The ship was designed and planned to be laid under the 1940 Program, as a further development of concepts shaped during the design and building phases of battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau and Gascogne. It also had the position of no longer being subject to limitations imposed by the Washington and London Naval Treaties. This project was based on the Richelieu-class battleships with all their variations and modifications, particularly taking influence from the ships Clemenceau and Gascogne as the most up-to-date specimens of their type.
Our project is based on one of the variations of the battleship projects, approved for construction by the French Parliament on April 15, 1940. The project never materialized due to the defeat of France and its consequent capitulation. In contrast to her Richelieu-class predecessors, this project sees a third quadruple-barreled main turret placed at the ship's fore-end, leading to larger dimensions, more powerful propulsion, and heavier armor that had been significantly reduced on Richelieu because of water displacement limitations.
The resulting warship could be described as a hybrid of Clemenceau and Gascogne. The main battery is made up of 380 mm guns placed in three quadruple turrets, with two installed in the fore-end of the ship (one of which is superfiring) and one at the rear. Typical of French battleship design, enough distance was placed between the fore-end turrets to accommodate the diesel generator compartment between them.
However, the French engineers working on the project were too optimistic during the design process and their sketches about the arrangement of the propulsion systems: within the same space they hoped to place mechanisms at 150% the power of the previous ones, despite the fact that the power units previously used were already highly advanced. A 50% power capacity boost looked impossible to achieve. To make it work, we had to increase the dimensions of the compartments for propulsion, as well as decrease its power capacity by 28,000 hp in order to achieve the desired speed of 32 knots. These changes in the propulsion mechanism resulted in some knock-on effects, including a greater distance between the main turrets, and enough space to mount more dual-purpose guns and small caliber AA guns on deck. The ship’s turrets and main battery guns are similar to those of Richelieu. Hull A carries the same secondary battery mounts as on Clemenceau, and Hull B is armed with secondary battery guns from post-war Jean Bart. Both hulls carry the same small caliber AA artillery as that from Clemenceau.
Profile view for battleship Alsace
The hull was shaped on the basis of the practical drawing / schematics of battleship Gascogne with its length and width being scaled and the hull height remaining unchanged.
At the moment we have two variations of the hull—Hull A from 1940 (the time when the ship would have been commissioned) and Hull B from 1945 (the time by which combat actions would have ended). During the ship modelling process, we imitated the style of hull welding (except for the longitudinal welds on the ship's bottom) that was typical of French battleships.
- Shafts, propellers and bilge keels were borrowed from battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau, and Gascogne.
- The ship has an inner armor belt that is completely hidden under the plating and cannot be seen from the outside.
- A grounding keel is in place in the form of a wooden beam located under the torpedo bulkhead.
- The superstructure’s arrangement follows that of battleship Gascogne, whose original drawings were used as reference.
- For the arrangement of masts, equipment, fine details, pipelines, etc, we were referencing battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau, and Gascogne.
- For this ship, a revolving funnel was used, capable of rotating +-90 degrees from the middle ship line. The funnel's rotation is synchronized with the rotation of the command and range-finding station located at the aft funnel of the superstructure. Steam exhaust pipes and funnels for the auxiliary boilers were fixed rigidly. The funnel is equipped with a louver shutter, identical to Jean Bart’s. The rotating drive unit is located above the funnel.
- The handrail of the decks, superstructures and platforms is borrowed from battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau and Gascogne. The guardrail used near the small caliber AA artillery 2×37 is of a collapsible type. At levels 4, 5, and 7 at the fore-end of the superstructure, high bulwarks with a wind deflector have been installed. Guardrails made of pipes and covered with canvas cloth enclose the spotlight platforms.
- They are placed as per the design drawing, the models of the boats are copied from Richelieu and Jean Bart.
- The main battery comprises three turret mounts of four 380 mm guns, with each gun 45 calibers in length. The turrets and guns are copied from battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau, and Gascogne.
- The main guns are directed with the help of the command and range-finding station located on the fore superstructure and equipped with a 13.5 m triplex range-finder. The backup command and range-finding station is located on the aft superstructure and is equipped with a duplex range-finder. Both command and range-finding stations are similar to those on battleships Richelieu and Jean Bart. The artillery plotting room is located under the fore 152 mm secondary battery turret's magazine.
- The main turrets are additionally equipped with 14 m duplex range-finders.
- The 5 m navigational range-finder, located on the armored conning tower roof, can also be used for directing the main battery guns.
- 2 night-time command and range-finding stations, identical to those used on Gascogne, are installed along the sides of level 2 of the fore-end superstructure.
- The warship has 7 combat spotlights, each with a mirror size of 120 cm.
- Hull B enables the installation of the command and range-finding station with surveillance radar used to direct artillery fire. As of 1945, only those produced in the USA or Britain could be installed on this ship, while battleship Richelieu had British surveillance radar 248 mounted.
- The ship also had devices for cleaning the main gun barrels, borrowed from Richelieu and Jean Bart. This included hoists, guide blocks attachments, room for storing ropes, and ropes coiled on the reels.
- Three triple 152 mm turrets, with each gun barrel being 55 calibers long. The turrets and guns are copied from battleships Richelieu, Jean Bart, Clemenceau, and Gascogne.
- Originally these mounts were planned to be dual-purpose. However, issues with loading them at high elevation angles significantly worsened their AA capabilities. This issue wasn’t solved until the 1950's, which is a bit beyond the time span of our game. This is is why we consider these guns only as secondary battery guns, even though they are included in the long-range AA defense area of the ship.
- Fire delivered by the secondary battery is controlled with the help of the command and range-finding station equipped with an 8 m duplex range-finder, located on the aft end superstructure funnel. The command and range-finding station (located on the fore-end superstructure just above the main command and range-finding station of the main battery) is equipped with a 6 m duplex range-finder, used to control the AA fire.
- The command and range-finding station with surveillance radar for controlling artillery fire is mounted on Hull B.
Dual-purpose and AA Artillery
- Hull A dual-purpose artillery consists of twelve 100 mm/45 Mle 1933 twin gun mounts positioned in the form of a pyramid along the ship's sides near the midship section.
- Hull B dual-purpose artillery comprises twelve 100 mm/55 Mle 1945 twin gun mounts that replace the mounts from the previous hull.
- Small caliber AA artillery is made up of twelve 37 mm/70 Mle 1935 ACAD twin gun mounts and ten 25 mm/60 Mle 1939 Hotchkiss twin gun mounts.
- Fire delivered by the dual-purpose artillery is controlled with the aid of four command and range-finding stations located along the sides of the superstructures.
- The 37 mm AA artillery fire is controlled with the help of directors—one director per two AA mounts. 25 mm AA artillery guns have only local control (i.e. humans by feel).
- The command and range-finding station with surveillance radar for controlling artillery fire is mounted on Hull B. As of 1945, only those produced in the USA or Britain could be installed.
- On levels 7 and 8 of the superstructures, AA sighting devices and other surveillance and communications means are provided.
- There are three radio compartments located at the fore-end superstructure of the level 5, main control room in front of the secondary battery turret No.2, and under the armor deck above boiler compartment No.2.
- The main wire antennas are rigged between the masts' sailyards and the special radio mast, mounted on the standby command and range-finding station of the main battery. Additional antennas are placed between the fore-end sailyards and the armored conning tower.
- Various special antennas and other equipment is taken from Richelieu and Jean Bart.
- The direction finder is installed on the main mast, the direction finder station is on level 6 of the fore-end superstructure funnel, and an additional antenna is located behind the fore-end breakwater.
- Surveillance Radar: British surveillance radar Type 273 is placed in a glass booth on the foremast, as well as British surveillance radar on top of the main mast.
- Identical to the final variation used for battleship Gascogne, but with sleeker and more compact Dewoitine HD.730-bis airplanes instead of the Loire 130. The ship can accommodate up to five such aircraft: 3 in the hangar, 1 on the catapult, and 1 on the trolley located on the deck. Gascogne can accommodate only 4 aircraft.
- The hangar is located under the main deck, identical to Gascogne.
- The catapult is installed along the midship line, with an aircraft crane located on the starboard, and rails for the trolley carrying airplanes ready for takeoff placed along the portside.
Armor and Torpedo Protection
- The citadel's side armor is installed on the interior of the ship, consisting of belt armor 350 mm thick and 5.96 m high. Starting from a line located 1.65 m above the bottom edge of the armor belt, its thickness gradually decreases to become 200 mm at the bottom edge. Armor inclination is 15.3 degrees.
- The fore-end athwartship armor of the citadel has a thickness of 370 mm between the armor deck and the fore-end armor deck. Below this fore-end armor deck, the fore-end athwartship armor is 250 mm. The aft end athwartship armor is 250 mm thick.
- The main armored deck is 170 mm thick, but 190 mm above the ammunition magazines.
- One deck lower, just below the armored deck, there's a 40 mm splinter deck with inclined sides 50 mm thick running to the bottom edge of the main armor belt.
- Within the citadel, the main deck is 26 mm thick, and the superstructure of level 1 is 7 mm thick.
- The main battery turrets barbettes above the armor deck are 405 mm thick, and below—85 mm.
- The secondary battery and dual-purpose turrets barbettes have armor thickness of 100 mm.
- The magazines of the main battery, secondary battery and dual-purpose battery are protected by the armor of the citadel.
- A 100 mm armor deck with inclined sides is installed on the aft side of the citadel. The thickness of this armor deck above the steering gears is 150 mm.
- To the fore of the citadel at the level of the second deck, a 40 mm armor deck is installed that runs to the collision bulkhead.
- At levels 4 and 5 of the superstructure, the armored conning tower has a wall thickness of 340 mm, with the thickness of its roof, deck and the pipes leading to the artillery plotting room—160 mm.
- The pipes leading to the directors have 30 mm armor protection.
- The exhausts of the main boilers are located above the armor deck and below the superstructure deck, covered with 50 mm armor.
- The armor protection of the main battery turrets is similar to that of Richelieu and Jean Bart: the front is 430 mm, sides are 300 mm, roof is 195 mm and 170 mm thick, and the rear is 250 mm.
- The torpedo protection within the citadel has a double (triple—under the magazines) bottom, and «layered» sideboard armor. The layered side armor has the following composition: 12 mm outer side, a compartment filled with water repellent material, 18 mm bulkhead, fuel oil, 8 mm inner side, fuel oil, 10 mm bulkhead, expansion compartment, 40 mm torpedo bulkhead, filtration chamber, and 10 mm bulkhead. The total depth of the torpedo protection (from the sideboard to the torpedo bulkhead) in the midship is 7 m, and at least 4 m near the main battery ammunition magazines.
- The main battery ammunition is placed in magazines located under the turrets and protected by the citadel. Ammunition is transported directly to the turrets from here.
- The mechanism for loading main battery shells and charges is taken from Richelieu and Jean Bart.
- The secondary battery magazines are placed in individual compartments within the citadel behind and in front of the main battery magazines. Ammunition is transported directly to the turrets from here.
- Magazines for the dual-purpose battery (in contrast to original Richelieu and Jean Bart) are placed directly under the dual-purpose gun mounts below the armor deck and above boiler and engine rooms (same as on Jean Bart just before commissioning). All magazines are located within the citadel. The ammunition is transported to the guns with the help of elevators and ammunition is loaded through the deck hatches.
- The ammunition for small caliber 2×37 mm AA artillery is stored in the magazines directly under the gun mounts below the armored deck. Ammunition is supplied directly to the turrets, and is loaded through the deck hatches.
- The ammunition for 2×25 mm guns is stored in magazines located within compartments of the main battery magazines. Operational ammunition is kept in 3–4 boxes next to each gun mount, with additional ammunition being transported via deck hatches meant for loading main battery ammunition.