Redoutable-class submarine (1931)

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Sous marin Ajax.jpg
A first class 1500-ton submarine
Class overview

Civil and Naval Ensign of France.svg French Navy

First Class Submarines 1500-ton type
  • Le Redoutable 1500-ton class Type I
  • Le Pascal 1500-ton class Type II
Completed: 31
Lost: 26
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Length: 92.3 m (302 ft 10 in)
Beam: 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)
Draught: 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in)
  • 2 × diesel engines, 4,300 hp (3,207 kW)
  • 2 × electric motors, 1,200 hp (895 kW)
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) (surfaced)
  • 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) (submerged)
  • 14,000 nautical miles (26,000 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h)
  • 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 10 knots (20 km/h)
  • 4,000 nautical miles (7,000 km) at 17 knots (31 km/h)
  • 90 nautical miles (170 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h) (submerged)
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
  • 5 officers (6 in operations)
  • 79 men

The 1500 ton-class submarines (French: Classe 1 500 tonnes), also referred to as First Class submarines ) were 31 oceanic submarines with classic propulsion built in France between 1924 and 1937 for the French Navy and served during the Second World War. They were designated as large submarine cruisers and referred to as the 1500 ton-class submarines by the French Navy and sometimes designated as the Redoutable-class in reference to the lead boat of the 1500 tons class series, the submarine Le Redoutable Q136 (in service from 1931 to 1942). The 1500-ton class unit submarines were divided into two sub-class series, Type I were known as (Le Redoutable) and Type II (Pascal).

Modern submarines during their conception, they were quickly outdated at the beginning of Second World War, while not being able to be modernized due to the conditions of the armistice imposed upon the Vichy government. Accordingly, 24 out of the 29 units engaged were lost during the conflict. After having protected the Second French colonial empire at the service of the Vichy Regime against the British offensives at Dakar , Libreville or Madagascar at the cost of heavy losses, the units of the 1500-ton class came under control of the Allies after the latter landed in North Africa. Except for Casabianca, which was notable during the liberation of Corsica, these submarines participated little in remainder of the conflict, due to their scheduled refitting and alterations done in the United States between February 1943 and March 1945. Then becoming training units, the last submarines of the 1500-ton class were disarmed in 1952.



Le Prométhée during trials before sinking in 1932 with mats de TSF hoisted. The cannon of 100mm was not yet embarked.

Following the First World War, due to the naval arms race that was occurring between the world's great powers, the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 imposed a limitation on the number and size of the respective line ships and boats that each great power could have. France because of this sought to expand its submarine forces – which were not limited by the treaty – as an essential tool to defend its coastline and empire.[1] Accordingly, the Classe Requin (French: Classe Requin) of 1100 tons was developed since 1922; however, the speed of the submarines was notably insufficient[2] and, from a general sense, was not up to comparison with the last German submarines launched in 1918.[3]

In order to give a successor to the Requin Class, the French Navy commissioned from the general engineer of maritime engineering Léon Roquebert the conception of a type of submarine "grand cruiser". Their role was to destroy the adversary's communications by attacking their ships, protect the colonies and conduct surveillance operations of the adversary's various bases. They acted as the charging clearance of the surface squadron to which they belonged in full.[4] The superior council of the navy adopted on July 1, 1924 the Type I project ( Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable) and Le Vengeur (French: Le Vengeur)), expanded one year later with project Type II[2] (Le Pascal (French: Le Pascal) and the rest ). These submarines constituted the elite of the French submarine fleet, with the submarine cruiser Le Surcouf.


Long of 92.3 meters with a width of 8,10, they had a draft of 4.4 meters and could dive up to 80 meters, even though many units such as L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) reached diving depths of 120 meters.[5] They navigated on surface 1572 tons and in depth with 2082 tons. Propelled on surface by two diesel motors of 4000 horsepower (type Redoutable), 6000 horsepower (type Pascal) and 8000 horsepower (L'Agosta (French: L'Agosta) and the following), their maximum speed was 18.6 knots. These motors were built by the Swiss builder Sulzer, with the exception of those of Le Pasteur (French: Le Pasteur), Le Poncelet (French: Le Poncelet), L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède), L'Achille (French: L'Achille), L'Ajax (French: L'Ajax), L'Argo (French: L'Argo), Le Prométhée, Le Persée (French: Le Persée) and Le Centaure (French: Le Centaure) which were propelled with Schneider motors.[6] While submerging in a dive, their electrical propulsion of 2250 horsepower allowed them to reach 10 knots.[7] Also designated as grand cruise submarines (French: « sous-marins de grande croisière »), their action radius on surface was 10000 nautical miles at 10 knots 14000 nautical miles at 7 knots with a diving tempo capability of 100 nautical miles at 5 knots.[8] Radio communication were antenna based.

From an advanced conception, the 1500-ton submarine packed significant fire power.[9] They were equipped with eleven torpedo tubes: four bow fixed (550mm), a triple orientable platform of (550mm) on the back of the conning tower and another quadruple orientable platform on the stern composed of two (550mm) and two (400mm). The 550mm torpedoes were destined to hit big ships, and 400 mm was destined for smaller boats. Torpedoes utilized were propelled by compressed air until 44 knots, with triggering at impact.[10] Torpedoes left a trail on the surface,[11] which permitted the target to avoid the torpedo on one part and spot the submarine on the other. The artillery was composed of a canon of 100mm, on the bridge in front the conning tower and 1929 dual ant-aerial 13.2 mm (0.52 in) machine guns.

They had a quick diving speed, of an order of 30 to 40 seconds. They had a reputation of laying well at sea, both at the surface and while diving.[4] Their motors were quite noisy, as well their diving auxiliary, and constituted the principal issue of these submarines, despite their reliability.[12] The speed and the armament's power were privileges at the detriment of their detection, which was made essentially on sight.[13] They were equipped with three periscopes - an attack periscope, a surveillance periscope and a secours periscope – and of a hydrophone group for passive sonar.

Development plan of 1500-ton submarine


Constructions and first years[edit]

In presence of military and civilian personnel, the President of the Republic Gaston Doumergue laying the first rivet of the Le Redoutable on July 17, 1925, at Cherbourg.

The important construction program rendered necessary the utilization of private naval shipyards, such as the shipyards of Loire or Caen, in addition to various arsenals. The ordering for construction was spread over six annual tranches, each benefitting of light technical ameliorations in relation to the previous one. This would not avoid a delay in delivery which could have lasted to two years[14] and generated a couple of disparities and an absence of standardization which would have consequences on the maintenance of the submarines, particularly during the Second World War.[15] Laid in the shipyard on July 1, 1925, the first submarine, Le Redoutable, was launched on February 24, 1928, and placed in service by July 10, 1931. The 31st and last of the series, the Le Casabianca, entered into service on January 1, 1937. L'Ouessant (French: L'Ouessant) and Le Sidi Ferruch (French: Le Sidi-Ferruch) were the last to enter service on January 1, 1939, in reason of delays mounted at Cherbourg.

Throughout the course of the 1930s, the Pascals witnessed a couple of substantial modifications, notable in the navigational aspect.[16] The submarines conducted training patrols, presentation and protection in the Antilles, along the entire African coast or in Indochina.[17] Two wrecks have affected the French submarine fleet before the entering to the war: Le Prométhée was incapacitated during trials off the coast of Normandy on July 7, 1932 and the Le Phénix (French: Le Phénix) sank on June 15, 1939 in Indochina.[18]

Second World War[edit]

First combats[edit]

At the beginning of Second World War, all the Pascals were spread at the corps of the 1st squadron of Brest and the 2nd Squadron of Toulon. Their mission was to accompany their respective squadrons, attack adversary ships, board adversary cargo ships and protect the Franco-British lines of communications.[19] The two Redoutable were based at Cherbourg. Conceived in the years of 1920, they remained reliable boats but appeared somewhat tired.[15] They were vulnerable in case subjected to attacks: their diving auxiliary was sensitive to bombardments, their maximum deep diving depth was limited and became insufficient during the conflict, and their underwater sound systems were weakening. They formed then 40% of the French submarine fleet, composed of a total of 77 naval vessels.[20]

Between September 1939 and June 1940, the French submarines patrolled in the Northern seas and the Atlantic, notably in front of the neutral ports of Spain, Canary Islands, and the Archipelago of the Azores, where a part of the German commercial marine sought refuge, suspected of serving the German U-Boote.[21] Contrary to the Germans, the French officers had for orders and instruction to respect the terms of the London Naval Treaty : the submarines had to manifest their presence to the commercial ships prior to an attack, and only when the crew was driven to safety; all these precautionary measures reduced the efficiency of the submarine arms.[22] Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable) spotted during the night of November 1 a cargo that was navigating with all lights off. The cargo refusing to halt following the request of the submarine, was fired upon warning shots with the 100mm cannon, to which the cargo fired back in direction of the submarine. At that instance, Le Redoutable received a message from British cargo ship Egba which was signaling being attacked by a U-Boot; the French submarine then, understood that the boat was dealing with an ally, accordingly preparations for shots fired were halted and the submarine retreated.[23] In December 1939, the Le Fresnel (French: Le Fresnel), L'Achéron (French: L'Achéron), Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable), Le Héros (French: Le Héros) were sent to search for the German tanker Altmark (10000 tonnage), supplier of German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, in the center of the Atlantic. The tanker, carrying prisoners of attacked ships by the German cruiser, managed to evade and made way towards Norway.[24] During the winter of 1939-1940, the L'Achille (French: L'Achille), Le Casabianca, Le Pasteur (French: Le Pasteur), Le Sfax (French: Le Sfax) escorted three allied cargo convoys from Helifax until the United Kingdom. They were relieved in February by Le Bévéziers and Le Sidi Ferruch (French: Le Sidi-Ferruch) then, in April, by L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) and L'Ajax (French: L'Ajax).[25]

Italy declared war on France on June 10, 1940. Le Fresnel (French: Le Fresnel), Le Tonnant (French: Le Tonnant), Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable), Le Vengeur (French: Le Vengeur) patrolled all along the Tunisian coast to prevent an Italian disembarking, while the Le Centaure (French: Le Centaure) and Le Pascal (French: Le Pascal) conducted surveillance operations south of Sardinia.[26] L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) participated to Operation Vado (French: opération Vado).[27] With the German advancement in June, the port of Cherbourg and the arsenal of Brest were evacuated, principally towards Casablanca and Dakar. On June 18, the L'Agosta (French: L'Agosta), L'Achille (French: L'Achille, L'Ouessant (French: L'Ouessant) and Le Pasteur (French: Le Pasteur) were scuttled in the port of Brest, being prevented from mounting the seas.[28]

When the armistice was signed on June 22, 1940, not one of the 29 1500-ton French submarines sank any German or Italian ship. Only Le Poncelet (French: Le Poncelet) managed to board the cargo Chemnitz and navigated the latter to Casablanca.[29] The main reason of this unsuccessfulness was the utilization of the 1500-ton submarines as Escorteurs and squadron Eclaireurs ( unlike being utilized as Chasseurs) was the respect of the London convention and the decadence of the materials[30] · .[31]

The 1500-tons of Vichy[edit]

L'Ajax sinking after being scuttled. A boat of HMS Fortune recuperated the crew.

The conditions of the armistice foresaw the return of the naval vessels to their original port while being disarmed; however, the British attack on Mers-el-Kébir on July 3 constrained the Germans to cancel this disposition.[32] The French fleet lost two 1500-ton submarines during the Battle of Dakar on September 23 and September 24; the 23, Le Persée (French: Le Persée) was sunk by two British destroyers after having launched one torpedo on HMS Inglefield without hitting the British destroyer; on September 24, L'Ajax (French: L'Ajax) was fired upon by several destroyers escorting the British squadron and was consequently scuttled after evacuating the crew. In the two cases, the crew were recuperated by the British. On the 25, Le Bévéziers under the orders of Capitaine de corvette Lancelot, attacked and damaged HMS Resolution, which was placed out of combat for almost nine months.[33]

On October 28, the new French naval forces were constituted, following the instructions of the German and Italian armistice commissions. Only the 2nd Submarine Division ( Le Casabianca, Le Sfax (French: Le Sfax), Le Bévéziers, and Le Sidi Ferruch (French: Le Sidi-Ferruch) ) based in Casablanca and the four submarines sent to Madagascar ( Le Vengeur (French: Le Vengeur), L'Espoir (French: L'Espoir), Le Monge (French: Le Monge), Le Pégase (French: Le Pégase) ) remained armed. All the remainder 1500-ton submarines were to be placed under guardianship at Toulon.[34] The armed submarines were relieved one after the other in pairs by units in guardianship, in order to conduct the necessary fitted repairs. Parts in defect were replaced; however units could not receive newer updated installations which could increase their military worth and capabilities.[35]

The Le Poncelet (French: Le Poncelet) was sunk in November 7, 1940 during the battle of Libreville by a British sloop. The submarine launched one torpedo on HMS Milford which was avoided. Severely damaged, the Le Poncelet surfaced and the crew was ordered to evacuate by the French commanding officer. However, Commandant Bertrand de Sausssine du Pont de Gault preferred to remain on board and sunk with his scuttled boat.[36] Following the attacks of Mers el-Kébir, Dakar and Libreville, the 1500-ton units were redeployed in Toulon, Casablanca, Dakar, Djibouti, Madagascar and Indochina to defend the Colonies. The Le Sfax (French: Le Sfax) was sunk by error by the German submarine U-37 with the ravitailleur Rhône on December 19, while they were making way to reinforce the fleet based in Dakar.[37]

In October 1941, a convoy of four French cargo ships in route towards Dakar was arrayed by the British. In reprisal, the French sent Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux) and Le Héros (French: Le Héros) to attack British commerce off the coast of South-Africa. On November 15, Le Glorieux attacked without success a cargo in front of port Elizabeth. Two days later, Le Héros sank the cargo Thode Fagelund (5750 tonnage) at the large of East London, Eastern Cape.[38]

On July 31, 1941, the Japanese invaded Indochina where they seized Le Pégase (French: Le Pégase) on the way back from a mission. The submarine was immobilized then put at disposition in 1943.[39] In worry of a Japanese attack on Madagascar, which compromised the security and supply of India, the British lead an attack on Diego-Duarez, the principal French base of île, starting May 5, 1942.[40] During the attack, three 1500-ton submarines were sunk: Le Bévéziers, and the Le Héros (French: Le Héros) by Swordfishes and Le Monge (French: Le Monge). The latter, after having launched one torpedo on Illustrious-class aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable, was spotted, fired upon by three destroyers and disappeared in full.[41]

Allied operation disembarkings in North Africa, November 8, 1942

The Fleet endured significant losses in the autumn of 1942 at the occasion of Operation Torch and the Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon. In one month, eleven naval vessels were lost, sunk and scuttled, in addition to the three submarines sunk during the Battle of Madagascar in May 1942. On the morning of November 8, French forces in North Africa were surprised by the attack. At Casablanca, the Le Tonnant (French: Le Tonnant), Le Conquérant (French: Le Conquérant), Le Sidi Ferruch (French: Le Sidi-Ferruch) endured the large under American warplane bombings, which killed 'Lieutenant de vaissau Paumier, Commandant of the Le Tonnant, and wounded Capitaine de corvette Laroze, Commandant of Le Sidi Ferruch.[42] On November 9, Le Tonnant launched the last torpedoes on aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) which were successfully avoided by the American aircraft carrier. Receiving orders to head to Toulon, the submarine realized that executing the order was not possible and subsequently scuttled itself in front of the Port of Cadix after having disembarked the crew.[43] Despite the ceasefire proclaimed on November 11, Le Conquérant and Le Sidi Ferruch were sunk by American warplanes on November 13.[43] At Oran, the submarines L'Actéon (French: L'Actéon) and Le Fresnel (French: Le Fresnel) appeared since the alert was signaled, on the night of November 8. L'Actéon was sunk in full a couple of hours later by the grenades of British destroyer HMS Wescot. Le Fresnel attacked cruiser HMS Jamaica, which was successful in avoiding the torpedoes. Spotted and fired upon during three days, the boat managed to outplay adversary surveillance and rallied back to Toulon on November 13.[44]

Dispostions of the French fleet, prior being scuttled.

At Toulon, the French fleet awaited faith in the sort of incertitude. On November 9, Le Casabianca, Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable), Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux), Le Pascal (French: Le Pascal) and Henri Poincaré (French: Henri Poincare) received authorization from the German and Italian armistice commissions to rearm themselves.[45] On November 11, the Germans penetrated into the free zone (French: Allemands pénètrent en zone libre). The personnel of the navy (French: Les Marins) were at odds between their oath of fidelity to Marshal Pétain and their desire to join the Allies in Algeria. The Admirals Marquis (French: André Marquis), maritime prefect of Toulon, and de Laborde (French: Jean de Laborde), commander-in-chief of forces of the high-seas, ordered the mise en place of a defensive Toulon against an Anglo-American aggression, having the assurance of the Germans that Toulon would not be occupied.[46] At the same time, they put in place the necessary dispositions and counter-measures that would ensure the scuttling of the entire fleet, in order for the fleet not to fall in any foreign hand,[47] while conforming to a delegated order from Admiral Darlan dated June 24, 1940.[32] Towards 0430 on November 27, the Germans presented themselves in front of the gate of the arsenal, with the purpose to make with French fleet. Accordingly, the alert was given and Admiral de Laborde ordered the immediate scuttling of all naval vessels present at Toulon,[48] based on an order given by another French Admiral on November 11, 1942. Nine 1500-ton submarines were at Toulon: Le Fresnel (French: Le Fresnel), L'Achéron (French: L'Achéron), Le Vengeur (French: Le Vengeur), L'Espoir (French: L'Espoir) were in dry docks and the Le Casabianca, Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux), Le Redoutable (French: Le Redoutable), Henri Poincare (French: Henri Poincare), and Le Pascal (French: Le Pascal) were afloat in the northern bunkers of Mourillon.[49] The last three were not available and only Le Glorieux and Le Casabianca had already embarked their new batteries as well the full load of their carburant. As soon as the first shots were fired, the Commandants of Le Glorieux and Le Casabianca unhooked from the docks and navigated their submarines towards the sorties of the port on the electric motors, accompanied by 600-ton submarine La Vénus, Iris of Classe Minerve (French: Classe Minerve) and Marsouin from the Requin-class (French: Classe Requin), while being fired upon by the Germans.[50] Unable to reach and navigate the seas, Le Redoutable, Henri Poincaré, Le Pascal and Le Fresnel were scuttled by opening the hatches. L'Achéron, Le Vengeur and L'Espoir were sunk by filling their basins.[51] They were later dismantled and steeled at Toulon or the Italian port of La Spezia, or utilized as floats.[52]

Already out of Brest on June 17, 1940, the Commandant of the Le Casabianca hesitated between scuttling his boat in deep waters or rallying to an allied port to continue combat engagement. Finally, the Commandant rallied Alger where he accosted November 30 to pursue the war with Allied forces. As far as Le Glorieux was concerned, the boat arrived at Oran the same day after a brief stop at Valence.[53]

Service with the Allies[edit]

Le Casabianca profile view of a 1500 ton submarine

At the end of 1942, the six last grand patrol submarines - L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède), Le Casabianca, Le Centaure (French: Le Centaure), Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux), Le Protée - were in Africa.[54] Le Protée, in guard with naval squadron Force X (French: force X) by the British fleet in port of Alexandria since the armistice in 1940, rallied the French fleet in June of 1942. The submarines from Africa were assigned to the 8th British Submarine Fleet, then starting from November 1943, the 10th Fleet.[55] Le Pégase (French: Le Pégase) was stationed in Saigon and put at disposition by the Japanese then disarmed on January 1, 1944.

In reason of their status capabilities, the French submarines were principally used by the Allies for missions revolving around information gathering and disembarkings, or embarking of personnel or materials.[56] Le Casabianca was the only operational 1500 ton submarine during most of 1943. Le Casabianca accomplished, between December 1942 and September 1943, seven of these types of missions, principally in Corsica, having participated actively to the Liberation of Corsica (French: libération de l'île). On July 1, 1943, the boat disembarked resistance chief Paulin Colonna d'Istria (French: Paulin Colonna d'Istria) with 13 tons of material off the beach of Saleccia.[57] On September 13, the boat disembarked at Ajaccio 109 men of the 1st Parachute Choc Battalion (French: 1er Bataillon Parachutiste de Choc) and their material.[58] In June and July, the boat attacked on several occasions cargo Champagne (10000 tonnage) while launching several torpedoes without success.[59] Le Protée joined Alger in November after passing by Oran. During the first mission, the boat attacked a German cargo with a torpedo without being able to sink the latter.[60] The boat landed on a mine in front of Marseille between December 18–25 and sunk with the crew.[61] The French Navy long thought that the sinking of Le Protée was the consequence of a surface combat engagement with a German ship. However, a dive on the épave conducted by Henri Delauze on board Remora 2000[62] in 1995 confirmed the assumptions suggested by the American Navy since the 1950 about a mine explosion, with no evidence listed of a combat engagement with an allied German submarine listed in the German archives.[63]Le Casabianca sank a submarine chasseur between caps Cépet and Cap-Sicié on December 22, 1943.[64] A couple of days later, the boat torpedoed cargo Ghisone, which was able to enter Toulon. On June 9, 1944, Le Casabianca attacked by cannon and torpedoed a German chasseur in front cap-Camarat, without being able the seriously damage the boat.[65] The submarine surnamed by the Germans « ghost submarine » (French: « le sous-marin fantôme ») was seen attributed the Jolly Roger by the 8th Fleet in 1943.[66]

In December 1942, an accord between the U.S. American and French authorities foresaw, the one by one transfer of the 1500-ton submarines to the United States in order to modernize them, taking into consideration that their conception built has been then, almost twenty years old. The motors were integrally revised, the batteries changed, the thick hull and diving auxiliaries reinforced. Certain ballasts were also transformed to increase the autonomy of the boats. Grand efforts were made on soundproofing the submarines.[67] The submarines were equipped with radar, underwater sound systems, more performing asdic, bathythermograph and featured other accessories.[68] The living conditions were ameliorated with the installation of air conditioning and a refrigerator. The conning tower was modified, with a suppression of various navigational parts, replaced by a anti-aerial rail type. The last telescopic mats were definitely retired. L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) left Dakar on February 8, 1943 and headed to Philadelphia, where the boat remained almost a year. Works began in the month of May at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. They were complicated by the absence of the boat's blue prints and piece assemblies schematics.[67] In addition, out of the four 1500-ton submarines, each pair was equipped with different motor - an issue which irritated the American engineers.[69] However, they were impressed by the modern fabrication of these boats whose concepts design were near twenty years old.[70] The alterations and amendments of L'Archimède were completed on February 19, 1944, the boat was replaced in the American shipyard by the Le Glorieux until July, then Le Centaure from June 2 to December 18 and at last Le Casabianca from August 2, 1944 to March 30, 1945. The last two alterations and amendments were less pushed than the first.[71] L'Argo (French: L'Argo), judged too tired for a complete alteration, was transferred to the American submarine schools for underwater sounds and passed over to another U.S.State.

Following the return from the United States, L'Archimède was utilized for surveillance missions and intelligence operations between March and August 1944. In April and June, the boat disembarked and embarked several assets on the Spanish coast.[72] On May 12, the boat was attacked by three British warplanes who took the boat for a U-Boot, while the boat managed to escape them by submerging 40 meters into the deep.[73] During the night of the July 13 and July 14, L'Archimède was spotted by a Wassermann radar off cap Dramont and was taken in a chase by three vedettes anti-submarines which fired upon the boat for three hours.[74] On July 16, the boat spotted a small German convoy and launched four torpedoes on an aviso which was saved by its water pusher which was weaker than the immersion of the French mechanically launched torpedoes.[75] On August 10, the submarines were retrieved from the French coast, with the approach of Operation Dragoon.[65] The submarine war engagement in the Mediterranean was over. The little activity results of French submarines was explained by the drastic reduction of German traffic all along the French coast in 1944 and the interdiction in attacking former French cargos.[76]

Following the return of Le Casabianca and L'Argo (French: L'Argo) during the spring of 1945 in North Africa, the five 1500-ton submarines passed the remainder of the war running training drills at Oran awaiting a transfer to the Pacific which did not come by reason of the capitulation of Japan on September 2, 1945. Out of the twenty-nine submarines engaged at sea in 1939, twenty-four were sunk or scuttled during the war. Le Casabianca received the Resistance Medal with rosette and the Fourragere of the Legion of Honour; Le Glorieux the resistance medal.[77]


The Le Pégase (French: Le Pégase) was disarmed in Saigon by the Japanese on January 1, 1944, then scuttled on March 9, 1945. The boat was refloated in September; however, was condemned in 1950 without entering into service again. The following year, the boat was unsuccessfully placed on the sand plane of Bassac, in the Mekong Delta to serve as a navigation viewing reference spot (French: amer).[78] Quite outdated, the L'Argo (French: L'Argo) was disarmed in April 1946.

The four last 1500-tons served as training for new submarine crews and as destroyers in the underwater naval sound schools. Le Casabianca and Le Centaure (French: Le Centaure) navigated on a long cruise all across the African coast and rejoined Brest in January 1947. The grand scheduled refitting for the two submarines was cancelled in June and were both placed in special reserve on December 1, 1947, before being disarmed on February 12, 1952 for Le Casabianca and June 19 for Le Centaure.[66]

L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) and Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux) entered into a grand refitting session at Cherbourg in January 1946 for a duration of 6 months. Similarly to Philadelphia, the equipment housing the boats were entirely verified, repaired or replaced.[79] Following their trials, they were based in January 1947 at Brest then conducted a four month cruise in Africa in company of the U-2518 U-Boot Type XXI transferred to the French Navy in order to assess capabilities.[80] From 1947 to 1949, the two 1500-ton submarines conducted numerous training drills at Brest then at Toulon. The L'Archimède (French: L'Archimède) was placed in special reserve on August 31, 1949 then disarmed on February 19, 1952.[81] Le Glorieux (French: Le Glorieux) was utilized in 1949 for the filming of Casabianca (French: Casabianca) then was placed on reserve. The last 1500- ton submarine was disarmed on October 27, 1952.

The units of 1500-ton submarines were replaced in the French Navy by German U-boats, such as U-2518 which became Roland Morillot, or British S Class.[82] The first submarines conceived in France after the Second World War were the Narval class, placed into service in 1957. The four hulls were steeled in 1956. In 1953, the conning tower of Le Casabianca was installed in the courtyard palace of the former governors of Bastia to become a commemorative monument. In reason of the dilapidated state, an identical replica was forged in 2002 and placed in the place Saint-Nicolas at Bastia on October 2003.[83]

List of the 31 French 1500 ton-class submarines[edit]

Name Pennant
Ordered Launched Commissioned Fate
Le Redoutable
(French: Le Redoutable)
Q136 1924 February 24, 1928 July 10, 1931 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942, refloated, then sunk by a bombardment on March 11, 1944.
Le Vengeur
(French: Le Vengeur)
Q137 1924 September 1, 1928 December 18, 1931 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942.
Le Pascal
(French: Le Pascal)
Q138 1925 July 19, 1928 September 10, 1931 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942, refloated, then sunk by a bombardment on March 11, 1944.
Le Pasteur
(French: Le Pasteur)
Q139 1925 August 19, 1928 September 1, 1932 Scuttled at Brest on June 18, 1940 (Brest during the Second World War (French: Sabordé à Brest le 18 juin 1940)).
Le Henri Poincaré
(French: Henri Poincare)
Q140 1925 April 10, 1929 December 23, 1931 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942. Refloated and dismantled in La Spezia on September 9, 1943.
Le Poncelet
(French: Le Poncelet)
Q141 1925 April 10, 1929 September 1, 1932 Sunk by HMS Milford at the large of Gabon on November 7, 1940, after the evacuation of the crew; excluding, the Commandant.
(French: L'Archimède)
Q142 1925 September 6, 1930 December 22, 1932 Dismantled February 19, 1952.
Le Fresnel
(French: Le Fresnel)
Q143 1925 June 8, 1929 February 22, 1932 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942. Refloated by the Italians on January 28, 1943. Sunk by a bombardment on March 11, 1944 along with Le Redoutable and Le Pascal.
Le Monge
(French: Le Monge)
Q144 1925 June 25, 1929 June 19, 1932 Sunk May 8, 1942 during the Battle of Madagascar.
(French: L'Achille)
Q147 1926 May 28, 1930 June 29, 1933 Scuttled at Brest on June 18, 1940 (Brest during the Second World War (French: Sabordé à Brest le 18 juin 1940)).
(French: L'Ajax)
Q148 1926 May 28, 1930 February 1, 1934 Hit by HMS Fortune, then scuttled after the evacuation of the crew during the Battle of Dakar on September 24, 1940.
(French: L'Actéon)
Q149 1926 April 10, 1929 December 18, 1931 Sank in full at large of Oran by HMS Westcott on November 8, 1942 at 2111.
(French: L'Achéron)
Q150 1926 August 6, 1929 February 22, 1932 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942. Refloated in July and sunk by a bombardment on November 24, 1943.
(French: L'Argo)
Q151 1926 August 6, 1929 April 11, 1929 Dismantled April 26, 1946.
Prométhée Q153 1927 October 23, 1930 Sunk accidentally on July 7, 1932 during trial drills.
Le Persée
(French: Le Persée)
Q154 1927 May 23, 1931 June 10, 1934 Sunk during the Battle of Dakar on September 23, 1940.
Protée Q155 1927 July 31, 1930 November 1, 1932 Sunk by a mine on December 20, 1943 at the large of Cassis.
Le Pégase
(French: Le Pégase)
Q156 1927 June 28, 1930 June 19, 1932 Decommissioned January 1, 1944 in Saigon then scuttled on March 9, 1945.
(French: Le Phénix)
Q157 1927 April 12, 1930 October 21, 1932 Sunk accidentally on June 15, 1939 in Indochinese waters.
(French: L'Espoir)
Q167 1929 July 18, 1931 February 1, 1934 Scuttled at Toulon on November 27, 1942.
Le Glorieux
(French: Le Glorieux)
Q168 1929 November 29, 1932 June 1, 1934 Dismantled October 27, 1952.
Le Centaure
(French: Le Centaure)
Q169 1929 October 14, 1932 January 1, 1935

Dismantled June 19, 1952.

Le Héros
(French: Le Héros)
Q170 1929 October 14, 1932 September 12, 1934 Sunk on May 7, 1942 during the Battle of Madagascar.
Le Conquérant
(French: Le Conquérant)
Q171 1929 June 26, 1934 September 7, 1936 Sunk on November 13, 1942 at the large of Morocco.
Le Tonnant
(French: Le Tonnant)
Q172 1929 December 15, 1934 June 1, 1937 Scuttled at Cadix on November 15, 1942.
(French: L'Agosta)
Q178 1930 April 30, 1934 February 1, 1937 Scuttled at Brest on June 18, 1940 (Brest during the Second World War (French: Sabordé à Brest le 18 juin 1940)).
Bévéziers Q179 1930 October 14, 1935 June 4, 1937 Sunk on May 5, 1942 during the Battle of Madagascar.
(French: L'Ouessant)
Q180 1930 November 30, 1936 January 1, 1939 Scuttled at Brest on June 18, 1940 (Brest during the Second World War (French: Sabordé à Brest le 18 juin 1940)).
Sidi Ferruch
(French: Le Sidi-Ferruch)
Q181 1930 July 9, 1937 January 1, 1939 Sunk between November 11–13, 1942.
(French: Le Sfax)
Q182 1930 December 6, 1934 September 7, 1936 Torpedoed by U-Boot U-37 on December 19, 1940.
Casabianca Q183 1930 February 2, 1935 January 1, 1937 Dismantled on February 12, 1952.


Date Submarine Target Remarks
September 28, 1939 Le Poncelet (French: Le Poncelet) Chemnitz (5,522 tons) Arrayed.
September 25, 1940 Le Bévéziers HMS Resolution Damaged.
November 17, 1941 Le Héros (French: Le Héros) Thode Fagelund (5,750 tons) Sunk in the South Atlantic Ocean.
December 22, 1943 Le Casabianca UJ-6076 Sunk off the coast of Toulon.
December 28, 1943 Casabianca Ghisone (6,168 tons) Arrayed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 22)
  2. ^ a b (Huan 2004, p. 26)
  3. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 20)
  4. ^ a b (Picard 2006, p. 21)
  5. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 87)
  6. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 23)
  7. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 8)
  8. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 52)
  9. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 9)
  10. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 56)
  11. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 10)
  12. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 10–11)
  13. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 31)
  14. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 28)
  15. ^ a b (Huan 2004, p. 218)
  16. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 98)
  17. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 26)
  18. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 24–29)
  19. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 32)
  20. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 50)
  21. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 33–35)
  22. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 33)
  23. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 35)
  24. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 38)
  25. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 67)
  26. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 72–73)
  27. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 24–25)
  28. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 79)
  29. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 33–34)
  30. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 80)
  31. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 63)
  32. ^ a b (Picard 2006, p. 40)
  33. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 94)
  34. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 96)
  35. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 90–94)
  36. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 42)
  37. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 98)
  38. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 119)
  39. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 214)
  40. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 129–130)
  41. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 130–131)
  42. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 135)
  43. ^ a b (Huan 2004, p. 136)
  44. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 137)
  45. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 138)
  46. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 70–71)
  47. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 139–140)
  48. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 72–73)
  49. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 139, 141)
  50. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 76)
  51. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 141)
  52. ^ (Huan 2004, pp. 208–210)
  53. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 77–79)
  54. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 147)
  55. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 61)
  56. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 170)
  57. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 91)
  58. ^ (Picard 2006, pp. 92–93)
  59. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 225)
  60. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 157)
  61. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 80)
  62. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 81)
  63. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 162)
  64. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 93)
  65. ^ a b (Huan 2004, p. 172)
  66. ^ a b (Picard 2006, p. 95)
  67. ^ a b (Aboulker 2010, p. 53)
  68. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 55–56)
  69. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 85)
  70. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 54–55)
  71. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 83)
  72. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 64–65 et 68)
  73. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 65–66)
  74. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 72–73)
  75. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 73–75)
  76. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 175)
  77. ^ (Huan 2004, p. 236)
  78. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 48)
  79. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 84–85)
  80. ^ (Aboulker 2010, pp. 87–91)
  81. ^ (Aboulker 2010, p. 93)
  82. ^ (Picard 2006, p. 96)
  83. ^ "Le kiosque du Casabianca", October 2003, site, retrieved 9 December 2011


  • Axel, Aboulker (2010). Marines Éditions, ed. Le Sous-marin Archimède. Rennes. p. 103. SBN 978-2357430587. 
  • Bagnasco, E (1977). Submarines of World War Two. ISBN 0-85368-331-X. 
  • Gardner, Robert (1980). Conway's All the Worlds Fighting Ships 1922–1946. Conway Publishing. ISBN 0-85177-146-7. 
  • Huan, Claude (2004). Les Sous-marins français 1918–1945. Rennes: Marines Éditions. 
  • Le Masson, Henri (1969). The French Navy. Navies of the Second World War. 1. London: MacDonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. pp. 150–154. SBN 356-02384-X. 
  • Miller, D (1991). Submarines of the World. ISBN 0-86101-562-2. 
  • Picard, Claude (2006). Les Sous-marins de 1500 tonnes. Rennes: Marines Éditions. 
  • L'Herminier, Jean (1949). Éditions France-Empire, ed. Casabianca. Paris. p. 315. 

External links[edit]