Battleship Carnot

The Carnot battleship was one of the first battleships built in France at the end of the 19th century in response to the expansion of the Royal Navy and the German Navy.


Launch and design:

After the lost Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, France began to rebuild and structure its army. Shortly after the war the planning for the army began, only a few years later the French navy began to modernize and to build new ships.

During this process the plans for several early battleships were developed. Up to this time France had no experience in building such ships, but the technical development in Great Britain and the German Empire forced the Navy to build such ships as well.

Based on the experience of the Marceau class, the construction of the two battleships Brennus and Charles Martel began in 1884. However, these were abandoned by Admiral Théophile Aube, since the technical development already brought many innovations, which were to be introduced into the new ships. For this purpose, the construction plans were revised and adapted.

In 1888 the construction of the Brennus began, which was regarded as the first battleship built in France.

When the Naval Defense Act was enacted in Great Britain in 1889 and 8 battleships were released for construction, the French Naval Ministry was forced to enact the Naval Statute in 1890, which resulted in the construction of 24 battleships and other smaller warships. The first phase of the programme included the construction of 4 battleships based on the plans of the Brennus. On December 24, 1889, the basic requirements were set by the Ministry. Thus the displacement should amount to approximately 14.000 tons, the main guns should have a caliber of 340 mm and the armour should be up to 450 mm. 5 naval architects then submitted their designs for the new ships, with the Commission finally agreeing on the design by Victor Saglio, who was also one of the signatories to the Statute Naval and also submitted a design.

Due to the interference of the French parliament, which particularly criticized the high expenditures, the plans had to be changed and the displacement could finally only amount to a maximum of 12.000 tons in order to save money. After the adaptation of the construction plans, the construction of 5 battleships was finally decided on September 10, 1890.

With the Carnot, the designer oriented himself to the plans of the Brennus already presented earlier, but adapted the plans to the new requirements. The ship had a length of 114 metres, a width of 21,4 metres, a draught of 8,36 metres and a displacement of 11.954 tonnes. In contrast to the Charles Martel battleship, whose plans were also submitted to the Commission, the Carnot did not have two heavy military masts, but two much lighter masts. Also the superstructures were less, lighter and the deck between the masts was missing. Nevertheless the ship was heavier and could not sail as stable as other warships.

The propulsion was provided by two vertical triple-cylinder triple expansion engines, each driving one propeller. The power required for this was provided by 24 water-tube boilers housed in 4 boiler rooms. The target output was 16.300 hp and the maximum speed 17,8 knots.

Contrary to the requirement for a 340 mm calibre armament, only two 305 mm calibre guns were mounted in individual turrets on the Carnot. In addition, two 274 mm calibre guns were mounted in a single turret on each side of the ship. Further armament consisted of 8 x 138,6 mm guns, 8 x 65 mm guns, 12 x 47 mm guns and 8 x 37 mm guns. Also 4 torpedo tubes were installed, of which 2 were fixed in the bow and the other 2 on platforms on the deck.

The armour was made of nickel steel which was up to 460 mm thick on the belt to protect the ammunition and boiler rooms in particular. The two main turrets were protected with 380 mm thick armour, the other turrets with up to 10 mm.

The Carnot was launched in July 1894 and put into service in July 1897.



Drawing of the battleship Carnot




History of Carnot:

After commissioning and testing, the Carnot was sent to Crete with the Jauréguiberry and Charles Martel battleships to support the international squadrons of Great Britain, Russia, Austria-Hungary, the German Empire and Italy during the Greek uprising that lasted from 1897 to 1898.

The ship then switched between the Mediterranean and Atlantic squadrons, carrying out several manoeuvres and exercises.

In 1902 the ship was assigned to the reserve fleet of the Mediterranean squadron together with other older battleships and cruisers. In the following years these ships were reactivated for a short time of the year to participate in maneuvers when newer ships were docked for maintenance.

In 1909, the Mediterranean squadron was reorganized, after the new ships of the République and Liberté class were put into service and a second squadron could be built, to which also the Carnot was assigned. In 1911 the battleships of the Danton class followed and a third squadron with the home port Brest was built, whereby the older ships were pulled together in the now third squadron.



Battleship Carnot




Use in war:

When the First World War broke out in Europe, the Carnot lay together with the Charles Martel in the port of Brest. The two ships were equipped with a hull crew and kept operational, but only until the new Normandy class ships were completed and could replace the two ships.

The Carnot then remained in the harbour as a reserve until the end of the war, but was not used in the war.





After the First World War, the ship was removed from the register of warships in 1922 and sold and scrapped in the same year.




Ship data:





Type of ship:  



Single ship

Building yard:  


Building costs:  



July 1894


July 1897


1922 sold and scrapped


114 meters


21,4 meters


Max. 8,36 meters


Max. 11.954 tons


647 men


24 Lagrafel d'Allest water tube boiler

2 vertical triple expansion machines


16.300 HP (10.100 kW)

Maximum speed:  

17,8 knots (33 kilometers per hour)




2 × 305 mm guns

2 × 274 mm guns

8 × 138 mm guns

8 × 65 mm guns

12 × 47 mm guns

8 × 37 mm guns

4 × 450 mm torpedo tubes


Belt: up to 460 mm
Deck: 70 mm
Main guns: 380 mm
Towers: 230 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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!






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