Armored cruiser Jules Michelet

The Jules Michelet armoured cruiser was a further development of the Léon Gambetta armoured cruiser, which was a little shorter but heavier and had an increase in performance both in propulsion and armament.


Launch and design:

Only 1 year after the start of construction of the Léon Gambetta class armoured cruiser, the construction of a successor model was started.

The Jules Michelet was built on the basic principle of its predecessors, but was somewhat shorter and had a larger displacement. Particular emphasis was placed on optimising and increasing the performance of the propulsion system and armament.

Again vertical triple expansion steam engines were installed with three drive shafts driven by 28 Guyot du Temple boilers. Through some modifications, the power of the drive could be increased by 1.500 HP to a total of 30.000, which also slightly increased the maximum speed to 22,5 knots.

The main armament remained at 4 x 194 mm guns in a twin turret at the front and rear of the ship. The secondary armament of the 164 mm guns, on the other hand, was reduced to 12 guns, but some modifications were also made, so that the lower number of guns could be compensated by an increase in performance. The ship also received 24 x 47 mm guns and 2 x 460 mm torpedo tubes under water.

The armour was completely taken over by the Léon Gambetta class and remained on the belt at up to 152 mm, the main guns at 200 mm and the command turret at 200 mm as well.

The ship was named after the French historian Jules Michelet (1798 - 1874).

The launch of the Jules Michelet took place in August 1905, the commissioning in November 1908.

Even if at first a successor class of the Léon Gambetta ships was to be worked on, the overall concept of the Jules Michelet could not convince the French Navy to develop a new ship class. So it remained with this one ship.



Jules Michelet, namesake of the ship


Armored cruiser Jules Michelet




History of Jules Michelet:

After the commissioning and the test runs the Jules Michelet was assigned to the cruiser squadron of the Mediterranean fleet.

With it the ship took part in several exercises and manoeuvres. An accident occurred on June 27, 1912 when shells exploded in a turret during a shooting exercise in Toulon and 4 crew members were killed, another 21 were wounded. The explosion was probably caused by the propellant.




Use in war:

With the outbreak of the First World War the Jules Michelet was assigned to the 1st light squadron together with the armoured cruisers Ernest Renan and Edgar Quinet. These were to find and sink the two German ships Goeben and Breslau. With further 12 destroyers the ships were supposed to use Philippeville as harbour, but this was bombed by the German ships on August 3rd. By reports that the German ships would try to break out into the Atlantic, the squadron was finally deployed west of Algiers.

After the German ships had called at the Ottoman city Constantinople instead of the Atlantic, the armoured cruisers were used to secure the Austro-Hungarian coast in the Adriatic and to sink enemy ships. Apart from the Zenta, which was sunk on 16 August, no enemy ships could be found there either. As the threat from submarines increased at the end of the year, the French ships were deployed further south in the Mediterranean.

After a short stay in the shipyard and the exchange of 12 x 47 mm guns against 4 anti-aircraft guns, Jules Michelet participated in the evacuation of the Serbian army from Corfu to Bizerta. Later, in 1915, the ship supported the Allied campaign near Thessaloniki.

After the capitulation of the Ottoman Empire in November 1918, the Jules Michelet was sent to the Black Sea with several other French warships to support the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.




Post-war deployment:

After the war, Jules Michelet travelled with the Victor Hugo armoured cruiser from 12 October 1922 to 19 April 1923 to parts of the French colony in Indochina.

The new relocation to Indochina took place on 15 June 1925. Until it was replaced by the Waldeck-Rousseau in May 1929, the ship served there as the flagship of the Indochina squadron.

After arriving in France on 10 July 1929, the ship was finally assigned to the reserve, disarmed and used as a residential ship in Toulon.





After being used as a residential ship, the Jules Michelet was still used as a target ship for attacks by airplanes and submarines. In the course of 1937 it was finally sunk during an attack of the submarine Thetis by a torpedo hit.




Ship data:


Jules Michelet



Type of ship:  

Armored cruiser


Single ship

Building yard:  

Arsenal de Lorient

Building costs:  



August 1905


November 1908


In the course of 1937 sunk as a target ship by the submarine Thetis


146,53 metres


21,41 metres


Maximum 8,41 metres


Maximum 13.105 tons


728 men




three vertical triple expansion steam engines

28 Guyot du Temple water tube boilers


30.000 HP (22.371 kW)

Maximum speed:  

22,5 knots (41.7 kilometers per hour)




4 × 194 mm guns

12 × 164 mm guns

24 × 47 mm guns

2 × 460 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: 71 - 152 mm
Gun turrets: 200 mm
Command tower: 200 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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