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LE HARDI class
Ships in the class:
1 Five of the class were painted with tactical numbers as noted in parentheses, which they wore through at least 1941.
Notes: Although the LE HARDI class was authorized in 1932, the design was not finalized until 1934, and LE HARDI was not laid down until 1936. The DUNKERQUE class battlecruisers required an accompanying destroyer to maintain 34-35 knots at full load, which this class easily achieved. On trials, LE HARDI made 38.69 knots for eight hours, and 39.09 knots for an hour. They were to have a much reduced silhouette in order to make them less easy to identify and to target. The bow was to be reinforced, and habitability was to be improved. The 5.1" gun was the same as mounted in the DUNKERQUE, but in twin mounts. They had an adequate rate of fire (up to 15 rounds per minute), but with a maximum elevation of 30°, they had no AA capability. They were also regarded as too complex and unreliable, and were not well liked by their crews; and due to malfunctions and breakdowns, the rate of fire rarely met design standards. Anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capabilities were almost non-existent, with only eight 220 lb. depth charges carried (although each ship did carry one Ginocchio towed AS torpedo). During 1941, the units in commission had two 25mm (2x1), four more 13.2mm (2x2) and five 8mm AA guns added. Four were renamed in April, 1941 to commemorate ships lost in 1940 (as noted in the table above); LANSQUENET was to have been renamed CYCLONE at this time, but this was not carried out.
Due to France's untimely demise, the wartime service of the LE HARDI class was brief. Only LE HARDI had run her full trials; FLEURET and EPÉE had completed hull and machinery trials and were fitting out at Toulon and Lorient, respectively. The other five had been launched, but were in varying degrees of completion. The Marine Nationale was particularly anxious that these modern destroyers did not fall into German hands, and managed to move them to French bases in North Africa to prevent their capture. Of particular note is LANSQUENET; on 17 June 1940, she was still in drydock at Bordeaux. Her propulsion machinery had just been assembled, and the hull had only received its undercoat of red lead paint. The ship was hastily refloated and the twin 5.1" mounts were embarked. She was then towed to Pauillac to take on fuel. Although her boilers had never been tested, they were successfully lit; and in the early morning hours on 23 June 1940, LANSQUENET sailed under her own power from the Gironde Estuary, under fire from units of the German Army. She arrived at Casablanca on 27 June.
The last four ships in the class were to have been completed to an improved design, with the 5.1" guns in improved, dual-purpose mounts, eight 13.2mm AA guns, only six TT, and no AS equipment. However, L'OPINIÁTRE was fitted with the original mounts. The construction of these four was abandoned during the war before they were ever completed (L'OPINIÁTRE was never launched), and they were broken up circa 1945.
(Additional source: "The LE HARDI Class" by John Jordan, WARSHIP 1992, Conway Maritime Press, London England, 1992; pp. 109-120)