French Destroyers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin

French Destroyers 1922-1956, John Jordan & Jean Moulin

In the interwar period the French navy produced two types of destroyers - Torpilleurs d'escadre (fleet torpedo boats) and much larger Contre-Torpilleurs, built on a similar size to the wartime US Fletcher class of the 1940s. This book covers both these 'super destroyers' and the smaller fleet destroyers.

The book is organised into two parts. The first third looks at the technical description of the ships, starting with an introduction that covers the earlier French destroyers and the discussions that led to the first post First World War ships, and then moving onto class by class chapters. The final third looks at their service records in a chronological format (rather than ship-by-ship).

Each class gets a full chapter, with largely equal amounts of detail (rather than treating the later types as modifications of the earlier ones). I like this format, which makes it easier to get a clear idea of the nature of each class, although it does make these chapters a little repetitive in places, as many features were shared between several classes and they tended to evolve into each other.

The book is splendidly illustrated. The plans are especially good, with several cross sections, a side plan showing the main spaces and structure of the bridge, plan of the hold (including a wine hold in each ship), and plans most deck structures.

The design histories are supported by a construction history, important in this case as the ships were built by a mix of private and naval shipyards, and each constructor introduced their own special features. The class chapters also look at the majority of modifications made to these ships.

The last third covers their service careers and is split into four sections. Part 1 looks at their pre-war service. Part 2 looks at the period from 1939 to the start of 1943, and covers their early use against the Germans and the longer Vichy period. Part 3 covers the period after the German occupation of Vichy France and the return of the surviving ships of the French navy to the Allied side. Finally part 4 looks at their post-war career.

This is likely to be the definitive study of this topic for many years to come, and I can't imagine anyone published a more detailed account in English in the foreseeable future.

Part 1: Technical Section
1 - The Jaguar Class
2 - The Bourrasque Class
3 - The L'Adroit Class
4 - The Guépard Class
5 - The Aigle Class
6 - The Vauquelin Class, Milanand Epervier
7 - The Le Fantasque Class
8 - The Mogador Class
9 - The Le Hardi Class
10 - Paint Schemes and Identification Markings

Part 2: Historical Section
11 - The Period 1926-1939
12 - The Period 1939-1943
13 - The Period 1943-1945
14 - The Period 1945-1956

Author: John Jordan & Jean Moulin
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2015


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