The Courbet, launched in 1911, and the other three battleships of her class were the first dreadnought battleships built for the French Navy;
unfortunately in that time the navies of Great Britain, Germany and United States were already building super-dreadnought. This delay was caused
by the fact that France had already built six pre-dreadnought of the Danton class and it was considered not viable to start building
dreadnought battleships immediately. The dimensions of the ships of the Courbet class was limited by the size of the French drydocks; because of this the
forecastle resulted very short, despite the adoption of superimposed turrets, making it wetter during bad weather.
Other unfortunate aspects were the placement of the central turrets, which caused the engine room to be separated in two areas, and the placement
of the fore mast after the funnels. Another poor aspect was the placement of the
secondary artillery. The fore cannons were too close to the prow and suffered the effects of a rough sea, and all of them were grouped
too close to each other, causing a mutual interference and increasing the risk of losing multiple pieces with a single enemy impact. One of the most
favorable traits was the fire control device. The protection scheme was in general adequate as well as the propulsion by turbines, already installed
in the previous Danton class, which leaving apart the status of pre-dreadnought were really good ships.
In 1921-24 the fore funnels were reallocated backwards and the fore mast was replaced by a tripod mast placed before the funnels. In a further reconstruction
in 1928-29 these ships received new boilers and antiaircraft artillery. So these ships (with the exception of the France, foundered in 1922 when
hitting against a rock in Quiberon) survived with these modifications until the advent of the Second World War, serving as school ships since
1931. They took no active part during the war and were either scuttled or scrapped after the war.
During the First World War the Courbet had served in the Mediterranean against the Austro-Hungarian fleet, and during the interwar period she
was used as a gunnery training ship. In 1941 she was disarmed and in 1944 her propulsion plant was removed with the purpose of using the ship
as a breakwater during the landings in Normandy. The sister ships Jean Bart and Paris were scrapped in 1945 and 1956 respectively. The illustration
shows the Courbet as she was built.
Class: Courbet (4 units - Courbet, France, Jean Bart, Paris)
Length: 168 meters
Beam: 27.9 meters
Draught: 9 meters
Displacement (normal): 23470 tonnes
Propulsion: 4 x shaft, 4 x steam turbine Parsons, 24 x boiler Belleville (16 large and 8 small), 28000 horsepower
Speed: 21 knots (39 kilometers/hour)
Range: 4200 nautical miles (7800 kilometers) at 10 knots
Armament: 12 x 305-millimeter 45-caliber cannon, 22 x 138-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 4 x 47-millimeter cannon,
4 x 450-millimeter torpedo tube
Armor: 180-270 millimeters in belt, 180 millimeters in ends, 30 millimeters in forecastle deck, 50 millimeters in upper deck,
70 millimeters in main deck, 280 millimeters in barbettes, 100-290 millimeters in main turrets, 180 millimeters in casemates, 300 millimeters in conning tower