Bordeaux class Battlecruiser
Figure 1 – Basic layout of how the Bordeaux might have looked if completed in 1920
The Bordeaux design started off of the French Naval Law of 30 March 1912 which called for the French Navy to have a total force of 20 capital ships by 1920. The Technical Branch issued a vague set of requirements for battlecruiser designs for which several proposals were submitted. Amongst the submitted designs, only a few were chosen to be further developed amongst which were two from Lieutenant Durand-Viel. Durand-Viel was proposing a battlecruiser design that would form a fast division of the battle fleet capable of encircling enemy squadrons and as such required heavy armament and armor to engage enemy battleships. The Project “A” design of 1913 was reminiscent of the Normandie class of battleships currently in construction and had a displacement limited by the French dockyards capacity of 28,000 tons. The design called for a complement of 1200 crew, a main battery of at least eight 340mm guns and a speed of 27 knots, all of which the design complied with and which meant the design was widely considered as the forerunner of the contest to be built. Ultimately, the start of the First World War meant the demise of the whole enterprise and the design studies remained just that. We can see in-game how the class could have performed if it had been built.
The Bordeaux would have to be implemented as very tough battlecruisers. I have done the following analysis assuming that the Bordeaux would be slotted in the game as a Tier 4 premium Battleship for the French Marine Nationale. For reference, I have had to create a lot of the data here as it was never properly defined.
DISCLAIMER: I have had to provide a name for this design as it never had one and I chose Bordeaux. Whenever you read Bordeaux, it’s just because I hate calling it 1913 Durand-Viel Battlecruiser Design A all over the place.
Weight & Size
28,000 tonnes – 43,900 HP
The Bordeaux definitely has a tier 4 battleship displacement; it’s 28,000 ton displacement is larger than the Wyoming’s by 320 tons, but it is smaller than the Nikolai’s by 500 tons, the Ishizuchi by 1135 tons, the Kaiser by 1700 tons and the Myogi’s by a whopping 4419 tons. It’s on the low end of hitpoints for tier 4, but it is somewhat compensated for the rest of its features. In terms of size, the Bordeaux is quite long, thus easier to hit, and probably will be easy to spot from quite a distance.
Armoured Deck: Unknown
There is very little information on how the Bordeaux’s armour scheme would have looked like, with most of the design referencing the fact that its armour scheme would mostly be similar to the planned Normandie class. The main difference with the Normandie class was the thinner belt armour, with the Bordeaux having a 270mm belt instead of a 300mm one. I will further discuss the Normandie’s armour scheme as the Bordeaux’s was meant to be very similar, though it’s most likely it would be slightly inferior. The Normandie has two armored decks, each being 50mm thick, which should protect against shallow arcs, but pretty much anything coming at an angle will penetrate at least the first deck and result in a normal penetration. The Normandie’s turrets were protected by 340mm faces with 250mm sides which is very good protection all around and with the 284mm of protection that the barbettes have, it is unlikely that you’ll have your turrets out of action except at short ranges. Lastly, the Normandie’s casemate guns were protected by 180-160mm of armour, which means that even the secondary battery will be relatively well protected from enemy hits. It is clear that in order to achieve a displacement only 3000 tons higher than the Normandie’s and with the Bordeaux being over 30m longer than the Normandie, the armour protection of the Bordeaux would have to be inferior to the Normandie’s. The only example of this that we know from the initial designs is the thinner armour belt, but it is likely that turret protection, length of the armour belt and even the casemate protection would be reduced to ensure that displacement. Overall, there are enough unknown factors in this design that it can be easily be fitted to tier 4 by regulating things such as the space covered by the armour belt, casemate protection and turret protection.
Figure 2 – Basic armour layout of the Bordeaux class
2×4 340mm/45 Modelle 1912 guns
The Bordeaux had a main battery composed of eight 340mm guns in two turrets. The turrets each carry four guns which historically fired in pairs, however we know from the Dunkerque that these guns will fire all four at a time. There was one turret placed forwards of the superstructure and another turret placed aft so the firepower is evenly spread to the front and read, with an 8 gun broadside requiring quite a bit of the broadside to be shown. The advantage of this is that the ship is equally effective at chasing and running away while still firing at chasing enemies.
These guns themselves are nothing spectacular, the 340mm guns used by the Bordeaux were used by the Bretagne class of 1912 but due to the Bordeaux’s design date they would be using the initial 1912 APC shells instead of the more modern 1924 APC shells. These 340mm guns fired a 555kg APC shell at 794m/s which would deal 9,300 damage or a 382kg HE shell at 885m/s which would deal 4,400 damage with a 27% chance to cause a fire. These guns had a 30s reload time and would provide the Bordeaux with a fairly decent DPM, being higher than the Myogi’s but lower than any other battleship’s at tier 4. These guns, and their arrangement, will not be particularly good for new players as it will be especially punishing if your aim isn’t true, as you don’t have the amount of turrets to fire ranging shots and zero in the killer shots. The fact that the Bordeaux has eight guns means only the Myogi has a lower barrel count, and although the guns from the Bordeaux are larger than the average at the tier which is 305mm, they still aren’t especially good and won’t have much better performance than some 305mm guns present at the tier. Overall, this is a workable gun arrangement at tier 4, although by no means should these guns be thought of as great.
24×1 138.6mm/55 Modelle 1910 guns, 6×1 75mm/50 Modelle 1922 guns
The Bordeaux has a secondary battery of 24 casemate mounted guns with 12 of them to each side in three clusters. These guns would have very limited fire arcs, but there would be few spots where an enemy would be safe from their attentions. These guns fire six times per minute, firing a 31.5kg HE shell at 840m/s which would deal 1,900 damage and have an 8% chance to cause a fire or a 39.5kg AP shell at 790m/s which would deal 2,600 damage. Additionally, the Bordeaux has six 75mm guns at the sides of the superstructure, with each of these guns firing a 5.93kg HE shell at 850m/s which would deal 1,100 damage and a 4% fire chance fifteen times per minute. The maximum range for both secondaries would have a maximum range of 4km. These are decent secondaries, as they’ll cover the whole ship but their low weight of fire, damage and fire chance mean that although you might get a few hits, the damage output from these guns is never going to be spectacular. Overall, workable at tier 4 but not spectacular.
6×1 75mm/50 Mle. 1924 AA guns (6dps @3km)
The AA suite of the Bordeaux is almost non-existent, making even the Ishizuchi’s look good by comparison. The Bordeaux’s AA suite is barely worth mentioning and it isn’t even good enough for a tier 1 ship. Just ignore this and move on.
27kts – 74,000hp
The Bordeaux has a top speed of 27kts which is third best at tier 4, only behind the Myogi’s 28kts and the Ishizuchi’s 27.5kts. The Bordeaux’s speed is quite good, especially considering that things that can obviously outfight it plod along at 23kts or less which results in the Bordeaux being capable of outrunning anything it can’t fight and being capable of fighting anything that’s faster than it with a reasonable measure of success. Good speed overall, and will serve it well to chase and flee thanks to the turret arrangement.
The Bordeaux would have the standard T4 battleship consumable.
The Bordeaux has the potential to be either one of the most frustrating or most rewarding tier 4 battleships. It has relatively heavy armour for a battlecruiser and is quite a lot faster than any of the battleships at its tier while still keeping a good gun complement. The reason why it might be frustrating is that it only has two turrets, which means that on a head-on engagement it will only be able to output a single barrage every 30s which prevents any capacity at doing ranging shots; furthermore, the dispersion of shots at low tiers is notoriously fickle so you might see your shots splicing your enemies even on what would’ve otherwise been a well-aimed shot. It is important to note that the accumulation of 4 guns in a single turret does help with making shell groupings somewhat tighter as they are all produced from a short distance from each other and that the problem with wonky dispersion is not specific to the Bordeaux and it affects all low-tier battleships. The biggest advantages that the Bordeaux has are its gun caliber which allows it to overmatch up to 23mm of armour, its battlecruiser speed, decent secondary battery, good main gun performance and its relatively thick armour belt which should allow you to bounce incoming fire if you angle properly; these advantages however are somewhat mitigated by the Bordeaux’s almost complete lack of an AA suite, the clunky arrangement of guns into two turrets which means that half your firepower can be disabled from a single hit, its low hitpoint pool and lastly the fact that to bring up anything more than half of your firepower to bear, you need to expose an almost perfect broadside to an enemy.
Overall, the Bordeaux has the potential to be a remarkably rewarding, if very challenging, ship to play. It will excel as a cruiser hunter as no cruiser in its matchmaking spread will be able to withstand a salvo from its 340mm guns, those guns are quite capable of penetrating battleships as well and even at close ranges, the secondaries would produce a very nice shower of shells against those pesky destroyers. As is so often the case at lower tiers, the Bordeaux has nearly no AA and as such will need to get support from allies in order not to become a CV’s favourite prey and it should run from any of the massive dreadnoughts that it might encounter unless there aren’t any other preys around, baiting shots to its angled belt to survive. The Bordeaux might be an interesting proposition for a tier 4 battlecruiser, but I must add that it might be just a bit too hard to make it competitive and attractive with such an odd turret layout.
Good gun performance and caliber
Great armour belt thickness for a battlecruiser
Decent secondary battery performance
Small HP pool
Very weak AA
Terrible turret arrangement
Concentration of firepower in few turrets
Figure 3 – Silhouette of the Bordeaux class
In our next issue, it will be the Koninklijke Marine’s turn to see its battlecruiser (re)analyzed.