Why doesn’t France start with a Battleship? In 1940 they had the second largest navy in Europe. In particular significance were the seven battleships of the Bretagne, Dunkerque and Richelieu classes, which collectively represented the second largest force of capital ships in Europe behind the British. The Dunkerque was sunk and nearly destroyed by the British AFTER the Armistice took place. After the British sunk the Dunkerque it was refloated and partially repaired to return to Toulon for comprehensive repairs. Dunkerque was scuttled in November 1942 to prevent her capture by the Germans.
I think the Cruiser at Toulon should be replaced with a Battleship. If the Armistice would have never taken place would the British still destroy the French fleet at Mers-el-KÃbir ?
ShadowHAwk last edited by
That would really make it impossible for italy to do something.
There are many things that have no historic meaning of that are taken from other dates just to make the game easier to play or for balance reasons.
Actually having doing some more research I found that the Dunkerque was a more of a heavy CA than a BB. So it looks like they got it right.
WILD BILL last edited by
I think the French fleet was scaled back purposely so they didn’t have to come up with a Vichy rule to scuttle most of it (although that would have been pretty cool IMO).
Most of France’s capital ships were older WWI-era units. There were only four modern ones – and even then, they all came with qualifiers. Dunkerque and Strasbourg were battlecruisers. As for the two battleships of the Richelieu class, Richelieu was about 95% complete when she escaped France to North Africa, but not yet worked up. Construction of Jean Bart was much less advanced; her engines were in place, so she could move under her own power at low speed, but a lot of systems had to be jury-rigged to allow her to make the trip to North Africa and these systems progressively broke down as her journey progressed. It’s a miracle she made it.
Worse, the French were extremely conflicted about actually engaging in direct combat with their former allies, very recently former allies. It’s difficult to bring a battle to a successful conclusion when half your officers and men would prefer to surrender and be interned rather than die as Nazi shills. In fact, the main battle took place partly as a matter of pride; several French forces in the Med surrendered in due course but the admiral in charge of that particular fleet felt insulted and slighted even though the Allies gave him several options of honorable surrender.
Also, as the above poster noted, some of these ships were in a very incomplete state in overhaul or refit, or never completed with full weaponry. Many of them were stuck in port, blockaded and without the resources to fight in the open ocean. Ships of that era were extremely vulnerable to (air) attack in tight seas, and worse if they were virtually immobile.
There are two more considerations. The first is that the French have been notoriously bad in warfare as compared to the technology level that they had ever since Trafalgar. This is because of a poor application of mobile warfare, political conflict, and worst for naval conflict, a lack of decisive action at critical times and timidity of strategy and tactics in the open ocean.
The other one is that the battleship you imagine would actually fight AGAINST the allies, not on their behalf. Vichy rules might include something like that, an immobile defensive battleship in SZ87-94 might be a fluffy addition.
Or you could see my “Free French” rules in the house rules forum and we could try to add a Vichy downside/FF upside somehow.
Most of France’s capital ships were older WWI-era units.Â There were only four modern ones – and even then, they all came with qualifiers.Â Dunkerque and Strasbourg were battlecruisers. As for the two battleships of the Richelieu class, Richelieu was about 95% complete when she escaped France to North Africa, but not yet worked up.Â Construction of Jean Bart was much less advanced; her engines were in place, so she could move under her own power at low speed, but a lot of systems had to be jury-rigged to allow her to make the trip to North Africa and these systems progressively broke down as her journey progressed.Â It’s a miracle she made it.
Also, the Bretagne’s were old WWI-Dreadnoughts that were extremely slow, dated and were in poor condition at the start of WWII… they could not hold up against modern battleships of the major powers (or the older ones that had considerably more modernization work between the wars). The Dunkerques were built to counter the Deutschland class “pocket battleships” which were essentially heavily armed heavy cruisers, and once-again, they were only armed with 11" guns and not a real threat to a modern navy. Only the Reicheliues were modern battleships, and neither was combat ready at the start of the war.
If Axis and Allies were of a smaller scale and could reflect different types of battleships and their abilities, then sure, France should get some battleships of lesser quality, but for game balance and taking into effect all the asterisk next to each of France’s *Battleships, one has to just give a nod to skipping over that unit in A&A for France.
The French did put up a good fight against the British at the battle of Dakar on the West African Coast, an attempt to sink the Richelieu. The Royal Navy was repulsed with heavy dammages and had to go back to Gibraltar. Richelieu took little part in it, firing 24 rounds in two days but scoring no hits.
Jean Bart, still incomplete, faced the US Navy during Operation Torch and took a heavy beating. She was unoperationnal for the rest of the war.
I like the immobille Battleship house rule. It could be included in the game, especially in SZ 87 but maybe in North Africa too.