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NAME

DUNKERQUE

CLASS

LIGHT BATTLESHIP

ENT/SERVICE 

APRIL 15th 1937

BUILT

ARSENAL DE BREST / FRANCE

WEIGHT

26,500 TONS

LENGTH

703 FEET

WIDTH

108 FEET

SPEED

29 KNOTS - GEARED TURBINES - FOUR PROPELLERS

GUNS

8 - 13 INCH / 16 - 5 INCH / VARIOUS ANTI AIRCRAFT

ARMOR

10 INCH SIDE / 5 INCH DECK / 13 INCH TURRET FACES


The French Navy ordered the Dunkerque class battleships after they learned Germany’s Deutschland class pocket battleships were going to exceed the size recommended by the Washington Treaty limits of 1921. The two ships of this class, Dunkerque and Strasbourg, were specially designed to stay inside the London Treaty limits of 1930. With rising military tensions in Europe at that time, Italy responded to these ships by modernizing their old battleships Duilio and Doria and began the construction of their four 41,200-ton Littorio class battleships in 1938. Germany also responded by building two 35,540-ton Sharnhorst class battleships and later two 42,000-ton Bismarck class battleships.

Dunkerque

During the British warship attacks on the French Navy base at Mers El Kabir July 3rd 1940, Dunkerque was hit by three shells while trying to leave the harbor and had to be run aground to prevent her from sinking. She was further damaged three days later when British carrier aircraft torpedoed a mine laying ship moored next to her. After lengthy repairs, Dunkerque was moved to the Vichy French controlled base at Toulon February 20th 1942. By November 1942, German forces were threatening to take control of all the French warships based at Toulon. To prevent these ships being used against the Allies, the French scuttled 3 battleships including Dunkerque and Strasbourg, 7 cruisers, 29 destroyers and 2 submarines. Although Dunkerque was raised in 1945, no attempt was ever made to have her repaired. The French Navy eventually took the decision to have her scrapped in 1958. The Italian’s salvaged Strasbourg in 1943 only for her to be sunk again by British bombers August 18th 1944.

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