French Battleships of World War One – John Jordan & Philippe Caresse – Review

French Battleships of World War One by John Jordan & Philippe Caresse, published by Seaforth Publishing, on 30 May 2017, ISBN: 9781848322547, 328 wonderful pages.

I know John Jordan works from the wonderful Warship series, Warship 2017 sits on my bookshelf waiting for me to get some spare reading time. Jordan has been the editor of that publication for a number of years. Recent books of his for Seaforth Press include French Battleships 1922-1956, followed up with French Cruisers 1922-1956 and lastly French Destroyers 1922-1956. This book then is a prequel to those.

It is, simply, wonderful. French World War One Battleships were perhaps the most stylish, certainly the most distinctive of the period. The large tumblehome, pronounced “ramming” bows and the eccentric grouping of funnels give French Battleships of the First World War such a unique look that it is impossible to mistake them for any other’s battleships.

Philippe Caresse co-authored this work and is himself a respected author of matters nautical, in particular the German Navy of both World Wars.

That Jordan has spent many years researching French warships, especially of this period and immediately before the war, is clear from reading the text. Caresse provided the historical background as well as many of the photos. This book is worth having for the photo collection alone. That is also has line drawings of the class leaders b Jordan, many in both elevation and plan as well as cross-sectional drawings, discussions of propulsion machinery, hull form and superstructure as well as technical tables of the vessels, and periodically comparisons between the main competitors from other navies makes this book an invaluable sourcebook for French Battleships of the period 1890-odd to the mid to late 1920s.

To the above, add 8 pages of watercolour paintings of various vessels from Jean Bladé and here is a book that I will happily sit and just flick through, looking at a picture here, reading some text there, but all the while admiring the style that was the French battleship of the time.

The book has chapeters on:

PART I TECHNICAL SECTION

  • Pre-History 1870-1890
  • The Flotte d’Echantillons
  • The Charlemagne Class
  • Iéna and Suffren
  • The Patrie Class
  • The Courbet Class
  • The Bretagne Class
  • The Normandie Class
  • The Projects of 1913

PART II HISTORICAL SECTION

  • The Fleet and its Ships 1900-1916
  • The Great War 1914-1918
  • The Interwar Period 1918-1939
  • The Second World War

The chapter on the Second World War is because many of the vessels from the First World War were still in service.

If I had to give this book a rating out of five stars, then I would not hesitate to give it 5-stars. Did I mention that it is wonderful?

Another book that I would recommend to anyone interested in the pre-Dreadnought and Dreadnought periods of battleships, a must have on the naval historian’s bookshelves and under the naval enthusiast’s coffee table.

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Battle of Malplaquet

Battle_of_Malplaquet,_1709Just when I was settling into decisions for next years projects it occurred to me that today, 11 September 2013 is the 304th anniversary of the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Malplaquet fought between England, Austria, Prussia and the Low Countries on one side and France and Bavaria on the other. It was a battle that was famous for the commanders, John Churchill of the English (the Duke of Marlborough) and Prince Eugene of Savoy on the one side and Claude de Villars and Louis Boufflers on the other. Overall there were 86,000 in the armies of the Grand Alliance with 100 guns and and 75,000 and 80 guns on Bourbon side.

The Army of the Grand Alliance found itself at Malplaquet near the modern Belgian/French border. In the morning of 11 September 1709 at 9.00am the Austrians attacked with the support of Prussian and Danish troops. These were commanded by Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein. They pushed back the French left wing into the forest behind them. On the French right wing the Dutch under the command of the Prince of Orange, John William Friso, attacked to distract the French and prevent them from coming to Villars’ aid.

Later a decisive final attack was made on the weakened French centre by British infantry under the command of the Earl of Orkney. This attack occupied the the French redans. Allied cavalry was then able to advance through this line and engage the French cavalry behind. By this stage, de Villars was off the field having been wounded earlier so Boufflers was in command. Boufflers was leading the Maison du Roi and six times drive the Allied cavalry back before finally deciding the battle was lost and surrendering the field.

The victory for the Grand Alliance had come at some cost however with 21,000 casualties from within the alliance compared to 11,000 casualties on the French and Bavarian side.

Now I am torn again between the War of Spanish Succession and the Great Northern War. Of course, I could just do this as Imagi-nations. Oh yes, and I am still planning something with the Thirty Years War.

Opio en Provence

P1010200 I’m fortunate in having to have to spend a few days in Opio in the Alpes-Maritimes in the South of France. I’m attending a senior consultant conference from my company and this is held in the Club Med at Opio. Opio is a small town, about 361 metres above sea level with a population of a little over 2,000 people.

The last few days have been involved in some work activity, catching uo with some old friends and making some new ones, all whilst enjoying fine French cooking and produce.

I’m already looking forward to the next event in two years time.

1859-1871

I got a new book the other day. It was one that I had on a wish list for a while now. It was a history of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 – The Austro-Prussian War – Austria’s War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 written by Geoffrey Wawro. Being the kind of wargamer I am, the first reason I liked the idea of wargaming that war was that it really was misnamed. The war actually involved Austria, Prussia and Italy, with the Prussians and the Italians taking on the Austrians with varying degrees of success.

I then got to thinking, Doug has been nagging at me to do some Franco-Prussian War figures so that we can play that with Polemos but i have been manfully resisting. Now, Italians and Austrians, there is an interesting pair, and he can use his Prussians.

I know he also bought some French for the FPW which made me think, “French v Italians? No. Ah, French and Italians v Austrians!”

I recalled that in 1859 there was a little war between those three protagonists and as I plan on gaming this in 6mm, the uniform detail should work for both 1859 and 1866 Italians and Austrians. I need to research the French Uniforms a little to decide whether the 6mm Franco-Prussian War French will work or whether I need to look at collecting some Crimean War French.

Voila, my next project to add to the growing pile of half and incomplete projects. Ah, wargames heaven.

De Grasse

The last unsuccessful search term from the unsuccessful searches here at Thomo’s Hole was De Grasse. Now this is an interesting one as there are a number of nautical De Grasse’s in particular and I am not sure whether the reader of the blog was looking for the Admiral or the ship. Well, true to form, I’ll give you both.

Admiral de Grasse

François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse
François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse

François Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse (1722 – January 14, 1788) was a French admiral. The potted history of de Grasse really starts in 1776, during the American Revolution. The French Navy was assigned to assist the Americans and de Grasse was a commander of a division. He served under Louis Guillouet, comte d’Orvilliers at the First Battle of Ushant from July 23 to 27, 1778.

In 1779, he joined the fleet in the Caribbean under the command of Count d’Estaing. De Grasse distinguished himself in the battles of Dominica and Saint Lucia in 1780 and Tobago in 1781. He was involved in the capture of Grenada and fought against Admiral Rodney in the Battle of Martinique, where the French were commanded by Guichen.

De Grasse came to the aid of Washington and Rochambeau when he brought 3000 men from Saint-Domingue, landing these reinforcements in Virginia. He then won perhaps his greatest victory when he defeated the British fleet in the Battle of the Chesapeake in September 1781.

His later fortune was somewhat less successful however, being defeated at the Battle of St. Kitts by Admiral Hood and then being defeated and taken prisoner by Admiral Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes.

De Grasse – the Ships

The French Frigate, D612 De Grasse, a frigate of the F67 Type
The French Frigate, D612 De Grasse, a frigate of the F67 Type

There have been five ships carrying the name de Grasse, two in the French Navy and three in the US Navy.

French De Grasse 1

The first French vessel carrying the name De Grasse was an anti aircraft cruiser of the Coubert class. This cruiser was designed in the late 1930s, of a similar design to the preceding La Galissonnière class cruisers although heavier and with improved anti-aircraft equipment. The other two ships of this class, Chateaurenault and Guichen were cancelled.

De Grasse was launched eventually in 1946, commissioned in 1956 and finally scrapped in 1974.

The general characteristics of De Grasse were:
Displacement: 9,389 t (9,241 long tons)
Length: 199.3 m (653 ft 10 in)
Beam 21.5 m (70 ft 6 in)
18.6 m (61 ft 0 in) w/l
Draft: 5.54 m (18 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: 2 × Rateau turbine groups from Chantiers de Bretagne, 27,000 hp (20,134 kW) each
4 × boilers
Speed: 33.8 knots
Complement: 70 officers
160 warrant officers
750 men
Armament: • 8 × twin turrets 127 mm AA
• 10 × twin turrets 57 mm Bofors (later removed)
Armour: Belt: 100 mm (3.9 in)
Deck: 38 mm (1.5 in)

French De Grasse 2

The Second French vessel carrying the name De Grasse is a type F67 frigate, still in service. This vessel is the one illustrated above and was laid down in 1972, launched in 1974, commissioned in 1975 and went into service in 1977. The De Grasse is still in service in the French Navy.

Tourville class frigate

Details of the vessel are:
Class and type:
Displacement: 4580 tonnes (6100 tonnes fully loaded)
Length: 152.75 m
Beam: 15.80 m
Draught: 6.60 m
Propulsion: 2 Rateau steam turbines, double reduction
4 multitubular boilers
Fuel: Gazoil
Propelers : 2 fixed propelers
Power : 58000 hp (42 MW)
Speed: 32 knots
Range: 1900 nautical miles (3500 km) at 30 knots
4500 nautical miles (8300 km) and 18 knots
Complement: 24 officers
160 non-commissioned officers
115 men
Sensors and processing systems: 1 DRBV 51B surface sentry radar
1 DRBV 26A air sentry radar
1 DRBC 32D targeting radar
2 DRBN 34 navigation radar
1 DUBV 23 hull sonar
1 ETBF DSBV 62C sonar
1 DSBX 1 tugged sonar
1 Syva torpedo alert system
Electronic warfare and decoys: 1 ARBB 32 jammer
1 ARBR 16 radar interceptor
2 Syllex decoy launchers bubble belt SENIT
3 SEAO/OPSMER HF, UHF, VHF and SHF liaison systems Syracuse 2 Inmarsat
Link 11
Armament:
Anti-air * 1 Crotale EDIR system (8 missiles on launcher, 18 in magazine)
* 2 x 100 mm turrets (1968 model)
* 2 x 20 mm cannons
* 4 x 12.7 mm machine guns
Anti-surface
* 6 Exocet MM38 anti-ship missiles launchers
Anti-submarine
* 2 x L5 torpedoe launchers, 10 torpedoes on board (L5 mod 4)
Aircraft carried: 2 Lynx WG13

And yes, I have my Conway’s back 🙂

American De Grasse 1

The first De Grasse in the US Navy was the yacht shown below, in service in 1918. Details of this vessel are sketchy and there is no listing for this vessel in Conway’s. The US Naval Historical Center notes:

USS De Grasse, an 81′ 2 1/2″ long section patrol boat, was built in 1917-1918 at Neponset, Massachusetts, as the steam-turbine powered pleasure craft of the same name. Though ordered taken over for World War I Naval service in June 1917, she was not placed in commission until her construction was completed about a year later. De Grasse briefly served in mid-Atlantic coastal waters before being returned to her owner, J.L. Redmond of New York City, in early November 1918.

The yacht, USS De Grasse in 1918
The yacht, USS De Grasse in 1918

American De Grasse 2

The second US Navy vessel to bear this name was a Crater Class Cargo vessel during World War II. With a displacement of 4,023 tons this Liberty ship was active in the Pacific Theatre from November 1943 until decommssioned in April 1946, going on to serve as a general cargo vessel after that date until being scrapped in 1970. The De Grasse was awarded three battle stars.

American De Grasse 3

The third US Navy ship to bear this name was the USS Comte de Grasse (DD-974), named for Admiral Francois-Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse (1722-1788), was a Spruance-class destroyer built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Division of Litton Industries at Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was laid down 4 April 1975, launched 26 March 1976 and commissioned 5 August 1978.

General Characteristics:
Class and type: Spruance-class destroyer
Displacement: 8,040 (long) tons full load
Length: 529 ft (161 m) waterline; 563 ft (172 m) overall
Beam: 55 ft (16.8 m)
Draft: 29 ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, 2 shafts, 80,000 shp (60 MW)
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 20 knots
3,300 nautical miles (6000 km) at 30 knots
Complement: 19 officers, 315 enlisted
Sensors and processing systems: AN/SPS-40 air search radar
AN/SPG-60 fire control radar
AN/SPS-55 surface search radar
AN/SPQ-9 gun fire control radar
Mk 23 TAS automatic detection and tracking radar
AN/SPS-65 Missile fire control radar
AN/SQS-53 bow mounted Active sonar
AN/SQR-19 TACTAS towed arrayPassive sonar
Electronic warfare and decoys: • AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare System
• AN/SLQ-25 Nixie Torpedo Countermeasures
• Mark 36 SRBOC Decoy Launching System
• AN/SLQ-49 Inflatable Decoys
Armament: 2 x 5 in (127 mm) 54 calibre Mark 45 dual purpose guns
2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS Mark 15 guns
1 x 8 cell ASROC launcher (removed)
1 x 8 cell NATO Sea Sparrow Mark 29 missile launcher
2 x quadruple Harpoon missile canisters
2 x Mark 32 triple 12.75 in (324 mm) torpedo tubes (Mk 46 torpedoes)
2 x quadruple ABL Mark 43 Tomahawk missile launchers
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk LAMPS III helicopters.

De Grasse was decommissioned and struck in 1998, eventually being sunk as a target in 2006.

USS Comte De Grasse (DD-974) entering port at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia
USS Comte De Grasse (DD-974) entering port at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia