Armored cruiser Gueydon

The armoured cruiser Gueydon was the type ship of the ship class of the same name, which developed from the single ship Jeanne d'Arc, however, should be smaller and cheaper and should have a stronger secondary armament.


Launch and design:

Already at the beginning of the 90s of the 19th century, the first concepts for a large protected cruiser were available, which was intended for the French colonies under the name Jeanne d'Arc. In 1895, however, the naval architect Emile Bertin, Director of the Navy's Technical Department, transformed this concept into an armoured cruiser. The background for the transformation was the construction of the Amiral Charner class armoured cruisers and the orientation of the ships for the future task of disrupting the merchant ships of enemy states. It turned out, however, that this transformation was only a temporary solution and that the ship as a whole would have inadequate armament and speed.

Emile Bertin then began, shortly after the construction of the Jeanne d'Arc was decided, to design a new and improved class of armoured cruisers on the basis of this ship. However, these were to be smaller and cheaper, as it became apparent that a conversion from a protected cruiser to an armoured cruiser only made limited sense. The resulting Gueydon class was to consist of a total of 3 ships. These had a length of 137,97 meters, a width of 19,38 meters and a displacement of 9.548 tons. Compared to the Jeanne d'Arc, the ships of the Gueydon class were about 10 meters shorter and 2.000 tons lighter, thus somewhat faster.

The armament of the main guns remained at 2 x 194 mm guns of the Modèle 1893. The caliber of the secondary armament, on the other hand, was significantly increased. As the armament of the Jeanne d'Arc had already been criticized as too weak, the designers of the Gueydon class opted for a stronger secondary armament of the ships. This now consisted of 8 x 164 mm, 4 x 100 mm, 10 x 47 mm and 4 x 37 mm guns. In addition, 2 x 450 mm torpedo tubes were installed.

The armour along the belt of the ship also remained up to 150 mm, the deck had an armour of 30 to 55 mm. The turrets were armoured with a thickness between 160 and 176 mm.

Three vertical triple expansion steam engines, driven by 28 Niclausse boilers and with an output of 20.000 hp, served as propulsion. This allowed the ship to reach a maximum speed of 21 knots, although the speed was initially estimated to be higher during development.

The ship was named after the French Vice Admiral and first Governor of Algeria Louis Henri de Gueydon (1809 - 1886).

The Gueydon was launched on September 20, 1899 and put into service on September 1, 1903.



Drawing of the Gueydon Class


Armored cruiser Gueydon




History of the Gueydon:

After the test runs and the commissioning the Gueydon was assigned to the Asia Squadron of the French Navy.

In the following years the annual manoeuvres and round trips to the ports of Japan, China, Russia and other countries were carried out with this squadron.




Use in war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Gueydon, together with the other French warships of the Asian squadron, was assigned to secure the French trade routes in the Asian region from German trade disrupters and to accompany merchant ships.

The Gueydon was also used in South America and the Caribbean until the end of the war.




Post-war deployment:

After the end of the war, the Gueydon initially remained in Asia.

It was not until 1923 that the ship was ordered back to France to be converted in the Brest shipyard so that the ship could then be used for training purposes.

In 1926 a new conversion took place, this time to make the ship ready for the training of cadets of the shooting school. After completion of the work, the Gueydon replaced the older armored cruiser Pothuau in Brest in 1927.




Use in the Second World War:

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Gueydon remained together with other French ships in Brest and was used there for training.

After France signed the armistice with Germany on 22 June 1940, the German navy received the ships lying in Brest.

After Operation Rheinübung of the German battleship Bismarck and the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Atlantic from 18 to 27 May 1941, Prinz Eugen returned to the port of Brest. To confuse the Allied bombers and divert them from Prince Eugene, the Gueydon and two other sloops were used to make a Prince Eugene dummy to divert them from the right ship.



The armoured cruiser Gueydon (right) with the armoured cruiser Montcalm (left) and the Armorque (middle) 1940 in the port of Brest





On 13 and 14 August 1944, the Royal Air Force Squadron 617 flew several bomb attacks on the port of Brest. The aim was also to sink the old French ships lying in the harbour so that they could not be pulled into the harbour entrance by the Germans and sunk there themselves. Thus the entrance should remain free in order to be able to use these from allied ships.

During one of the attacks the Gueydon was so badly damaged that the ship sank in the harbour.

After the war the wreck was salvaged and scrapped.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  

Armored cruiser



Building yard:  

Arsenal de Toulon

Building costs:  



September 20th, 1899


September 1st, 1903


Sunk during a Royal Air Force bombing raid on the port of Brest on 13 or 14 August 1944


137,97 metres


19,38 metres


Maximum 7,67 metres


Maximum 9.548 tons


566 men




three vertical triple expansion steam engines

28 Niclausse boiler


20.000 HP (15.000 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21 knots (39 kilometres per hour)




2 × 194 mm guns

8 × 164 mm guns

4 × 100 mm guns

10 × 47 mm guns

4 × 37 mm guns

2 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 80 - 150 mm
Deck: 30 - 55 mm
Gun turrets: 160 - 176 mm






You can find the right literature here:


French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard)

French Battleships 1914–45 (New Vanguard) Paperback – January 22, 2019

This authoritative study examines the French Navy's last battleships, using detailed color plates and historical photographs, taking them from their inception before World War I, through their service in World War II including the scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon in 1943, and the service of Richelieu in the war against Japan.

On September 1, 1910, France became the last great naval power to lay down a dreadnought battleship, the Courbet. The ensuing Courbet and Bretagne-class dreadnoughts had a relatively quiet World War I, spending most of it at anchor off the entrance to the Adriatic, keeping watch over the Austro-Hungarian fleet. The constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty prevented new battleships being built until the 1930s, with the innovative Dunkerque-class and excellent Richelieu-class of battleships designed to counter new German designs.

After the fall of France in 1940, the dreadnoughts and fast battleships of the Marine Nationale had the unique experience of firing against German, Italian, British, and American targets during the war.

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French Battleships of World War One

French Battleships of World War One Hardcover – June 15, 2017

When war broke out in August 1914 France had only two dreadnoughts in service, with a second pair running trials. The main body of the elite Armée Navale was made up of the eleven battleships of the Patrie and Danton classes, both of which were intermediate designs with two main gun calibers. Older ships included survivors of the notorious Flotte d'echantillons ('fleet of samples') of the 1890 program and their successors designed during the 1890s.

This book traces the development of French battleships from 1890 to 1922, and also covers the extensive modifications made to the survivors during the interwar period. It is liberally illustrated throughout with line drawings and labelled schematics, plus photographs from the extensive Caresse collection, many of which are previously unpublished.

This is the most comprehensive account of these ships published in English or French, and is destined be the standard reference for many years to come.

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French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932

French Armoured Cruisers 1887–1932 Hardcover – November 1, 2019

Of all the threats faced by the Royal Navy during the first years of the twentieth century, the one which stood out was the risk to Britain's sea lines of communication posed by France's armored cruisers. Fast, well-armed, and well-protected, these ships could have evaded any attempted blockade of the French ports and, supported by a worldwide network of overseas bases, could potentially have caused havoc on the trade routes.

The primary focus of the book is on the technical characteristics of the ships. Detailed and labeled drawings based on the official plans are provided by John Jordan, and each individual class of ship is illustrated by photographs from the extensive personal collection of Philippe Caresse. The technical section is followed by a history in two parts, covering the Great War (1914-18) and the postwar years, during which the surviving ships saw extensive deployment as "station" cruisers overseas and as training ships. This is the most comprehensive account published in English or in French and is destined to be the standard reference for many years to come.

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To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War

To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War Hardcover – July 15, 2013

The only comparative analysis available of the great navies of World War I--each chapter is written by a recognzed expert fluent in the subject language. The work studies the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom (John Roberts), the German Kaiserliche Marine (Dr. Peter Schenk with Axel Niestlé and Dieter Thomaier) the United States Navy (Trent Hone), the French Marine Nationale (Jean Moulin), the Italian Regia Marina (Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara) the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine (Zvonimir Freivogel), and the Imperial Russian Navy (Stephen McLaughlin) to demonstrate why the war was won, not in the trenches, but upon the waves. It explains why these seven fleets fought the way they did and why the war at sea did not develop as the admiralties and politicians of 1914 expected.

After discussing each navy's goals and circumstances and how their individual characteristics impacted the way they fought, the authors deliver a side-by-side analysis of the conflict's fleets, with each chapter covering a single navy. Parallel chapter structures assure consistent coverage of each fleet--history, training, organization, doctrine, materiel, and operations--and allow readers to easily compare information among the various navies. The book clearly demonstrates how the naval war was a collision of 19th century concepts with 20th century weapons that fostered unprecedented development within each navy and sparked the evolution of the submarine and aircraft carrier. The work is free from the national bias that infects so many other books on World War I navies. As they pioneer new ways of viewing the conflict, the authors provide insights and material that would otherwise require a massive library and mastery of multiple languages. Such a study has special relevance today as 20th-century navies struggle to adapt to 21st-century technologies.

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