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Is The French Battleship Richelieu The Most Beautiful Battleship Ever Built? Her History In Pictures!

French Battleship Richelieu : Her History In Pictures! Completed just days before the Germans seized France.

Launch of Richelieu, Arsenal de Brest, January 1937.
One of the design concepts for what eventually became the French Richelieu class is this, drawn by Tzoli
Recognition drawing of Richelieu in her original configuration
The French Government rushed her down to North Africa to keep her in French hands.

The lead ship and namesake of her class, she posessed the same two quadruple gun turrets as her predecessor class, the Dunkerque class.

The French military scaled up the Richeliue so she could harness a much more powerful main battery.

One that consisted of eight 380 mm (15 in) guns, which compared to the 330 mm (13 in) guns of the Dunkerque class.

Fully loaded Richelieu displaced 43,992 long tons in the water and had a length of 247.85 meters or 813 feet.

The Royal Navy set about sinking Richelieu as she was not joining the Free French Naval Forces and her allegiance to the Germans was of course unnaceptable.

She was heavily damaged by the Royal Navy at both Operation Catapult in July 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September.
Richelieu at Dakar in 1941

She would sail to America for repairs.

French Admiral Raymond Fenard shows a Battleship Richelieu model to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Taken in 1943.
Richelieu in the United States for repairs
Richelieu (left distance) and the US battleship USS New Jersey at anchor in 1943 U.S. Navy photo 80-G-204842 – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 175539940.
French battleship Richelieu off the east coast of the United States, following the completion of her refit there in September 1943
USN photographer, colorized by –
Aftern repairs, she would join the British Fleet in the later part of the war and help out with a few bombardments of German positions.
Anti-aircraft gunners aboard Richelieu during target practice with the British fleet
Pilot on a plane from USS Saratoga (CV-3). – Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-385067 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command The British battlecruiser HMS Renown operating with other capital ships of the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean area, 12 May 1944. The battleship HMS Valiant is in the right distance. The French battleship Richelieu is in the left background.
Richelieu (top left) with the battlecruiser Renown (center) and the battleship Valiant (top right) during Operation Transom on 12 May 1944

Eventually she would participate in the Pacific, though she would not contribute anything at the Battle of Malacca Strait where she was too far removed to participate.

After the war the French would take back posession.

Shown here in 1952, following a major refit at Cherbourg during 1950-1, the first major refit the ship had undergone since her reconstruction in the United States in 1943. She is wearing her new (and final) paint scheme of light grey overall, with only the blast bags for the main turrets and the anchors picked out in black. 

In conclusion, in 1956, the French placed her in reserve status.

Richelieu in Toulon in the early 50’s.

And was thereafter used as a stationary training vessel and barracks ship until 1967. In 1967, the French Navy made the decision to discard her.

One of the two remaining 380 mm guns of Richelieu, by the Penfeld river in Brest

She was sold for scrap in 1968, and sadly broken up in Italy from 1968 to 1969. She would have made a great museumship!

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Is The French Battleship Richelieu The Most Beautiful Battleship Ever Built? Her History In Pictures!