Richelieu, French Battleship

Photograph of battleship Richelieu
U.S. Navy. Via Wikipedia Commons


Tonnage 37,832 tons standard displacement
Dimensions 813'4" by 108'3" by 30'1"
247.90m by 32.99m by 9.17m
Maximum speed       31.5 knots
Complement 1670
Aircraft 2 catapults
3 seaplanes
Armament 2x4 15"/45 guns
3x3 6"/55 guns
12 3.9"/45 AA guns
12 40mm Bofors AA guns
16 machine guns
Protection 15960 tons:
12.9" (330mm) belt tapering to 6.7" (170mm) and inclined 15 degrees
14" (355mm) forward bulkhead
9,2" (233mm) aft bulkhead
5.9" (150mm) main deck
2" (50mm) splinter deck
6"/6"/4" (150mm/150mm/100mm) steering roof/aft bulkhead/slopes
16.9"/11.8"/10.6"/6.7" (430mm/300mm/270mm/170mm) main turret front/side/rear/roof
15.9" (405mm) barbettes
5.1"/5.1"/5.1"/2.4" (130mm/130mm/130mm/60mm) secondary turret front/sides/rear/roof
13.4" (340mm) conning tower
22'9" (9m) deep underwater protection with 1.2" (30mm) holding bulkhead
4-shaft Parsons geared turbine (150,000 shp)
6 Indret boilers
Bunkerage 6796 tons fuel oil
Range 8250 nautical miles (15,300 km) at 15 knots
Sensors SG surface search radar
Type 281 air search radar
SA air search radar

Richelieu was designed in response to Mussolini's declaration in 1934 that Italy would construct two battleships with 15" guns. The design was sound, with two quadruple turrets to reduce the length of the armored citadel and allow good protection (particulary horizontal protection) within the treaty displacement. The 6" guns in the original design proved useless as antiaircraft weapons and the number was reduced to allow for a 3.9" antiaircraft battery.

Richelieu was 95% complete when metropolitan France fell to the Germans.  She fled to Dakar in West Africa, where she exchanged fire with a British task force that attempted unsuccessfully to bring Dakar over to the Free French.  With the invasion of North Africa by the Allies, Richelieu went over to the Allied side and sailed to New York for extensive modifications, including regunning to allow her to use American ammunition.  She then fought with the British Far East Fleet against Japan (from April 1944.)

Four ships of the class were authorized, but aside from Richelieu, only Jean Bart could be launched before the fall of France. She was moved to Casablanca, where there were no facilities for her completion, and where she was badly damaged when she put up resistance to Operation TORCH. She was completed postwar, in 1955.


Gogin (2010; accessed 2012-3-29)

Whitley (1998)
Worth (2001)

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