Light cruiser class La Galissonnière, workhorse of the French navy

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Light cruiser class, La Galissonnière

The pinnacle of French light cruiser technology


About the Galissonnière class and its interest in War Thunder

These light cruisers are among the most recognisable WW2 French warships. They are highly versatile, and benefit from decent armor, good speed, and good firepower. As with all original french designs, the AA defense is mediocre, however, the surviving ships were overhauled in the US in 1943, and gained a significant firepower increase. Overall, I can’t think of a more perfect light cruiser for the French navy, and it is an absolute must as far as this tech tree is concerned.

La Galissonnière class, The workhorses of the French navy.

During the 1930’s the French navy was trying to find a way to rearm its fleet to compete with the rest of the major European powers. A new emerging threat in particular was Italy. Since Mussolini’s coup d’État, the clear hostility of the new regime toward France propelled both the French navy and the Reggia Marina into an arms race. Conforming to the 1922 Washington Treaty, and then the 1930 London treaty, France decided to start a new program for a serie of all purpose light cruisers below the 10 000 tons limit. These cruisers were heavily influenced by a light cruiser prototype built in the late 1920’s, the Emile Bertin, and followed the same configuration, with more armor and other slight differences, like a flat stern which could deploy a ramp meant to recover the recon floatplane. This new class was named La Galissonnière. Six cruisers were built between 1933 and 1936 : La Galissonnière, Marseillaise, Jean de Vienne, Gloire, Montcalm, and Georges Leygues. They were intended to be versatile ships for the French navy, boasting decent 152mm artillery, 30 knot speed and a 100mm belt armor to give it better protection compared to its predecessor, the Emile Bertin.

During the war :

These 6 ships had varied fates, very representative of the struggles of France during WW2. During the first few months of the war, La Galissonnière would patrol in the Meditteranean sea accompagnied with the Marseillaise and the Jean de Vienne. These last two ships would later accompany the French fleet sailing for the Carribeans to secure the French gold. Meanwhile, the three other sisterships, Montcalm, Georges Leygues and Gloire, would patrol alongside the British with the Force de raid flotilla in the Atlantic. Montcalm participated to the Norvegian campaign and was decorated for its action back there, providing cover fire during the evacuation of the forces in may 1940 and saving the sailors from the destroyer Bison, which had been sunk by German bombers.

All those ships stayed loyal to the French state after the Armistice, and all of them moved to Toulon and the French colonies after the British attack of Mers El Kébir. Two of them, Georges Leygues and Montcalm, crossed the straight of Gibraltar to reinforce the French fleet at Dakar in August 1940. An interesting note, Sir Dudley North, who was in charge of the base of Gibraltar at the time was, along with most RN officers, against Operation Catapult and was digusted by the decisions of the British Amiralty. In a common agreement with admiral Sommerville, who was also revolted by what he had to do, he decided to ignore the two cruisers and let them pass. This decision would later cost him his career as he became a scape goat after the failure of Operation Menace. Indeed, the arrival of the two cruiser put more pressure on the British fleet during the Operation (HMAS Australia was damaged by the Montcalm), and became the perfect pretext to pin the blame on him.

After that, three of these cruisers, La Marseillaise, Jean de Vienne and La Galissonnière, stayed in Toulon, and were eventually scuttled during Operation Anton in 1942. All three were judged unsalvageable by the Italian navy and dismantled during and after the war.

The other three, Georges Leygues, Montcalm and Gloire, joined the Free French naval forces in 1943. They were sent to the US where they were overhauled, gaining mostly a heavy AA defense, as well as modern radar and telemetry technology. The Gloire supported Operation Shingle in Italy, while the Georges Leygues participated to D-Day. Meanwhile, the Montcalm participated to the liberation of Corsica. All three of them would support Operation Dragoon, shelling the French coast.

After the war, the three remaining cruisers participated to various operations and conflicts (Gloire in Indochina, Georges Leygues during the Suez Crisis), and all three were eventually decommissioned in 1959, and ultimately scrapped toward the end of the 1960’s.

General Characteristics :

Tonnage: 8000-9400 tons (standard) - 10000 tons (max overload)
|Length:|179.5 m|
|Beam:|17.80 m|
|Draught:|5.280 m|
|Propulsion:|* Indret steam turbines 84 000 HP
Max Speed: 35.5 knts (65.7 km/h)
Range: 7000 nautical miles at 12 knots - 1650 nautical miles at 35 knots

Crew : 1940 : 636 men - 1943 : 743 men

Armor :

  • Main belt : 105mm
  • End bulkhead : 60mm
  • internal bulkhead : 20mm
  • Main bridge : 38 mm
  • 152mm turrets : 100mm front, 50mm sides, 40mm back, 45mm top
  • Blockaus (coning tower) : 95mm

Armament (original 1940) :

  • 9 x 152mm mle 1930 canons (3 x 3)

  • 8 x 90mm mle 1926 canons (4 x 2)

  • 8 x 37mm mle 1933 AA canons ( 8 x 2)

  • 12 x 13.2 mm Hotchkiss mle 1929 MGs (6 x 2)

  • 4 x 550mm mle 1923 TLT (2 x 2)

Armament (1943 overhaul) :

  • 9 x 152mm mle 1930 canons (3 x 3)

  • 8 x 90mm mle 1926 canons (4 x 2)

  • 24 x 40mm BOFOR AA canons (6 x 4)

  • 16 x 20 mm Oerlikon AA canons (16 x 1)

  • 4 x 550mm mle 1923 TLT (2 x 2)

Regarding the 152mm guns :



Gun depression : -10° / +45°
Gun depression speed : 8°/s
Turret rotation : 150°
Turret rotation speed : 12°/s
Max shell capacity : 1300


Shells :
55kg explosive shell (26960m range),
54 et 58kg AP shells ( 26474m range),
47kg AA shell ( 24200m range).
RoF : 6 shot per minutes.

For more detailed informations :
France 152 mm/55 (6") Model 1930 - NavWeaps

Regarding the 90mm canons mle 1926 :



Fires 18kg explosive shells at over 15540m at a rate of 12 to 15 shots per minutes.

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


13mm Mgs protection :


40mm Bofor and 20mm Oerlikon emplacements :




Schematics :



Armor schematics :

Construction photos :


Gloire :
Marseillaise :
La Galissonnière

Early war configuration :


La Galissonnière
La Marseillaise :
Georges Leygues

Late and post-war Overhaul :



Montcalm :
Georges Leygues

Camouflages :


Montcalm, Narvik Campain, 1940 :

Gloire, summer 1943 :

The same Gloire, with Dazzle camouflage :
Video :

Sources :

France 90 mm/50 (3.5") Model 1926 - NavWeaps
France 152 mm/55 (6") Model 1930 - NavWeaps
Le camouflage dans la Marine - Page 5
LA GALISSONNIÈRE light cruisers (1936 - 1937)
Croiseurs légers classe La Galissonniére
MOULIN Jean, Les croiseurs de 7600 tonnes, Marines éditions, 2002, 250 pages

1 Like

For once the “Modernizations” do not distort the firepower and the shape of the boat (Leopard and Bretagne). For the kick on this boat and a real modernization, it keeps its torpedoes, its guns and its secondaries, perfect.

On the other hand, do you know if the propulsion group was to be modified?

To my knowledge, no. According to the sources I found, the modernisation of the three surviving Galissonnière class ships was mostly regarding the armament and the radar suite that was changed several time. It would be very costly I think and complicated to change anything regarding propulsion, especially since this is a foreign ship that do not fit the US standardization.


This would be a really nice addition to the French Cruisers. They desperately need something with the fire power of thr EB, but with actual armor.

Suggestion passed to the developers for consideration.