French light cruiserEvery time I talk about the French ships of interwar buildings, we have to remember the relevant Italian. The constant rivalry between the two Mediterranean Nations forced the designers to carefully look, and what happens “over there by the fence”?
So the development of the French light cruisers, although in this case the engineers and sailors of the Republic managed to survive for a long time after the “undressed” 8000-ton”, duga-Truhanov” go directly to the very successful “galissoniere”. In another case with a heavy “Washington” cruisers. Make the first move in the form of an equally vulnerable “Dyukena and Turville”, the French without any joy learned that the Italians build their “Trento” and “Trieste” armor belt and deck. Here the Naval General staff to do a break not want. Immediately after the drawing, “Washington naked” went to the shipyard, the engineers began developing a new project. This time it was assumed that the following “desyatitysyachnye” will be much more secure.

However, I must say that the tank’s cover had become quite scarce. In fact, it was only good against destroyers shells and bombs weighing up to 100 kg. the plane was broke in the “mechanics” of the 50-mm plates at the waterline, moving up in the symbolic 20-mm “armor”. On top of the zone of overlap 18 mm deck. And the main horizontal protection of the French, why it “pulled” up the upper deck had a thickness of 25 mm. This, of course, would cause the arming of a detonator shell or bomb, but to protect them still could not, but high weight caused some problems. Similar protection had and the cellar, only it was done not in the form of a belt and the deck, and took the form of a member of the fashion of the armor “box”.

It is clear that even for the fulfillment of these modest intentions needed to sacrifice something. The selection is small, about having to sacrifice a weapon or two, there was no question, in other articles, load on the “cuirass” (and the ships with the armor belt in the French Navy traditionally called cuirasse, its core value is “shell holders”, “cuirassiers”) to save also failed. It only remained to reduce the claim to the maximum speed.

In order to cut the weight of the mechanical installation, without reducing the velocity — pace of design and construction, the French came up with two non-trivial moves. The first of them was to use the mechanisms developed for its predecessors, the “amputation” of one of the four “legs”-units (turbine and 2 boilers). A new cruiser, named “Syufren”, became a three-shaft. Of course, it is possible to use ready-made arrangements, but the designers had a lot of trouble with the layout: three-shaft ship it was noticeably different from chetyrehvalkovoj. To facilitate their task, the engineers simply mounted in the aft mechanical compartment the turbine and both boilers in one row, whereas in the nasal remained the same two-row arrangement. Simplicity was, in accordance with the famous saying on the brink of theft: on either side of the aft turbine and boiler compartments formed a significant void that required some filling.

Here came to the aid of the second engineering discovery, a very peculiar for the late 20-ies of XX century. It was the return of seemingly long-forgotten coal protection. Indeed, the cruiser “coal era”, even armored, showed a good resistance to enemy projectiles (recall the British “Glasgow city”, which has happily survived Coronel, despite the 4 holes near the waterline).

The French set up on the “Supreme” longitudinal bulkhead, the coal filling the space between it and the sheathing Board. All is good, but in accordance with the terms of the Washington Treaty, the notorious coal fell now, in the article “protection” and automatically included in standard displacement, which lacked. And then followed the thin: on the cruiser had two small boiler with coal heating. So one wave of his hand the coal has evolved from a means of protection in the fuel, thereby moving to the variables of the article load in a “standard” 10 000 t not included. In addition, if necessary, the cruiser would go (or rather, staggered 10-node swing) extra a couple of thousand miles.

Overall, although the “Syufren” and was certain (and significant) step forward compared to the unprotected pair of the first generation, final meet, no sailors, no designers have been observed. Meanwhile, the pace to reduce the admirals did not want to. As a result, in the next three years was built in three units, with the gradual improvement of the characteristics of each the previous to the next. So, the French went back to my old (and badly flawed) practice, “fleet of samples”, essentially threw the country far back in the field of naval armaments on the transition centuries.

However, now is a gradual “climb the ladder” were much more meaningful. The main tactical elements of the cruisers remained unchanged: eight 203-mm guns and about the same speed. Changed, mainly the support weapons and protection. The second after “Surena”, “Colbert”, an outdated and inefficient 75-mm anti-aircraft guns were replaced by the newly developed 90-mm, but the number of 37-mm semi-automatic had to be reduced by two. Booking practically the same predecessor; in some parts of the zone received an additional 8 mm of thickness, which does not recognize neither decisive nor sufficient change.


Noticeably more different from the ancestor “Suprena” — the next ship, the third “step” of this strange “ladder”, should, in the opinion of the designers, in the end lead to competitive heavy cruiser. Originally it had the name “Louvois”, but after his death in March 1929 Marshal Foch, who was revered in France as the “architect of victory” in the great war, the cruiser received its name. The main motivation for changes in the project was not so much engineering thought, how many additional information. From open sources and intelligence data by the time it became clear that and potential opponents, and potential allies, as if by agreement, actively cheating with “Washington” standard displacement. French felt it is appropriate to join his colleagues. Only by fiddling with the load managed to carve out 250 tons. It seems to be not so much, but the savings allowed us to increase the capacity of turbines and speed so that fosh would be “Ducane” and “Torvill”. However, this would require to redraw again engine and boiler compartments, to design new units, and so the list goes on. But the Admiral didn’t want to wait, so the extra weight has taken on, perhaps, more useful — increased booking. And that in the history of shipbuilding does not happen often, this forced “contribution” was much more sensible than the alleged extra knot of speed.

Finally in the field of protection of the design evident vein of French engineers. They abandoned the external belt, or rather, sent it to reinforced plating with a thickness of 20 mm, however, from armor steel. It protected from debris and could destroy the armor-piercing cap of an enemy projectile. But still the longitudinal bulkhead was the main obstacle. It had a thickness of 54 mm at the top, utvisas to 40 mm below the waterline. In the middle of the ship, its complement, another, the third vertical barrier 20 mm bulkhead between the upper and main armored deck. This clever system of partitions overlap the two decks, 25 mm top and main. Respectively increased and “box” protection of cellars.


Of course, such improvements have required a fair amount of load change. Only one “stealth” — more precisely, the fraudulent manipulation of weights on such substantial changes, of course, would not be enough. More than 850 t managed to carve out the building, using lighter materials and technology of welding instead of riveting. 50 t gave the removal of the notorious coal-fired boilers (but coal for them left, still performing the role of protection). A large part of the savings went to the defense. In the end, “Foch” was carrying almost twice as much armor than its predecessor, “Colbert”, 1374 tons, which accounted for 13.5% of standard displacement. Pretty decent figure for a cruiser. However, fully guarantee such protection of only 138 mm shells, and only at large distances. What can you do, “Washington” cruiser early 30’s mostly left defenseless against their own kind not only in France.

French light cruiser

Externally, fosh are easily identifiable by the distinctive front mast, which gave it a unique look. Her “legs” instead of converge at the top at one point, was wider than “brumalis” a fairly wide area, which is one of the post fire control fit three: one for main and two for anti-aircraft caliber.

Undoubted success to enhance protection of the relished by the French sailors who finally got something like a protected cruiser. However, the main guns of the potential enemy, Italy, he was able to resist only on very unfavorable angles. Even six-inch guns of the fleet Mussolini had very good ballistic qualities and, therefore, high penetration, not to mention jasminewebcam. Therefore, the fourth representative of a small “group of samples” of the French heavy cruisers had to more better protection. “Duple” retained the same pattern as its predecessor, with inner belt overhaul, but tolstij it to 6 — 10 mm. in addition, the ship finally received the normal 30-mm main armored deck between the outer and inner belts — in addition to the 22 mm upper armor deck. Again to the same thickness brought and the protection of cellars. In General, the cruiser looked very good for the early 30-ies, but, of course, inferior to the Italian “sex”. The total vertical protection up to 80 — 100 mm, horizontal: 52 mm, but it consisted of several obstacles-steps, leaving successfully trapped shell “cracks”. In addition, the posted reservation reduced the overall resistance of large shells, though, and gave the advantage against more light. In General, “Duple” got around that you could get on the fifteen hundred tons of protection as it’s armor was the last member of the strange Quartet that could be called serial not even half, but rather a quarter.

Originally intended to improve anti-aircraft artillery, which remained the Achilles heel of the French cruisers, but the new 100 graph paper didn’t arrive in time. Had to be restricted to the same 90-mm guns, as in “Colbert” and “Foz”, but they are now placed in a more modern coaxial systems. But from the original than the foremast with the site had to be abandoned: it seemed too heavy and not too durable. The designers reverted to the traditional “tripod” with a single post fire control of the main fire at the top.

The haste in design and construction, led to the appearance of this motley company, “Duple” is not over. As a result, the designers have got the same the necessary experience. The next “example” had to wait two years, but he came to fame.

In fact, the development of the draft seventh heavy cruiser began almost immediately after the completion of the design over the “Duple”. In General random delay with the order turned out to be surprisingly beneficial. (Had to wait until “Double” comes into the water and frees the dock to younger colleagues). Instead of the originally projected a small increase protection (the thickness of the belt was assumed to increase to 80 mm in order so he could finally resist the Italian 6-inch guns) and keeping most of the technical solutions and the appearance of its predecessor, the new project grew more distant from the prototype. His motto could be the words: “All in the name of weight savings”. It was decided to return to chetyrehbalnoy mechanical installation; however, progress in technology has allowed to make the boiler compartment is so compact that all the chimneys managed to combine in a single stack. But even more has changed the appearance of the cruiser’s transition from the now familiar architecture of the hull with the forecastle to the flush-deck, with a beautiful smooth lowering from the bow on to the middle of the ship. Completed a significant upgrade to the appearance of the last French “Washingtonian” characteristic balenoptera front superstructure, which houses all the controls of the ship and its weapons.

Not so noticeable internal changes were no less significant. The main “highlight” of the project was the booking. The cruiser received a 110-mm armor belt. Again outer: from philosophizing of the type “u” and “Duple” decided to give up. However, the internal longitudinal bulkhead, now 40 mm thick, has been preserved, giving the vertical protection of a total thickness of 6 inches as on the most protected cruisers of the time of the 2nd world war. In General, the protection circuit has been significantly simplified, approaching “linkarea” option: upper zone closed by the main armour deck, which was unique for ships of this class the thickness is 80 mm. With the traditional additions of the French heavy cruisers, 22 mm upper deck, a horizontal protection looked not just impressive: it could protect you from all the cruising tools to the most distant actual ranges of combat. Good cover and got the turret, all predecessors are protected only by sheets of ballistic armor. Finally, the designers even managed to include in the draft an underwater protection, and very significant, who had almost “linkarray” wide and 40-mm torpedo bulkhead.

In the end, “Algeri,” as he called the new cruiser in honor of the most valuable French colonies, breaking tradition, names after famous generals and statesmen of the past, does not resemble “colorful Quartet”, significantly surpassing them in all elements. Perhaps the only “repeats” became an armored upper deck and over 800 tons of coal, continues to be taken on Board. Now exclusively as a protection: no coal-fired boilers for consumption on Board were not available.

Payback was supposed to be speed: the project is expected at the level of 31 node. However, the engineers have provided a significant boost “mechanics”. That was able to demonstrate on tests: “Algeri” has managed to develop almost 33 knots, which is consistent with the practical speed of his predecessors.

Thus, in his seventh attempt of the French engineers managed to achieve a real triumph, creating the best heavy cruiser, at least from those whose violations of the Washington agreement was minimal. (Indeed, the designers have managed to almost meet the notorious 10 thousand tons a miracle for such a balanced and powerful vehicle.) Only here was he the last. Economic problems interrupted “French staircase” heavy cruisers, leaving “Algeri” alone against very serious of four recent generations of Italians, “Poly”, “Zara”, “Fiume” and “Gorizia” on the eve of the impending war.

However, with regard to “official history”, the lucky number of French heavy cruisers at the behest of the rock was the worst of them. A short participation of France in the 2nd world war was marked by “heavyweights” under the tricolor flag only minor operations, of which can be noted except that part “Algeri”, “Foz”, “Colbert” and “Duple” in attacks on rival bases in Genoa and the same, together with the British allies in futile hunt for the German “pocket battleships”. The British and interned in Alexandria the squadron of Admiral Godefroy, which included “duken”, “Tourville” and “Syufren”. Such disloyalty to a former ally was beneficial: just the three of them and survived the war. Other, more new and powerful heavy cruisers in the trouble were in the main base of the French Vichy fleet in Toulon. There they found their end in November 1942 together with the rest of the ships once one of the strongest navies in Europe, blown up their teams. “Colbert” has set a sad record: it burned for almost a week, then the fire, seemingly calmed down by itself, but two days later flared up again and smoldered for another couple of weeks. Of course, the ship is nobody wants a blackened skeleton, dismantled after the war. “Duple” and “Foch” had my eye on the Italians, but were only able to raise them to the surface soon he himself was not up to the trophies. Finally, the fate of the “cousins” decided American bombs. The remains of the cruisers raised after the war only in order to pass for scrap. A similar fate befell “Algeri”, the team which blew up the turret and started a fire, which, like “Colbert”, then flared, then subsided for nearly three weeks. The pride of the French fleet were raised from the bottom four times, twice by the Italians, once the Germans and finally the owners themselves. Of course, only to after a long regrets and attempts to find him at least some use, finally to hand over scrapped ten years after the end of the war.

“Syufren” against the background of these sufferers was a real survivor. After the squadron Godefroy joined Fighting France of de Gaulle, he took part in several convoy operations of the allies, and after the 2nd world war — in “the private case” of the French in Indochina. There he even managed to shoot the Vietnamese until the beginning of 1947, when the cruiser went in the opposite poludragocennye the trip to Toulon. Immediately sequestered in the reserve, he, nevertheless, remained in the lists of the Navy for 15 years! But in 1962, his life was not over: the name of the old cruiser got a new rocket, and it was renamed “Océan” and relegated to the status of Blacksea. Finally the service of the former “Suprena” ended only in 1974, when he was sent to a breaker.


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