French Armoured Cruisers 1887-1932...

 

... from Seaforth Publications

 

Title: French Armoured Cruisers 1887-1932

Author: John Jordan & Philippe Caresse

Publisher: Seaforth Publications

ISBN: 978-1-5267-4118-9

 

A large format hardback book from Seaforth Publishing, 272-pages of fascinating reading. An excellent mix of the facts and figures about the various classes of French Armoured Cruisers along with their individual stories through WW1 and beyond. Split into 2 parts, the Technical Section and then the Historical Section. Twelve chapters in all. A series of ships I knew nothing about to begin with but was fascinated to see the various designs through a period of technological change, and of course, a World War.
The Technical Section takes us through each of the various classes, giving all the details and illustrating each ship of each class. It opens with First Steps, Dupuy-De-Lone and the Amiral Charner Class. That is followed by the Cruiser Flagships Pothuau and D'Entrecasteaux, the Fast Armoured Cruiser Jeanne d'Arc, Station Cruisers of the Dupleix Class, Fleet Cruisers of the Gueydon and Gloire Classes, Large Fleet Cruisers of the Leon Gambetta Class. Chapter 8 covers The Quest for Speed, Jules Michelet and Ernest Renan and then the Last Armoured Cruisers, Edgar Quinet and Waldeck-Rousseau before the Technical Section is rounded off with an explanation of their Organisation. Each one is illustrated with a good selection of archive photos along with lots of plans, many created from the original ship's plans, showing hull forms, armour protection, weapons, ammunition supply, command room layouts, propulsion systems and more. The designs vary a lot, while the early ones, with a weird looking 'plough bow', which incorporated a ram which is more reminiscent of a Roman Galley than a 20th Century cruiser. Later ships, with no less than 6-funnels, are equally distinctive, though by then the designs had dispensed with the odd bow.
The Historical section examines the story of the cruisers during WW1, a conflict which most managed to survive though they had never actually been involved with major ship-vs-ship action for which they had been designed. After the end of the war they were soon obsolete, and it is quite sad to see some reduced to dis-armed training vessels, hulks or just target ships. A marvellous book and one I think will remain unsurpassed as the 'go to' reference on the subject.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.

Robin