FAN Danton (SD) & Condorcet (BB) - 1910 + mods


Back to French Navy page


The Danton class never made any sense to me. One ship maybe, too far advanced to cancel, but six?? absolutely ludicrous. I could understand it better if the ships had been started being built before Dreadnought was laid down and built. But Dreadnought was built and completed by 10/1906. The first of the Dantons had been laid down about the same time the second over 6 months later, after that there is absolutely no reason for the remainder to have any chance of being completed under their original plans.

As a semi-dreadnought, armed with four 12" and twelve 9.4", they were as good as any other in the world. But from the moment the Dreadnought is completed the Dantons are no longer looking so good. A simple rearrangement of the main guns, the deletion of the 9.4", would have made a large difference in the ships capabilities.

The dimensions did not need to change just the layout of the main guns. The Condorcet sub-class would have had the same broadside as the Dreadnought and other first battleship classes and would have paved the way for the larger Provence class 12" battleships that followed. One of the good things about the class was the turbine machinery that was fitted to all members. It is much easier to maintain a higher speed with turbines than is possible with the previous triple-expansion machinery.

The ships had a busy WW1 with the 5 battleships being used to help patrol the Adriatic Sea against the Austro-Hungarian Fleet, and also later the ships were active at Galipoli while two were stationed at the mouth of the Dardanelles to guard against a breakout of the Goeben. The Danton spent its time on convoy escort and was torpedoed by a U-boat in 03/1917 off Sardinia. The Mirabeau ran aground near the Crimea during the White Revolution in which the British and French tried to help restore the Russian Monarchy back into power. The ship was badly damaged and while the ship was salvaged and returned to France the hull had been warped and the ship was decommissioned and used as an accomodation hulk at Toulon.

The restrictions of The Washington Treaty meant that remaining four ships were excess to requirements once the French Navy had received its share of the ex-German Fleet. The ex-German ships were far supperior to the remaining Condorcets and their was no contest in which ships would have to be decommissioned into ancilliary duties.  Once the ships had been demilitarised they were not really alike enough to be called a class anymore.

The Vergniaud became the French Navies catapult trials ship and ended up as what the British eventually termed an Area Defence Vessel, a large hangar and catapult replacing the rear guns and machinery of the ship. Maximum speed with half the boilers removed fell to 12 knots.

Voltaire was the trials ship for the new 5.1" gun systems and a quadruple turret and two twins replaced the three twin 12" at the rear of the ship. Plenty of light AA weapons made a very useful mobile AA platform. Maximum speed with half the boilers removed fell to 12 knots.

The Condorcet and Diderot became training ships and to meet the Washington Treaty requirements for demilitarised ships, the ships had the broadside turrets removed and some of the forward propulsion system removed. New superstructure was fitted at the main deck level to house the cadets and this area could also double as troop 'barracks' if required. Various AA guns and other equipment was fitted where the removed 12" had been. Some 5.5" casemates, twin 3.9" and other light 37mm and 20mm were fitted so that cadets could gain experience with differing armaments currently used on French ships. Maximum speed with half the forward boilers removed fell to 15 knots.


Displacement 18,500 tons std 21,800 tons full load
Length 475 ft
Breadth 85 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 22,500shp
Speed 19 knots
Range 4000 miles at 12 knots
Armour 10.6" side, 2" deck, 11.8" turrets
Armament Condorcets

12 x 12" (6x2)

24 x 75mm (24x1)



4 x 12" (2x2)

12 x 9.4" (6x2)

8 x 75mm (8x1)

Aircraft nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 900-1000
Notes FAN Danton - Sunk 1917

Fan Condorcet

FAN Diderot

FAN Mirabeau - Hulked 1921

FAN Vergniaud

FAN Voltaire

France had all the twin 12" turrets removed from these ships (20) which were to old fashioned to be used for building more modern ships but these turrets were ideal for use in fortified positions (about half ended up in the Maginot Line) and as shore batteries protecting French Naval bases.

Danton as completed in 1909 with the medium 9.4" guns on the broadside.


Back to French Navy page