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French destroyer Fantasque

Le Fantasque
Le Fantasque in 1943
History
France
Name: Le Fantasque
Namesake: "The capricious one"
Laid down: 15 November 1931
Launched: 15 March 1934
Commissioned: 1 May 1936
Reclassified: March 1943
Notes:
  • Hull numbers:
  • From 1 May 1936: 10
  • From 1 April 1939: X101
  • From 7 June 1944: X103
  • From 1952: D610
General characteristics [1][2]
Class and type: Le Fantasque-class destroyer
Displacement: 2,570 tonnes
Length: 132.40 m (434.4 ft)
Beam: 11.98 m (39.3 ft)
Draught: 4.30 m (14.1 ft)
Propulsion:
  • 4 Penhoët boilers
  • 2 Parsons or Rateau engines
  • 74,000 to 81,000 hp (55,000 to 60,000 kW)
  • 2 propellers
Speed:
  • 45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) (40 nominal)
  • 37 knots after refit
Range:
  • 1,200 km (650 nmi; 750 mi) at 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
  • 6,600 km at 17 knots
Complement:
  • 10 officers
  • 210 sailors
Armament:

Le Fantasque ("The capricious one") was a large destroyer ("contre-torpilleur", "torpedo boat destroyer") of the French Navy which served during the Second World War. Her class is the fastest type of destroyer ever built.

Service history

Construction and early service

Le Fantasque was the first destroyer of its class, out of a total of six units built by order of the French naval program in 1930. These ships were designed to outclass the large escorts built by the Italian navy. The design strongly stressed firepower and speed over armour protection, and indeed, Le Fantasque is still to this day the fastest type of destroyer ever built.

In the beginning of the Second World War, Le Fantasque patrolled the Atlantic with the Force de Raid,[4] sinking the German cargo ship Halle on 16 October 1939 and capturing its crew. She also took part in the hunt for the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee. On 25 November, along with her sister ship Le Terrible and the heavy cruiser Dupleix, she captured the German merchantman Santa Fé.

Changing hands

After the Fall of France, Le Fantasque was assigned to the Vichy French 10th DCT (Division de Contre-Torpilleurs, "destroyer division"), with her sister ships Le Malin and L'Audacieux, based at Dakar.[5] On 23 September 1940, the Allies attacked Dakar. Le Fantasque sailed through the harbour, setting smoke screens and protecting the stronger French units. She took fire from the British ships and aircraft, but was not damaged.

Allied operations

Shortly after Operation Torch, French West Africa and its fleet, including Le Fantasque and her sister Le Terrible, returned to the Allies. In March 1943, she underwent refitting in Boston,[6] repairing damage, adding radars and ASDIC, and reinforcing her anti-aircraft armament. After the refit, she was reclassified as a light cruiser.

On 9 September 1943 she took part in the Salerno landings (Operation Avalanche), providing fire support for the landing force.

On the night of 13–14 September, she landed 250 commandos at Ajaccio, along with ammunition and weapons for the maquis.

On 24 December 1943, she intercepted the German merchant ship Nicoline Maersk, forcing the freighter to run aground near Tortosa, Spain.

In 1944, the 10th DCT, along with her sister-ships Le Terrible and Le Malin, was reconstituted to raid deep in the Adriatic, with the aim of isolating Italy from Yugoslavia. Together they defeated a German convoy just off Ist island in February 1944. On the night of 18–19 March, along with Le Terrible, she encountered a German convoy composed of the large ferry F124, the tugboat Titanic, and three Siebel ferries (SF270, SF273 and SF274); all enemy ships were sunk except for Titanic, which managed to escape to Kyparissia.

On 17 June, along with Le Terrible, she sank the tanker Giuliana and damaged the R5 and R14.

On 15 August, the 10th DCT took part in Operation Dragoon, the Allied landing in Provence.

Postwar

Between 1945 and 1946, she served in Indochina. In 1950, she was placed in the reserve, reclassified as a "swift escort" and received the pennant number D610. In 1953, she was towed by tug to Toulon, where she was used as a floating barracks. On 2 May 1957, she was struck from the Navy list, renamed Q98, and sold for scrap.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Conway p268
  2. ^ Whitley p42
  3. ^ "Le Fantasque class Super Destroyers". www.coatneyhistory.com. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Rohwer, Jürgen; Hummelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. p. 5. ISBN 1-55750-105-X. 
  5. ^ a b "FR Le Fantasque". uboat.net. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Two French Destroyers at Boston". The Lewiston Daily Sun - Feb 22, 1943. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 

Sources

  • Gardiner, R; Chesnau, R: Conways All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1922-1946 (1980) ISBN 0-85177-146-7
  • Whitley, MJ : Destroyers of World War Two (1988) ISBN 1-85409-521-8

External links