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Le Fantasque in 1943
|Namesake:||"The capricious one"|
|Builder:||Arsenal de Lorient|
|Laid down:||15 November 1931|
|Launched:||15 March 1934|
|Commissioned:||1 May 1936|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Le Fantasque-class destroyer|
|Length:||132.40 m (434.4 ft)|
|Beam:||11.98 m (39.3 ft)|
|Draught:||4.30 m (14.1 ft)|
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.
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, 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.
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. 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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