

CAPITAL SHIPS

BRETAGNE battleships (1915-1916)

Bretagne 1916

Provence 1916

Lorraine 1938

Bretagne 1940

Lorraine 1944

Lorraine 1944

Name No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Bretagne   Arsenal de Brest 1/7/1912 21/4/1913 9/1915 sunk 3/7/1940
Lorraine   A C de la Loire et Penhoët, St-Nazaire 1/8/1912 30/9/1913 7/1916 FNFL 12/1942, TS 6/1945, accommodation ship 2/1947
Provence   Arsenal de Lorient 1/5/1912 20/4/1913 6/1915 scuttled 27/11/1942

 

Displacement normal, t

23230

Displacement full, t

25000

Length, m

164.9 wl 166.0 oa

Breadth, m

26.9

Draught, m

9.80 full load

No of shafts

4

Machinery

Bretagne: Parsons steam turbines, 24 Niclausse boilers

Lorraine: Parsons steam turbines, 24 Guyot du Temple boilers

Provence: Parsons steam turbines, 18 Belleville boilers

Power, h. p.

29000

Max speed, kts

20

Fuel, t

coal 2680 + oil 300

Endurance, nm(kts)

4700(10)

Armour, mm

belt: 250 - 160, upper belt: 160, main turrets: 400 - 250, barbettes: 270 - 248, casemates: 160, main deck: 45 with 70-mm slopes, upper deck: 40, forecastle deck: 40, CT: 300 sides 270 roof

Armament

5 x 2 - 340/45 M1912, 22 x 1 - 139/55 M1910, 4 x 1 - 47/50 M1902, 4 - 450 TT (24) (beam, sub), 30 mines

Complement

1124 - 1133

Ship project history: Built under the 1912 program, first and unique French super-dreadnought class. The basic changes from Courbet design were brought to introduction of new main guns, and protection even has been a little weakened, and armour thickness mismatched artillery calibre. Ships received longitudinal anti-torpedo bulkhead, but the small thickness (8mm) did its practically useless. By August, 1914 ships were in a high readiness degree, therefore they became unique large ships of the French Navy which nevertheless have been completed during the First World War.

Bretagne class ships were strongest dreadnoughts of French Navy, but by the time of commission they already yielded to many foreign colleagues. They had unsatisfactory seaworthiness, unreliable boilers and small elevation angle of 340mm guns (12) and, accordingly, an insufficient firing range (14.5km). Last lack was corrected in 1917 only on Lorraine, having increased maximal elevation angle to 18 and a firing range to 18km. Remaining ships had similar modernization already after war.

Ship protection: Complete main belt had height 4.05m (2.35m above water), its thickness was 250mm at 99m length amidships (tapering to 220mm at upper and to 100mm at lower edges) and 160mm at ship ends (tapering respectively to 140 and 80mm). Upper 160mm belt covered the part between turret No1 and aft casemate. 60m long forecastle casemate had also 160mm protection. Main deck had 45mm thickness at flat part and connected with lower edge of main belt by 70mm slopes. Flat 40mm upper deck laid on the top of main belt. There was 40mm forecastle deck. Main turrets had 152mm sides and 72mm crowns, turrets No1 and No5 had 340mm faces, turrets No2 and 4 had 250mm and turret No3 400mm. Barbettes of turrets No1 and 5 had 248mm protection and No 2, 3 and 4 270mm. Longitudinal torpedo bulkhead had only 8mm thickness.

Modernizations: (6/1919 - 10/1920, Arsenal de Toulon) Bretagne, (11/1921 - 12/1922, Arsenal de Toulon) Lorraine, (2/1922 - 7/1923, Arsenal de Toulon) Provence: maximal angle of main guns elevation was increased from 12 to 18, pole fore mast was replaced by tripod, funnels were heightened; - 4 x 1 - 139/55; + 4 x 1 - 75/63 M1908 AA

(5/1924 - 9/1925, Arsenal de Toulon) Bretagne, (11/1924 - 8/1926, Arsenal de Toulon) Lorraine, (12/1925 - 7/1927, Arsenal de Toulon) Provence: 10m-long part of fwd 160mm main belt was removed, 4 boilers were converted to burning oil, maximal angle of main guns elevation was increased from 18 to 23.

(9/1929 - 6/1931, Arsenal de Brest) Lorraine: boilers were replaced by 6 Indret (oil stowage was 2600 t), turbines with direct drive were replaced by geared (43000hp, 21.4kts); + 4 x 1 - 37/50 M1925

(1931 - 1934, Arsenal de Brest) Bretagne, (9/1931 - 8/1934, Arsenal de Brest) Provence: boilers were replaced by 6 Indret (oil stowage was 2600t), turbines with direct drive were replaced by geared (43000hp, 21.4kts); - 4 x 1 - 139/55, 4 x 1 - 75/63, 4 - 450 TT; + 8 x 1 - 75/50 M1922, 4 x 1 - 37/50 M1925, 2 x 4 - 13.2/76

(9/1934 - 11/1935, Arsenal de Brest) Lorraine: - 1 x 2 - 340/45, 4 x 1 - 139/55, 4 x 1 - 75/63, 4 - 450 TT; + 4 x 2 - 100/45 M1930, 4 x 1 - 37/50 M1925, 2 x 4 - 13.2/76, 4 seaplanes, 1 catapult, aft funnel was shifted at 5m aft and fwd funnel was made less.

1936, Provence: - 4 x 1 - 75/50; + 2 x 2 - 100/45 M1930

1939, Provence: - 2 x 2 - 100/45; + 4 x 1 - 75/50 M1922

1940, Provence: + 1 x 4 - 13.2/76

4/1940, Lorraine: - 4 x 2 - 100/45; + 8 x 1 - 75/50 M1922, 2 x 4 - 13.2/76

5/1944, Lorraine: - 4 x 4 - 13.2/76, seaplanes with hangar and catapult; + 14 x 1 - 40/56 Bofors Mk I/III, 25 x 1 - 20/70 Oerlikon Mk II/IV

Naval service: In days of WWI Bretagne class battleships have not made any shot on the enemy. Provence in 1916-1919 served as a flag ship, participated in neutralisation of the Greek fleet (19/10/1916).

Lorraine 13/11-1/12/1939 carried to Canadian Halifax about 1500 boxes with a part of French gold. 11-22/3/1940 Bretagne has forwarded there 1220 more boxes (~61t)

Bretagne 3/7/1940 at Mers-el-Kebir was sunk by British Force "H" (battleship Resolution) in operation "Catapult", Provence was damaged by two hits and ran aground. The same year she was salvaged and translated to Toulon where in November, 1940 disarmed. She was scuttled together with the remaining ships of fleet, but raised by Italians 11/7/1943. Two main guns were used for restoration of battery "Cepet" near Toulon. In August,  1944 Provence was scuttled by Germans, raised again in 1949 and scrapped.

Lorraine in June, 1940 participated in operations on Mediterranean. In July as a part of Force "X" she was disarmed in Alexandria, but remained under the French control. She joined FNFL in December, 1942 and 30/5/1943 Lorraine has come over to the side of the Algerian Government. In 1944-1945 as a part of Allied squadron she served at the Mediterranean coast of France. Lorraine served as training gunnery hulk from June 1945, converted to accommodation ship in February 1947 and finally stricken in February 1953.

Provence late 1930s

Lorraine 1939

Lorraine 1945

Ivan Gogin, 2008-15