Except for 5 battleships, at the outbreak of the Second World War the French fleet was all modern, formed by ships in service for not more than thirteen years, robust, fast and well built: in particular, 32 destroyers are bigger and better armed than the similar ones foreign units, so much so that some can be assimilated to light cruisers of oth...
Except for 5 battleships, at the outbreak of the Second World War the French fleet was all modern, formed by ships in service for not more than thirteen years, robust, fast and well built: in particular, 32 destroyers are bigger and better armed than the similar ones foreign units, so much so that some can be assimilated to light cruisers of other marinas. The crews are trained day and night efficiently, disciplined and with seriousness of purpose. But the lack of radar, an echogonometer, the lack of heavy anti-aircraft guns and the absence of modern aircraft carriers (with the exception of the old Bearn) and therefore of adequate sea airborne aviation, made it a powerful marina in the twenties but inadequate to the new air-naval war that would soon have to fight.
It must be said that the fleet expansion program was animated by farsighted intentions, deriving from the experience acquired after the First World War and in anticipation of the developments that would have taken the submarine and the plane, which led the French Navy towards the idea of a fleet based on numerous underwater units, fast divisions of cruisers and destroyers and direct air support, theories that therefore excluded the use of units such as battleships.
The focus was then on the construction of cruisers, super-destroyers or conductors or explorers, torpedoes and submarines, reaching the first battleships (class Dunquerke) only in 1931 and only in response to the German pocket battleships: from these derived the concept of fast, well protected and well-armed unit, called "croiseur de combat", suitable for fighting cruisers, attacking traffic and detaching battleships in speed, implementing those ideas of speed, lightness and running war, of rapid attacks and evolutions, that should have characterized the modern French fleet.
These were followed by the only battleships of the Richelieu class, made in response to the Italian Vittorio Veneto and Littorio, and, like all the great French battleships, not designed as an improvement of the battleships, but as a strengthening and greater balancing of the battle cruiser in agreement with the general lines of the entire French fleet.
The modern battle ships of La Royale were generally well built, with a more than good quality armament, albeit relatively delicate in the mechanisms and equipment, with a rather contained protection in the thicknesses but sufficiently well distributed and with undoubted qualities of speed and maneuverability. Despite its ups and downs, its units were honored in the clashes in South East Asia.