Danton class Battleships (1909)

France (1909) - Condorcet, Danton, Diderot, Mirabeau, Vergniaud, Voltaire

France's last pre-dreadnought battleships

The six Dantons were the last French pre-dreadnoughts. They had the misfortune to be ordered in 1906-1908, while HMS Dreadnought was launched. However, the planned construction resumed until the delivery of the six units in 1911, to be succeeded by the first French Dreadnoughts, the Courbets. The Danton spent their career in the Mediterranean, quite active in many theaters of operation.

Development

So France was delayed in this race because of these particular ships, but at the same time the Dantons were quite improved compared to the previous Patrie/Liberté classes. They claimed 18,300 tons instead of 14,800, to receive the first turbines installed on a French battleship.

Practically regarded as "fast battleships" (20.6 knots in the tests against 18-19 on previous classes, they however had a low autonomy due to excessive coal consumption. For operating in the Mediterranean, however this was not such of a problem. Not dreadnoughts, they however took into account Cuniberti's design ideas and in addition to their main 305 mm armament, had a sizeable provision of 240 mm turrets, a compromise between the two types of battleships, a bit like the British Nelson class.

Danton class - Brasseys naval annual 1915
Brassey's naval annual 1915 - Danton class armour scheme (cc)

Design

Armament

They used a new firing system modeled on that of the HMS Dreadnought in 1918: The British Barr & Stroud coincidence rangefinder. Range of their 240 mm guns increased from 13,700 to 18,000 meters. Rate of fire was also very good, and firing tests proved the validity of the combination of main and secondary calibers.

The armor was not that advanced, but tertiary armament was singularly reinforced at the beginning of the great war: Indeed in addition were fitted twelve 75 mm mounted on the turrets which sufficient elevation and caliber to be used as AA weapons. These ships also carried six Modèle 1909R torpedoes (114 kg (251 lb) warhead, 3,000 meters (3,300 yd) at 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) or 2,000 meters (2,200 yd) at 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph) settings. There was also a storage space for 10 Harlé Modèle 1906 mines (explosive charge of 60 kgs (130 lb)).

Armor

Total weight of the armor accounted for 36%, so 6700 metric tons. The main turrets had 340 mm (13.4 in) of frontal armor, 260 mm (10 in) sides and the roofs were given three layers of 24 mm (0.94 in) mild-steel plates. Barbettes had 246 mm (9.7 in) of armor thickness, down to 66 mm (2.6 in) below the upper deck. Secondary turrets had 225 mm (8.9 in) front, 188 mm (7.4 in) sides, 3x 17 mm (0.67 in) plates roof.

The 240 mm barbettes were protected by 154 to 148 mm (6.1 to 5.8 in). The conning tower front had 266 mm (10.5 in) thick walls, 216 mm (8.5 in) sides. The communication tube down to the fire-control center was 200 millimeters thick. Noticeably, the ships had two protected decks formed from triple layers of mild steel, 15 mm (0.59 in) or 16 mm (0.63 in) thick.

Mirabeau 305mm gun replaced at Sebastopol
Mirabeau's 305mm gun being replaced at Sebastopol in 1919 - src Forum Histoire aviation marine - L'Illustration n°3983 09/08/1919

Propulsion

Each ship was fitted with four license-built Parsons direct-drive steam turbines. The steam was drown from 26 coal-fired Belleville or Niclausse boilers, each type being alternated on groups of three ships of the class. They were housed in two large compartments, 17 forward, 9 aft boiler room corresponding to the numerous funnels. The turbines developed 22,500 shaft horsepower (16,800 kW) total using steam at a working pressure of 18 kg/cm2 (1,765 kPa; 256 psi).

Maximum speed as designed was 19.25 knots (35.65 km/h; 22.15 mph), but at sea trials they reached from 19.7 to 20.66 knots (36.5 to 38.3 km/h; 22.7 to 23.8 mph). Niclausse boilers burned however much more coal than Belleville boilers and copious amounts of smoke and sparks, even flames from incomplete combustion. Estimated range from 3,120–4,866 nautical miles (5,778–9,012 km; 3,590–5,600 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) was almost half that of their predecessors and they needed frequent coaling stops during the war.

Construction

Condorcet was built at A. C. de la Loire, St Nazaire, Danton at Arsenal de Brest, Diderot at Chantiers de Penhoët, St Nazaire, Mirabeau at Arsenal de Lorient, Vergniaud at A. C. de la Gironde, Bordeaux, and Voltaire at F. C. de la Méditerranée, La Seyne-sur-Mer. The ships were named after Enlightment figures.

Construction was prolonged by a number of factors: 500+ changes made to the original design and inability of the chief engineer to make timely decisions, meaning that the builders had to rip out some completed sections to incorporate modifications. Shortages of infrastructure at the shipyards, long delays in parts delivery, labor shortages, and lack of large building slips in the dockyards also explains it.
Vergniaud
Battleship Vergniaud during a during a naval drill in Toulon, May 1914. Gallica - Agence Rol Src (cc)

The Danton class in action

Danton's class career was not spectacular, the Danton being the only recorded loss, torpedoed by the U-64 off Sardinia, while the Voltaire survived in 1918 to those of the UB-18. These ships fired warning shots at the Greek government in Athens to force the Greeks to rally to the allies. The same vessels (Diderot, Vergniaud, Voltaire, and Mirabeau) formed the squadron of the Aegean Sea alongs with dreadnoughts, deployed against the Austro-Hungarian fleet.

On November 13, 1918, they were stationed in Constantinople. After the war, Vergniaud and Mirabeau set out for operations in the Crimea in 1919, bombing Sevastopol in the hands of the "reds". But Mirabeau underwent a storm and was stranded, but saved and towed back to dock in 1919. Never repaired, she served as a pontoon for experiments, while the others undergone some modernization in 1922-25. This particularly concerned underwater protection, with fitting of bulges. These three ships (Condorcet, Diderot and Voltaire) spent the rest of their career as school ships.

Mirabeau bombarding Athens
Mirabeau bombarding Athens - Src Le Miroir numéro 162 page 9 - 12 December 1916 (cc)

The Condorcet was removed from the lists in 1931 but still served as a training ship for torpedo boat crews, cleared of its armament but equipped with 4 Torpedo tubes on its deck, and was extant in Toulon in 1939. In November 1942 she was scuttled like the rest of the fleet, but remained afloat and was later repaired as a pontoon.

In 1944, she was struck by an raid raid. She was towed and sunk by the Germans at the entrance of Toulon harbor and, after the landings in Provence, refloated. She was finally stored before demolition, which took place in 1945.

Vergnaud at Toulon
Vergniaud at Toulon, Potcard ELD editors (Eugène Le Deley) (cc)

The Voltaire had been converted into a pontoon since 1930, and was definitively condemned in 1935, but sold for scrap only in 1939. The Vergniaud served as a target ship after 1921 and was scrapped In 1929. Finally, the Diderot also served as a pontoon, condemned in 1936 and srapped in 1937.

Links

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

Danton class specifications

Dimensions 146,6 x 25,8 x 9.20 m
Displacement 18 320t, 19 760t FL
Crew681
Propulsion 4 screws, 4 Parsons turbines, 26 Belleville/Niclausse boilers, 22 500 hp.
Speed19,6 knots. max. (40 km/h; 25 mph)
Range 4,600 nmi (8,500 km; 5,300 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Armament 4 x 305 mm, 12 x 240 mm, 17 x 75 mm, 10 x 47 mm et 2 TT sides 457 mm
Armor Belt 300, turrets 300, blockhaus 300, barbettes 170 mm, Decks 75 mm

Gallery


Author's illustration of Danton class battleships

Danton class battleships full
Another illustration of the Danton class, below the waterline

profile of the Danton
Profile of the class.

Model - Musee de la marine Shipbuilder model at the Musee de la Marine, Paris.

blueprint Blueprint of the class

Detailed vectorial illustration by J.Gimello ( https://forummarine.forumactif.com/t3541-cuirasse-danton)

Naval History

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LCP(R) class SC
LCL(L)(3) class FSC
LCS(S) class FSC
British ww2 Royal Navy

WW2 British Battleships
Queen Elisabeth class (1913)
Revenge class (1915)
Nelson class (1925)
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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