Fully completed by the French forces, Richelieu is teleported in place of Bismarck in May 1941.
Due to her high speed, it is decided for her to use 24-26kts to arive in the North Atlantic. This means having a range of 5500km, just enough to pass through the Denmark Strait on the 24th and rendez-vous with a tanker in the morning of the 26th at the latest.
All goes as planned, and Richelieu with Prinz Eugen enter D.S. as historical, at around 18:00 on May 23rd. They are detected by the British cruisers. Norfolk comes into view of Richelieu , astern of the battleship. Richelieu doesn't have main armament in the stern, so it cannot fire on the cruiser with heavy shells. It uses her 100mm guns instead, which do not hit the target. Richelieu doesn't have radars, so the shock of firing the guns can't damage them. Prinz Eugen is in the front, to monitor the enemy with her Fumo27 radars.
During the night, Luetjens attempts to overtake the 2 cruisers - Richelieu is forced to 31.5kts, Prinz Eugen 31kts, at around 01:30h. Suffolk and Norfolk desperately attempt to mantain contact. Richelieu's fuel consumption of 65 tons per hour is a concern for Luetjens, but he hopes he will be clear of radar contact in 1-2 hours maximum.
IN truth, he slowly dettaches out of Suffolk's radar beam, at a pace of ~ 2km/hour. However, at around 05:00, Prinz Eugen is starting having troubles mantaining that speed. Also, despite the evident range increase of 7km (from 14km at 01:30 to 21km at 05:00), enemy radar pulses are clearly detectable, indicating Suffolk is still locking on. With daylight approaching, and with an estimate of more then 5 hours to go to exit daylight visual range detection (from Suffolk to Richelieu, probable horizon 30km), thus requiring 325 more tons of precious fuel (and , adding the 210 tons consumed from 01:30 onwards, would make refueling on the 26th impossible, and refueling on the 25th mandatory), Luetjens decides to reduce speed to 30kts, then to 28kts.
At 5:30, Suffolk is 22km astern, Norfolk 21km astern, Hood 35km to the N-E of Richelieu.
Smoke trails are observed. Due to Richelieu's higher average speed during the night, the exact coordinates in which the BB situates itself are different from the ones the historical Bismarck was on. Richelieu is about 10km more to the south then Bismarck was, thus the attack of Holland's battleships will be almost exactly head on, with no possibility of engaging the rear turrets until range was closed further.
Hood opens fire from 23km, followed by PoW, at 5:53. Richelieu responds with 2 x 4 gun salvos from 5:55 onwards. Both semisalvos are correct for range, but both are scattered, with the longest distance between 2 shells from the same semisalvo being 600meters.
At 5:57, Prince of Wales strikes Richelieu's forecastle, triggering a flood. At 5:58, Richelieu fires again on Hood, but , allthough the main rangefinder provides correct ranges, the shells are to scattered to hit anything. Luejens decides to swithc to 2-gun salvos, hoping the scatter will be smaller. In the mean time, Prinz Eugen strikes Hood 2 times, causing local fires.
Prince of WAles strikes Richelieu beneath the waterline, causing some flooding - but smaller then historical, as Richelieu had a anti-flood foam all along the internal torpedo bulkhead.
At 5:58, Richelieu starts firing 4 partial salvos, each with 2 x 380mm guns. Hood starts her turn at 5:59, and is straddled in the same minute by the 2nd partial salvo from Richelieu. Hood switches target to Richelieu.
Richelieu fires continously with 2-gun salvos. At 6:00, 1 x 380mm shell strikes Hood's foretop, destroying it (as in historical 5:57 obtained by Bismarck). Hood continues to fire , slowly and with poor aim against Richelieu.
At 6:01, 2 partial salvos straddle Hood, but with no hits.
Prince of Wales is at 14km from Richelieu at fires with all guns, unopposed by Richelieu. Prinz Eugen fires on Prince of WAles.
Prince of WAles strikes Richelieu 2 times at 6:02 - 1 hit passing through the stern and exploding against one of the secondary gun barbettes, which is destroyed, casuing a localised explosion, which vents upwards and damages all secondary guns and most AA guns. The other passes through the funel, showering the deck with splinters.
At 6:03, finally Richelieu lands 3 consecutive 2-gun salvos around Hood, one of which lands a shell deep inside the British BC, which expodes.
On board Prince of Wales, 2 x 203mm shells are felt - one destroying 1 secondary director, the other 1 secondary gun turret.
Prince of WAles continues to fire with maximum force on Richelieu from 14km, striking her 1 more time at 6:03, in the main con tower , which resists perforation. Howefver, the impact shock severely dereglates all internal instruments, kills several men and wounds others. Luetjens and Lindemann are knocked unconcscous, as command is transferred to the aft control position, which sends command to engage Prince of Wales with all artillery.
At 6:04, Richelieu attempts to aquire PoW as target, but suffers 1 more hit, directly in one of the main barbettes, which is badly damaged, and the turret remains blocked in that position. Richelieu replies with 1 main turret - and hits Prince of Wales in the bridge at 6:05, causing heavy damage and killing many men. In the mean time, Prinz Eugen hits PoW 5 more times, causing fires and badly damaging the funnel - the ship's speed starts to drop. All radars and directors are either destroyed or temporarily offline. The ship retreats covered in smoke.
Richelieu's top speed is reduced to 30kts, 80% of secondary guns, 50% of main guns and 60% of AA guns are non functional. Prinz Eugen undamaged.
The battlesship is leaking oil, which makes rendez-vous with the tanker mandatory on the night of May 24/25th at the latest, if ship goes at 28kts.
Luetjens reduces speed to 20kts for repairs , and to conserve some fuel. In the mean time, Tovey is coming hard. Suffolk regains and fixes contact. Prince of Wales retreats to base.
During the night, Prinz Eugen is dettached. Richelieu, alone, is targetted by 8 Swordfishes. Her AA guns (12x37mm, 8x13.2mm, 12x100mm, of which most was destroyed or damaged) make no impression on the bombers, which plant 1 x aerial torpedo amidships, causing shock damage all around the ship, electrical shortcircuits and damage to the machinery.
The ship slows down for repairs.
At 3:00 she resumes speed, building up to 30kts, in the final hope of escaping shadowing.
The manouvre succeeds, and at 04:00 Richelieu is free of Suffolk (but Luetjens doesn't know that).
Then , there are 2 possibilities: If Richelieu does make it to a tanker, or not. If not, it is very simple - KGV and Repulse with Victorious find her and destroy her, or the sship remains dead in the water without fuel and is scuttled.
If she does make it to a tanker, then:
At 08:00 on May 25th, Richelieu, at reduced speed of 15kts (to conserve fuel), transmits coordinates to her tanker, which arives around 16:00. Refueling takes all night.
In the mean time, the British scour the ocean with no discovery. On May 26th, 09:00, Richelieu is refueled and has both main turrets back online, albeit one of them (the damaged one) with a reduced rate of train. Richelieu sets course for Brest. On May 27th 10:30AM, she is discovered by 1 PBY Catalina from Coastal Command. But, by that time, Tovey's ships (KGV, Rodney, Victorious) were well out of action, heading slowly to ports for lack of fuel.
Only Ark Royal and Repulse are in the area. Sheffield, Dorsetshire and Norfolk are also around.
On May 27th 20:00, 15 Swordfishes from Ark Royal attack Richelieu, which responds completely ineffectively. The ship attempts to build speed to 30kts, but reaches 26 before the first torpedo strikes amidships, causing a jolt in the ship, which falls back to 23kts, then 21. A second torpedo hits in the stern, jamming one rudder and causing further flooding and electrical shortcircuits. She ship is reduced to 15kts, all targetting systems are offline, but it is still manouvreable.
On May 28th, in the morning, a squadron with Repulse, 6DDs, Norfolk, Dorsetshire, supported by 14 Swordfishes from Ark Royal, make the final charge. The Swordfishes plant 2 more torpedoes - 1 forward, 1 aft, the ship takes a 20degrees list and all armament is offline. The DDs charge and plant 4 more torpedoes from 1000meters, Richelieu sinks 1000km west of Brest.