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French ironclad Gloire
The Gloire, first ocean-going ironclad warship
Career (France)
Name: Gloire
Namesake: Glory
Builder: Toulon, France
Laid down: April 1858
Launched: 24 November 1859
Commissioned: August 1860
Decommissioned: 1879
Fate: Scrapped, 1883
General characteristics
Class & type: Gloire-class ironclad
Displacement: 5,630 tonnes (5,540 long tons)
Length: 77.8 m (255 ft 3 in)
Beam: 17 m (55 ft 9 in)
Draught: 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in)
Installed power: 2,500 hp (1,864 kW)
8 oval boilers
Propulsion: 1 × Shaft
1 × Horizontal return connecting rod-steam engine
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph)
Complement: 570 men
  • As built:
  • 36 × 163 mm (6.4 in) Model 1858/60 rifled muzzle-loaders
  • After 1866:
  • 8 × 239 mm (9.4 in) Model 1864 breach-loaders
  • 6 × 193 mm (7.6 in) Model 1866 breach-loaders
Armour: 110–120 mm (4.3–4.7 in) iron plates

The French ironclad La Gloire ("Glory") was the first ocean-going ironclad in history. She was developed following the Crimean War, in response to new developments in naval gun technology, especially the Paixhans guns and rifled guns, which used explosive shells with increased destructive power against wooden ships, and followed the development of the ironclad floating batteries built by the British and French for the bombardment of Russian forts during the Crimean War. She was designed by the French naval architect Dupuy de Lôme, and was launched at the arsenal of Mourillon, Toulon, on 24 November 1859.

A 5,630-ton broadside ironclad, she had a wooden hull. Her 12 cm-thick (4.7 in) armour plates, backed with 43 cm (17 in) of timber, resisted the experimental firing of the strongest guns of the time (the French 50-pounder and the British 68-pounder) at full charge, at a distance of 20 metres (65 ft). Her official top speed was 13.1 knots but other reports suggested no more than 11.75 knots had been reached and that 11 knots was the practical maximum.[1]

As was common for the era, La Gloire was constructed with sails as well as a steam-powered screw. The original rigging was a light barquentine rig providing 1,096 sq. m (11,800 sq. ft) of surface area. This was later increased to a full rig providing 2,508 sq. m (27,000 sq. ft) of surface.[2]

La Gloire rendered obsolete traditional unarmoured wooden ships-of-the-line, and all major navies had no choice but to build ironclads of their own. However La Gloire was soon herself rendered obsolete by the launching in 1860 of the British HMS Warrior, the world's first iron-hulled warship. In 1879, La Gloire was struck from the French fleet registry and scrapped in 1883.


  1. Wells, John (1987). The immortal Warrior Britain’s first and last battleship. Kenneth Mason. p. 46. ISBN 0-85937-333-9. 
  2. Jackson, Robert (2010). Warships Inside Out. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 10–15. ISBN 978-1-60710-109-3. 


  • de Balincourt, Captain; Vincent-Bréchignac, Captain (1974). "The French Navy of Yesterday: Ironclad Frigates, Pt. I". Akron, OH: F.P.D.S.. pp. 12–15, 18. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 

External links

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