French light cruisers in the Adriatic

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4287
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

French light cruisers in the Adriatic

Post by Urmel » 02 Dec 2008 23:37

Split off from this thread http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 6&t=117820

mescal wrote:
Lupo Solitario wrote:I know that n the 1943-45 period, there had been a sort of naval guerrilia in Adriatic sea involving germans, croatians, english, americans, yugo partisans and italians on either side but it's difficult to find data.
Have you any info or indications?
Hello,

The French Navy was involved as well in the first half of 1944, with the 10th Divison of Light Cruisers (Le Fantasque, Le Terrible, Le Malin) making high speed sweeps in the Adriatic, destroying some German convoys in the process.

Some info (in French) can be found here, from page 18 on :
http://www.servicehistorique.sga.defens ... lance1.pdf
Just to clarify, I think these ships would have been classed large destroyers, and not light cruisers. I believe they were placed in a light cruiser division because they were much closer to British light cruisers, instead of British destroyers, even the most powerful of which at the time (Laforey Class) were significantly less capable than the French Contre-Torpilleurs
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Bronsky
Member
Posts: 825
Joined: 11 Apr 2003 09:28
Location: Paris

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Bronsky » 03 Dec 2008 00:29

From a technical point of view, you're right but for prestige reasons they were reclassified as light cruisers sometime in 1943-44.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4287
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Urmel » 03 Dec 2008 00:40

Could it also be that they would not have fitted well with the British destroyers, which would presumably have used different tactics?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
mescal
Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: 30 Mar 2008 14:46
Location: France, EUR

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by mescal » 03 Dec 2008 13:08

Those 3 ships operated already together as a division in 1939/1940.
This was I think a good reason to keep them together.

I would have thought that the difference of speed would prevent joint operation, but I see that the L & M class of RN Destroyers reached 36 knots, when the top speed of the Fantasque destroyers was down to 37 after their 1943 refit.

The main reason of their designation as CL is national prestige.
Olivier

takata_1940
Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 01 Jun 2007 05:48
Location: France

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by takata_1940 » 06 Dec 2008 03:11

Bronsky wrote:From a technical point of view, you're right but for prestige reasons they were reclassified as light cruisers sometime in 1943-44.
Hello Bronsky,
I'm sure French prestige was surely taken into consideration but, from the time of the London Naval Treaty (April 22 1930), such class of vessel was already considered as 'Light Cruisers' (above 1,850 tons /1,880 tonnes) and 'Destroyers' were under such standard displacement. Their displacement was above 3,400 tons fully loaded and above 4,000 tons for the Mogador Class (both had 5.5 inch guns also) but, of course, they lacked the range of real Cruisers.
(In fact, all French Contre-Torpilleurs belonged to this category defined by the treaty)
S~
Olivier
Naval London Treaty wrote: Article 15
For the purpose of this Part III the definition of the cruiser and destroyer categories shall be as follows:

Cruisers
Surface vessels of war, other than capital ships or aircraft carriers, the standard displacement of which exceeds 1,850 tons (1,880 metric tons), or with a gun above 5.1 inch (130 mm) calibre.
The cruiser category is divided into two sub-categories, as follows:
(a) Cruisers carrying a gun above 6.1 inch (155 mm) calibre;
(b) Cruisers carrying a gun not above 6.1 inch (155 mm) calibre.

Destroyers
Surface vessels of war the standard displacement of which does not exceed 1,850 tons (1,880 metric tons), and with a gun not above 5.1 inch (130 mm) calibre.

User avatar
Bronsky
Member
Posts: 825
Joined: 11 Apr 2003 09:28
Location: Paris

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Bronsky » 06 Dec 2008 13:17

Oh, so they were considered light cruisers from an international point of view? Interesting, I didn't know that.

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4287
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Urmel » 06 Dec 2008 21:40

takata_1940 wrote:
Bronsky wrote:From a technical point of view, you're right but for prestige reasons they were reclassified as light cruisers sometime in 1943-44.
Hello Bronsky,
I'm sure French prestige was surely taken into consideration but, from the time of the London Naval Treaty (April 22 1930), such class of vessel was already considered as 'Light Cruisers' (above 1,850 tons /1,880 tonnes) and 'Destroyers' were under such standard displacement. Their displacement was above 3,400 tons fully loaded and above 4,000 tons for the Mogador Class (both had 5.5 inch guns also) but, of course, they lacked the range of real Cruisers.
(In fact, all French Contre-Torpilleurs belonged to this category defined by the treaty)
S~
Olivier
Naval London Treaty wrote: Article 15
For the purpose of this Part III the definition of the cruiser and destroyer categories shall be as follows:

Cruisers
Surface vessels of war, other than capital ships or aircraft carriers, the standard displacement of which exceeds 1,850 tons (1,880 metric tons), or with a gun above 5.1 inch (130 mm) calibre.
The cruiser category is divided into two sub-categories, as follows:
(a) Cruisers carrying a gun above 6.1 inch (155 mm) calibre;
(b) Cruisers carrying a gun not above 6.1 inch (155 mm) calibre.

Destroyers
Surface vessels of war the standard displacement of which does not exceed 1,850 tons (1,880 metric tons), and with a gun not above 5.1 inch (130 mm) calibre.
This is interesting in theory, but in reality nobody seems to have cared about the treaty at this stage, and as far as I can remember, in comtemporary sources or those from naval experts written after the war, the French destroyers of this class or the even larger Mogadors are always referred to as 'large destroyers'. The French themselves did not refer to them as cruisers. The last pre-war class of British destroyers, the L class also exceeded this displacement (although not by as much), which is not surprising, given that the 1936 revision seems to have done away with it altogether. The new classification seems to account for the tendency of destroyers to grow larger and better armed:

So by the start of WW II, these French vessels were not considered cruisers, but would be in class C of the revised classification, which appears to be the destroyer class.
(3) Light surface vessels are surface vessels of war other than aircraft-carriers, minor war vessels or auxiliary vessels, the standard displacement of which exceeds 100 tons (102 metric tons) and does not exceed 10,000 tons (10,160 metric tons), and which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 8 in. (203 mm.).

The category of light surface vessels is divided into three sub-categories as follows:

(a) Vessels which carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in. (155 mm.);

(b) Vessels which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in. (155 mm.) and the standard displacement of which exceeds 3,000 tons (3,048 metric tons);

(c) Vessels which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in. (155 mm.) and the standard displacement of which does not exceed 3,000 tons (3,048 metric tons).

[...]

(5) Minor war vessels are surface vessels of war, other than auxiliary vessels, the standard displacement of which exceeds 100 tons (102 metric tons) and does not exceed 2,000 tons (2,032 metric tons), provided they have none of the following characteristics:

(a) Mount a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in. (155 mm.);

(b) Are designed or fitted to launch torpedoes;

(c) Are designed for a speed greater than twenty knots.
http://www.navweaps.com/index_tech/tech ... y_1936.htm
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

takata_1940
Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 01 Jun 2007 05:48
Location: France

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by takata_1940 » 07 Dec 2008 02:47

Urmel wrote:This is interesting in theory, but in reality nobody seems to have cared about the treaty at this stage, and as far as I can remember, in comtemporary sources or those from naval experts written after the war, the French destroyers of this class or the even larger Mogadors are always referred to as 'large destroyers'.
From pre-war British documentation (Jane's), they are refered as 'Large Flotilla Leaders', which is a concept alien to the French Navy; as the Royal Navy had no trully equivalent warships, they were considered somewhere between cruisers and destroyers. Sure, in 1943-1944, nobody cared anymore about the treaties, but before the war, everybody cared a lot.
Urmel wrote:The French themselves did not refer to them as cruisers.
They had a specific class called 'contre-torpilleurs' which didn't exist in British classification, so, no need to call them cruisers as they were not genuine cruisers by their lack of range. The reason for them to be classified as light cruisers in 1943 was linked to the mission they were supposed to be tasked for rather than anything else (prestige). They were not designed as 'deluxe' escort vessels and were reclassified as to fit their mission with the 12th Cruiser Squadron.
It is explained here:
Le Terrible constitue, aux côtés de ses sisterships, le Fantasque et le Malin, la 10e Division de Contre-Torpilleurs, rebaptisée en octobre [1943] sur la suggestion de son commandant, le C.V. Perzo, 10e Division de Croiseurs Légers (D.C.L.). Aux yeux des marins français, il faut à tout prix éviter aux contre-torpilleurs, bâtiments longtemps sans équivalents dans les marines alliées, de se voir appliquer les normes des destroyers anglo-saxons , jugées indignes de leur potentiel.
(in 'De Dakar à Suez, un itinéraire emblématique: l'amiral Lancelot ')
S~
Olivier

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4287
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Urmel » 07 Dec 2008 11:58

takata_1940 wrote:Sure, in 1943-1944, nobody cared anymore about the treaties, but before the war, everybody cared a lot.
Depends when. I think by 1938 at least some people (e.g. Germany, Japan) had stopped caring.

In any case, the 1936 revision classed them into group C of the 'Light Surface Vessel' category, and since that was the lowest classification, I think it is arguable they would not have been considered cruisers anymore from that point onward. Light cruisers of the period such as the Royal Navy's Arethusas (which were really quite light as far as cruisers were concerned), the Leanders, or the Southamptons, would have been in group B of the revised classification. I can't think of a RN class now that is <10,000 tons standard and has guns bigger than 6.1".

See also the German Narviks, which were clearly destroyers as far as anyone was concerned, but under the 1930 classification would have been light cruisers, both by gun size (insert size & motion joke here) and displacement. It may just be that by inventing the term contre-torpilleur the French felt that they needed to put a fake moustache on what was still a destroyer. :)

Why do I feel this discussion should be sent to another section?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Bronsky
Member
Posts: 825
Joined: 11 Apr 2003 09:28
Location: Paris

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Bronsky » 07 Dec 2008 13:58

As I'm confident that a moderator will put everything right at some point, I'll continue hijacking this thread. 8-)

The "contre-torpilleurs" concept wasn't specific to the French. At the turn of the century, two things happened: the dreadnought and the torpedo. Capital ships became "all big guns" ships, while light ships suddenly were provided with a silver bullet that might - or so it was thought - turn into an equalizer. The French "Jeune Ecole" hoped to build a mosquito fleet of torpedo boats that might be able to sink the British battle line, at a fraction of the cost.

So most nations started building torpedo boats: torpilleurs (French), torpediniere (Italian), Torpedoboote (German). Then every navy with battleships started building specific counters to this class of ships. The new ship was called a destroyer (i.e. of torpedo boats) in English, a contre-torpilleurs (i.e. "counter torpedo boats") in French, a cacciatorpediniere (i.e. torpedo boat hunter) in Italian, a Zerstörer (i.e. destroyer) in German, etc. By the start of WWII, most navies' destroyers came in two categories: the small and the large ones. Navies like the Kriegsmarine, Marine Nationale of Regia Marina had different class names for them, the Royal Navy called both "destroyers" although in practice there was a distinction between a fleet destroyer and the pedestrian version. The size of these light ships uniformly grew, which led to the largest of the "large destroyers" reaching prewar light cruiser size.

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Jon G. » 07 Dec 2008 18:32

I believe that the contre-torpilleurs were themselves developed as a response to large Italian 'flotilla leaders' and (also large) WW1-era destroyers.
Urmel wrote:
Sure, in 1943-1944, nobody cared anymore about the treaties, but before the war, everybody cared a lot.
...I think by 1938 at least some people (e.g. Germany, Japan) had stopped caring...
That depends on which treaty we're talking about. Japan was definitely out of the Washington Treaty by 1938, but Germany was never part of those agreements whereas they were in open defiance of the Versailles Treaty by 1938, but also AFAIK still within the generous limits of the 1935 Anglo-German naval treaty.
...Why do I feel this discussion should be sent to another section?
I've done the split-off.

takata_1940
Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 01 Jun 2007 05:48
Location: France

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by takata_1940 » 07 Dec 2008 22:15

Hello Urmel, Louis (Bronsky) and Jon,

Thanks for splitting the Thread. I will not go into the semantics with Bronsky on this matter, even if some of the designations of what is what may be discussed at length.
Urmel wrote:
takata_1940 wrote:Sure, in 1943-1944, nobody cared anymore about the treaties, but before the war, everybody cared a lot.
Depends when. I think by 1938 at least some people (e.g. Germany, Japan) had stopped caring.
Then what is your point here?
Of course, by the time one would start not caring anymore about treaties, others would follow but this is not very relevant with the point I discussed which was that by the 1930 London Naval treaty, such class of warship was not seen as destroyers anymore by the British which classified them as 'class b cruisers'.
Then, you may notice that, in 1930, only France with many 1,800+ tons boats was aimed by this treaty clause as she has, from 1922 programs, 6 Chacal (2,400 tons), 6 Guépard (2,700 tons), 6 Aigle (2,660 tons), 6 Vauquelin (2,660 tons) already built or under construction, and more authorised with a growing displacement. If someone was interested in to put 'fake cruiser moustaches' on them, it was the Royal Navy, not the French Navy which always considered them for what they specifically were: 'contre-torpilleurs'.
Urmel wrote:In any case, the 1936 revision classed them into group C of the 'Light Surface Vessel' category, and since that was the lowest classification, I think it is arguable they would not have been considered cruisers anymore from that point onward. Light cruisers of the period such as the Royal Navy's Arethusas (which were really quite light as far as cruisers were concerned), the Leanders, or the Southamptons, would have been in group B of the revised classification. I can't think of a RN class now that is <10,000 tons standard and has guns bigger than 6.1".
Right.
But you may also notice that the Naval treaties were issued to control warships building based on British standards, not taking other Navies specifics into account, and the French were not disposed to be limited in 'cruisers' number by the fragment of the British tonnage that was allocated to them by the 1930 London treaty. They basically agreed the overall limitation but were opposed to the class allotment as based on British standards. So, by 1936, the cruiser/destroyer separation was refined with 3 'light surface vessels categories' in order to reach an agreement with France on this point. It could have been in one way or the other (either allowing France more 'cruiser' tonnage or by increasing class c tonnage limit — the British imposed the later in order to limit under 3,000 tons the French contre-torpilleurs program).
Urmel wrote:See also the German Narviks, which were clearly destroyers as far as anyone was concerned, but under the 1930 classification would have been light cruisers, both by gun size (insert size & motion joke here) and displacement.
Right and, by the way, the contre-torpilleur French program was started in 1917 as a response to large German flotilla craft and the French Navy operated l'Amiral Sénès of 2,500 tons wich was the ex-German S113. My point is that during 1922-1938, I can only see France building such class of warships with a specific tactical role attributed to them (as they were not Fleet escort); other navies will start building some mostly during the war and their tactical employment was different, excepted on the Kriegsmarine wich had not much left to escort.
Urmel wrote:It may just be that by inventing the term contre-torpilleur the French felt that they needed to put a fake moustache on what was still a destroyer. :)
I disagree here as 'destroyer' classification (and other) was based on British standards when French designs and tactical use was different from the Royal Navy (RN flotilla leaders could be destroyers or light cruisers but were not also contre-torpilleurs by the French standards). Why this would have to be fake as any classification boundary is most of the time much more theoretical than just practical?

Anyway, my initial remark was not to discuss the treaties but to point on the fact that no arbitrary classification may be really affected to such craft by their historical treaty background and to challenge the claim that it should be considered, concerning their re-classification, as a 'prestige' matter (and here, I joined with your above post of 03 Dec 2008 00:40).

Moreover, I provided the explanation about their re-classification as 'light cruisers' in October 1943...which was not a political move (national prestige is dealt with in political decisions). It was originated and asked directly by the commander of the 10e Division de Contre-Torpilleurs in order to be affected for employment in Cruiser Squadron, considering that the potential of his boats would be wasted in British/US destroyer missions. So it was a tactical consideration and not something else.

S~
Olivier

takata_1940
Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 01 Jun 2007 05:48
Location: France

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by takata_1940 » 08 Dec 2008 00:11

Hi Jon,
Jon G. wrote:I believe that the contre-torpilleurs were themselves developed as a response to large Italian 'flotilla leaders' and (also large) WW1-era destroyers.
'Large Italian Flotilla leaders'?
Italy had no program concerning such vessels. Her largest boat class being the Navigatori of 1926 of about 1,800 tons. But yes about the German ones of WWI.
S~
Olivier

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by Jon G. » 08 Dec 2008 12:43

takata_1940 wrote:'Large Italian Flotilla leaders'?
Italy had no program concerning such vessels. Her largest boat class being the Navigatori of 1926 of about 1,800 tons. But yes about the German ones of WWI.
I was thinking about the Leone class destroyers which AFAIK were the largest Italian destroyers at the time the French began building their contre-torpilleurs - although the Leones were delayed due to steel shortages, they were laid down already in 1917.

The Leones weren't so prolific during WW2 because the three ships completed all served in the Red Sea. Later Italian designs were bigger, but then they in turn were influenced by the contre-torpilleurs.

takata_1940
Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 01 Jun 2007 05:48
Location: France

Re: Adriatic sea 1943-45

Post by takata_1940 » 08 Dec 2008 19:50

Jon G. wrote:
takata_1940 wrote:'Large Italian Flotilla leaders'?
Italy had no program concerning such vessels. Her largest boat class being the Navigatori of 1926 of about 1,800 tons. But yes about the German ones of WWI.
I was thinking about the Leone class destroyers which AFAIK were the largest Italian destroyers at the time the French began building their contre-torpilleurs - although the Leones were delayed due to steel shortages, they were laid down already in 1917.

The Leones weren't so prolific during WW2 because the three ships completed all served in the Red Sea. Later Italian designs were bigger, but then they in turn were influenced by the contre-torpilleurs.
Right, I forgot about this class as they were fitted for colonies. In fact, the only three built (two cancelled) were laid down much later (23-11-1921; 19-12-1921; 23-1-1922) and completed in 1924. They were classified also as 'Light Scout' until Sept. 1938, with a displacement of 2,195 tons. French designs on contre-torpilleur started in 1917, at about the same time this class was ordered from Ansaldo shipyards, but I have no clue if it has any influence on French decision.

S~
Olivier

Return to “France 1919-1945”