Sinking of French Fleet

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Francis Marliere
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by Francis Marliere » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:33 pm

yes, I know that. The problem is that, as you say, Britain ha,s in the dark years of 1940-1941, little industrial power to spare. I would add that French used a lot of different shells (380 mm, 340 mm, 330 mm, 305 mm, 203 mm, 155 mm, 152 mm, 4 kinds of 138 mm, 3 kinds of 130 mm 3 of 100 mm, 90 mm and 75 mm), and I am not certain that British industry could quickly build them in time. I guess that only the most valuable units would be kept in service, such as the modern BB and CL. Historicaly, many of the French warships captured in Britain were not used by Free French Forces because of lack of manpower, but also of spares and ammunition.

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Francis

pg55555
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:40 pm

.

A few things ;

1: Yes, shells were problematic, but battleships didn't use their supply up very fast. The effective life of a gun barrel was limited (it varied from gun to gun and navy to navy) to probably no more than 50% to 100% of the on board magazine. Regular practice may be as little as 10 to 15 rounds per year (again varied). Such things as charges (different propellent) and obturators might be a little difficult.

2: IN GENERAL, as long as the ships carried their full books and drawings (not down to the lowest level) then most ordinary maintenance "could" be done by a fleet base - most tubes, nuts and bolts could be turned or fabricated from conversion from metric to imperial dimensions. This was done on the French and Polish ships used during the war.

The trouble lay in specialist parts (e.g. optics or specialist castings). Turbine blades and other complex parts "could" be copied, but would take time, but if a turbine casting went there might be problems. Large valves and Condensers, etc..... would probably be replaced with ordinary (imperial sized) commercial units with imperial to metric transition pieces.

All this sort of work was "standard" in all major ports as ordinary merchant ships had maintenance requirements that needed urgent attention.

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by lwd » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:44 pm

pg55555 wrote:..... The effective life of a gun barrel was limited (it varied from gun to gun and navy to navy) to probably no more than 50% to 100% of the on board magazine. ....
Your a bit off there. For instance if you are talking about the French 15" gun according to:
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNFR_15-45_m1935.htm
They carried 104 rounds per gun but barrel life was around 200 rounds or 200% of on board ammo.
For the 13" guns:
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNFR_13-50_m1931.htm
Carried 110 or 114 and barrel life ~250.
If we look at say the Colorado depedning on whether you are talking mk 5 or mk 8 rounds barrel life is 320 or 395 while they carried 100 rounds per gun. See:
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_16-45_mk5.htm

pg55555
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:58 pm

.

Sorry it was meant to be the other way around - Magazines holding approx 50 to 100% of REMAINING Effective gun life.

Apologies.

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by wadinga » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:35 am

All,
The last of Paul's threads that started a fight over whether Mussolini was any good as a dictator got locked....... so enough said.

The point of Churchill's actions was to stop French warships serving Hitler's purpose and negating British Seapower, not necessarily get the use of them for the Royal Navy. (Relined to 14"?)

The French considered more British troops and aircraft should/could have been deployed in France and Churchill was holding things in reserve which should have been thrown into the battle. However the French forces should have been enough on their own to defend their country. Petain took over on the 16th June and asked the Germans for an Armistice, but did not get an immediate answer. When France's newest battleships turned south, Britain had just made an offer of union :shock: . No one left in French government was saying "nous les combattrons sur les plages, nous les battrons dans les champs et dans les montagnes....nous rendrons jamais. The horror of the first world war casualties plus fear of Communism perhaps made fascist control more acceptable. The French army should have been fighting all the way to the outskirts of Marseilles. Instead with two thirds of the country untouched, abject surrender followed. At that point no-one could know Hitler would leave the south and the Toulon ships untouched until 1942.

It is fashionable to concentrate on Churchill's many faults, and seek to minimise his contributions to final victory, but would any democratic politician but that magnificent monster have held out when all hope seemed gone? He faced the ghastly dilemma that the only superiority Britain apparently had against an unstoppable enemy, could be negated if the French Navy could be threatened or coerced into aiding their conquerors.

Brutal, but necessary. C'est la Guerre!

All the best
wadinga
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:11 am

Francis Marliere wrote: I would like to point out that French guns could not, as far as I know, use British ammunitions (British 15" shells and French 380 mm were not of the same caliber). I guess it would take time to build ammunitions for French ships or rearm them with British guns.
If the option of rearming with British guns is taken - the most likely solution I would have thought - would it have taken any longer than arming the POW? If the timescale starts early August 1940 then possibly these ships could have been commissioned into full service slightly earlier than the POW was in March 1941? And be worked up better in May 1941 than POW?
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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:30 am

pg55555 wrote:.
RF,
Your "empirical facts" just don't support your idea of Italy being purely defensive.
Where's your evidence? You offer abuse not refutation.
Let's add a few more - how about the multiple bombings of Malta and the submarine operations ?
This continues the tactic of not answering my analysis but on shifting to another front. And in falling back on air attacks on Malta and submarine operations you are now really scraping the barrel.
The Italian air attacks on Malta were so lightweight and ineffective that for the first six months to December 1940 they achieved practically nothing, even with the totally inadequate British air defence. The Luftwaffe had to take over the job in January 1941, the first stuka attack caused more damage than anything the Regia Aeronautica had done up till then.
As for submarines - on the whole Italian submarines were ineffective, even in the Med. Individual submarines such as Leonardo da Vinci did have success later on in the war, but compared with the German U-boats their role was insignificant.
What is your idea of "offensive" if attacks aren't - I suppose only successful attacks are ????
Strange.
.
Offensive attacks are strategic rather than mere local thrusts. I have answered this in my analysis in East Africa, which as I have already said you have ignored.In the case of Sudan the Italians took the frontier town of Kassala and then stopped in the face of practically no opposition. To be an offensive the attack should have continued on to Khartoum, which is what the Italians should have done. In other words a proper invasion of Sudan would be an offensive whereas just occupying the immediate border area solely to keep the border secure is defensive.
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by Francis Marliere » Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:18 am

RF wrote:If the option of rearming with British guns is taken - the most likely solution I would have thought - would it have taken any longer than arming the POW? If the timescale starts early August 1940 then possibly these ships could have been commissioned into full service slightly earlier than the POW was in March 1941? And be worked up better in May 1941 than POW?
I am not a naval engineer and can just imagine how difficult it can be to rearm a ship with another country's guns. However, I wonder which guns the British would use. I guess that BB, cruisers and DD could take equivalent British guns, if available (probably 14" quad / double for Richelieu / Bretagne - if Admiralty thinks these old ships are worth rearming), but what guns could be fitted to Dunkerque class BC ?

Regards,

Francis

pg55555
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 3:50 pm

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RF,

More hilarity.

You seem to think that somehow "your" definition IGNORING aggressive actions is sane, whilst claiming that because the aggressive acts were ineffective, somehow means that they were defensive ! This is more than weird, it is perverse.

It would seem that you regard only "total victory" as "offensive".

Attacks on the RN were "strategic", attacks on Malta were "strategic", submarine attacks on merchant shipping were "strategic", the Invasions in East Africa and North Africa were "strategic" (to achieve position).

(Oh! and attacking Albania, France and Greece were just so obviously "defensive" .)

Sanity please.

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by pg55555 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:05 pm

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Francis Marliere

The idea of replacing the main guns of one battleship with those of a different calibre from another nation is almost impossible in a short length of time.

From the racks in the magazines, through the handling machinery and shell hoists and up to the guns' chambers and bore (and even driving bands) all would need adjustment (unless one was VERY lucky.

The most obvious problems are ;

- bore: the bore has to be accurate to thousandths of an inch (re-lining the gun is a possibility)

- the gun chamber : whether the shell would seat properly against the rifling and when the gun fired properly rotate.

- driving bands - different countries designed their shells, rifling and driving bands differently - the interaction was very important to developing a reliable performance.

- handling machinery and hoists - again dimensions (particularly length) MIGHT affect the ability to use.

Over and above all that is matching of new gun performance with existing fire control - at the least it means new cams (or equivalent), but maybe more.

Huge jub, unless one is lucky.

(An oddity, if one intends replacing a gun with one of smaller calibre, would be rebalancing the turret).

I am sure there will be more things I haven't thought about.

.

Francis Marliere
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by Francis Marliere » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:14 pm

I would add that conversion between French metric system and british imperial system might complicate the whole damn thing ...
I guess that the bigger the gun the bigger the problem : HMS Delhi was rearmed during the war with US 5"/38 guns. I imagine that rearming Richelieu with 2 14" quad would be quite more complicated.
Had French ships joined Free French Forces or taken over by the Royal Navy, they may have used their own ammo rather than be regunned. The shortage of shells, spares and manpower would certainly force FFF / RN to use only only half of the ships and let the other half as a reservoir for spares and ammo.

Best,

Francis Marliere

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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by tommy303 » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:18 pm

It would probably not be a big deal to have English factories specializing in large calibre shells to make ammunition for the Richelieu. It was fairly easily done while she was being refurbished in the USA, the shells being made to French specifications by Bethlehem Steel (IFR). I should think a British manufacturer could do the same if an American one could. The problem would be one of production capacity.

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RF
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by RF » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:03 pm

tommy303 wrote:It would probably not be a big deal to have English factories specializing in large calibre shells to make ammunition for the Richelieu. It was fairly easily done while she was being refurbished in the USA, the shells being made to French specifications by Bethlehem Steel (IFR). I should think a British manufacturer could do the same if an American one could. The problem would be one of production capacity.
Production capacity and also the planning/organisation including the provision of skilled labour and materials.
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wadinga
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by wadinga » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:00 pm

All,
Interestingly, according to Campbell's Naval Weapons of World War II, Richelieu's guns were rebored in the USA to take British 15" shell! :D

Makes perfect sense really, since the USN did not use that calibre. A really interesting point is that he says the guns were bored to 381mm, ie precisely 15" dead, whereas "it had been determined before the war that the optimum for this shell was 14.985" ie 380.62mm! :shock:

0.4 of a mm does't sound much but Campbell obviously thought it was significant enough to mention :think: How worn was worn-out for a 15" gun, requiring relining?

Sadly it appears no one wishes to discuss Paul's original question about Churchill's actions, even in the light of Petain's decision to "bank" these two powerful vessels well away from British influence. Perhaps it was done cynically, just in case it was necessary to trade them to the Germans for French lives or sovereignty later on. Or being more charitable, perhaps it was done to stop Mussolini "defensively attacking" French colonial interests when mainland France surrendered to the Germans.

Perhaps Petain fancied that when Britain inevitably surrendered, as he was sure she would, former French ships would be handed over to the Germans anyway, and he, Petain, would would prefer to choose when this happened and what they might earn. Did he not say to fellow defeatists " that in three weeks Britain would "have its neck wrung like a chicken." Did not the Magnificent Monster describe his response later as, "Some Chicken, Some Neck!" :clap: :clap: :clap:

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Sinking of French Fleet

Post by tommy303 » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:30 am

Hi Wadinga,

The question of whether or not the guns were rebored to accept the British 15-inch came up on another board some years back and Tiornu provided documentation that the guns themselves were not rebored and instead Crucible Steel Company was contracted to supply 380mm AP and possibly some HE shells to French specifications. French post war documents indicate the guns themselves were not rebored and remained true 380mm. 3 lots of shells, totalling about 1000 rounds were produced.

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What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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