Like many French ships, these cruisers had very high speed but minimal armor. They also had eight longrange 6.1" guns in four rather small turrets and a heavy torpedo battery of 12 21" torpedo tubes. The 6.1" guns' rate of fire was disappointingly low.
One of the great tragedies of naval history is the fate of the French fleet after France's surrender to the Germans in 1940. Waffling by Admiral Gensoul about his intentions for his formidable squadron anchored at Mers el Kebir near Oran led to its massacre by a British squadron commanded by Admiral Somerville, under impatient, desperate orders from Churchill.
There were 3 ships in the class, Duguay Trouin, Primaguet, and Lamotte Piquet. Duguay Trouin was interned under British guns in Alexandria until the collapse of the Vichy government, at which time France became a full-fledged Ally. Primaguet and some French destroyers very il-advisedly sortied to attack American warships in November 1942 and had to be beached from damage or were sunk. Sistership Lamotte Piquet had a different career. Based in Indochina which was overrun by the Japanese even before Pearl Harbor, it rode out the war at anchor. It had participated in a nasty little battle against powerful Thai warships in early 1941, which the Vichy French won, but was disarmed by the Japanese in December of that year.
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