630t minesweepers, Élan class

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Classe Élan

The minesweepers that never swept mines


About this class and its interest in War Thunder :

These are good mid tier coastal ships, especially the FNFL refit. Armed with a variety of AA defenses and benefitting from a high caliber turret, it can be a great support ship.


In the 1930’s, the French navy was putting a tremendous effort in its modernisation. Following a steady renewal of the fleet since the middle of the 1920’s, the last remaining elements of the French navy waiting to be replaced at the begining of the decade were the sloops. While a new branch, the Bougainville class, were being built for the colonies, the minesweepers of the Aisne class, which were built during WW1, were showing their age. Starting 1935, it was decided to build 2 new classes of mine sweepers. The first, which construction went from 1936 to 1940 was called the 630t minesweeper Élan class. The second class, the 647t Chamois class, would follow up in 1939, and was an overhaul of the Élan class meant for the colonies, less vulnerable to bad weather and high seas.

Élan class

13 of those ships were built : L’Élan, la Curieuse, la Gracieuse, l’Impétueuse, la Moqueuse, La Boudeuse, la Batailleuse, La Rieuse (later renamed Commandant Dominé), La Capricieuse, Le Commandant Duboc, Le Commandant Rivière, Le Commandant Delage and Le Commandant Bory.

They started replacing the Aisne class on June 3rd, 1939, all the way until winter, and were affected in 5 different groups, patrolling around the ports Brest, Lorient, Cherbourg, Bizerte and Toulon.

When the war started, they were unable to seek mines or perform as a minesweeper, and were used as coastal warships to defend the ports. From here on out, they followed two paths : Those which followed the FNFL, and the rest.

Indeed, during Operation Dynamo,Four of those ships went to lend assistance to the retreat of the British army, le Commandant Duboc, Le Commandant Rivière, Le Commandant Delage and L’Impétueuse.

Four of them, the Commandant Duboc, Commandant Dominé, La Moqueuse and La Capricieuse, were captured by the British a bit before the Armistice. Almost all four of them were given to the FNFL, except the Capricieuse, which was manned by a British crew until the end of the war, at which point it was given back to France. They would be significantly modified during 1941 and 1942, mainly by upgrading their armament and their radar detection systems. One more Élan class sided later with the FNFL, the Commandant Bory, which fled Toulon to join with the FNFL shortly before the scuttling of the fleet.

As for the rest, they were either captured by the Germans and the Italians, or scuttled in Toulon during Operation Anton. The last remaining ones on the Axis side were scuttled by the Germans before the end of the war.

Highlight : Commandant Duboc

This ship was probably the one with the most… “exciting” operational history of the bunch. After helping during the evacuation of Dunkerque in 1940, it was captured by the British in June, then given to the FNFL in July of the same year. It takes part in Operation Menace, joining with the M Force in hopes of getting Senegal to join the fight on the Free French side. It was, however, a failure. In September 1941, it escorted the convoy SL 87, which suffered heavy losses against German submarines. After patrolling around Gibraltar, it is tasked to protect the convoy HG 75, which is attacked by a pack of submarines. The Commandant Duboc manages to save the crew of two cargo ships during the fight. It is then sent in the Indian Ocean to participate to the war effort against the Japanese.

It was the last of the Élan class to sail for the French navy, as it was condemned in 1963, and dismantled the following year.

Specifications :


Total length : 78.30m

Total width : 8.70m

draught : 3.20m

displacement : 630t (900 max)


type : 2 x diesel Sulzer engines, 4000 HP

propellers : 2

max speed : 20 knts

autonomy : 5000 miles at 15 knts


Given the difficulty of those ships to get armed, they were almost all equipped with different loadouts, a complicated matter which only got more complicated after their FNFL refit.


  • 1 x 2 100mm canons Mle 1932 (planned, configuration 1), 1 x 100mm canon Mle 1891 (temporary installation)


1 x twin 90mm mle 1926 canons (configuration n°2)

  • 8 x 13.2mm Hotchkiss mle. 1929 : 1 x quadruple turret and 2 x twin turret


2 x 37mm Mle 1925 canons (replaces the quadruple turret) + 4 x 13.2mm Mgs (2 x 2)

  • 2 x mortars

  • 8 x depth charges


  • 1 x 102/45 QF Mk XVI,

  • 1 x 40/39 QF Mk VIII

  • 2 x 20mm Oerlikon Canons

  • 2 x 13.2mm Hotchkiss mgs

  • 2 x depth charge throwers (British)

  • 2 x depth charge racks (British)

Post war loadout (Commandant Bory in this case)

  • 2 x 90mm mle 1926 canons

  • 1 x 40mm BOFOR canon

  • 6 x 20mm Oerlikon canons

  • 2 x depth charge throwers (British)

  • 2 x depth charge racks (British)

CREW : 106




Original blueprint for Le Commandant Rivière (blueprint from the CAAC (Centre d’Archive de l’Armement de Châtellerault), additional infos from the USMM (Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare)








computer-created Élan with the planned 2x100mm mle1932 canons:


Commandant Duboc 1939 (original outfit) and 1940 (carry rack for the 100mm, quadruple 13.2mm mgs replaced by a twin 37mm canons turret) :




Commandant Duboc (1939-1940) :



Commandant DELAGE (+ various Camouflages) - FNFL and post war photos



Commandant Bory (Pre-war)



Twin 90mm turret variant (in this case, Commandant Delage)





Further informations :

France 90 mm/50 (3.5") Model 1926 - NavWeaps



Association ALAMER - https://alamer.fr

Association ALAMER - https://alamer.fr

Aviso Français

La Moqueuse


GARIER Gérard, Les Avisos Dragueurs de 630TW du type Élan, tome 1, 2, Navire et Histoire des Marines du Monde

Corvette e pattugliatori italiani” by F. Bargoni and F.G.ay, USMM, Roma 2004.


Plenty of options, could be added multiple times! +1 for all loadouts.