France 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.