ALMOST NAKED GAULSFrance withdrew from the First world war among the winners, but the state of Affairs she was far from rosy. The country suffered huge human and material losses, the civilian economy was set back by several years ago. Did not add optimism and the Navy, the main disadvantage of which was its poor balance. Particularly depressing look of the cruiser: the most modern and the only combat-ready units were German trophies.

This situation did not suit the French. There is an urgent desire to eliminate the shortcomings, and as soon as possible. Therefore, immediately after the end of hostilities, the Marine Board is the main organ of the naval Ministry, responsible for shipbuilding, tried to revive the “frozen” in 1914, the light cruisers of the “La Motte Picquet”. The project, however, by that time obsolete and required processing. As a guide, the designers took the British cruiser types “C” and “D” and “Marsala” from the inescapable potential enemy, Italy, although the latter already did not correspond to modern requirements. The French engineers proposed that, in General, quite ordinary ship with a displacement of 5270 tons and speed of 30 knots, but included one important innovation. All the artillery (eight 138-mm guns) were the first to light cruisers were assumed to be installed in four towers, arranged in pairs in the bow and stern, as in most modern ships of the line. In addition, was supposed to provide a cruiser with a dozen torpedo tubes.
Overall, it was an attractive project, however, is clearly inferior to its major rivals. The almost complete lack of reservation made cruiser easy prey for explosive shells. In addition, lurks a much faster and more heavily armed American “Omaha” and the English “E”. The Council insisted on increasing the displacement of 7000 tons, speed 34 knots. But for such a reputable ship looked too weak weapons.
138 graph paper decided to replace the 155-mm guns, which experts pledged to quickly develop on the basis of army guns of the same caliber, but for a completely new fleet. One of the reasons for this decision was the large stocks of ammunition, manufactured in the last years of the First world war, for attack of positions of the “boches”. But eight turret guns in the peaks already “not fit”, so at first the designers proposed to install seven guns of the main caliber in single units in the diametrical plane. It turned out a kind of British “E” only unarmored.
Fleet with serious doubt looked at to offer him a “paper cruiser”. In the end, I had to make another breakthrough by increasing the displacement at an additional thousand tonnes. Now the project fits eight 155-millimetrovogo in the towers. All would be nice, but the cost compared to the original version 5270 t increased by 75%. However, six of these ships included in the program of 1921. But they again threatened the old disease French (and not only) shipbuilding: the endless changes of the project and lack of funds for the construction. Fortunately for the French, in the spring of 1922, the Parliament still adopted the programme, albeit in a shortened twice. And after four years in operation included three cruisers, inherited the names of their pre-war parents.
New “La Motte Picquet” was the first modernized scouts, first of all, complete disregard for armor protection. The weight of the armor was only about 165 tons, slightly more than 2% of the displacement. It fit two thin armor deck: 20 mm top and 10 mm lower, as the ghostly “ponikarovsky” for the cellars and rudders, and a 30-mm leaves of the towers. In fact, these “Fig leaves” could only protect from splinters; even the shells destroyers could without major problems to penetrate in the turbine and boiler departments, and with luck — and in the cellar of ammunition. But artillery looked very menacing. French guns have always been a wonderful ballistic data, was no exception and “Maracana” 155-graph paper, exceeds the capacity of its 164-mm predecessors. The only thing which let us down, it’s rate of fire.
Managed to place the desired and a dozen torpedo tubes in four three-pipe unit. On the specifics of the design, they turned out “unilateral”: located on the starboard side “looked” in the nose, and levoberejnyi — in the opposite direction. An important innovation was the “legitimate” seaplane, for the start of which consisted of the catapult. “La Motte Picquet” with friends looks very different from their predecessors multitube and looked like a cruiser of the new generation. And, in fact, they were.
After the signing of the Washington naval agreement, when all the principal Maritime Nations entered into an expensive and rather pointless race in the construction of heavy “Washington” cruisers, for light vehicles came a long “intermission”.
Was no exception and France. Over the next decade came into operation only two ships, which besides were not full-fledged cruisers. The first of these was “Pluto”, officially including mine layers. Indeed, with a fairly substantial displacement of under 5 thousand tons — artillery armament consisted of four 138-millimetrovogo — standard except for the French leader of the destroyers. But for overall design, construction and auxiliary artillery, “Pluto”, of course, belonged to the “cruising family”. It might take nearly three hundred mines and showed in the tests a very decent speed over 30 knots. Eventually the Navy of France was enriched by a very useful ship, unfortunately, with an unhappy fate.
The rapid development of the Navy in the late 1930-ies were forced to use to teach the sailors all more or less suitable ships and vessels. Was no exception and “Pluto”, renamed in early 1939, “La Tour d’auvergne”. However, no wonder there is a belief that the name change makes the vehicle not happy. The fate of the cruiser-mintage was another “prop” for superstition.
In September of the same year he stood in the Harbor of Casablanca; on Board work was conducted, this time with combat mines since the war began. Suddenly one of the mines exploded, it was followed by other explosions and a powerful fire. The whole stern part of the former “Pluto” has become a fiery Inferno with flying splinters of mines and debris deck. The ship sank right at the dock, and killed many members of the team.
Ruined enclosure at first thought to recover, but the common thinking considered it to be inappropriate. But the idea of high-speed cruisers of the frontier seemed so fruitful that it was planned to build a full him replacement. However, there was already in April 1940, until the defeat and surrender of France was only a few weeks, and all shipbuilding plans (and they were many) instantly moved into the category of impossible dreams.
But “Pluto” since 1934, had very real and more than a worthy successor. Initially the program of 1930 was supposed to lay an improved version of mintage-cruiser, but during the design it quickly escalated into a full-fledged cruiser. Moreover, one of the most fast in the world. “Emile Bertin” posted energy the installation of the four turbine units with total capacity of over 100 thousand HP Nominally close to those that previously had the “La Motte Picquet” and his colleagues, but due to the smaller displacement, better contours, and a significant boost to the test managed to achieve a power of 138 thousand HP and speed, slightly has not held on up for a fantastic cruiser 40 knots.
“Bertin,” not only became a runner-a champion, but also received a lot of useful innovations. Perhaps the most important was the artillery. At first glance, quite suddenly, the French changed their “cruising” gauge, giving the resignation of 155-mm “maracena” guns and replacing them with very similar characteristics 152-mm self, the “naval” of development. However, it was not about three millimeters caliber; the main differences lay in the design of the valve and system rollback, which allowed to increase almost twice so important to naval combat factor of the firing rate. New steel is not only guns, but also their towers, for the first time in the French Navy became treboradice. Been replaced and anti-aircraft artillery: not too satisfactory .. .. gave place to the new 90-mm guns.
154. Heavy cruiser “duken” (France, 1928)
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Brest. Standard displacement of 10,000 tons, normal — 11 of 640 tons, and full — 12 200 tons, maximum length — 191,0 m, width — 19.0 m, the sediment is 6.32 m. Capacity chetyrehbalnoy steam turbine 120 000 HP, speed 33.75 node. Reservations: belt 25 mm, 20 mm deck, the cellar and the handlebars 25 mm, turrets 25 mm, cutting 25 mm. Armament: eight 203/ 50-mm guns, eight 75/60 mm anti-aircraft guns, eight 37-mm and twelve 13.2-mm anti-aircraft machine guns, two three-pipe 550-mm torpedo tubes. In 1928 built two units: “duken” and “Tourville”. Scrapped in 1955 and 1962 respectively.
155. Cruiser-frontier “Pluto” (France, 1931)
Built at the shipyard of the Navy in Lo-Riana. Standard displacement — 4775 t, full — 6,500 MT, Loa — 152,5 m, breadth — 15.6 m, draft — 5,18 m. Power-shaft steam turbine 57 000 HP, speed 30 knots. Armament: four 138/40-mm guns, four 75/60 mm anti-aircraft guns, two 37-mm and twelve 13.2-mm anti-aircraft machine guns, 290 min. In early 1939 renamed to “La Tour d’auvergne”. Died in the explosion of their own mines in September 1939.
156. Light cruiser “Jeanne d’arc” (France, 1931)
It was built by the firm “Phenotypes” in Saint-Nazaire. The standard displacement of 6500 tons full — 8950 tons, maximum length — 170.0 m, a width of 17.7 m, draft of 6.4 m. Capacity twin-shaft steam turbine 32 500 HP, speed 25 knots (on trials 27 kt.). Booking: deck 13 mm, cellars 20 mm, cutting 25 mm. Armament: eight 155/55 mm guns, four 76/ 60-mm anti-aircraft guns, four 37-mm and twelve 13.2-mm anti-aircraft machine guns, two 550-mm torpedo tubes, two seaplane. Scrapped in 1966

In General, the layout of the “Bertina” was very successful. On the ship with a displacement of less than six thousand tons was a place for a pair of torpedo tubes, and two seaplane with catapult and finally for two hundred minutes only Lacked the protection, re-limited thin-walled “boxes” around the cellars of ammunition and 25 mm armour deck with no bevels.
In principle, with relief design engineers are a bit overdone that it became clear soon after the entry into operation in combat firing. With the full volleys of the most powerful tools the body in the area of the tower was badly shaken, but was starting to deform. Had exercises you need to send a ship to the shipyard to strengthen dangerous places.
So good on set of qualities of the ship was, as they say, it is a sin to use a supporting role, what in fact is the frontier. He just asked to be the leaders of a powerful new French-superessence. And implemented in practice: before the war “Bertin” became the flagship of probably the most powerful in the world of a squadron of light forces, in which besides him, consisted of 12 of the newest leaders types “Le Malin” and “Maille Breze”. Fast, heavily armed and almost unprotected, he looked quite organically at the head of such outstanding speed and armament, and still more bare of ships.
Another nontrivial French cruiser was planted in 1928 “Joan of Arc”. The idea was supposed to be a training ship for the midshipmen, cruising with weapons and equipment, but without becoming the high speed. Indeed, the training ship was quite imposing and at the appearance and “stuffing”. The artillery consisted of the same two-gun 155-mm tower systems, and “La Motte Picquet” and its sistership. The same was and anti-aircraft weapons. Originally intended to even install two catapults with seaplanes, however small, in fact, the ship they are not found, and on-Board aircraft had to operate from the water with cranes.
“Joan of Arc” had quite cruising appearance, and its educational purpose reminded is that the developed add-in to “classes” in the middle of the body. It could lead classes on a variety of subjects, mainly practical, 20 officers-instructors, passing on their knowledge to approximately 160 cadets. Incidentally, Jeanne even had armor protection, even as meager as its military counterparts.
In fact, she was also very efficient unit for the wartime. Vulnerable point was the speed, although here everything was not so hopeless: it was expected to be 25 knots, but the test was able to achieve in 2 knots more. Even fully loaded training cruiser could travel at 23 knots for many hours.
All three of the ship rose to the Second world war. By fate “La Motte Picquet” was at the time of the surrender of France far away in Indochina. It saved him from British encroachments, and from Toulon hecatombs. The cruiser had to prove themselves in a sea battle with the Siamese fleet at Kachanga in January 1941, where he managed to sink the battleship of coastal defense “Thonburi” which was superior to his power of artillery (four 203-mm guns). Deprived of the opportunity to repair and renew the equipment, it is without further adventures survived until 1945, when caught under the hot hand of American carrier aviation, without unnecessary emotions sank the ship, if not ally, at least neutral.
“Primage” even less fortunate. When the allied landings in Morocco in 1942, he was listed as the flagship of the 2nd light squadron, but was under repair. But Noblesse oblige: the cruiser tried to withdraw their wards from Casablanca for a hopeless attack. It was filled with the shells of the American cruisers, and then finished him off with the dive-bombers from the aircraft carrier “Ranger”. In the end, the damaged ship beached on the shore, where his skeleton was illuminated by a burning field of battle all night. The remains could not be reconstructed, and then their cut on the spot.
The most stable longest lasting among the first three was “Duga-Truen” who is in the hands of the allies. Those thoroughly repaired and modernized the cruiser, after which he faithfully served in the forces of the Free French. But the main work was waiting for him after the Second world war, when the ships of other countries went on a holiday. For four years, “Duga-Truen” supported the troops in Vietnam, firing more shells than during the whole history. After the defeat of the French in the colonial war, he became unnecessary, and in 1952 had served well the veteran was sent for scrapping.
Perhaps the most serene for those difficult years was the service of “Joan of Arc” and “Emile Bertin.” This pair of by fate at the time of the surrender of France was in the West Indies, the distant Martinique. There the cruiser was waiting for three years; in June of 1943 they decided to join the emblem of de Gaulle’s Free French. “Award” they immediately sent for the conversion in the United States. “Bertin” rebuilt pretty solid, replacing the entire small-caliber antiaircraft artillery on a modern 40-mm “Bofors” 20 mm “erlikon” in the number 16 and 20 shafts, respectively. To pay also had the removal of carrier-based aircraft and the torpedo tubes. The work took almost two years, and updated the ship again came into operation only to the end of the war. Although however actively participate in the fighting, he had not been able, beautiful and still strong cruiser remained a part of undergone the tragic self-destruction in Toulon the French Navy for almost fifteen years.
Substantial refurbishment took place and “Jeanne d’arc”. During the works it was removed questionable “aircraft” and torpedo tubes, and a fully updated anti-aircraft artillery, installing six “Bogorov” and two dozen 20-mm “Arlekino”. In this embodiment, Jeanne even had time to take part in the last phase of the war in the Mediterranean, although, in fact, without any chance to meet with worthy opponents. “Maid of Orleans” was a “survivor” of the pre-war French “originals”, not least because of its educational objectives. She has maintained a place in the postwar Navy and went into retirement in 1965, passing the name of the following such a deeply non-trivial cruiser.

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