Le Fantasque class Super Destroyers

One of the more magnificent tragedies of World War II was the fate of the French fleet after the Fall of France -- its surrender to Germany -- in 1940. The French had built beautiful and revolutionary ships to challenge Fascist Italy in the Mediterranean as well as assist the Royal Navy in the Atlantic and around the world.

The Le Fantasque super destroyers epitomized this. They carried five heavy 5.5" guns in what would become the preferred 2-1-2 single mount configuration. (The French positioned the superfiring mounts right on the edge of their superstructures, and they look very precarious. In use, their rate of fire was disappointingly less than expected.) They had ten of the large 21.7" torpedo tubes -- triple mounts on either side and farther back a center mounted quadruple mount. And they had an incredibly high maximum speed: according to Whitley (Destroyers of World War Two) Le Terrible hit 45 knots(!) during trials, and the ships could sail at over 40 knots for sustained periods with only moderate fuel consumption.

The fate of these ships was that of France. Le Terrible was at Mers el Kebir in 1940, when under Churchill's orders the Royal Navy "immobilized" -- disabled and in the case of old battleship Bretagne blew up ... massacred? -- the French squadron there. (Understandably, the British were desperate that the French fleet not be surrendered to be used to support a cross-Channel invasion of them. Thanks to the Vichy treaty making France neutral, British take-action-this-day, and private understandings, it wasn't.)

L'Indomtable was scuttled at Toulon on 27Nov42 (when Germany invaded/occupied Vichy France) along with many of France's finest ships, but the rest of the class joined the Allies, albeit with the removal of the rear set of torpedo tubes and the addition of Allied 40mm and 20mm antiaircraft guns.

Here is the class in its postwar configuration, from ONI 200 (1950):

And here is the class in its 1940 configuration ... or as close to it as I could alter the ONI 200 drawing, anyway:

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