Richelieu class battleship, MN Clemenceau - A return to tinkering

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Richelieu class battleship, MN Clemenceau - A return to tinkering

Background & History

The MN Clemenceau was the 3rd of the planned 4 Richelieu class battleships of the Marine nationale which were being built prior to and during the Second World War. In the end the class would only have 2 vessels completed as the last 2 vessels would never be completed due to a variety of reasons, these two vessels where the Clemenceau and Gascogne who unlike the completed ships were both modified designs reflecting the old habits of French battleship designs which seem to result in classes of ships who members differ wildly, though not horrendously for the Richelieu class.

The Clemenceau herself was a slightly modified version of the first two vessels as her design was changed to include more secondary guns in a revised layout as well as the addition of a 4th secondary turret, they also added additional AA guns as the threat of aircraft was becoming more and more apparent. The secondary battery itself on the design of the Clemenceau gave the vessel a far superior layout as they were positioned with two rear mounts in a super firing position and the other two as wing mounted turrets which gave them a better broadside for the secondary battery, though a earlier plan purposed for the change actually would have been a hybrid between the final result and the design of the first two vessels which would have meant two pairs of wing turrets located in the original design position for the class as well as the wing mounts amidship, beyond this however the ships design was consistent with her sisters more or less. Both Clemenceau and Gascogne would never see the light of day as one of the biggest issues the French had was the lack of major docks which were large enough to build these ships, this was emphasized the most in the fact that they were so limited in dock space that the day Richelieu was launched from her dock the Clemenceau was laid down in the same dock all in the same day, and in the case of Gascogne who could not be laid down as she was to do the exact same as she was supposed to have been laid down in the same dock as Jean Bart and due to the time they had was the reason for the design changes, the materials for the Gascogne also were gathered before Jean Bart had been completed however the Gascogne was never laid down as the Jean Bart was never completed before the Germans had begun invading France and were threatening the incomplete battleship which saw workers hastily dig a channel so they could have the ship escape instead of risking capture which meant that the ship never had the chance to be laid down.

Due to the state of the Clemenceau by the time of the German invasion in France the Clemenceau was never able to escape the dock as the hull was only 10 percent complete which may have prevented any such action. Once the Germans had control over the docks they considered for a time to complete the vessel as they renamed her to Schlachtschiff R however due to a shortage of materials as the Germans had bigger priorities as well as lack of workers they decided against completing the vessel and would end up floating the ship out of dock so it could be used by other ships, the hull itself was let to sit afloat in France until 1944 when Allied bombers sunk the incomplete hull. After the war it was planned to sell the hull for scrap but were unable to find any buyers, so the French government had the ship raised and moved to clear the harbor however likely due to the incomplete state of the vessel she broke in half and sank once more, this time however the French government was successful in selling her to scrappers in 1951.

In terms of the ships armament her main guns were identical to her sisters with a total of 8 380 mm/45 (14.96 inch) Model 1935 guns in the two quadruple turrets at the ship’s front, the ships secondary armament consisted of the aforementioned 12 152 mm/55 (6 inch) Model 1930 guns in 4 triple turrets with 2 in a super firing pair at the rear part of the ship and the other turrets in wing positions placed amidship, the ship also had a dual purpose battery consisting of 12 100 mm/45 (3.9 inch) Model 1933 guns in twin mounts, as for the ships AA armament this consisted of 12 37 mm/50 CAIL Model 1933 guns in 6 twin mounts, the remainder of the AA armament was also planned to consist of 32 13.2 mm Model 1929 guns in 8 quad mounts. The ship was designed to be equipped with float planes as she had been planned with 2 Loire 130 seaplanes as this aspect was consistent with the first two vessels. Beyond the changes in her weaponry her ammunition stowage’s were modified as the 152mm magazines were designed to also store the 100mm and 37mm ammunition however in all other real respects the ship remained the same as the first two ships, so at least she was better without the extra complications.


35,000 long tons (36,000 t) (Standard)
44,100 long tons (44,800 t) (Full load)

Length 247.85 m (813 ft 2 in) o/a

Beam 33.08 m (108 ft 6 in)

9.63 m (31.6 ft) (Standard)
9.9 m (32 ft 6 in) (Full load)

Installed power
6 ×Sural-Indret boilers
155,000 shp (116,000 kW)

4 × Parsons geared steam turbines
4 × screws

Speed 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph)

Complement 1,670

Main armament
8 × 380 mm/45 (14.96 inch) Model 1935 guns (2 x 4)
(104 rounds per gun; 416 rounds per turret; 832 rounds in total)

Secondary armament
12 × 152 mm/55 (6 inch) Model 1930 guns (4 x 3)
(400 rounds per gun; 1,200 rounds per turret; 4,800 rounds total)

Dual purpose armament
12 × 100 mm/45 (3.9 inch) Model 1933 dual purpose guns (6 x 2)

AA armament
12 × 37 mm/50 CAIL Model 1933 guns (6 x 2)
32 × 13.2 mm Model 1929 machine guns (8 x 4)

Belt: 320 mm (13 in)

Main deck: 170 mm (6.7 in)

Main Turrets: 430 to 250 mm (17 in)

Secondary turrets: 116 mm (4.6 in)

Dual purpose guns: 30 mm (1.2 in)

Conning tower: 340 mm (13 in)

Aviation facilities
2 catapults

Aircraft carried
4 x Loire 130 seaplanes



Richelieu-class battleship - Wikipedia
RICHELIEU battleships (1940 - 1949) (

Image Sources

French Battleship Clemenceau - Destination's Journey
French Battleship Clemenceau (Ready for Points) - Axis & Allies ForuMINI