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French battleship Paris
Paris 1914-Marius Bar.jpg
Paris proceeding trials at full steam
Career (France)
Namesake: Paris
Builder: La Seyne, France
Laid down: 10 November 1911
Launched: 28 September 1912
Commissioned: 1 August 1914
Struck: 21 December 1955
Fate: Scrapped beginning in June 1956
General characteristics
Class & type: Courbet-class battleship
Displacement: 23,475 tonnes (23,104 long tons) (standard)
25,579 tonnes (25,175 long tons) (full load)
Length: 166 m (544 ft 7 in)
Beam: 27 m (88 ft 7 in)
Draught: 9.04 m (29 ft 8 in) at normal load
Installed power: 28,000 shp (21,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 shafts
Parsons steam turbines
24 boilers
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) (trials)
Endurance: 4,200 nmi (7,800 km; 4,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 1115–1187

6 × 2 - 305 mm Mle 1910 guns
22 × 1 - 138 mm Mle 1910 guns
4 × 1 - 47 mm (1.9 in) guns

4 × 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: Waterline belt: 180–270 mm (7.1–10.6 in)
Deck: 30–70 mm (1.2–2.8 in)
Turrets: 290–250 mm (11.4–9.8 in)
Barbettes: 280 mm (11 in)
Conning tower: 300 mm (11.8 in)

Paris was the third ship of the Courbet-class battleships, the first dreadnoughts built for the French Navy. She was completed before World War I as part of the 1911 naval building programme. She spent the war in the Mediterranean, spending most of 1914 providing gunfire support for the Montenegrin Army until her sister ship Jean Bart was torpedoed by the submarine U-12 on 21 December.[1] She spent the rest of the war providing cover for the Otranto Barrage that blockaded the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic Sea.

Paris supported French and Spanish troops in 1925 during the Third Rif War before becoming a school ship in 1931. She was modernized in three separate refits between the wars even though she was not deemed to be a first-class battleship. She remained in that role until the Battle of France, which began on 10 May 1940, after which she was hastily rearmed. She supported Allied troops in the defence of Le Havre during June until she was damaged by a German bomb, but she took refuge later that month in England. As part of Operation Catapult, she was seized in Plymouth by British forces on 3 July. She was used as a depot and a barracks ship there by the Royal and Polish Navies for the rest of the war. Returned to the French in July 1945 she was towed to Brest the following month and used as a depot ship until she was stricken on 21 December 1955.

Description[edit | edit source]

Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1912

Paris was 166 metres (544 ft 7 in) long overall. She had a beam of 27 metres (88 ft 7 in) and at full load a draft of 9.04 metres (29 ft 8 in) at the bow. She displaced 23,475 tonnes (23,100 long tons) at standard load and 25,579 tonnes (25,180 long tons) at full load.[2] She proved to be rather wet in service as she was bow-heavy because her superimposed turrets were close to the bow.[1]

Paris had four propellers powered by four Parsons direct-drive steam turbines which were rated at 28,000 shaft horsepower (21,000 kW). Twenty-four Belleville water-tube boilers provided steam for her turbines. These boilers were coal-burning with auxiliary oil sprayers.[3] She had a designed speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).[2] She carried up to 2,700 long tons (2,700 t) of coal and 906 long tons (921 t) of oil and could steam for 4,200 nautical miles (7,800 km; 4,800 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[1]

Paris's main armament consisted of twelve 305-millimetre (12 in) Mle 1910 45-calibre guns were mounted in six twin gun turrets, with two turrets superimposed fore and aft, and one on each flank of the ship. For anti-torpedo boat defence she carried twenty-two 138-millimetre (5.4 in) Mle 1910 guns, which were mounted in casemates. Four 47-millimetre (1.9 in) Modèle 1902 Hotchkiss guns were fitted, two on each beam. She was also armed with four 450-millimetre (18 in) submerged Modèle 1909 torpedo tubes with twelve torpedoes.[3]

Paris's waterline armoured belt extended well below the waterline as the French were concerned about protection from underwater hits. Her main armour was also thinner than that of her British or German counterparts, but covered more area. It was 270 millimetres (10.6 in) thick between the fore and aft turrets and tapered to 180 mm (7.1 in) towards the bow and stern. It extended 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) below the normal waterline. Above the main belt was another belt, 180 mm thick, that covered the sides, and the secondary armament, up to the forecastle deck, 4.5 metres (14 ft 9 in) deep, between the fore and aft turrets. The conning tower had armour 300 mm (11.8 in) thick. The main gun turrets had 290 millimetres (11.4 in) of armour on their faces, 250 millimetres (9.8 in) on their sides and roofs 100 millimetres (3.9 in) thick. Their barbettes had 280 millimetres (11.0 in) of armour. There was no anti-torpedo bulkhead although there was a longitudinal bulkhead abreast the machinery spaces that was used either as a coal bunker or left as a void.[4]

Career[edit | edit source]

Paris was built by the Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée shipyard in La Seyne. Her keel was laid down on 10 November 1911 and she was launched on 28 September 1912. She was completed on 1 August 1914, just in time for World War I.

After working up she was sent, along with her sisters, to the Mediterranean Sea. She spent most of the rest of 1914 providing gunfire support for the Montenegrin Army until U-12 hit Jean Bart on 21 December with a torpedo.[1] This forced the battleships to fall back to either Malta or Bizerte to cover the Otranto Barrage. After the French occupied the neutral Greek island of Corfu in 1916 she moved forward to Corfu and Argostoli, but her activities were very limited as much of her crew was used to man anti-submarine ships.[5] Before the end of the war she was fitted with seven 75-millimetre (3 in) Mle 1897 anti-aircraft (AA) guns in single mounts.[6] These guns were adaptions of the famous French Mle 97 75-mm field gun.[7]

Interwar years[edit | edit source]

Paris was sent to Pula on 12 December 1918 to supervise the surrendered Austro-Hungarian fleet, where she remained until 25 March 1919. She provided cover for Greek troops during the Occupation of İzmir (Smyrna) from May 1919 before returning to Toulon on 30 June.[5] She received the first of her upgrades at Brest between 25 October 1922 and 25 November 1923. This included replacing one set of boilers with oil-fired boilers, increasing the maximum elevation of the main armament from 12° to 23°, removal of her bow armour to make her less bow-heavy, the installation of a fire-control director, with a 4.57 metres (15.0 ft) rangefinder, and the exchange of her Mle 1897 AA guns for Mle 1918 guns.[8] After her return to service she supported an amphibious landing at Al Hoceima by Spanish troops during the summer of 1925 after the Rifs attacked French Morocco during the Third Rif War. She destroyed coastal defence batteries there despite taking light damage from six hits and remained there until October as the flagship of the French forces. She was refitted again from 16 August 1927 to 15 January 1929 at Toulon and her fire-control systems were comprehensively upgraded. A large cruiser-type fire-control director was added atop the foremast with a 4.57-m coincidence rangefinder and a 3-metre (9 ft 10 in) stereo rangefinder. The rangefinder above the conning tower was replaced by a duplex unit carrying two 4.57-m rangefinders and another 4.57-m rangefinder was added in an armoured hood next to the main mast. Two directors for the secondary guns were added on the navigation bridge, each with a 2-metre (6 ft 7 in) coincidence rangefinder. A 8.2 metres (26 ft 11 in) rangefinder was added to the roof of 'B' turret, the second one from the bow. Three 1.5-metre (4 ft 11 in) rangefinders were provided for her anti-aircraft guns, one on top of the duplex unit on the conning tower, one on 'B' turret and one in the aft superstructure.[8] She resumed her role as flagship of the 2nd Division of the 1st Squadron of the Mediterranean Squadron until 1 October 1931 when she became a training ship.[5]

Paris was overhauled again between 1 July 1934 and 21 May 1935. Her boilers were overhauled, her main guns replaced and her Mle 1918 AA guns were exchanged for more modern Mle 1922 guns. They had a maximum depression of 10° and a maximum elevation of 90°. They fired a 5.93-kilogram (13.1 lb) shell at a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s) at a rate of fire of 8–18 rounds per minute and had a maximum effective ceiling of 8,000 metres (26,000 ft).[9]

World War II[edit | edit source]

Paris and Courbet formed a Fifth Squadron at the beginning of the war. They were transferred to the Atlantic to continue their training duties without interference. Both ships were ordered restored to operational status on 21 May 1940 by Amiral Mord and they were given six Hotchkiss 13.2-millimetre (0.52 in) twin machine gun mounts and two single 13.2-mm Browning machine guns at Cherbourg. Paris was ordered to Le Havre on 6 June to provide gunfire support on the Somme front and covered the evacuation of the town by the Allies, although the lack of spotting aircraft meant that she was not particularly effective in that role. Instead she helped to defend the harbour of Le Havre against German aircraft until she was hit by a bomb on 11 June. She sailed for Cherbourg that night for temporary repairs despite taking on 300 long tons (305 t) of water per hour. She was transferred to Brest on 14 June and carried 2,800 men when that port was evacuated on 18 June.[10]

In the wake of the Armistice, Paris was docked at Plymouth, England. On 3 July 1940, as part of Operation Catapult, British forces forcibly boarded her and she was used by the British as a depot ship and as a barracks ship by the Polish Navy for the rest of the war. On 21 August 1945, after the war had ended, Paris was towed to Brest where she continued in her role as a depot ship.[11] She was sold for scrap on 21 December 1955 and broken up at La Seyne from June 1956.[12]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gardiner & Gray, p. 197
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dumas, p. 223
  3. 3.0 3.1 Whitley, p. 36
  4. Whitley, p. 35
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Whitley, p. 38
  6. Dumas, p. 226
  7. Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 306. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dumas, p. 225
  9. "French 75 mm/50 (2.95") Model 1922, 1924 and 1927". Navweaps.com. 24 March 2007. http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNFR_3-50_m1922.htm. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  10. Whitley, pp. 38–9
  11. Whitley, p. 39
  12. Dumas, p. 231

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Dumas, Robert (1985). "The French Dreadnoughts: The 23,500 ton Courbet Class". In John Roberts. Warship. IX. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 154–164, 223–231. ISBN 0-87021-984-7. OCLC 26058427. 
  • Dumas, Robert; Guiglini, Jean (1980). Les cuirassés français de 23,500 tonnes. Grenoble, France: Editions de 4 Seigneurs. OCLC 7836734. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chesneau, Roger, eds (1980). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Jordan, John; Dumas, Robert (2009). French Battleships 1922–1956. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-416-8. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1998). Battleships of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-184-X. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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