About this class and its interest in War Thunder
As Gaijin stated on some occasions, mostly answers from the devs, when it comes to making the French naval tech tree, big ships are not a problem. The French navy had some fierce warships during WW2, especially when it came to high sea combat. The biggest problem however, is small ships and coastal defense ships, which are much more difficult to find. The Marine nationale, which was mostly experimenting at the time, had much less options, and given that MTBs and gunboats represent at least half the ships in all naval tech trees, it becomes difficult to fill the gap. Which is the main reason why I propose that kind of ships in the suggestion forum.
I think that the Friponne class may be of use here. It’s nonexistent AA defense, as well as her relatively big size for a gunboat makes her vulnerable to early small ships and air strike. However, its powerful 100mm guns in a relatively small size package would alow it to punch hard and be a great support/sniping ship in a low tier environment, maybe 1.7 to 2.3 br. alongside the Flower class or the Dark class. As to why specifically La Diligente, it’s simple : it was one of the two Friponne class which fought during WW2, and her story’s better documented than her sister ship l’Engageante.
About the Friponne class
The Friponne class was part of a WW1 war effort to give France coastal gunboat meant to escort ships and chase submarines. Eight of them were built : La Bouffonne, La Friponne, La Chiffonne, La Mignonne, L’Engageante, L’Impatiente, La Surveillante, and La Diligente. Launched in 1915, they were completed between 1916 and 1917. The intensification of submarine warfare at the time pushed the French and the British to test several prototype, some of them being applied in those ships. The Friponne class in particular, experimented with Dazzle camouflage. Furthermore, the mast supporting the crow’s nest wasn’t aligned with the rest of the ship, so as to disrupt the line of sight of submarines and make her harder to hit. Those ships were mostly used during the end of the war to rescue the crew of sunk ships, and defend bases, and barely anyone of them saw significant action until the end of the conflict. During the inter-war, they were used as patrol vessel, escort ships for seaplane tenders, as well as training ships. By 1939, all of them had retired and been broken down, except for two : La Diligente et l’Engageante
About La Diligente
After cruising off the coast of the Balearic Islands during the Spanish civil war, La Diligente was converted into a sea plane assist ship when WW2 started. When the Battle of France started, she was sent to the Netherlands to assist the war effort. It was there, on may 12th, 1940, that she was caught in the middle of a German bombing, in the city of Vlissingen. Her captain, Commandant Leroux, tried to make a nearby oil truck to get away from the ship, but it was too late : A bomb hit nearby, and the explosion threw the truck on the ship and on the bridge. Incapable of removing it without mecanical help, La Diligente was forced to travel back to Dunkerque with the truck still stuck on the bridge. Following this incident, she helped evacuate troops during the Operation Dynamo, and was finally captured by the British in Portsmouth, on June 3rd, 1940. She was given months later to the FNFL, and served as a command ship for the Chasseur class ships, the sub chasers of the FNFL. She reintegrated the French navy in 1945, after which it was decomissioned, and finally broken down shortly after.
La Diligente - Caracteristics
Crew : 54
Length : 66,40 m
Beam : 7,01 m
Draft : 2,80 m
Displacement : 315 t
Propulsion : Two engines diesel
Power 1 260 ch
Speed 14,5 knts
2 x canons de 100mm/45 modèle 1897
2 x 8mm Hotchkiss Mgs
2 x Depth charge throwers
PHOTOS OF LA DILIGENTE (WW1)
PHOTOS OF THE TRUCK INCIDENT ON LA DILIGENTE DURING WW2
Video of the surviving boats of the same class :