Alsace Class Battleship - Design

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Design

Three types of battleships were studied, all with the same main artillery arrangement, two turrets forward, one turret aft, and the same secondary artillery arrangement (152 mm caliber), all on center line, one triple turret forward, two triple turrets in superfiring position aft, between the funnel and the aft main artillery turret, as on the C3 version of projects for 1938 bis program.

They differed on two points:

First, the main artillery consists in triple 380 mm turrets, for type n°1, in 406 mm triple turrets, for type n°2, in 380 mm quadruple turrets, for type n°3.

Second, the anti aircraft artillery, consisting in every case of dual mountings of 100 mm caliber (so-called pseudo turrets), had eight mountings, on types n° 1 and 2, twelve mountings on type n° 3, nearly like Jean Bart as completed post war .

The armour is nearly the same (belt : 330 mm on type n°1 and n°2, 350 mm on type n°3; upper armoured deck :170–180 mm; lower armoured deck : 40 mm) and the propulsion assuring the same speed (31.5 knots) as Richelieu, so the length of the hull, the power of propulsion machinery, and the Washington tonnage are varying from 252 m, 170,000 hp (130,000 kW) and 40,000 tons for the type n°1, 256 m, 190,000 hp (140,000 kW) and 42,500 tons for the type n°2, to 265 m, 220,000 hp (160,000 kW) and 45,000 tons for the type n°3.

As seen above, the type n°1 would have been similar to Vittorio Veneto class battleships, for the main artillery, in arrangement and in caliber, and an anti-ship secondary artillery which would have counted one triple turret less, but with a disposition on an axial line, the broadside would have been 50% more powerful, and the anti-aircraft artillery, with a slightly bigger caliber (100 mm instead of 90 mm) would have counted the same number of barrels. It also may be described as something between HMS Vanguard, with one more 381 mm gun, and the HMS Lion battleship class, with a main artillery of only 380 mm caliber.

The type n°2 would have been similar to HMS Lion class, or USS North Carolina class and USS South Dakota class battleships, regarding the main armament, in caliber and in arrangement. The top speed would have been 2 knots (3.7 km/h) higher, 30 kn instead of 28 kn for the U.S. Navy battleships concerned, with consequently a longer hull, more horsepower and an enlarged displacement. The choice of a dual-caliber secondary artillery instead of a dual-purpose one is characteristic of the Continental European navies at the beginning of the Second World War; the lack of a robust light anti-aircraft battery is also consistent with contemporary practice that was soon outstripped by events.

The type n°3 would have retained a distinguishing feature of French capital ships: the quadruple turret. The French Navy advocated such a battery arrangement consistently, incorporating it into the designs of the proposed Normandie and Lyon classes of battleship in the First World War, and then bringing it into practice on the Dunkerque-, Richelieu-, and Gascogne-classes. The secondary artillery would have been near of which will have been fitted on Jean Bart as completed post war (9 x 152 mm and 24 x 100 mm), except the lack of fourteen AA 57 mm dual mountings and twenty 20 mm single mountings.

The French Admiralty is reported to have chosen the type n°1, the nearest of Richelieu design, and discarded the type n°2, because of the delays to perfect the 406 mm guns, a new device for the French Navy, and considered the type n°3 dimensions excessive, being nearly those of Iowa class battleships (270 m, 212,000 hp (158,000 kW), 45,000 tons).

The first unit was intended to be laid down on 1941, in the Penhoët shipyards, where had been built the Normandie transatlantic liner, and later the Strasbourg battleship, and where was being built the Joffre aircraft carrier, the second unit to be laid down on 1942 in a new dock which was intended to be built in the Brest Navy Yards. No work was ever begun on these ships, and even no material stored.

The name of French Provinces, which has been used for Bretagne class battleships and Normandie class battleships, had also been considered a moment for Rubis class nuclear attack submarines, and is currently in use for Aquitaine class second generation stealth frigates.

  • Different versions of the Alsace layout. The Richelieu is featured on top for reference.

Read more about this topic:  Alsace Class Battleship

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