Battleships / France
'La Galissonnière' class light cruiser
Contemporary with the penultimate pair of Italian 'Condottieri', the French 'La Galissonnière' class design had a distinct edge. By adopting a triple 152mm (6-in) turret, the designers managed an excellent balance on the low standard displacement of 7,600 tons. Three mountings conferred a one-gun advantage over their rivals while economizing on overall weight, length of hull and area to be protected. Thus vertical protection of up to 120mm (4,62 in) could be worked in, together with a 50-mm (1.97-in) protective deck. Where the Italians could dispose of 120,000 shp (89485kW) the French had only 84,000 shp (62640 kW), yet their effective speeds in a seaway were little different at 33 to 34 kts, Interestingly, the French hulls incorporated wide transom sterns; these are today virtually universal in warship design, reducing resistance through the suppression of the stern wave.

Six ships of the type were built, but they fared badly with the changing fortunes of the French state, Following the 1940 capitulation, the loyalties of French Senegal were not known to the British, who mounted an operation against Dakar: the Gloire, together with the Montcalm and Georges Leygues, sailed from Toulon to assist. Suffering from machinery problems the Gloire went into Casablanca but the other two reached Dakar. This port, though effectively neutralized, passed to Allied control only when the Axis finally occupied Vichy France, the three cruisers coming over to the Allied cause. With the occupation, the remaining French fleet, still inactive at Toulon, was scuttled, including the three remaining ships of the class. Of these, two were salvaged by the Italians only to be sunk finally by Allied bombing in 1943. The Gloire was present at Anzio, and the Montcalm at Normandy.

Specification 'La Galissonnière' class Ships in class (launched): La Galissonnière (1933), Jean de Vienne (1935), Marseillaise (1935), Gloire (1935), Montcalm (1935) and Georges Leygues (1936) Displacement: 7,600 tons standard and 9,120 tons full load Dimensions: length 179.0 m (586 ft 3 in); beam 17.5 m (57 ft 4 in); draught 5.3 m (17 ft 5 in) Propulsion: Râteau-Bretagne or Parsons geared turbines delivering 84,000 shp (63640 kW) to two shafts Speed: 35.7 kts Armour: belt 75-120 mm (3-4,7 in); deck 50 mm (2 in); turrets 75-130 mm (3-5.1 in) Armament: nine 152-mm (6-m), eight 90-mm (3.5-in) DP and eight 13.2-mm (0.52-in) AA guns, plus four 550-mm (21.7-in) torpedo tubes Aircraft: two floatplanes Complement: 540
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