Note: This article is about a French ship. The French do not use national prefixes like HMS, USS, ORP, HNLMS etc.
In this article I will look at the French post-war AA cruiser De Grasse.
I like her lines.
This cruiser was originally designed in the 1930's as lead ship of a class of three. Her sisters would've been called Chateaurenault and Guichen. The final 1938 draft called for a 11k ton (full load) cruiser with 3x3 152mm guns, 6x 100mm secondaries, a 100mm belt, 6x 550mm torpedo tubes and a crew of 691. De Grasse herself was laid down in 1939 at the naval facilities in Lorient. However, upon the outbreak of WWII the sisters were canceled and work on the ~28% complete De Grasse herself was halted.
In 1940 De Grasse was captured by the Germans who, in 1942, conceived plans to complete her as a light aircraft carrier. However, work stopped in 1943, never to resume. Some of the reasons were political, others were a lack of materials and manpower, and the threat of allied air attacks in the area.
The hull was eventually launched in 1946 and work resumed to complete her. However, again because of various reasons, construction was halted until 1951. During this time the incomplete hull was towed to naval facilities in Brest, where eventually work resumed, but to significantly revised design specifications. She served from 1956 until her decommissioning in 1973 and scrapping in 1974.
The result has in some circles been called 'The French Atlanta', though was that really an accurate description?
Guns. Guns everywhere.
9389 tons normal load.
This would lead to about 12400 tons full load, which in this game would give her roughly 32.900 hitpoints, which would put her on par with Yorck, but lagging behind Myoukou and Pensacola. She'd still be way ahead of Atlanta though.
100mm belt 38mm deck
Yeah, this won't stop much of anything. This makes her slightly better armored than Yorck, but honestly, a double layer paper bag is better armored than Yorck. You'll get some AP bounces from time to time, but driving a De Grasse you really shouldn't count on it. It's better just not to get shot at. She'd still be ahead of Atlanta though.
16x 127mm /54 Mle 1948 (8x2)
At first glance De Grasse's armament of 16x 127mm looks identical to Atlanta's armament of 16x 127mm, until you look deeper. The French gun throws a 31.5kg shell at 808 mps, compared to Atlanta's gun which fired a 25kg shell at 792 mps. The French shell is heavier and flies faster, giving it significantly higher kinetic energy, better energy retention over range, a larger bursting charge and theoretically higher fire potential. In fact, the french 127mm Mle 1948 was the same gun as the USN designed 5" /54 designed to replace the 127mm /38 Atlanta carried, and licensed to its allies after the war. They fired the same ammunition too.
The Mle 1948 is described as an AA gun, and its primary design specification is to engage airplanes. However, the mount had a -10 - +80 degree elevation envelope, which means it would also be capable of engaging surface targets, despite that not being its primary task. Anyone vaguely familiar with the history of the dreaded German 88mm FlaK knows what happens if you have an AA gun and you point it at a surface target instead ...
NavWeaps lists a 15 ~ 18 RPM ROF for these guns. 15 RPM would lead to a 4 second reload. To compare, Atlanta manages an ROF of 12 RPM base, with a 5 second base reload. So, not only does De Grasse fire a heavier shell faster, but with the slowest ROF given she still manages to beat out Atlanta with a 20% higher ROF. This puts her way ahead of Atlanta here, too.
On top of her primary armament being Dual Purpose, De Grasse also carried the following dedicated AA armament:
20x 57mm /60 Bofors (10x2)
These were 60 calibers long, and if you think that the 40mm Bofors was a good AA weapon, the 57mm /60 completely overshadows it. These fired a 2.7kg projectile at 920 mps, compared to the 40mm /60 Bofors which threw a .93kg projectile at around 900 mps.
To compare, the 40mm /56 Bofors had a throw weight of 111 kg / minute, the 57 /60 had a throw weight of 320 kg / minute.
This puts her way ahead of Atlanta.
This puts her ahead of Atlanta.
De Grasse was significantly larger than Atlanta, which would show in her concealment rating. This is the one place Atlanta beats De Grasse.
De Grasse did not carry exploding metal fishes. This is another area Atlanta beats her in.
De Grasse in 1961
- Insane RPM - Better ballistics than Atlanta - All bow before the mighty 57mm /60s
- Soft - Low hitpoints - Slowish for a high tier cruiser - Bad concealment
Although her hitpoints suggest tier 7, I would personally put this thing at tier 8, minimum. Tier 9 maybe. This is not a 'French Atlanta'. This is a French Atlanta-killer. Here is a ship that monsters Atlanta in just about every category except concealment and self-defense torpedoes - but anyone who has driven an Atlanta will agree that those torpedoes are of dubious value to begin with, as you'd have to get suicidally close to use them.
De Grasse has more range, higher kinetic energy, better ROF, better energy retention, higher fire chance, better AA potential, is faster, is better armored, has more hitpoints. Though some might argue the placement of such a large, visible and soft cruiser at tier 8, she would serve a similar purpose and role there as Atlanta at tier 7.