Bretagne class Dreadnought Battleships (1914)

Bretagne, Provence, Lorraine

France's wartime dreadnoughts

Before the war, France's first dreadnoughts, the Courbet class, just entered service in 1911-1912. In the meantime, dreadnought design was still improving on the other side of the Channel, both in terms of artillery caliber and configuration but also speed, already peaking into the "super-dreadnoughts" genre. According to the ambitious French 1912 naval construction programme, a new battleship class was scheduled for 1913. It was to be like the British Queen Elisabeth and Revenge class, the first French "super-dreadnoughts".


Bretagne in Toulon, 1915 - src history.navy.mil (cc)

Albeit excessive as legitimate battleships worthy of the name were built in the interwar and became the standard for ww2, the Bretagne were nevertheless a leap forward in terms of Battleship design as far as France was concerned, although still 2-3 years late. All three were started in may-july-november 1913 at Lorient, Brest and Loire shipyards (St Nazaire), and commissioned in 1916.

Nominally they were replacements for the Carnot, Charles Martel and Liberté. They had long careers after modernization, well until 1945. Following Normandie and ever more Lyons were to be really amazing designs and we'll try to have a quick overview of these in another article.

Bretagne aft turrets
Battleship Bretagne's aft turrets circa 1919 - Toulon. Photo by Robert Wilden Neeser for the Naval History & Heritage Command

Design

Both ships classes shared similar hulls and armour arrangements (because of shipyards limitations, as ordered by the Conseil supérieur de la Marine (CSM)), but of course the real change was artillery with 10x 340mm (13.4 in) main guns, arranged in five double turrets all in the centerline. These were the AB, XY front and rear, plus another in the center, located just between the two funnels and superstructures.


Bretagne design - Brassey's naval annual (cc)

This made for a reduction in firepower strength both in chase and retreat, but a bigger broadside. The secondary battery comprised 22x 138.6 mm Mle 1910 guns in barbettes. Although inferior to the 152mm of the British and German types, they had toughly the same range but were much faster to reload, enabling true defensive advantages against fast ships like destroyers and torpedo-boats. There were also 7× 47 mm QF (1.9 in) guns also used for saluting, and 4× 450 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes.


THE FRENCH NAVY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1914-1918 (Q 58294) The French battleship Bretagne at Toulon, 23 October 1916. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205307537[/caption]

On the armour side however, using the same hull imposed a sacrifice, as the width of the armored belt was reduced by 20 mm (0.79 in) to compensate for the increased weight of the main battery. Like the previous class, armour was in general a bit "light" according to contemporary standards, with only 270 mm for the belt, 314mm for the conning tower but 340mm for the turrets whereas the decks were 40mm thick. For propulsion, all three relied on four Parsons steam turbines, fed by 18 to 24 Niclausse boilers (Lorraine) generating a total output of 29,000 shp (22,000 kW). Speed was reduced at 19 knots but overall range slightly better at 4,600 nautic miles (8,500 km or 5,300 miles).

Battleship provence after refit
Battleship provence after refit, 1935. Src ONI identification booklet, USN

Active service

The Bretagne and Lorraine were assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Battle Squadron and quickly posted in the Adriatic while the Provence was made fleet flagship for the Mediterranean at large. It was also sent in the southern sector of the Adriatic, based at Argostoli and Corfu. Provence did some appearance off Greece, trying to intimidate the government of Greece not to join the central powers. in January 1919 Lorraine was sent to Cattaro to guard the Austro-Hungarian fleet. Lorraine and Provence were placed into reserve in 1922 due to budget cuts. Lorraine was active by 1923 after an overhaul. All three ships were taken in hands for a full modernization by 1935 (see 1939 file).

Links

Bretagne class BB on wikipedia
Individual: The Provence
Specs Conway's all the world fighting ships 1906-1921.

Provence class specifications

Dimensions166 x 26,9 x 9,8 m
Displacement 24,000t; 26 000 FL
Crew1193
Propulsion 4 hélices, 4 Parsons Turbines, 18-24 Belleville/Niclausse boilers, 29,000 hp
Speed19-20 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range 4,600 nmi (8,500 km; 5,300 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 10 x 340 mm, 22 x 138 mm, 7 x 47 mm et 4 TT sides 450 mm
Armor Belt 270, turrets 340, blockhaus 314, barbettes 170 mm, Decks 40 mm

The Bretagne class in the interwar

The three battleships of the Bretagne class (Bretagne, Provence, Lorraine) Bretagne meaning "Britanny", launched in 1913 and completed during 1915-16 were the second series of French Dreadnoughts to see the day. More massive and bearing 340 mm main guns centered in the axis, they corresponded to the contemporary battleships of the Royal Navy at the time, the Iron Duke class.

Bretagne class battleships
Wow's rendition of the Battleship Provence in 1940

Their powerplant had been improved, though still walking on charcoal. The 340mm model 1912 guns proved to be one of the best designed by French arsenals. Many of these were used on the front on railways batteries with success. They were reliable, sturdy and accurate. The last captured ended during the occupation in casemates of the infamous Atlantic wall. Their initial range was 21,000 meters. An additional sistership was commissioned in 1914 by the Greek Navy, but construction was suspended in August due to the war.

The French dreadnoughts in the interwar

Their career was active and continued in 1918, especially in the Mediterranean. They had been conceived as spearheads for the Toulon squadron. After 1918, they underwent a number of modifications, including the modification of their main gun mounts and cradles, in order to increase their range in 1921-23. Then their coal boilers were partially swapped for fuel boilers in 1927-30 and finally all in 1932.


Provence Battleship, rear view in 1937 or 1939, US Navy recoignition archives.

1935 modernization

In 1935 they received new superstructures, fire direction positions (including a tripod mast), rangefinders, and secondary anti-aircraft artillery. They also received new 340 mm guns, with a new modified mount increasing their range to 30,000 meters. Their casemate and central battery saw their protection greatly improved. Lorraine also received a seaplane, hangar, cranes and catapult instead of its central turret of 340 mm. In 1939, however, this modernization still did not have the scope of a real overhaul, but no project in this direction had been planned so far. 1929 crisis and financing the Maginot line also dried budgets in this direction.

WW2 career

During the conflict, Bretagne and Provence were part of the squadron of Mers-el-Kebir when came Admiral Sommerville's ultimatum to Admiral French Gensoul. Bretagne, hit in an ammunition bunker, exploded, causing the most casualties of the whole squadron. Provence nearly suffered the same fate and was badly damaged. Abandoned by her crew, she sank slowly into the harbor. She will be refloated and later towed to Toulon for repairs. Provence resumed service in 1942 in Toulon, but would be scuttled like the rest of the fleet in November.

Battleship Lorraine was in Alexandria during Operation Catapult, and thanks to the diligence of the admirals present, was partially disarmed and interned until 1943. Then she joined the FNFL, after modifications in the United States, including new AA artillery. This ship served in the Mediterranean, participating in the Provence landings (Operation Anvil Dragoon). From 1945 to 1953, the battleship Lorraine served as a training ship and was disarmed and converted into a depot before being broken up.

Characteristics, as rebuilt:
-Displacement: 23,230 t. standard -25 200 t. Full Load
-Dimensions: 166 m long, 28 m wide, 9.8 m draft.
-Machines: 4 propellers, 4 Parsons turbines, 12-24 Guyot Du Temple boilers, 29,000 hp. Maximum speed 20 knots.
-Armour: belt 270 mm, barbettes 170 mm, bridge 40, turrets 340 mm, blockhaus 314 mm.
-Armament: 10 x 340 mm, 8 x 100 mm AA, 8 x 37 mm AA, 12 x 13.2 mm AA MGs, 2 underwater TTs.
-Crew: 1130


The Bretagne at Mers el Kebir, August 1940 - author's illustration


The Bretagne ("Britanny") in 1916.

Naval History

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WW1

☉ Entente Fleets

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WW2

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King Georges V class (1939)
Lion class (Started)
HMS Vanguard (1944)
Renown class (1916)
HMS Hood (1920)

WW2 British Cruisers
British C class cruisers (1914-1922)
Hawkins class cruisers (1917)
British D class cruisers (1918)
Enterprise class cruisers (1919)
HMS Adventure (1924)
County class cruisers (1926)
York class cruisers (1929)
Surrey class cruisers (project)
Leander class cruisers (1931)
Arethusa class cruisers (1934)
Perth class cruisers (1934)
Town class cruisers (1936)
Dido class cruisers (1939)
Abdiel class cruisers (1939)
Fiji class cruisers (1941)
Bellona class cruisers (1942)
Swiftsure class cruisers (1943)
Tiger class cruisers (1944)

WW2 British Aircraft Carriers
Courageous class aircraft carriers (1928)
HMS Ark Royal (1937)
HMS Eagle (1918)
HMS Furious (1917)
HMS Hermes (1919)
Illustrious class (1939)
HMS Indomitable (1940)
Implacable class (1942)
Malta class (project)
HMS Unicorn (1941)
Colossus class (1943)
Majestic class (1944)
Centaur class (started 1944)

HMS Archer (1939)
HMS Argus (1917)
Avenger class (1940)
Attacker class (1941)
HMS Audacity (1941)
HMS Activity (1941)
HMS Pretoria Castle (1941)
Ameer class (1942)
Merchant Aircraft Carriers (1942)
Vindex class (1943)

WW2 British Destroyers
Shakespeare class (1917)
Scott class (1818)
V class (1917)
S class (1918)
W class (1918)
A/B class (1926)
C/D class (1931)
G/H/I class (1935)
Tribal class (1937)
J/K/N class (1938)
Hunt class DE (1939)
L/M class (1940)
O/P class (1942)
Q/R class (1942)
S/T/U//V/W class (1942)
Z/ca class (1943)
Ch/Co/Cr class (1944)
Battle class (1945)
Weapon class (1945)

WW2 British submarines
L9 class (1918)
HMS X1 (1923)
Oberon class (1926)
Parthian class (1929)
Rainbow class (1930)
Thames class (1932)
Swordfish class (1932)
HMS Porpoise (1932)
Grampus class (1935)
Shark class (1934)
Triton class (1937)
Undine class (1937)
U class (1940)
S class (1941)
T class (1941)
X-Craft midget (1942)
A class (1944)

WW2 British Amphibious Ships and Landing Crafts
LSI(L) class
LSI(M/S) class
LSI(H) class
LSS class
LSG class
LSC class
Boxer class LST

LST(2) class
LST(3) class
LSH(L) class
LSF classes (all)
LCI(S) class
LCS(L2) class
LCT(I) class
LCT(2) class
LCT(R) class
LCT(3) class
LCT(4) class
LCT(8) class
LCT(4) class
LCG(L)(4) class
LCG(M)(1) class

British ww2 Landing Crafts
LCA
LCP
LCM

WW2 British MTB/gunboats.
WW2 British MTBs
MTB-1 class (1936)
MTB-24 class (1939)
MTB-41 class (1940)
MTB-424 class (1944)
MTB-601 class (1942)
MA/SB class (1938)
MTB-412 class (1942)
MGB 6 class (1939)
MGB-47 class (1940)
MGB 321 (1941)
MGB 501 class (1942)
MGB 511 class (1944)
MGB 601 class (1942)
MGB 2001 class (1943)

WW2 British Gunboats

Denny class (1941)
Fairmile A (1940)
Fairmile B (1940)
HDML class (1940)

WW2 British Sloops
Bridgewater class (2090)
Hastings class (1930)
Shoreham class (1930)
Grimsby class (1934)
Bittern class (1937)
Egret class (1938)
Black Swan class (1939)

WW2 British Frigates
River class (1943)
Loch class (1944)
Bay class (1944)

WW2 British Corvettes
Kingfisher class (1935)
Shearwater class (1939)
Flower class (1940)
Mod. Flower class (1942)
Castle class (1943)

WW2 British Misc.
WW2 British Monitors
Roberts class monitors (1941)
Halcyon class minesweepers (1933)
Bangor class minesweepers (1940)
Bathurst class minesweepers (1940)
Algerine class minesweepers (1941)
Motor Minesweepers (1937)
ww2 British ASW trawlers
Basset class trawlers (1935)
Tree class trawlers (1939)
HMS Albatross seaplane carrier
WW2 British river gunboats

HMS Guardian netlayer
HMS Protector netlayer
HMS Plover coastal mines.
Medway class sub depot ships
HMS Resource fleet repair
HMS Woolwhich DD depot ship
HMS Tyne DD depot ship
Maidstone class sub depot ships
HmS Adamant sub depot ship

Athene class aircraft transport
British ww2 AMCs
British ww2 OBVs
British ww2 ABVs
British ww2 Convoy Escorts
British ww2 APVs
British ww2 SSVs
British ww2 SGAVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Mines.
British ww2 CAAAVs
British ww2 Paddle Mines.
British ww2 MDVs
British ww2 Auxiliary Minelayers
British ww2 armed yachts

✙ Axis ww2 Fleets

Japan ww2 Imperial Japanese Navy
WW2 Japanese Battleships
Kongō class Fast Battleships (1912)
Fuso class battleships (1915)
Ise class battleships (1917)
Nagato class Battleships (1919)
Yamato class Battleships (1941)
B41 class Battleships (project)

WW2 Japanese cruisers
Tenryū class cruisers (1918)
Kuma class cruisers (1919)
Nagara class (1920)
Sendai class Cruisers (1923)
IJN Yūbari (1923)
Furutaka class Cruisers (1925)
Aoba class heavy cruisers (1926)
Nachi class Cruisers (1927)
Takao class cruisers (1930)
Mogami class cruisers (1932)
Tone class cruisers (1937)
Katori class cruisers (1939)
Agano class cruisers (1941)
Oyodo (1943)

Seaplane & Aircraft Carriers
Hōshō (1921)
IJN Akagi (1925)
IJN Kaga (1927)
IJN Ryujo (1931)
IJN Soryu (1935)
IJN Hiryu (1937)
Shokaku class (1937)
Zuiho class (1936) comp.40
Ruyho (1933) comp.42
Junyo class (1941)
IJN Taiho (1943)
Chitose class (comp. 1943)
IJN Shinano (1944)
Unryu class (1944)
IJN Ibuki (1942)

Taiyo class (1940)
IJN Kaiyo (1938)
IJN Shinyo (1934)

Notoro (1920)
Kamoi (1922)
Chitose class (1936)
Mizuho (1938)
Nisshin (1939)

IJN Aux. Seaplane tenders
Akistushima (1941)
Shimane Maru class (1944)
Yamashiro Maru class (1944)

Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation

WW2 Japanese Destroyers
Mutsuki class (1925)
Fubuki class (1927)
Akatsuki class (1932)
Hatsuharu class (1932)
Shiratsuyu class (1935)
Asashio class (1936)
Kagero class (1938)
Yugumo class (1941)
Akitsuki class (1941)
IJN Shimakaze (1942)

WW2 Japanese Submarines
KD1 class (1921)
Koryu class
Kaiten class
Kairyu class
IJN Midget subs

WW2 Japanese Amphibious ships/Crafts
Shinshu Maru class (1935)
Akistu Maru class (1941)
Kumano Maru class (1944)
SS class LS (1942)
T1 class LS (1944)
T101 class LS (1944)
T103 class LS (1944)
Shohatsu class LC (1941)
Chuhatsu class LC (1942)
Moku Daihatsu class (1942)
Toku Daihatsu class (1944)

WW2 Japanese minelayers
IJN Armed Merchant Cruisers
WW2 Japanese Escorts
Tomozuru class (1933)
Otori class (1935)
Matsu class (1944)
Tachibana class (1944)
Ioshima class (1944)
WW2 Japanese Sub-chasers
WW2 Japanese MLs
Shinyo class SB

⚑ Neutral

Armada de Argentina Argentinian Navy

Rivadavia class Battleships
Cruiser La Argentina
Veinticinco de Mayo class cruisers
Argentinian Destroyers
Santa Fe class sub. Bouchard class minesweepers King class patrol vessels

Marinha do Brasil Brazilian Navy

Minas Gerais class Battleships (1912)
Cruiser Bahia
Brazilian Destroyers
Humaita class sub.
Tupi class sub.

Armada de Chile Armada de Chile

Almirante Latorre class battleships
Cruiser Esmeralda (1896)
Cruiser Chacabuco (1911)
Chilean DDs
Fresia class subs
Capitan O’Brien class subs

Søværnet Danish Navy

Niels Juel
Danish ww2 Torpedo-Boats Danish ww2 submarines Danish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Merivoimat Finnish Navy

Coastal BB Ilmarinen
Finnish ww2 submarines
Finnish ww2 minelayers

Nautiko Hellenon Hellenic Navy

Greek ww2 Destroyers
Greek ww2 submarines
Greek ww2 minelayers

Marynarka Vojenna Polish Navy

Polish ww2 Destroyers
Polish ww2 cruisers
Polish ww2 minelayer/sweepers

Portuguese navy ww2 Portuguese Navy

Douro class DDs
Delfim class sub
Velho class gb
Albuquerque class gb
Nunes class sloops

Romanian Navy Romanian Navy

Romanian ww2 Destroyers
Romanian ww2 Submarines

Royal Norwegian Navy Sjøforsvaret

Norwegian ww2 Torpedo-Boats

Spanish Armada Spanish Armada

España class Battleships
Blas de Lezo class cruisers
Canarias class cruisers
Cervera class cruisers
Cruiser Navarra
Spanish Destroyers
Spanish Submarines
Dedalo seaplane tender
Spanish Gunboats
Spanish Minelayers

Svenska Marinen Svenska Marinen

Gustav V class BBs (1918)
Interwar swedish BB projects

Tre Kronor class (1943)
Gotland (1933)
Fylgia (1905)

Ehrernskjold class DDs (1926)
Psilander class DDs (1926)
Klas Horn class DDs (1931)
Romulus class DDs (1934)
Göteborg class DDs (1935)
Mode class DDs (1942)
Visby class DDs (1942)
Öland class DDs (1945)

Swedish ww2 TBs
Swedish ww2 Submarines
Swedish ww2 Minelayers
Swedish ww2 MTBs
Swedish ww2 Patrol Vessels
Swedish ww2 Minesweepers

Türk Donanmasi Turkish Navy

Turkish ww2 Destroyers
Turkish ww2 submarines

Royal Yugoslav Navy Royal Yugoslav Navy

Dubrovnik class DDs
Beograd class DDs
Hrabi class subs

Royal Thai Navy Royal Thai Navy

Taksin class
Ratanakosindra class
Sri Ayuthia class
Puket class
Tachin class
Sinsamudar class sub

minor navies Minor Navies


The Cold War

Royal Navy Royal Navy
Sovietskaya Flota Sovietskiy flot
US Navy USN (1990)


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