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Lyon-class battleship
Lyon class linedrawing.png
Linedrawing of the Lyon class
Class overview
Name: Lyon
Builders: France
Operators: France
Preceded by: Normandie-class
Succeeded by: Dunkerque-class
Planned: 4
Completed: none
Cancelled: 4
General characteristics
Type: Battleship
Displacement: 29 000 tonnes
Length: 194.5 m (638 ft)
Beam: 29 m (95 ft)
Draft: 9.2 m (30 ft)
Propulsion: Mixed steam turbines and triple expansion engines or all-turbine systems, 43,000 shp (32,000 kW)
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h)
Armament: 16 × 340mm/45 Modèle 1912 guns in quadruple turrets
24 × 138 mm (5.4 in) guns
40 mm (1.6 in) or 47 mm (1.9 in) AA guns
6 × torpedo tubes (submerged)

The Lyon class was a proposed type of battleship which was planned for the French Navy in 1913, with construction scheduled to begin in 1915. The class was to have comprised four ships: Lyon, Lille, Duquesne, and Tourville. The first two were named for cities in France, while the rest honored French admirals Abraham Duquesne and Anne Hilarion de Tourville. The design was an improvement on the previous Normandie class, and mounted a fourth quadruple gun turret, for a total of sixteen 340 mm (13 in) guns. Construction was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 before any of the ships could be laid down.


Starting in 1910, the French Navy began a dreadnought battleship construction program, starting with the four ships of the Courbet class that year. The three-ship Bretagne class was authorized the next year, and five Normandie-class battleships followed in 1912.[1] Design work began in 1912; the design staff submitted several proposals for the new battleships. Displacements ranged from 27,000 metric tons (27,000 long tons; 30,000 short tons) to 29,000 t (29,000 long tons; 32,000 short tons); the various designs featured a main battery of fourteen or sixteen 340 mm (13 in) guns, eight or ten 380 mm (15 in) guns, or twenty 305 mm (12.0 in) guns, in a mix of quadruple or twin gun turrets.[2]

In 1913, the Navy authorized a fourth class of battleships, Lyon, which was scheduled for 1915.[3][4] The design staff determined the 38 cm gun would take too long to design, so the proposals that incorporated these weapons were cancelled. The design staff settled on one of the two 34 cm proposals. The first proposal, which mounted fourteen guns, was a 27,500 t (27,100 long tons; 30,300 short tons) ship 185 meters (607 ft) long. On 24 November 1913, the design staff instead chose the slightly larger second design, armed with sixteen guns in four quadruple turrets. The first two ships, Lyon and Lille, were scheduled to be ordered on 1 January 1915, and Duquesne and Tourville would have followed on 1 April 1915.[2] World War I broke out in August 1914, however, and shifting military requirements, particularly for the army, forced the cancellation of the class.[3]


Ship Builder
Lyon A C de la Loire, St Nazaire[2]
Duquesne Arsenal de Brest, Brest[2]
Lille F C de la Méditerranée, La Seyne[2]
Tourville Arsenal de Lorient, Lorient[2]


The ships would have been 190 m (620 ft) long between perpendiculars and 194.5 m (638 ft) long overall. They would have had a beam of 29 m (95 ft) and a draft of 8.65 to 9.2 m (28.4 to 30.2 ft). Their full load displacement was estimated at 29,000 t (29,000 long tons; 32,000 short tons). The propulsion system had not been settled by the time the class was cancelled; the design staff proposed either the mixed steam turbine and triple expansion engine system used in the first four ships of the preceding Normandie class or the all-turbine system used in the last ship of the previous class, Béarn. They also considered new geared turbines that had proved satisfactory in the new destroyer Enseigne Gabolde. The final design called for a propulsion system rated at 43,000 shaft horsepower (32,000 kW) with a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). An unknown number of boilers were trunked into two funnels amidships.[2]

Sixteen 340mm/45 Modèle 1912 guns mounted in four quadruple turrets comprised the main battery. The turrets, which were equipped with electric-hydraulic training and elevation gear, were all mounted on the centerline, though the arrangement is not clear. According to Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, one turret was placed forward, one amidships, and two in a superfiring pair aft.[2] The contemporary Journal of United States Artillery, however, suggests the turrets would have been mounted in two superfiring pairs, forward and aft.[5] The turrets weighed 1,500 t (1,500 long tons; 1,700 short tons), and were electrically trained and hydraulically elevated. The guns were divided into pairs and mounted in twin cradles; a 40 mm (1.6 in) thick bulkhead divided the turrets. Each pair of guns had its own ammunition hoist and magazine. They could be fired simultaneously or independently.[6] The guns had a range of 16,000 m (52,000 ft) and had a rate of fire of two rounds per minute. The shells were 540-kilogram (1,190 lb) armor-piercing rounds and were fired with a muzzle velocity of 800 meters per second (2,600 ft/s).[7]

The secondary battery was to consist of twenty-four guns, either the 138.6 mm /55 Modèle 1910 or a new automatic model, each singly-mounted in casemates in the hull.[2] The M1910 guns fired a 36.5 kg (80 lb) shell at a muzzle velocity of 830 m/s (2,700 ft/s).[8] The ships would also have been equipped with an unknown number of 40 mm (1.6 in) or 47 mm (1.9 in) anti-aircraft guns and six torpedo tubes of unknown size, submerged in the hull. The ships would have been protected with a variation of the armor layout of the previous Normandie class. The primary alterations were slightly thinner casemate armor and upper deck plating to compensate for improved armor below the waterline.[2]


  1. Gardiner & Gray, pp. 190–191
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Gardiner & Gray, p. 199
  3. 3.0 3.1 O'Brien, p. 47
  4. Wilmott, p. 143
  5. Journal of the United States Artillery, p. 377
  6. Friedman, p. 209
  7. Friedman, p. 207
  8. Friedman, p. 225


  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War I. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • O'Brien, Phillips Payson (2001). Technology and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century and Beyond. Portland, OR: Frank Cass. ISBN 0714651257. 
  • Willmott, H. P., ed (2009). The Last Century of Sea Power (Volume 1, From Port Arthur to Chanak, 1894–1922). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253352149. 
  • "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Coast Artillery Training Center. 1915. 

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